Monday, September 26, 2011

SOUND CHECK: Real Estate INTERVIEW

Fake Plastic's very own Fr. Jones and Justin Schmidt shoot the breeze with Real Estate's Alex Bleeker about their new album, suburban nostalgia, and artistic integrity.






FR: What was the recording process like for Days? What was it like working with Kevin McMahon? Was it more or less comfortable to not be recording at home?

AB: We've known Kevin McMahon for a long time, so having him on board as an engineer/producer was really an obvious choice for us. I had interned for Kevin back when Marcata was still based in Harlem, and Martin's high school band (seizing elian, the band that included Andrew Cedermark and Pat Stickles of Titus Andronicus) saved up money to record there at the end of our senior year. When it came time to make a more "professional" sounding recording, we turned to Kevin because he was somebody we felt comfortable working with. He was the only choice, really. That said, Marcata is now situated in a large converted barn in New Paltz, NY....so it's not a slick chromed out fancy studio or anything. The gear is all remarkable, but the studio is certainly not devoid of its own brand of home spun charm.


FR: Your first full length was full of interesting references to suburban nostalgia, and growing up? Do you feel that these themes are present in Days? Would you say that there is a running theme to the new album?

AB: The reflective themes remain on this record, but obviously time has progressed and I think we are looking back from a different vantage point. This record feels more like a coming of age moment; reflecting on your youth from a more mature perspective, having left the nest. The last record was more about that awkward feeling of living with your parents when you've really out grown your childhood home.


FR: Who handled songwriting duties for the new album? How did the arrangements come together as a collaborative effort?

AB: There are 8 songs on Days. Martin is the chief songwriter for 8 of them, and Matt and I each wrote one of our own. That said, yeah, arrangements do come together more collaboratively. The sonic quality and mixes of the record are all a collaborative effort. A lot comes together in the studio, and whoever is sitting in there at the time can effect the outcome.


FR: The lyrical content of your songs seems to be very personal and poignant, but the sound is very sunny and chill. This creates an interesting sort of tension, where you have a fun and relaxing song that can still be very introspective and mysterious. "Suburban Dogs" comes to mind. How do you view the relationship of your lyrics to the sound of the music itself?

AB: I think the lyrics emerge from Martin's subconscious. That can bring an air of mystery to them, but can also make them quite personal and private.


FR: You've talked about your musical upbringings previously, and how important certain bands were to you back in middle school and high school. Do you think kids today experience the same kind of inspiration you did, given how music is presented today? Or has the availability of free music on demand taken away from that specialness?

AB: I think young music fans are really lucky. It's so easy to dive deep into whatever sound you're looking for and develop a personal sense of taste. The internet has made everything readily available to everyone, and I think that's a good thing. I've heard arguments that over saturation is negative, and ultimately paralyzing, but I don't tend to agree with that viewpoint.


FR: How has it been moving from Woodsist Records to Domino?

AB: Awesome. We love Jeremy Earl and will continue to work with him in all sorts of capacities in the future. There isn't any bad blood or anything like that. Woodsist is still one of the greatest record labels in the world, in my mind. My next solo record is going to be on Woodsist. That said, Domino has been a dream. Everyone there is totally in it for the right reasons and has supported our record in ways I would have never dreamed possible.


FR: You'll be releasing Days on Vinyl, as most releases seem to be nowadays. Do you have a preferred format that the album should be listened to through? How do you prefer to listen to music?

AB: Buy the cassette.


FR: The past decade has taken the music industry in an entirely new direction- from Napster to iTunes to Spotify. Where do you see the industry in the next ten years?

AB: Music seems to be just as safe a bet as any in today's economic climate.


FR: Any advice to up-and-coming artists struggling to make it in the musical industry?

AB: Don't comprimise any of your artistic integrity. Do what you do, and if people start listening, that's great. Don't get a day job if you don't want to. If you have a fall back plan, you will end up falling back on it.

Days will be released October 18th on Domino Records.


- Fr. Jones

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