Since its inception in 2009, Atlas Genius has been a roller coaster ride for vocalist/guitarist Keith Jeffery and the other members. The band’s humble beginnings started with playing gigs in its hometown of Adelaide, South Australia. Without songs written, the four-piece chose cover songs from bands like The Beatles and Rolling Stones to fill its set lists. But after completing a two-year project of building their own studio, the indie-rockers recorded their first song, and future hit single, “Trojans.” In the past year, the quartet’s exposure has skyrocketed, landing it a deal with WB Records and supporting spot on The Silversun Pickups’ North American tour. Despite the chaos of life on the road, Jeffery was nice enough to chat with me after Atlas Genius’ set during Portland’s Music Fest Northwest. We talked about life on the road, the instant (and unexpected) success of “Trojans,” and why the band decided to release an EP before a full-length album.
Katrina Nattress: How’s the tour been going? You guys have been on the road since August, right?
Keith Jeffery: We have been on the road for six weeks now so it’s been a long time but it’s gone really quick.
KN: What’s been your highlight so far?
KJ: Portland’s up there. The Crystal Ballroom show was pretty fun because we were headlining. And then we did a really fun show in Seattle. And we went down to San Diego and did a show there at a small club that was a completely different vibe, so .
KN: What do you prefer to play—larger venues or smaller clubs?
KJ: They’re both just different. The club in San Diego was pretty tiny. There was just enough room to get on stage, so it was really hot and sweaty. It was really rock and roll. Some of the larger venues are actually a bit more relaxed, because you’ve got the stagehand, big stage, everything’s really well organized.
KN: I suppose they both have their own pros and cons then.
KN: You said that being on the road has kind of gone by fast for you. Have you guys felt homesick at all? Have there been any hardships on the tour so far?
KJ: Well, personally, I’m not speaking for the other guys, but it’s winter at home, so it was nice to get away from that. We had a lot of cold, rainy weather, and we came here straight in the middle of summer, so that was nice. We’ve been so busy, so there’s not really any time to think about home.
KN: What are you looking forward to most on the rest of the tour?
KJ: We’re looking forward to Nashville and also Chicago. Actually, our drummer is going to have his birthday in Nashville, so that will be really fun.
KN: You guys started the band in 2009, and I read that you spent a few years constructing your own studio. Can you tell me about how that came to be?
KJ: Well, we started writing songs for Atlas Genius and shortly after…[building the studio] was the only real option for us. It kind of got out of control. We were spending every spare day putting up drywall, but in the end it was great.
KN: You recorded “Trojans” in that studio, right?
KJ: We did, yes.
KN: Did you record the full EP there?
KJ: We’ve done everything ourselves. We’ve recorded everything in our studio.
KN: That’s a nice resource to have! It’s definitely time well spend for you guys.
KJ: All the blood sweat and tears were worth it.
KN: When you guys were starting out, you would play cover songs at local pubs. Did you ever think while you were playing those gigs that you’d be where you are today?
KJ: That was always kind of the dream and the goal, but it’s something where you never really know exactly how it’s going to pan out…we always hoped it would happen, but we’re very happy that it did.
KN: When you released “Trojans,” you were doing everything on your own, and you were able to create a huge amount of buzz with that single. Can you tell me about how you went about promoting yourselves with that song?
KJ: We actually did no promotion at all. We literally finished the song and put it up on Soundcloud and a few other places that people generally put their music, and it just sat there. We’re lucky that blogs found the song, but we actually had no part in any of it.
KN: What was your first reaction then when you saw that people were actually talking about this, and you were getting emails from record labels and managers and booking agents? Was it a total shock for you guys at first?
KJ: Yeah it was. We were just happy that anybody liked it. A blog in New York called Neon Gold liked the song enough to write about it, and that was enough for us really. We would have been happy with just that.
KN: You recently released your debut EP, Through The Glass. What made you decide to start off with an EP rather than a full-length?
KJ: I think that just doing an EP doesn’t bombard people. It’s not so hard to digest. You can give people a taste.
KN: I feel like a lot of new bands are going that same route. There’s so much music coming out these days that they don’t want to completely overwhelm listeners. I think it’s a good idea to put out a little teaser, and then when the LP does come out, hopefully there’s more anticipation behind it.
KJ: Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel.
KN: With that being said, when can we expect a full-length from you guys?
KJ: I’d say it’s 98% recorded. We have to get everything in place to support the album, but it’s probably going to be early next year. Maybe January.
In the meantime, we’ll all be eagerly awaiting new material from the four-piece. Check out a full list of tour dates here.