Music publications proper might be floundering, but in this era of instant internet accessibility, the democratic power of the music blog has taken over–much to the benefit of the bands.
Australia’s Atlas Genius–the sexy, atmospheric indie-rockers currently opening for Silversun Pickups–are a prime example of the how gorgeous music travels fast upon the vast speedway of the information superhighway. The Adelaide-based band, comprised of brothers Keith Jeffrey, Steven Jeffrey, and Michael Jeffrey and keyboardist Darren Sell, were finishing up their studies at university before the entirely nonchalant release of their single “Trojans” was picked up by a blog called Neon Gold and exploded across the blogosphere.
Frontman (and former architecture student), Keith Jeffrey, dropped by KROQ to play some of Atlas Genius’ tunes off their EP Through The Glass, and explained that while his foray into architecture was about him being more “future-thinking” and having more stability, once the band started getting e-mails from labels and managers, Atlas Genius put school “on the backburner.”
The band, busy with their exams, literally put their track up online without further thought; they did absolutely no marketing and didn’t check their band e-mail for about five or six weeks.
When they finally did on a whim after finding out Neon Gold was “raving about the song,” the band was greeted with entreaties from record labels all over the world including America, England, Australia, and Japan.
“We thought, this is amazing, but maybe it’s just a prank that one of our friends is pulling on us because it seemed sort of too crazy to be true,” said Jeffrey, telling the story. “And then over the next few weeks we just got e-mail after e-mail from record labels and music lawyers and managers from all around the world and once we started to Skype with them and actually put faces to these e-mails we thought, ‘Hey this is probably not a prank.’ And that was about the time that we thought, ‘Hey, we should focus on this a bit more.’”
While Jeffrey said that he did end up finishing his exams and getting good grades despite putting in no effort, he admitted that “it was the hardest couple of weeks later because literally, you’d be studying on a topic and another e-mail would come in.”
“Trojans,” an evocative and melodic indie heart-wrencher was described by Jeffrey as a song about “processing what a relationship was.”
“You’re moving on. You’re not even sure if you really want to move on. It is about a romantic relationship, but I didn’t necessarily want it to be about that. It could be just friendship in general, but it’s that point where you’ve come to terms with exactly what just happened.”
In their own coming to terms with their musical success and realizing that the e-mails from labels weren’t some cosmic prank, Atlas Genius eventually signed to Warner Bros. and embarked on their first United States tour, citing gigs in the Pacific Northwest as their favorite including a festival in Seattle and a show in Portland where they played a crowd-rousing cover of “Close To Me” by The Cure–a band the Jeffrey admits he is getting into.
Jeffrey said that it was artists like Kurt Cobain that intrigued him as a child.
“When I was young, he was so crazy, but it was a genuine crazy. You know, he was so intense…,” explained Jeffrey. “A lot of pop music was almost a sort of manufactured craziness but he was just genuinely out there and, as a kid, I really kind of was fascinated by that.”
Growing up, the soccer and surfing-loving Jeffrey said him and his brothers had many musical influences, but the most important one was most likely their musician dad–an engineer who played in a band and “left his expensive guitars” all over the place for the boys to play around on.
“We were fortunate to have some nice guitars just there,” said Jeffrey who explained that it’s easier to make music with his brothers because they have a “good relationship where we can be really honest with each other.”
“We can sort out problems really quick because you can speak your mind,” continued Jeffrey. “It’s forgiven if you overstep the line, it’s forgiven really quickly. So the next day, it’s like it didn’t happen.”
This combination of sibling rivalry and synchronistic musical revelry is what lead Atlas Genius to have an awestruck moment when they were filming the music video for their single “Trojans” in Los Angeles and whilst doing so heard the song playing on KROQ.
When Jeffrey was asked what was going through this head when he heard the song playing on the radio, he said. “‘How did we get here?’ Because I was sitting in a car out in front of a house…we were filming the ‘Trojan’ video clip in Los Angeles and listening to KROQ. Where we’re from is sixteen thousand kilometers away, so it’s been a pretty crazy ride so far.”
Click below to watch acoustic versions of “Back Seat,” “If So,” “Symptoms,” and “Trojans.”
Atlas Genius’ EP Through The Glass is available via Warner Bros. on iTunes.
– Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles