Since their 2009 conception, Real Estate has been the band to follow. Their eponymous first album stirred the Internet waves, getting phenomenal write-ups from blogs, websites and magazines alike. Pitchfork hailed it as the nostalgia album of twenty-somethings lost in the world, citing that the songs “soundtracked a time when it feels like every kid in or just out of college seems to be handcrafting/clamoring for music that shuttles us back to a time before career choices, adult responsibility, and this recession.”
This October, Real Estate did something truly amazing: They released a sophomore record that didn’tsuck. With Days they’ve moved past the angst, and grown up a bit. The production value is stronger, along with the actual music. Now the band, consisting of Martin Courtney (vocals), Matthew Mondanile (guitar), Alex Bleeker (bass), Jonah Maurer (keyboard) and Jackson Pollis (drums) are taking to the road, and are making a pit stop in the Big Apple this Saturday, Jan. 14, to play Terminal 5 with Girls.
I sat down to talk with Martin Courtney about the past, the present and the future
Your first album [Real Estate] was written at various points in time, but your latest album, Days, was written by the band altogether. How was the experience making this record different?
Martin Courtney: It was different because a lot of the songs on the first album were written as they were recorded. With Days, they were written before we went in the studio. We had the chance to perform them before recording. We toured with all these songs. We thought about them a bit more. When we made our first record we weren’t even a band yet. They were recorded before we were playing live sets, we had nothing figured out. We’re now a real band with this new record. There was more input from all the band members.
What are some of the staples that inspired the songs you wrote for Days?
Growing up. High school times. Being on tour with the band and that whole change and how we live our lives. It was a major life change. It gave us some direction.
You’ve toured once with Girls before, are you excited to play with them again?
The last time I saw Girls play was in October and November and it sounded insanely good. We’re playing just one show with them in New York. I’ve seen them play a few times and we’ve all talked a couple of times since we toured together in the fall of 2009. It was great. It was our first real tour as a band. We started it with Girls and finished the rest of the U.S. by ourselves. They’re really nice and have a great vibe and it was our first time touring with a band that we were super excited to play for every night. It’s been that way ever since, we’ve been lucky enough to tour with some truly great acts.
How’s it feel headlining a show versus being the opening band?
It feels really different. It’s a weird mental thing when you’re playing for a room full of people who are there to see you as opposed to someone you’re opening for. You have the pressure of playing the music people want to hear, how they like hearing it. It should be the other way around, trying to impress people who don’t know you, but for us it’s the paying customers that are coming to our show. We want to play well for the people that care about us. When we opened for Deerhunter—we’re different from that band—so if we’re trying to convert their audience members, there’s only so much we can do.
You seem to have a really solid fan mentality. You used to offer to play house parties when you toured, through your MySpace page. Are you still doing that?
It’s a different thing now, because we have tours booked for us. People didn’t ask all that much in general. It’d be great if we could play the smaller venues, the homey venues that New York has. New York is one of our favorite places to play. House parties are a lot of fun, I mean; it’s more fun playing with a shitty PA and having everything bleed together with a room full of people who just want to have fun.
In the last year or two, there’s been a backlash to the surfy/ beachy music that was popular and hailed as the new coming. A lot of bands made an effort to change their sound, but it seems like you guys have really built on your strengths and made a more sophisticated album with that same ease. Was there ever any worry that the sound might not be successful?
I don’t see Days as being surfy or beachy. I can see that with the first record because we played it up lyrically. We never worried about our sound. We never really thought about it. That’s the way we write songs. I would have a really hard time if someone said, “OK, now write this kind of song.” That’s our sound, so unfortunately if people get sick of it, then there’s not much we can do about it. I think this record is more refined because we have more experience. It’s hard for us to write a different way.
Have any real estate brokers etc. contacted you about possibly streaming some PR for them? Any strange offers because of the name?
We get a lot of real estate agents following us on Twitter, not knowing what the deal is. Matt and I were interviewed by this New York real estate magazine. They interviewed us because they thought it was funny that our name is Real Estate. Both our parents, Matt’s dad and my dad, are professionally involved in real estate. It’s a pretty separate world otherwise, indie rock and real estate. There’s not too much cross over.
I know you were considering going into real estate before your band really took off. You even sold your grandmother’s house. Have you tried working the market at all since?
That was about it. I got the license right when we started the band; I was worried about what I was going to do with my life. The band took over as a full time job before I was able to consolidate my real estate career.
What’s Real Estate working on now?
We’re in the studio today recording a song. Other than that, we’ve been practicing, working on some new material, but we have a lot of touring coming up. The idea is to record more new songs in the studio and make an EP that we can hopefully release in the summer.
Are you aware that on iTunes, if you click on your band name in the side bar on the left, a rap album comes up as well by the rap duo named Real Estate?
I’ve seen that. I don’t really know what it means or who they are, but it’s interesting.
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