We Are Scientists hadn’t given fans a taste of new music in a while when the band announced their forthcoming EP Business Casual back in September. The five-song EP, they announced, would feature the kinds of songs that captivated fans in the first place along with a cover of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.” When we at Paste asked for a comment on their choice to cover the classic Top Gun love song, we got more of an explanation than we bargained for. Below, read the band’s explanation in full.
The path to covering Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” was for We Are Scientists a long and twisted one, spanning at least two generations.
“We had Top Gun on VHS when I was a kid — we’d watch it three or four times a week. My dad would always play tasteful pedal steel whenever Kelly McGillis was on-screen. That’s kind of where the idea for it started,” says Chris.
Keith continues: “Chris and I first watched Top Gun together on the tour bus a few years ago, and I remember Chris kept singing these really lovely ambling pedal steel parts under his breath when Kelly McGillis was on-screen — well, I thought he was doing a trumpet at the time.”
Later, in the spring of 2013, the band decided to record a cover along with several other tracks that would ultimately land on the forthcoming Business Casual EP (Oct. 14). Chris volunteered that he had always wanted to do a version of “Wonderful Tonight,” by Eric Clapton.
“Man, that song’s a total piece of shit,” Keith told him.
“Ha. I guess you’re right,” said Chris. Then, as was his habit during moments of tension, he began quietly humming an improvised pedal steel part for “Take My Breath Away.”
“Wait, you realize that’s pretty much the same chord structure as Wonderful Tonight, right?” Keith said.
“That Top Gun sex song — it’s pretty much just Wonderful Tonight without awful Eric Clapton. Let’s just cover that.”
They had found a solution that would let everybody win except Eric Clapton. The next day, they brought in multi-instrumentalist and occasional Scientist Max Hart, whose extemporized pedal steel part — both lilting and playfully reminiscent of Top Gun’s brazen sensuality — outdid even Chris’s gilded memory of those childhood recitals. When Andy Burrows’s pounding drums drop into the mix, the evocation of blasting jet engines and throbbing adult desire is unmistakeable and timeless.
“Everybody wins except Eric Clapton,” says Keith, “which of course is what everybody except Eric Clapton wanted.”
Listen to “Take My Breath Away” as performed by We Are Scientists in the player below. Business Casual EP is set for release on Oct. 15 via Dine Alone Records.