Real Estate Band Interview: Jersey Boys Tour With California’s Girls

Feb 1, 2012 1:07pm

Buzz for indie darlings Real Estate began back in 2009, with the release their self-titled debut album. The relaxed, sunshine-infused vibes of the band’s sophomore effort Days, appeals to an audience that continues to grow three years later.

Real Estate is a band almost by second nature; they’re friends first. Members Alex Bleeker, Martin Courtney and Matt Mondanile have been playing together for over 10 years. Their musical influences?  Each other. Music is what initially united the teenagers from suburban New Jersey. It wasn’t until after college, after they had moved back to their hometown of Ridgewood, that a more formalized group started taking shape.

 

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New Jersey indie band Real Estate released their sophomore album "Days" in October 2011. (Woodsist/Underwater Peoples)

AudioFile caught up with Real Estate before a recent show at Terminal 5 in New York City, where the guys rambled, joked and hung out backstage like old pals do. They also answered a few of our questions.

As the band has gained momentum and recognition, are there any regrets about choosing the name “Real Estate”?

Courtney: It’s not too hard—as soon as you add the word “music” or “band” [in Google search], you know, it’s there. And also, if anything, it’s helped us get more Twitter followers because there’s a lot of people who think we’re a real estate agency. There are a ton of people who follow us who are real estate agents that don’t really know the deal yet. There are a ton of real estate bots.

You have connections to other Jersey musicians in bands such as Titus Andronicus and Vivian Girls –What’s it like seeing each other have this rise in success?

Bleeker: We all know each other, we’re a community, we like each other’s music. You see one person achieve or attain one level of recognition, and it’s inspiring. It’s also like, “Oh yeah, I know them. I can do that.” It makes it more attainable if you know somebody personally and you know exactly where they came from. It’s feasible that you can do something like get a record made. Let alone have people buy the record. Like the first time we had a record come out on an actual vinyl, I was like, “I can’t believe this exists.” Or a real CD that we didn’t burn ourselves. You can do those things. It’s not that difficult.

 

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Girls frontman Christopher Owens playing at Terminal 5 in New York City. Girls' latest album "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" was released in September 2011. (Shaun Regan)

How is the tour with Girls going this second time around?

Mondanile: It’s cool. When we toured with them, it was really fun because our album had just come out, and their album had just come out. And we played a tour from New York to Chicago, and I think almost every show was sold out. And it was really fun to get to know them. And it’s still JR and Chris are the main guys for the band. The band’s changed a little bit. But we’ve definitely gotten to know the incarnations of all of them. They’re our good friends. It’s really nice to play with them again.

Bleeker: We’re fans of their music. It’s sort of surreal to grow exponentially with them, I guess. We played a show at Bowery Ballroom with them two years ago. We’re now at Terminal 5. We’ve never played this room in New York City before. And they haven’t either. It’s kind of like an exciting first for both of us.

 

What was it like working with Tom Scharpling for the music video “Easy”?

Bleeker: We knew we wanted Scharpling, and we knew we wanted a video that had a narrative structure to it, and that’s funny. And those are all of our collective favorite music videos that are just like little stories or little movies, or just kind of funny things. And so we were like, “We want a narrative, we want it to be funny, and we want it to be you.” And he came back with this idea, and we thought it was great, and we were like, “Yeah, go for it.”

Courtney: We were on tour when they filmed it, so that’s why we couldn’t be in it, unfortunately. It would have been cool to at least make a cameo or something.

Mondanile: It was cool to see our faces on a van like that.

Can you tell us about your different solo projects?

Mondanile: Yeah, I play in a band called Ducktails. And I’ve been doing it almost a little longer than Real Estate. And I tour when I’m not playing Real Estate with that sometimes. I’ll probably have a record coming out later this year if I finish it.

Bleeker: I have a band called Alex Bleeker and the Freaks. The live band is this revolving door, a revolving cast of characters. These guys have both been in it at one point or another. They’re on the record, our first record. I write songs that are maybe a little different than Real Estate. I sometimes write songs that fit well into Real Estate. One of them is on the record. But it’s a band where I’m sort of the front man, I guess, and it has more of a loose feel than Real Estate does. Especially lately, a little more improvisational and loose. And it’s just an outlet for a different type of music that I like, and that I enjoy writing, and it’s really fun for me.

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