"It's easily the most personal thing we've done" – hmv.com talks to Real Estate
Ahead of the release of their new album Atlas, we chatted to New Jersey slacker rockers Real Estate about the making of the recording, why they prefer writing to touring and how they landed on the name Atlas…
Your new album Atlas is due out on Monday (March 3rd), how are you feeling ahead of its release?
Martin (Courtney – guitar, lead vocals): "Excited for sure, it's been done a while, so we're just happy to get it out there."
Alex (Bleeker, bass guitar): "Nerves have kind of passed, we gave the album away a long time ago so we're just ready to get it out."
So when did you finish it?
Alex: "November, we got it mastered the first week of November so we've had it a while."
And when did you start on it?
Alex: "July. It was a strange process, both quick and slow. We did most of it in 10 days, which is the most condensed period of time we've spent on a record."
Martin: "Then we had like a month off and then we went back to the mixing. So it took from July to November, but the whole process only took 25 days in total, which still felt like a long time to us."
Did you record it live? Or was it a layered album?
Martin: "We did most of it live, together in a room, we hadn't really done that before. I even sang live, not that we kept my vocal takes, but it made the playing feel like we were playing out. It gives the record a live feel, which we wanted."
You recorded with Tom Schick, what was he like to work with?
Martin: "He was the reason we did it fast, he made us feel like we could."
Alex: "He doesn't impose any of his will on it, he doesn't have a specific direction for us, he was a great facilitator for ideas and he made sure that things ran very smoothly. It was a great experience."
Do you feel like you're the kind of band that needs producing? Or are you productive anyway?
Alex: "Not really and that's why it worked, he wasn't intrusive, he allowed us to do our thing and he brought out the best in us."
Did he work you guys hard?
Matt (Mondanile, guitars): "It all came from us, we quickly got into a good routine where we'd do two songs a day, he didn't need to yell at us or anything."
Alex: "The idea of him keeping us in line isn't what it was, he was more like coaching us."
What's it about lyrically? Is there a unifying theme?
Martin: "There are some themes but not intentionally, there's no message. Obviously when you write within a six-month period themes do tend to emerge. We toured a lot on the last record, so there's a fair bit of that in there, being away from people."
Does it feel like a very personal record?
Martin: "More so than what we've done before, I tried to write less about the past and more about my life now, it's easily the most personal thing I've done."
Does the title come all the travelling you've done?
Martin: "Kind of. It certainly plays into it, but Atlas, the idea of a future Atlas, it kind of feels whatever you want it to be."
Do you fight over titles?
Alex: "We leave it to the last minute and then we fight. Part of being in a band is trying to compromise on these things and making sure everybody doesn't hate it."
Martin: "To be honest, I finally brought up the name 'Atlas' after I went through the record's lyrics and there's a lot of references to navigations and maps. It seemed like a good title."
So after the album drops, what’s the plan? Lots of touring?
Martin: "Not really. Not as much as a lot of bands would."
Matt: "It's still a lot, you have to play live, to get yourself out there."
Martin: "We finish up this short UK run, then we're doing a month long tour of the US, then we have a month and a half off, then we go back to Europe and then we don't know after that."
Alex: "We're booked until October, but it's not continuous."
Martin: "I don't want to be gone for two years, I want to have another record out in two years, we all like writing more than touring, so we want to make sure we keep putting records out."
Finally, what were some of the records that really influenced during the making of the record?
Alex: "A big one was Wilco, not so much in terms of sound, but definitely the cleanliness of the production."
Martin: "We were listening a lot of 70s rock, trying to find drum sounds and acoustic sounds and the vibe of those records, stuff like Steely Dan, trying to find the sound of a tight band playing together."
Real Estate's new album Atlas is released on Monday. You can check out the band's back catalogue here.