Atlas Genius singer has heard about Buffalo’s weather; is willing to play here anyway

By: Janelle Harb

Features Layout Editor

As of late, Buffalo is bursting with new music and concerts.  I had the opportunity to interview the Australian-born lead singer of Atlas Genius, Keith Jeffery, about the band’s upcoming show in Buffalo.

Janelle Harb: Are you excited to go to Buffalo on your tour?

Keith Jeffery: Yes, it will be our first time playing in Buffalo, and it’s always great to play cities for the first time. For some reason we didn’t get to Buffalo on our last tour. We’ve toured the country so many times, so it’s nice to finally get there.  I’ve heard good things! Wait, we’re not getting snow yet are we? I’ve heard some stories about your snow in the winter.

JH:What’s your favorite city that you’ve been to?

KJ: There’s a bunch! It depends, sometimes you’re really lucky, and you can get time off, and you get to see a city properly.  Like Vancouver, we had been there so many times, and it was only until the last time I went there that I actually had time to check it out and realize how great it was and how much I had missed every other time.  Vancouver, I love. In the States, I love Portland, Oregon, it’s a real favorite of mine.  I love Austin, Texas.  New York’s incredible.  There’s a bunch, but those really come to mind.

JH: How is it to be on tour with your brother?

KJ: It’s fine. We’ve been doing this for seven years, and it’s just what we do.  We don’t really have any problems, we have the odd word every so often, but yeah we get on great, all things considered.

JH: Is it nice to have family with you all the time?

KJ: Yeah, it’s definitely one of the benefits of it.  I couldn’t imagine if I was here just myself, it would be a lot harder, I mean it’s still hard to be away from family years on end, but it does make it easier to have each other.

JH: How did it feel to perform on Jimmy Kimmel?

KJ: It was a lot of fun! TV is a weird beast because you’re playing one song and there are ten cameras on you. It’s a very artificial kind of vibe compared to a normal show, but it’s a fun show, the way they do it.  They have a crowd in front of you so it’s not as sterile as it could be, and I think it turned out well, so I was happy with the experience. It was the second time we had done it.  It felt about as comfortable as you could expect from a TV show, so pretty good.

JH: Who are your biggest musical influences?

KJ: Oh there’s so many! As a little kid I loved [Jimi] Hendrix, and I’ve really got into the whole Nevada, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins thing, the shoe-gazer early 90s, Brit-stuff.  And then in recent years I’m really digging a lot of the electronic stuff coming out, like the bands that still manage to stay somewhat organic. I kind of shy away from stuff if it’s too plastic and too processed.  We’re kind of touring from a whole range of them.

JH: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be? It seems like you have a long list of favorites!

KJ: Yeah, I’ve had that question a few times! And one guy I really love is Benjamin Gibbard from Death Cab for Cutie.  I think he’s really great. Their albums are some of my all-time favorites. Like Plans, if anyone’s going through a breakup, you just need to put that album on and it’s like he’s singing straight to you. I’d love to work with him.  We were lucky on this last album that was just released, there’s a bunch of people we were able to jam with and write with, and not all of them made the album.  We did a song with Luke Pritchard from The Kooks, and it’s not on the album but it’ll get out at some point maybe. And that was a lot of fun with a guy like that because he’s such pro. He’s done so much great stuff.

JH: What has been your favorite song that you’ve written?

KJ: It changes. I’m never gonna be angry at “Trojans,” I’m pretty happy with that one, considering it’s done alright for us.  On the new album, actually, “Levitate,” right at the end of the album, there’s this song and it’s one of the most unassuming tracks.  It’s actually just me singing over it and playing acoustic guitar, with a little bit of electronic and few things coming in throughout the song.  But, in essence, it’s really just an acoustic track, and I hope it still has a real power to it, even though it’s a bit soft.  When I listen to it, it still kinda chokes me up. It can be difficult after the hundredth listen to still be emotionally affected by something that you’ve written.  But that song still manages to make me feel something really strong inside, even though I wrote the song.  I’m pretty proud of that song.

JH: How has the response been to the new album, Inanimate Objects?

KJ: The response has been great. I don’t go and actively search out reviews—I don’t think it’s something an artist in general should do.  But I have heard a bunch of them that friends or management have told me, and it’s been a really great reaction to the album. So a problem being a musician in this day and age is how to make more people hear it.  You know, I’m really proud of what we did, but there’s so much music, so that’s the challenge.  How do you stand out? But I’m really happy with the reaction. It’s been overwhelmingly positive.

JH: Have the shows reflected that new positive energy?

KJ: Oh, it’s been a few factors, like the new band.  We have two new guys playing with us who are really great performers, really fun to be with, just that alone is a good vibe onstage, with the four of us.  The crowd’s been great, even though some of these songs have only been out for a week or two, we’ve seen a lot of people sing along to the tracks, and I think all of those factors have created some of the best shows we’ve ever done.  We were in San Francisco the other night, and it was amazing. That was the first show on the tour.  We just did a show the other night in New Orleans and that was one of the best shows we’ve ever done, and it’s been great.

JH: How has the success of “Trojans” changed your life?

KJ: I mean I’m currently in Tennessee, and so the fact that I’m in this, for me, the most exotic place in the world, it’s changed everything about what we do. It allowed us to, after so many years of writing music and trying to get it out there, to get it heard. “Trojans” instantly changed the game, where all of a sudden we had an audience, and we were allowed to tour, and we’re in the States now rather than being back in Australia.

JH: Thank you for your time! Buffalo is so excited to have you.

KJ: I’m vegan so I’ll make sure to try and find some vegan chicken wings.

Atlas Genius will be playing at The Waiting Room on September 20th.

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