Real Estate the band is keepin’ it real

    “Our careless lifestyle/it was not so unwise, no,” sings Martin Courtney on Real Estate’s song “Green Aisles.”  The “not so unwise” lifestyle captured on Real Estate’s breezy, immaculately crafted pop rock songs have been turning heads and setting feet a’tapping throughout the indie music scene.  Hailing from New Jersey, Real Estate recently released their sophomore LP Days to rapturous approval, making many critics’ Top 50 Albums of the year, including landing the No. 9 spot on Pitchfork.com’s highly regarded list.  Before rocking Burlington for the first time in their careers this past Tuesday at the Higher Ground Showcase Ballroom, The Cynic caught up with bassist Alex Bleeker to talk about Jersey Shore, dealing with expectation and what is behind their hilarious new music video. The Vermont Cynic (VC): So first off, could you describe your sound for anyone that’s never listened to Real Estate? Alex Bleeker (AB): It’s a return to the form of pop song. Just good pop songs that are really melodic and satisfying on that level. It’s guitary, a lot of melodic guitar leads; it’s on the more mellow side of things but not super mellow and it’s just a classic pop song structure kind of thing. VC: The name Real Estate goes well with the suburban theme of your music, but is there any story behind it?  AB: We’d all moved back to our parents’ houses after graduating from college in 2008, we didn’t really know what to do with our lives, the recession had just hit and apart from that we were kind of slacker- type people, anyway, and we didn’t really want to get day jobs and were just at this weird loss. Martin, the lead singer of the band, was going to school to get his real estate license to become a realtor to solve that, and his parents actually own a real estate company that they were going let him work at. [His parents] were like “Why don’t you all come work for us!” So we were joking around saying what if we did that and we were in the band at the same time, so that’s why we call the band Real Estate. VC: One of my favorite parts about Real Estate is that you guys maintain this unique sound while still drawing from a lot of great bands. Who would you say are your biggest influences musically? AB: I’d say there’s a number of different things for all us, but collectively we really like bands like Yo La Tengo, Pavement, The Feelies; there’s a band called Felt we’re really into right now. Those are some of the really big ones. Oh, and Galaxy 500. VC: A lot of kids my age think of the show Jersey Shore when they think New Jersey. You guys seem proud of your home state, but what’s your take on the show? AB: I haven’t seen it that much really – I mean, obviously I know all about it. I think it’s pretty funny. I’m not like offended by it or anything like that. But, it’s funny, because we fly all over the world and people talk to us about Jersey Shore and people, especially in Europe, are like ‘it’s not real, there’s no people like that’ but it’s real, there are real people like that, there definitely are people like that in Jersey. That’s just a part of Jersey…I think it’s great actually. It’s funny that there’s a show for that because if you love Jersey you got to like it for everything that it is, and that’s definitely a part of it – I’m not going to go denying that. VC: All right let’s get into the music. Your first LP was very well received. What was it like making a second album knowing critics and fans had high expectations? AB: I think it was a little nerve-wracking at first before we started actually making the album, you know, when you have time to sit around and think about that kind of thing. But then, when we were actually making it…you just sort of let that go. You just try to make a really good album, but not cater to that kind of thing, because if you do you’re going to make a bad album. If you try to give critics exactly what they want then you’re not doing what you were interested in the first place, which is just being yourself and making good music you know? So I think once you start making the record and get more involved in what it’s actually like to be making a record you let all those other outside factors just fall away. I think that’s why, I mean we’re proud of [the album], and I think it turned it pretty good. VC: Obviously it turned out really well. One of the biggest differences for me between your self-titled album and Days is just how focused and cohesive it is. Was this a conscious effort on the bands part? AB: Yeah, definitely. I think it just happened naturally; it is more focused and cohesive because we’re more focused and cohesive now. We did it in studio with an actual producer and stuff and we did it in a more dense period of time. The first record we kind of did it here and there but this record it was like “this period of couple of months is for making the album” so I think that definitely adds to why it feels more cohesive. VC: You guys actually just today released a funny video directed by Tom Scharpling for the great song “Easy,” which features some rabid Real Estate fans who almost end up executing an uncooperative DJ. I know it was pretty light-hearted, but was the video in any way a response to all the buzz and promotion surrounding you guys lately? AB: It’s a little bit tongue in cheek, it’s not really political in that way, it’s not making a statement. But it definitely appeals to us in that we are self-aware that there are some people who are fans of the earlier records who have sort of been haters. The video, it’s just funny, we like videos that have a story along with them and I think this is a pretty good one. VC: You guys also released a video for It’s Real recently which featured a lot of dogs; was this is thematic choice on the bands part? AB: It kind of happened accidently. We originally thought the video was going to be kind of the same thing: the beginning would be really wholesome with the dogs like the current video and then it was going to turn into this crazy murder mystery like one of us was going to die. We were running that by Ben Shechter who eventually directed the video and he was like “you know that’s really cool, but what about just dogs” (laughs).  VC: Days was in a lot of 2011 best of the year lists, and rightly so. Were there any albums from last year that you really enjoyed? AB: I think my favorite album last year was the Pure X album Pleasure. I’ll represent it because I don’t think it got as much love as it should have. I really liked that record. VC: So I know you guys are fresh off Days, but do you have any plans for the next album or anything else? AB: We actually recorded a new song yesterday. That’s going to be a record. We have an EP in mind for 2012 for sure.