Backstage Interview with Keith Jeffery (Atlas Genius)

>> When Atlas Genius came to Buffalo for a sold out show at Town Ballroom with Andrew Mcmahon in the Wilderness and Night Riots, Floated was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to interview the lead singer of Atlas Genius, Keith Jeffery. If you don’t know who Atlas Genius are they are an alternative rock band formed in Adelaide, South Australia. After forming in 2009 the band took off on tour and has had a few of their singles on the top music charts. They’re most known for their popular songs ‘Trojans’ and ‘If So’. This band makes you want to get up and dance it all out! I highly recommend giving this band a listen, they’ll knock your socks off and get you movin’!

FLOATED: What has been the inspiration that has brought you to where you are?

Keith: We’ve been going for five years, the band. I’ve always had this burning passion for music and to try and reconfigure music in a way that satisfies me and Mike is the same. You grow up with influences and at some point you’re like, ‘I want to contribute to the fabric of this musical community that I appreciate!’ and I just think being that desire to reconfigure things and find your own combination of things, that is your art.

F: In terms of the lyrics themselves what is the inspiration behind those, or what do you write songs about?

K: When you write a song it’s the hardest thing to do in the world. It’s funny it’s the hardest thing in the world and it’s also the easiest thing, like some days you’ll be just like that (snaps fingers) you can’t explain, you can’t recreate it. You get a song almost from nowhere, and other times you can work on a song for six months and you’re like, ‘fuck I hate this song...and I can’t finish it, I don’t know what’s wrong with it.’ You’re trying to blend, you’re trying to balance the aesthetic, the sound of it, the melody, that flows through those chords in a production, and then have a lyric that is delivered on that melody...which does everything justice and elevates it to another level. That’s the beauty and the difficulty, is finding those...finding that balance in what you’re writing.

F: So you guys have been playing in Buffalo for quite some time already.

K: You mean like the amount of times we’ve been here?

F: Yeah!

K: We’ve been here three times, we came here…

F: Last year for the Kerfuffle Before Christmas, I was there for that show!

K: Yeah, the year before we actually did one little tiny little show in fifteen. But before that we hadn’t been here before. So it actually took us three years of touring America to actually get to Buffalo. Some parts of the country we’ve been to nine/ten times, so here is probably the least amount of shows we’ve done in the country actually!

F: What do you think about the crowds here?

K: Well tonight was great! A lot of it is Andrew’s crowd for sure, it’s one of those nights where you go, ‘I’m gonna show you what we’re fuckin doin, ya know?’

F: That kid that you were talking about was jammin out!

K: It was nuts! He was goin’ great! It was impressive how much energy he had! Every night is different, they’re definitely certain parts of the country where we go we know this crowd is going to be a good crowd cause there’s some cities that just have that buzz. Some cities that have no fuckin buzz at all. I’m still making up my mind about Buffalo because we’ve only been here three times and last year’s Kerfuffle was so fuckin huge. I can’t really judge it by that, it was great! I can’t really judge, it was a fun night!

F: It was amazing! I knew everyone was having such a great time. When you came out into the crowd I know everyone was going nutsss! It was great! In terms of the band how has your music progressed and manipulated, has anything changed since the beginning?

K: Night Riots walks in and interrupts the interview. As you’re creating you get turned on by different things from one year to the next. I was listening to different music five years ago to what I listen to now. Sometimes you go back in time and you go back decades to find something you hadn’t discovered and other times you listen to something very current and that turns you on. That changes what you do and as far as evolving you’re always trying to be more and more honest with that initial embryonic idea that started it all. So I could be writing a song about this pair of Doc Marten’s and the better songwriter I am, the better I can make you listen to the song and really feel the Doc Martin’s as if they are yours, even if you’re on the other side of the world. If I’m doin’ it right, just not straying, and all of a sudden I’m talking about a fuckin’ shirt, people may get confused. You know I am being kind of ridiculous here but stay true to that idea of a song and painting that picture the best you can. Everything makes that picture more vibrant. That’s what you try to evolve towards, being better at telling that story.

F: If you could fight a famous person who would you fight?

K: Like fist fight?

F: Hell yeah!

K: Fuck, it’ll be like...the bastard who shot John Lennon. That guy. Fuckin wrestle that guy to the ground. Stop him from killing my favorite songwriter of all time.

F: I was telling her (Hillary), I want to fight Flea. I feel like it would be such a fun match, jumping around fighting with him.

K: He’s pretty fit, he’s a nimble little guy. He’s older now. You could take him. He might have old man strength, there’s that thing that happens at a certain age.

F: Jumping all around, being all crazy on the stage too, I bet!

K: He’d be pretty strong too, I’d bet!

F: If you were to be a porn star, what would be your porn star name?

K: If you’re going by the classic, certain formulas, my porn star name is Cestle Lamonte, first pet, first street name. So Cestle Lamonte would probably be my porn star name I guess. Porn stars fascinate me because it’s always become this art form now. Now there’s no taboos. When we grew up it was always like this secret, oh no porn I don’t look at porn no! Now everyone readily admits, yeah I’ve seen some porn.

F: There is a couple of bands in the Boston area, whenever they perform just have four or five screens up and just project porn onto the screen when they’re performing.

K: Some of that demographic, it might be a little inappropriate for the underage kids. It’s interesting to see, it’s good in a way, we’re opening up when it comes to all areas, in all ways. It is still amazing I’ve got acquaintances in Los Angeles who’ve started in porn and now have very legitimate, vibrant careers in fashion and all sorts of things, which is great. If they’re happy with that, as long as there aren’t regrets down the road, what's the issue.

F: Picasso or Dali?

K: I’ve always loved Picasso.

F: Are you guys currently working on new music or anything at all?

K: I only have about 90 songs I’m working on right now, so no, no music. There’s a bunch actually, a bunch of our own stuff. I'm in a song that’s on Andrew’s new album that came out a couple of months ago, it’s called, ‘Brooklyn, You’re Killing Me’. There’s a few other songs, Michelle Branch actually has a new album, which I am on two of those songs. In some other projects coming out that I’ve forgotten about.

F: Always keeping busy!

K: Yeah!

F: We will just go with one more question, what has been the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to while touring?

K: Generally speaking I get way more inspired when I go to some derelict town that was big back in the gold rush or big in the sixties. You go there now and it’s almost run down. I find that way more inspiring and gets my juices flowing than if I go to a big city and there is all this shit happening. That’s cool, I love going to New York and I love Chicago but sometimes you’re on your way to one of those cities and you have a day off in Butte, Montana or somewhere just tiny and wholesome. I wonder what was life was like here fifty years ago, that for me is more inspiring!