Atlas Genius, the relatively young group from Adelaide, Australia has exploded onto the music scene with their first full-length album When It Was Now. Ready to embark on their headlining North American tour this fall, I was able to catch up with lead singer and guitarist Keith Jeffery at the Keloha Music & Arts Festival in Kelowna, BC.
Vancouver Weekly: You were constructing your studio meanwhile writing “Trojans”, right?
Keith Jeffery: We were doing it at the same time, really. It was a two-year, intense period of construction-meets-songwriting. Some of the things we had never done before; I’d never laid floorboards, or bricked the walls, and we did everything with our hands. And it was good, we learned a whole bunch of stuff… pretty much forgotten half of it already, but for two years we basically set out to build a studio. We thought it would take us three months but it dragged on. It was one of those things that every month our friends would say, “When is the studio going to be done?”
Vancouver Weekly: Why was it so important to create this space for you to write?
KJ: Because we had a little bedroom, which was OK, but the thing is it wasn’t conducive to creating. When you have a big space and everything is set up ready to go, and you have an idea, you can just grab the synthesizer or drum kit. So it’s for things to just flow quickly and not get bogged down. Another way of doing that is to hire a studio, but it’s expensive, and then after a couple weeks, you’ve probably blown your recording budget, and if you haven’t gotten what you wanted to record, then you can’t go back. So, we thought it was a lot of money, but decided to just pool everything we had and spend it on this and we will have a nice space, and that’s why we did it.
Vancouver Weekly: Following your massive success after the single “Trojans”, do you think you’ve arrived to a place artistically that you are satisfied with?
KJ: I don’t think you are ever satisfied… or I’m never satisfied. Because I think the moment you finish a song, you are really happy with it, but a week later you are a different person and you could already do something differently. There is always that temptation to go back and do it again, but you have to stop yourself. It’s a documentation of where you are at, at that certain point. Some bands I guess find their sound and that’s what they do… like AC/DC. I mean, I love AC/DC, but they did like 15 of the same albums over 30 years. But I feel like we’ve changed, like the next album I’m sure will be vastly different. We already started writing…
Vancouver Weekly: Do you mean you feel you’ve changed your style, and genre?
KJ: I don’t even think of us in a certain style, even though I could classify us as indie rock or indie pop, but because I don’t even know what we are, I don’t know if this will album will fit in with this.
Vancouver Weekly: But that’s sort of nice, because then you have no limitations.
KJ: Yeah! Because I don’t think we’ve painted ourselves into a creative corner. Sometimes, if you have certain bands that have such unique sounds, and the whole album has that sort of sound, I don’t know how they break out of that, so I don’t think we will do that.
Vancouver Weekly: So, how has the dynamic between being brothers and musicians changed?
KJ: I think you notice you’ve become closer when you have short breaks. Like we’ve pretty much toured for the last twelve months straight with a few tiny breaks, and when you have those little breaks you realize, wow, we’ve experienced so much more, even though we’re brothers and we’ve had a life together, we are even closer now. On the road, it’s only the band and the crew that experience that, because you are the only constant in that equation and everything else changes, so you’ve got that that tight bond. Even with crew, and even bands that you’ve toured for a month, you feel like your best mates, like we’ve made it through together! And with my brother, yeah, we are really close. We have disagreements, we have those days… but we forgive each other.
Vancouver Weekly: Great! Well, that was it!
KJ: Thanks! That was painless… It was actually fun.