It seems like Atlas Genius quickly became one of the biggest bands in alternative rock. However, they have paved their way for success with hard work, dedication, and a love for the business. Their debut album, When It Was Now, was released in February, and singles such as “Trojans” and “If So” have been blazing up the charts. They also recently announced a solid list of fall tour dates, with some surprises up their sleeves. I had the opportunity to chat with lead vocalist Keith Jeffery about working with family, fame, and recording their music. Check it out below:
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, Keith. Now, it may not seem like it to you, but I feel like you guys emerged onto the scene very quickly. Atlas Genius became favorites of mine after hearing “Trojans” and even more so with “If So” and “Symptoms.” It must be pretty gratifying to have such success.
Thank you. Yes, like you said, it may not seem like it to us, because of course there is always a backstory to every success story. There is so much work that goes into a project before people hear it. But yeah, when you put a lot of hard work into something that you love, it is always gratifying to see results!
You should be proud! Now I have to ask, three brothers in a band, that’s pretty uncommon. Would you say that this makes things easier or more difficult?
Well, I have nothing to compare it to (laughs), but I think overall it makes things easier. I think it’s more beneficial than anything.
Can you tell us a little bit about the whole recording and writing process? You guys recorded and produced the whole record, When It Was Now, right?
Yes! That is correct. Well, we actually have our own studio, so the recording process is somewhat easier. It’s cool because we write in the studio, so the sounds that we come up with while recording, we can capture as we are going. The whole thing, writing and music, unfolds at once. I am sure it’s a totally different process for the many bands that do not have their own studio, but it’s really cool.
The formula clearly worked because the album is awesome! I feel like it’s a good time for Australian music in general, as a lot of emerging acts are very unique and original, including yourselves. What was the music scene like growing up there?
The scene was cool, but way different. There was a time where there was a bit of leveling in the playing field as far as “globally” in there, where it was almost a disadvantage. What I mean by this is a lot of bands ultimately never got a chance overseas. I mean, there are a ton of bands we loved growing up like Midnight Oil and more. Currently, however, where you live isn’t really a barrier. With all of the blogs, websites and internet capabilities, it didn’t hurt us at all. We are just glad people are liking the music.
At what age would you say making music moved from becoming a hobby to a profession?
I am not sure there was a specific moment where that happened, but I knew it was always a goal. As we got deeper into it, we knew we wanted to put all of our work into our music.
I saw on your Facebook page that the band recently released a free download remix of “If So.” How did that come about?
Yeah, it’s really cool. We actually have a ton of remixes to our songs that are awesome. To hear other people and artists reinterpret what you have is really great. Nowadays it’s so easy to pass files on to others and it’s great to see what others come up with!
I love the whole record, but I have to know, do you have a favorite track to perform live?
Hmm, let me think about this for a second (pauses). It honestly changes night to night. I really love playing “On A Day” live, that’s definitely one of my favorites. I also love playing “Back Seat,” for we don’t have to limit ourselves to a structure on that song; we can do whatever we want. So, those two, but it really does always change with each performance.
You guys just announced a solid tour lineup for the fall with Family Of The Year and others. I will be in the house at Irving Plaza in New York City. Anything exciting fans can expect at the show?
Awesome, I’m glad you are coming out! Always! There might be a few alternative versions of our songs. We have been touring with a lot of alternative remix versions ourselves. In regards to each night, it will totally depend on the show, but we will do something cool!
As I previously stated, you guys came out of the gate hard with success. What advice could you give for musicians trying to do this for a living? Is it all as glamorous as it seems?
Well, it can be glamorous, and it also has its not-so-glamorous moment. There are times when it’s so terribly exciting that I have to take the time to appreciate it and all that we have accomplished. I mean, there is so much hard work that goes into this business.
As far as advice, if you are a young musician, the best thing you can do is spend those thousands of hours writing and honing your own craft. I honestly think songwriting is the real key. As a band, you really need to reach people on an emotional level so they can relate to your songs. Always be honest with yourself. I mean, honestly, chances are the first few songs you write aren’t going to be fantastic, but it will get better. Keep at it and keep pushing.
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Keith. I look forward to seeing what’s next on your multiple platforms of success!
Catch Atlas Genius at NYC’s Irving Plaza on Oct. 10 and 11 and at Philly’s Theatre Of Living Arts on Oct. 12. Their debut album, When It Was Now, is available now. For more information, go to atlasgenius.com.