Interview: Atlas Genius; performing at CD102.5’s Summerfest on Saturday

Who says radio is dead? Certainly not the Australian band Atlas Genius whose “Trojans” has been one of the earwig songs of the summer, receiving massive airplay on both commercial radio stations like CD102.5 – who thinks highly enough of the band that they invited them to play this year’s sold-out Summerfest show on Saturday at the LC – and satellite radio stations such as Sirius XM’s Alt-Nation.

Here’s the thing, to date, Atlas Genius has released only a 3-song EP, Through the Glass, but with the success of “Trojans”, the band is taking advantage of the buzz and hitting the road in America over the next couple of months. They scored the opening slot of Silversun Pickups tour which undoubtedly will put them in front of thousands of people every night. Not too shabby for such a young band.

I sent the trio – Keith Jeffrey (singer/guitarist), Steven Jeffrey (bass), Michael Jeffrey (drums) and Darren Sell (keyboards) – some questions prior to their U.S. live debut. Not sure which of the guys answered the questions, but here ya go.

I was first turned onto you by my wife who heard you on XM’s Alt-Nation (I’m usually the one turning her onto music). I was at the library the following week and grabbed the Atlas Sound CD thinking I’d surprise her when I got home. “Um, I think you have the wrong band,” she said when handed the CD. So, my question is, am I the only one confusing Atlas Genius with Atlas Sound and has it led to any uncomfortable or awkward situations?

Pass on our thanks to your wife for the introduction. Surprisingly there hasn’t really been any mixups or confusion as yet, but no doubt there may be at some point. When we named the band Atlas Genius, we hadn’t even heard of Atlas Sound, or some of the other “Atlas” bands that seem to be out there.

The next thing I did was to Google “Atlas Genius” and as Google fills in words for you when you’re doing a search, what I saw was “Atlas Genius Trojans” as a suggested phrase that I might be searching for. I’m not very good with song titles and though I’ve heard “Trojans” quite a bit, I forgot that was the name of the song. I thought, “I wonder if these guys named themselves after some sort of brand of Trojan condoms?”. The opening lyrics (“Take it off / Take it in”) … well … if that’s all somebody hears, they might think the songs IS about condoms. Can you set the record straight and talk about how that song was written and whether the word “Trojans” fit the song or if the word came first and you wrote the song around it?

Firstly, in Australia ‘Trojans’ isn’t the ubiquitous condom brand that it is here in America. We were aware of it though. What I hope most people have deduced though is that it is a reference to the ‘Trojan Horse’, but if they like the song while thinking about condoms or a computer virus then that’s fine too. It was actually a song that started out as as section of another song. There was this drum groove and bass line that came in at one point during the earlier version that we found particularly inspiring. So we took that part and threw the rest of the song away. From there we started again, and eventually the music for Trojans unfolded. The lyrics are about moving on and yet not being sure if you really want to. You tell yourself it’s the right thing to do, but a part of you completely hates the idea of doing so.

If my research is correct, the show in Columbus on Saturday is your first ever U.S. date (is that right?). And it’s a biggie – a sold-out show in a venue that holds around 5,000 people. Have you played any shows of this magnitude in Australia (or elsewhere) and, if so, do you do anything special to prepare or do you do the same thing before the show whether you’re performing at a small club in front of 25 people or a large festival-type show performing in front of thousands?

It’s really so crazy that our first show will be so massive. We will be trialling some pre-show warmups – maybe a beer to calm the nerves.

Obviously your set is going to be longer than 15 minutes, both this Saturday in Columbus and on the Silversun Pickups tour. I’m assuming you’ll play all 3 songs on the EP. Will the other songs be ones that have already been recorded and awaiting release or are these songs that you are in the process of perfecting and then recording once the tour is over?

We are in the process for finishing our debut LP which will be released early next year. So we will be previewing a lot of new songs over the next few months on tour.

The Alt-Nation world LOVES “Trojans” (or at least I assume they do … it’s been an often-played song in MY house this summer). Does the new material that we haven’t heard yet sound like the other songs on the EP or has your songwriting expanded since you wrote those songs?

We owe all of this success to the amazing Alt Nation listeners, it really set the ball rolling. I think the new material covers a pretty broad spectrum, but I guess the public will be the judge of that.

Finally, would you like to make any grand statement about the upcoming U.S. tour, like “Look out America, we’re coming to knock your socks off!!!!!”?

Haha, we don’t generally do grand statements, but we are excited to be able to play to the people who have connected with our music here in America.

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