Matt Ralph (of Tang Zine)
While they didn't exist for very long, a Philadelphia-based band called
Scientific burst onto the scene a few years ago, opening a Valentine's Day
dance/show for the Danielson Famile. Pretty and arrogant as they were on
stage, the band turned heads each time they played and appeared to be on
their way to bigger and better things. That success never came, and
instead the band dismantled and the host of synthesizers and keyboards were
sold off, while recordings sat unlistened to, never to be released to the
public. So, it was a surprise to all those fans from the Philadelphia area
that made it out to Cornerstone this year to see a Scientific on the bill,
opening again for Danielson Famile. Was it the same Scientific? The
answer, as they soon found out, was yes and no. While at the festival, I
managed to catch up with Scientific front man Christian Wargo and get
answers to some of these questions.
Matt Ralph: After an almost two year absence, Scientific returned. What
Christian Wargo: Well, I moved to Chicago and to Jesus People USA (JPUSA)
after the summer of '97. I had been touring as the drummer and sometimes
bass/banjo/trumpet player for Danielson Famile. It was Daniel's idea that
I go to JPUSA. He lived there once and thought it would be a good place
for me to get some direction. I was a fairly unstable character at that
point and I knew that I needed God. I moved to JPUSA, intending to live
there for a month or two. After about a year -- and a lot of growth -- I
started thinking about music again. I wasn't thinking about Scientific,
instead I was trying new directions for myself. You have to realize that
this was the first time in my life when I wasn't making music with Mark
Richardson (Jane Crazy, Scientific). I had to find my own strengths and
what felt the most comfortable to me. After two or three mediocre
projects, Scientific was
still my best idea. Scientific fit my personality best. Scientific was
still dying to come out of me. I spent about three months trying out
sounds and instruments. I wanted to keep things basic. A four piece band.
No over-dubs. No MIDI or DAT tracks. Just a band.
MR: How did you form the band, and how was it working with all new people?
CW: It worked out really well. I didn't have to try very hard at all.
There were friends of mine who were very supportive and willing to try my
ideas without asking too many questions. We started out playing at a house
at JPUSA. At that time we had two bass players. Eventually, I realized
that my first idea of being a four piece was better. Over all it was an
easy transition. The four piece worked great. Songs came easier and
practice was really energetic and fresh. We all took hints of old
Scientific ideas and made them our own. To me, it just seemed the way it
always should have been.
MR: At Cornerstone this year you also played with Unwed Sailor. Is this a
permanent thing, because I noticed that you didn't appear on the EP
released on Made in Mexico.
CW: The "Firecracker" EP was recorded in Seattle. It wasn't until
Johnathon moved to Chicago that I became involved in Unwed Sailor.
Johnathon is the core writer of Unwed Sailor. He likes to have a lot of
different players and input. It's a good way to keep things from getting
MR: How did Escape Artists come about and what do you see as the purpose
for the creation and operation of this record label?
CW: Escape Artists is our dream label. We were afraid to do music with
anyone else. I've always been scared when it comes to business and signing
deals for records. It's not an "indie-rock" thing...it's just wanting to know
what's going on all the time. I like the idea of doing things small and
letting them build their own momentum. We don't have any big plans. We're
just going to keep doing what we like, and looking for bands that we feel
share our desire to "Escape." We really don't care about getting big or
staying small. We're open to whatever God has for us. The most important
thing is that people understand where we're coming from and feel that they
can get involved. We never want to be a mystery. Transparency is our goal.
MR: What do you see as your main focus with Scientific, and how have your
goals and ambitions as a musician changed since you first started writing
CW: It really is NOT about the music to me. At one time the music was most
important and that's when the music was at its worst. The thing I try to
keep in the center of it all is a real sense of heart. I want people to
like our music and to feel like they are a part of a family. I guess I get
that from Daniel (Smith), but it's just a great way to be. No attitudes or
cool guys, we've all been there and it's really just a bunch of insecure
people trying to impress each other and outdo each other. I want no part
in that. I never want to make people feel like they can't talk to me about
something besides music. Music is not what I base my identity on.
What I have to say about our CD...this record was a primer. This is not me
at my best. I've got a lot of ideas and can't wait to start on my next
project. That's just the way I am. Never settled with anything. I guess
it's a good thing.
MR: Where do you see yourself going with the band now, especially after
receiving a great response at Cornerstone?
CW: Our label really needs to get some things together. We'll be looking
for general market distribution and ways to get our music into people's
towns and hopefully their CD players. Scientific hopes to tour this Fall.
I can't really tell you any specifics because I don't know yet. We will be
busy with the Unwed Sailor record too.
Review of their Album will be coming soon.