Atlas Genius are set to release their second record (entitled Inanimate Objects) NEXT WEEK on August 28th. Because that is quite a long time to wait, we thought it would be nice for you to 1. pre-order a copy RIGHT NOW and then 2. tide yourself over by reading an interview I conducted with Keith last week; aside from talking about the band’s rad new batch of tunes, we covered what it’s like to be a vegan act on the road, as well as about summer bucket lists and MORE, so prepare to internet eavesdrop on all of that below! (You should also follow Atlas Genius on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news, just sayin’.) HERE WE GO:
So you’ve played a ton of shows this summer! Have you played all of the songs from Inanimate Objects live on this tour, or are you keeping some of them top-secret until the album drops?
We’ve played around probably half (or maybe a little bit more) of the album. That was actually an interesting conversation; we were really contemplating not playing anything before it was released, and just letting the recorded versions get out there first, but then we started rehearsing for these upcoming shows, and we realized that we really wanted to play some of them. So as I say, I think there’s been six or seven of them that we’ve played live, and it’s been great, because there is that thing where you play new songs to a crowd of people; if they don’t know the songs, it doesn’t mean as much to them (of course), because it’s coming at them for the first time, but considering that, I think the crowd’s reception has been great so far.
That’s great! And with this being the second record, was there anything that you took away from making the debut that was especially instrumental in shaping this one? Or were they completely separate experiences for you guys?
I think there were certain things that we tried to embrace again from the first album, and then there were certain things that we just wanted to throw out in order to try something new. I mean, we went back to Australia at the beginning of last year to try and write this album, and after about three or four months, personally I just felt so isolated from everything that we’d been doing, because we toured that album for eighteen months pretty much straight. Having traveled America, and having gone to Europe and England and Australia…going back to this little studio in a beach town on the coast of Australia where we grew up was just a little bit too isolated for me. There’s this community that we really bonded with over here in the States, so we ended up moving to Los Angeles in April of last year to continue. In that respect, doing it in that small, isolated studio just didn’t feel right anymore, so we totally abandoned that; rather than just doing it in our own studio, we moved over here.
I think I also became a bit less of a rock purist; growing up I was always very finicky about doing things the right way (recording guitars the right way or doing things in the textbook fashion), but so much vibe can be created when you do things the wrong way, you know? Like on this new album there’s a lot of stuff where I’d sample myself playing guitar or piano or whatever, and then I’d slice it up and find mistakes and actually use those as an instrument, rather than using the nice, pristine sounds. In my mind, that’s made a really interesting vibe on this album.
I mean, it sounds fantastic. They gave me the advance copy and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it, so again, congratulations! Now, when “Friends With Enemies” dropped, I read that Facebook post where you guys said we should all listen to it in a dark room. So that’s just a listening suggestion for one song, but if you could curate the listening experience for the album as a whole, what would that ideally look like for a first-time listen?
It would be probably a darkened room with a big, fat set of speakers. (There’s a lot of bottom-end action happening on this album, and to really appreciate that I think you need a big sound system, or a really good set of headphones.) I like listening to music with a blank canvas in front of me, and if you’re in a darkened room, you can really just get lost in it; I know when I was a kid I had some of my dad’s old Dire Straits records, and the way some of those songs are produced is very cinematic, so I used to listen to those in the dark. There’s a lot of ear candy on this album, especially on songs like “Friends With Enemies” and “Friendly Apes,” and I think you need to really be sitting there and zoned in to let those wash over you. Certain albums are great for driving, but I think this is a good album to just sit in a dark room and take it in.
Well in addition to SOUNDING beautiful, the cover art is really nice! What can you tell me about that?
Yeah, in one of our manager’s offices she’s got a bunch of paintings by this artist in Los Angeles called Kii Arens. It’s kind of pop art (maybe that’s doing it a disservice, but that’s the word that’s coming to mind); his artwork is really quite simplistic and bold, which I was really drawn to, and I remember at one point we were just sitting around talking about album artwork in the office, and we got to talking about his work. We approached him, and he was up for doing the artwork, so we met with him, played him some of the songs, and the album artwork was his response to what he heard. For me, it’s beautiful.
Very cool! Now, summer is wrapping up here in the Northern Hemisphere, and I used to always make a summer bucket list as a kid when school let out; is there anything on YOUR summer bucket list that you haven’t gotten to do yet since you’ve been so wrapped up in this tour?
I don’t feel like I’ve spent enough time at the beach; I used to surf a lot, and this summer we’ve been traveling so much that I haven’t really been to the beach, so maybe I’ll try to get a couple of visits in before the summer is out. But since our summer in Australia is in December and January, I think when we head back for Christmas we’ll get some bonus beach time. Sorry about that!
No offense taken! (I actually really hate summer as an adult; I went to Buenos Aires last July just to take advantage of their winter.) Now, speaking again of how much touring you’ve been doing, being on the road can either be amazing or really terrible for food…have you eaten anywhere that is mind-blowingly great this summer?
Actually, we were in Philadelphia the other day, and there was a place by our hotel called HipCityVeg, which was this amazing vegan place. There was also a really nice spot in Colorado, but the name escapes me. It’s like the most popular vegan spot in Colorado.
So are you both vegan, then?
Yeah, we both are. Actually, all of the band is either vegan or vegetarian.
Does that get tough when you’re traveling, then? Because I feel like you would run into patches of the US that are like, ultra-carnivorous, you know? Do you bring food with you just in case?
You know, it’s actually getting better. Like we were in the Midwest the other week, and it did take us a little while to find things in St. Louis (everything was a grill, you know?), but eventually we found some food. I do feel like overall it’s getting much better.
Well that’s good. Now, you’re headed out with Passion Pit for some shows, and then of course you’ll be releasing the record, which is huge, but have you got anything else on the immediate horizon we should know about?
Well, there’s a bunch of shows that unfortunately haven’t been announced yet, but the good thing is that there are a lot coming up. So there’s a bunch of touring coming up for us, and I’ve also got some remixes I’m doing for other bands that I’m excited to get out there. Lots of musical stuff for us coming up!