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Atlas Genius's Keith Jeffery Discusses 'Trojans' And Tour

Jillian Morabito |
March 13, 2013 | 4:52 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Chances are, if you’ve listened to the radio stations such as KROQ 106.7 or STAR 98.7 in the past few months, you’ve heard the breakout indie single, “Trojans” by Atlas Genius. Just a warning to you, it would be a huge mistake to only know Atlas Genius for that one song.

The Australian band released their debut album, “When It Was Now,” with Warner Brothers Records on February 19th. With the album on the U.S. Billboard charts, their new tracks are just as brilliant as their hit single. Keith Jeffery, the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band, remarked that the new album “represents where the band has been for the last year. With this album, we didn’t want it to be any particular genre.”

Standout songs include “If So” (which is signed on to be featured in the next FIFA video game), “Symptoms” and “Backseat.” 

Jeffery has his own favorite track as well: “The song that I come back to a lot is 'Centered On You.' It’s kind of a departure from a lot of the songs on the album. I like all the songs, but this one is just closer to my heart.”

Which one does the lead singer enjoy playing in concert? “I really like playing 'Don’t Make a Scene' which is one of those songs where we took some liberties and we extended some rhythmic sections and because of that we don’t know what exactly we’re going to do each night. It keeps it interesting to us.”

Another amusing fact about the band is that Atlas Genius, whose name came to Jeffery in a dream, is a band composed of three Jeffery brothers (lead singer/guitarist Keith, drummer Michael, and bassist Steven) and the “adopted brother” keyboardist Darren Sell. 

Lead singer Keith Jeffery (via diffuser.fm)
Lead singer Keith Jeffery (via diffuser.fm)
When asked about whether or not family conflicts ever arise, Jeffery responded: “It’s definitely work. We’ve been musicians together for a long time supporting this band and I think that we’re there to do a job and that’s to keep making music but like any family brothers or sisters, every so often you have a bit of an argument but nothing major.”

Religiously listening to music and performing has been a habit for Atlas Genius for many years. The bandsmen not only grew up having a musician as a father, but also lived constantly surrounded by records of the Beatles and Jimmi Hendrix.

It wasn’t always the easiest thing to keep their dreams of being successful musicians high. 

“Before 'Trojans' came out, I know I personally got to the point where I thought music is such a hard thing to make a career out of. As much as we love music and it's our first passion, I wanted to have a house one day and a car and we knew that would be hard if we were musicians. I was in school studying architecture when 'Trojans' began to do its thing. It's always been my passion and I can say the same for the other guys. We’re lucky and happy at the moment that we can do that and every musician’s dream I think is to be able to focus on music,” Jeffery professed. 

Trading architecture books for an international tour? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal. However, Jeffery comments upon the last year saying it was “hectic but hectic has negative connotations. Hectic but in a good way. It’s been a great year, but in more ways then one. It just was such a busy year.”

So far, the road to the top has been rather smooth sailing. Jeffery says the biggest challenge in the business has been “balancing the things you need to do creatively with the ‘business.’ The trick with being a rather unknown band is it goes from being about the music to being concerned with getting from this city to that city and meeting the demands of the other parts of the business and making sure that you take care of the other stuff as well. It’s been a learning experience for us.”

Of course, it was imperative to ask Keith about where the inspiration for the title of their hit single came from. Hoping it had some funny correlation to our university, it was actually named for what everyone outside sunny SoCal thinks of when they think of Trojans—the Trojan horse, of course. 

“I just liked the metaphor for the Trojan horse and the meaning behind that and so that’s where it comes from. It’s actually funny you say that because we’ve had so many other people tell us about it being the mascot for USC, as well as many questions about it being a prophylactic. We always get the question, ‘Is your song about..?’ and we have to answer, ‘No, it’s not about that’ [laughs].”

Atlas Genius is rather busy—they are spending the rest of the year touring, with just a few weeks off: “I’m pretty excited about it because we’re doing a lot more touring here in the states and Canada, Europe, Japan. So it’s a lot of touring but hopefully we get time to write a few new songs for the next album.”

The album came out less than a month ago and already they are planning a new one; now that is dedication. On top of that, when asked what the ultimate direction of Atlas Genius is, Keith did not mention any awards or glamorous items: He answered that they ultimately just want to put out music for their fans.

“I would like this band [to] have the opportunity to put out a lot of the music we have planned and ultimately to maintain an audience. To be able to record albums and reach a level where you can tour and make the music you like is where we will hopefully be. Anything on top of that would just be a bonus I think.”

Keith Jeffery and Atlas Genius are coming to the Wiltern Theater with Imagine Dragons next Wednesday, March 20th at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available on StubHub.

Buy the new album from Atlas Genius on Amazon or iTunes.

Read more of NT's interviews here.

Reach Staff Reporter Jillian Morabito here. 



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