Atlas Genius Shrugs Off Weight of Fast Success

Photo by Jonathan Levine

Keith Jeffery and Atlas Genius have just wrapped another radio festival — this one in Missouri — at the tail end of their first US headline tour. Jeffery is packed, prepped and ready to fly out. He needs downtime.

"We're flying to Los Angeles in a couple hours. We've got five or six days off, which is quite a long time for us," he chuckles. Jeffery doesn't have a particular plan going into this mini-vacation, and that's the way he wants it. What is he going to do?

"A whole lot of nothing. A bit of writing, actually," Jeffery said. "We'll spend some time decompressing."

Atlas Genius has loomed large in the alt-rock consciousness over the past year. The group — fronted by guitarist Keith and his drumming brother Michael Jeffery — had been active for a long while in their hometown of Adelaide, Australia, without catching on outside their base bubble. Their third brother, Stephen, took a break from the band. The Jeffery boys were facing the prospect so many of us face: a normal, workaday existence. Keith returned to his architecture studies.

"We kind of felt disillusioned, or maybe like we'd been a little bit crazy. A lot of our friends and some of our family thought we were putting too much time into music," Jeffery said. "So I went back to school. And at that point, we'd pretty much given up on music."

But then, they hit – big. A song they had posted online, "Trojans," caught the right ear at the right time. It's what every musician dreams of, but few experience: they hit the zeitgeist lottery.

"We released 'Trojans' not expecting anyone to hear it. A blogger in New York found it and then it spread very quickly in the space of a couple of months," Jeffery recalled. "It was a strange thing where we'd put a bunch of time and effort into music, and then it felt like it wasn't a viable career option. We thought we had to be really serious and get a quote-unquote 'real job.' Since then, I've actually put it back on hold again as music has seemed like it might be a viable option for a while."

They haven’t spent much time in Adelaide since. 

"We haven't really been there for the past year,” Jeffery said. “[Adelaide is] kind of eclectic. We were known for a long time for a hardcore metal scene — like an emo kind of scene. Now there's an indie scene coming through, which is quite good, but we don't have a whole lot of venues anymore.  About ten years ago, they legalized slot machines, so a lot of venues just got slot machines instead of putting on bands. You've really got to fight for shows there."

With the US looming, Keith and Michael hired two supporting musicians to flesh out, and they hit the road.

"Our other brother [Stephen] is back in Australia. When we start writing again, he might be involved. We didn't want to put too much pressure on him,” Jeffery emphasized.

“The thing about touring is that it really takes up your entire life. In a great way,” he quickly added. “It's a privilege to be able to tour."

Atlas Genius will play Cincinnati twice in 2013: first, this coming Saturday at the Bunbury Music Festival (Bud Light Stage, 8:30 pm) and again on September 24th, at the rejuvenated Bogart’s, with support from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jr. and Family of the Year.

Before that, Jeffery is taking a few moments to relax and re-energize.

"Outside of music, I'm runner. It keeps me sane,” he said. “It's one of those rare privileges to get a day off when you can actually go for a run. [Tour is always] sitting there in vans and buses for long periods of time. I generally process everything that's been stressing me out. It's a great way of releasing all that."

Atlas Genius
Bunbury Music Festival
Saturday July 13th
Bud Light Stage

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