Art vs. Science was an excellent band to kick off the start of semester. Their electronic beats are well-known by Triple J listeners and their 2009 classic, ‘Parlez-Vous Francais?’, still makes fans shriek. As I watched the trio set up, North Court quickly filled with eager students and their sound check had people dancing by the stage. One guy walked past the chalk board that read, ‘Art vs. Science’, stopped his friend and yelled, “What the fuck!” There were high expectations for this band and it’s safe to say that they delivered.
In recent years, Art vs. Science have moved from a rock-influenced sound towards a more futuristic flavour of electronica. When discussing their sound, a lot of words are thrown around by Jim (keyboard, vocals), Dan W (drums) and Dan M (guitar, keyboard, vocals). “Fabulous” is the word that Dan W says became their mantra. Jim thinks they have “Nintendo-sounding melodies” from playing too may video games. But “Hiro disco” is the phrase the band is most excited by. Dan W elaborates, “The working title for the album for a while was Hiro Disco. Hiro like H-I-R-O, like a Japanese anime hero.” When I ask if their step towards a more electronic sound was deliberate, Jim says, “It kind of sways back and forth, it depends on the song. Like the new stuff we’ve been doing, some of it is a lot like ‘Parlez-Vous Francais?’, very energetic and partying [with] rocking guitars and then some of it’s really [like] ‘70s future disco.”
Art vs. Science is currently working on new music to be released this year. “We’re about to put out the first single of the new album. It’s called Boost. We’re pretty sure it’s called Boost,” Jim says. Dan M continues, “It was going to be called The Inevitability of Swans.” But, amidst their giggles, I never really find out why. “I’m trying to convince the guys.” Whatever the single is called, they played it on Tuesday and it’s a great song that falls somewhere between their rocking guitars and future disco, Nintendo sound. “I think the first single, we’re going to get out this month,” Jim says. “Then the album, several months later.” If you loved their North Court gig, the band will be coming back to Melbourne for the new album so get excited.
Art vs. Science puts on a rocking show and when I ask them if stage presence is important to them, they rush in, speaking over each other, “Definitely!”, “Yes!”, “Very!” The trio got the crowd dancing with their own weird moves and Dan M’s guitar solos elicit cheers and whoops. “I remember the first time I realised how important [stage presence] was,” Jim tells me. “I was like 13 or 14 and my sister had gone to this music camp and everyone kind of sat there and played the piano or played the flute. This guy got up and he had this cool hat on and he pulled out this clarinet and he was just rocking around the stage and he brought the house down. That just made me realise that he may not have been the best player but the energy he was giving off was so important.”
The trio’s energy is vibrant throughout their music clips too. In 2009 they won Triple J’s Music Video of the Year for ‘Parlez-Vous Francais?’ – the one with the duelling mimes. They were also nominated for a Best Video ARIA Award for ‘Magic Fountain’ in 2010. I ask the band about their creative input in these videos. They were very involved in the process, in fact, most of the ideas were theirs. “There’s a guy that we’ve done four videos with, Alex Roberts, who is a good friend and a collaborator. He’s got a similar sense of wackiness, except more in the visual sphere,” Dan W told me. “He’s also the guy that can do it. We sort of talk, [saying] ‘There are mimes and they fight and they kill each other and it’s got references to every single action film in the ‘80s and ‘90s,’ and he’s like, ‘Okay, we’ll do it like this’ and he writes the story boards.” Although Jim reveals that Alex was initially inspired to make the video by witnessing the band “mime-fighting” while high.
The trio won Triple J Unearthed in 2008 and quickly moved on to playing at festivals like Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival and Good Vibrations. “It seemed quick from other people’s perspectives but for us, we’d been playing in bands for quite a while… The first Splendour that we played after we won Triple J Unearthed was awesome. We came out and people were singing lyrics to the songs and there were lots of people there and those two facts alone were just mind-blowing. No one had ever been there before or sung our words so that was totally cool,” Dan W says.
Art vs. Science has come a long way since their humble Triple J Unearthed beginnings, both in their sound and in their fan base. Now we just have to wait until their new album is released and hope that it’s filled with the Nintendo-esque, futuristic, electric guitar sounds that they showed us last week.