The Smiths loving, New Jersey indie pop band Real Estate are on the cusp of releasing their fourth album In Mind. CHRIS HAVERCROFT spoke to bass player and occasional vocalist Alex Bleeker about the more dynamic nature of their latest offering and the circumstances surrounding it.
The formation of Real Estate was somewhat inevitable with the trio of Martin Courtney, Matt Mondanile and Bleeker being childhood friends who all attended Ridgewood High School together. Although they went their separate ways for college, upon returning to Ridgewood, Real Estate was formed. After three highly regarded albums, Mondaline left the group to focus on his solo project Ducktails. Luckily for the band, when they thought of finding a replacement, the choice was simple.
“We are just really happy to have Julian (Lynch) on board,” beams Bleeker when talking about the bands newest member. “That is the silver lining of Matt having left. Julian comes from the exact same musical background as Martin and I. We all grew up in the same town together and went to the same high school, so we are familiar with each others’ energy. We have also been fans of his solo records for a long time, so he was a shoe in. We were looking to make some subtle sonic changes on this record and Julian had a very active part in that. He brought his sound and his gear and his style and we are happy with the result.”
It would be easy to sum up Lynch’s point of difference in the band as being the obvious introduction of distortion. In essence the guitar parts from Lynch add an edge to Real Estate that was not there before without messing with the pop song format they do so well. The band also wanted to take some risks with the textures and the tones of the music when they were in the studio and Lynch’s melodic yet avant-garde and experimental background came to the fore.
“We’re attracted to songwriting in this band,” Bleeker says. “That is what we’re about and that is always going to be front and centre for us. We’re interested in communicating good songs first and foremost and then you branch out from there. We want to progress and move forward as musicians. It is kind of like, how can we use tools to better communicate the song. It is about how we use all these elements to best serve the song. We aren’t going to go crazy in the studio just for the sake of going crazy.”
With the intention of using the studio as a tool, Real Estate decided to enlist the help of a producer who would take the reins and not be shy to offer an opinion. Cole MGN was the person that was chosen as much for being part of the community of friends and bands that Real Estate associate with, but also for his work with Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and his production duties with Beck.
“It’s not like we hang out all the time, but we have known him and his wife Ramona (Gonzelez aka Nite Jewel) and we are a fan of what he does,” Bleeker says. “We thought that here is a guy that is on our level that we can work with, who has done a heap of different stuff. He is a proper producer. He is a real artist the studio. This is the first time we looked to go into the studio looking for a musical collaborator.”
For the first single from the album titled Darling, the band ignored advice to never work with animals or children and placed a horse in their video. Bleeker confirms that the horse was indeed present during the filming and all that was captured did occur in real time (including the impromptu knocking over of the keyboard).
“I can tell you that it is a real horse,” he says. “We boldly went there! His name is Like No Other aka Moose, and I don’t think that he is a star, but to borrow an appropriate term… this is not his first rodeo! He is a showbiz horse who has done some work before. He is an up and comer. He isn’t yet a total celebrity. Although maybe he is now if you count our video.”