FESTIVAL SEASON 2017: ATLAS GENIUS @ LOLLAPALOOZA
Hits, the road, the studio, then the road again- Atlas Genius have been on a non-stop trajectory since their single, “Trojans” hit eager airwaves. Now, after releasing their first new single in two years, Keith and Michael Jeffery are taking a fresh approach to creating their yet to be named (or already named, but it’s under wraps) album.
We caught up with the brothers the day after their Lollapalooza pre-show, hours before their live set, and mid the recording of their newest record to talk about the daunting task of following up on quote unquote hits, making music in the moment, and how Chicago is like New York on Valium.
Last time we talked to you at Austin City Limits you were excited about being on the road. That was almost a year ago, how do you feel now?
Keith: We’ve been on the road a lot, we’ve also been in the studio any day that we haven’t been on the road. It’s a nice balance at the moment, recording for a few weeks, taking a week off, doing some shows and coming back. Because doing too much of anything in life tends to get monotonous, whether it’s touring or being the studio, or whatever it is you know – holidaying, even, sometimes taking a Holiday, I’m yet to do, I’m yet to Holiday for that long, but I’ve heard rumors.
You guys have been busy. Have you taken a break at all between albums or between touring?
Keith: I mean we don’t really take breaks, we just alternate between things.
Michael: We went home for Christmas, that was it.
Keith: Don’t believe a word I said. We went home for Christmas for six or seven weeks, and we went to Mexico for a week after the last tour.
Michael: There was some work involved with that. We had to play a show and then we had a few days off.
I don’t know if that counts. Does that really count?
Keith: I’m going to honest, we didn’t do much work. It was great. I’d never been to Mexico and it was beautiful.
You just released a new single, how does it feel to put new music out into the world after two years?
Keith: It’s such a great feeling because it’s been two years, and to put something out we’re this proud of. We’re still working on the album as well, so it’s’ a really nice balance where you can put new music out but it’s just a taste of where we’re headed. So it’s great, it’s a really nice feeling.
Is there a change in sound at all? Does it feel like it’s telling a different story than your previous album, Inanimate Objects?
Keith: Yes and no. I’m sure people hearing will hear a difference. We’re in the middle of it so it’s kind of… we’re the last people to ask about how it sounds. There’s a different approach on this album than the last two albums. I did a lot of songwriting over the last year for this album, so as a result, we have a lot of songs to choose from. And I prefer this way, it’s a new way for me. We would always write in the studio because we have a production background. We’d always produce at the same time as write. And that can be good because you can find inspiration in the sounds.
Michael: It drags the process out.
Keith: And I think it puts a lot of pressure on a certain idea. I think when you’re creating you shouldn’t necessarily be thinking of the end goal. It’s really just about being in the moment and exploring it. I think producing at the same time as writing takes you out of the writing part of it too often. So I think this time around, so far it seems to be working well for us because you can just go in with a bunch of ideas, record them all, and see what’s best – and not be married to an idea purely because you put a lot of time into it. That’s a mistake humans make and I’m definitely guilty of that.
Is it hard to have all of these songs that are really successful without having the thought in the back of your head, ‘well that worked before, should we replicate that’?
Keith: It can be daunting if you think of it in a certain way having quote unquote “hits” in the past, but I think that when you’re in the room and you’re really into whatever you’re doing you don’t even think about that. And you just trust in the process, that hey – we know what we’re doing here and just do the best we can and whatever comes out is meant to be.
I know you’re headed out on the road to tour this September, where are you excited to go?
Michael: Chicago. Chicago shows are always amazing.
Keith: We genuinely love this city.
What’s your favorite part about Chicago, other than Lollapalooza obviously?
Michael: Just the city in general, it’s just a beautiful city.
Keith: Chicago feels like New York on Valium to me. In the best possible way, and I love both cities. But it’s just a low key version here. It’s just a little bit more chill which I like.
Do you know what the name of the new album is?
Keith: That’s under wraps.
Michael: If you have any ideas, let us know.
Keith: Oh no, I’ve named the album. It’s just under wraps. He just doesn’t know it, it’s so under wraps.
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