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NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Atlas Genius: Down Under act releases 'Molecules'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2016-06-07

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Australian band Atlas Genius was originally formed by three brothers, with Keith Jeffrey on vocals, Steven Jeffery on bass and Michael Jeffrey on drums. They began as a garage band in their parent's house that was eventually built into a recording studio.

Their debut single, "Trojans," made them a global sensation and led them to be signed by Warner Bros. Records.

Last year they released their second studio album Inanimate Objects, with the hit single "Molecules."

Windy City Times went backstage at their last Chicago concert to find out how smart they are.

Windy City Times: Great to meet the brothers in person!

Keith Jeffrey: We are brothers—genetically linked.

WCT: There is another brother in the band, right?

KJ: He is actually with us at the moment. He's working on the microphones on the stage.

WCT: Were you always a musical family?

KJ: Yeah. Our parents loved music. We listened to music around the house. Our dad played guitar when we were in high school. He didn't continue with that but he did have some nice guitars when I was younger and they were always laying around.

So it was a house with music playing, there were guitars, and a curious kid. I picked a guitar up and started playing.

I started first, being the oldest, then it flowed to the others.

WCT: How is it traveling and touring with the family?

KJ: Oh, sometimes it is terrible but generally it is good. It is like any family thing. I am very calm and considerate while Michael is the other end of the spectrum!

Michael Jeffrey: I was the one walking around Chicago trying to buy food in the freezing cold. You didn't leave the bed all day! I bought you lunch and dinner because I am the nicest brother.

KJ: I was feeling a little off yesterday so he looked after me. Generally speaking traveling with family is great.

WCT: You could say anything you want about the other brother because he is not here.

KJ: Oh, he sucks! [All laugh.]

WCT: How did you wind up touring with singer Skylar Grey?

KJ: The booking agent put us together. Normally we tour with bands that are pretty similar to what we do, like a rock genre. It is nice to see her fans who are different than our fans. It is a nice change.

WCT: How is it performing these new song live? I heard the light show is amazing.

KJ: We do have a great light show. It is funny; every song takes a life of its own. Sometimes we think a song will be amazing live but it doesn't feel as good then others do. There were a couple of songs that we didn't even do last year because the album wasn't out yet, but now they feel great live.

WCT: How has the growth been from the debut album, When It Was Now, to Inanimate Objects?

KJ: It has been exponential. This configuration of the band is the strongest it has ever been as far as the chemistry. The vibe onstage is really great. You just tour for a bunch of years and you get better.

We were not green before because we played lots of shows in Australia with other bands but not at this level. It is a different thing. We are now touring the world and playing our own music.

WCT: I saw you play at Lollapalooza not that long ago.

KJ: That was 2013 so it feels like a lifetime ago. That was towards the end of the first album cycle.

WCT: You are coming back for Taste for Randolph?

MJ: Yes, we are. We just found out a week or two ago.

KJ: I love Chicago in the summer!

WCT: Have you played at many festivals in the past?

KJ: Yes, we have. We did a lot last summer and for a out first album as well. This album brings a lot of music festivals coming up.

WCT: Are new tracks like "Stockholm" inspired by traveling?

KJ: For "Stockholm," I was actually in Sweden. "Stockholm" was just the working title and I planned on coming up with a new title but then the album was ready to come out. It was about Stockholm so we kept it and it stuck.

WCT: There are a lot of soaring vocals. It is more about the singing of it than the lyrics?

KJ: No, everything is equally important. You have the melody and the lyrics. They need to work together otherwise it doesn't work for us. Mentally for me it is all important. I am not a writer who will just jam a lot of lyrics into a melody.

I like Bob Dylan but sometimes he will just put a lot lyrics in. With me I am more concerned with the syllables and it needs to be very complimentary with the melody.

I can't even put into words why it feels right but eventually you get to a point where it feels right.

WCT: Do people ask you about the song "Trojans" a lot?

KJ: For a while all the time. Thankfully, now you can find all the made up answers online!

WCT: What is you opinion on Bruce Springsteen cancelling his North Carolina concert?

KJ: I think it is great when an artist can make an impact like that on a total bullshit law or whatever it is. That is one of the greatest things you've got, a voice because of your art. It is important and him doing that was incredible. I commend it.

As an artist you've got to be at a certain level so you don't piss off too many people who are detrimental to you getting that voice heard. If Bruce Springsteen had cancelled his first show ever then he wouldn't have had a career. You have to choose the right moment to make a stand.

WCT: What are LGBT rights like in Australia?

KJ: It is much more liberal. We live in West Hollywood, which is great and there are rights for everybody. I think that unfortunately certain parts of this country have a ways to go.

WCT: In honor of your single "Molecules," let's quiz you on them. Are electrons larger or smaller than molecules?

KJ: Electrons are smaller.

WCT: Right. Are molecules chemically bonded?

KJ: Yes.

WCT: You got another one right. Can molecules have atoms from more than one chemical element?

KJ: Yes.

WCT: How did you get these questions right?

KJ: I studied chemistry.

WCT: You really are geniuses!

Witness the Genius on Friday, June 17, at 4 p.m. at the Taste of Randolph Street Festival. Visit AtlasGenius.com for more on the band.


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