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Atlas Genius joins Weezer and Panic! at the Disco on Oklahoma tour stop

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When they were still teens, Keith and Michael Jeffery of Atlas Genius started building a studio in their Adelaide, South Australia garage, slowly outfitting it as they played gigs.

Lead guitarist and vocalist Keith Jeffery credits that studio with giving Atlas Genius the tools for creating its melodic, technologically impressive alt-rock and paving the way to the brothers’ current success.

“It went beyond the typical home studio,” Keith Jeffery said during a recent interview with Oklahoma Gazette. “We decked it out to the point that, to be honest, it matches the studios we’ve recorded in since.”

The band performs July 16 at The Zoo Amphitheatre as part of Weezer and Panic! at the Disco’s summer 2016 tour.

Jeffery characterized the studio as being “born out of necessity.” Despite a population of 1.3 million, Adelaide did not offer a great deal of options for young brothers looking to bring their music to fruition. So the Jefferys racked up weekend gigs around the city and poured that money into finishing their studio.

“We’d save up the cash from those shows, and then the next week, we’d go out and buy whatever we needed for that week’s construction, like the panels for the wood flooring, that kind of thing,” he said. “We put everything back into that project.”

That studio became emblematic of the group’s incredible self-sufficiency and hastened Atlas Genius’ rise on U.S. alt-rock radio thanks to hits “Trojans,” “If So” and “Molecules.” At the same time, the group chose not to affiliate with much of the Adelaide scene, which Jeffery said was dominated by pop-punk groups. Atlas Genius’ thoughtful melodicism had no place in that environment, so the Jeffery brothers became studio rats and worked hard to perfect their craft.

“We never really belonged to the scene, so we worked in virtual isolation,” Jeffery said. “Our success was in spite of the scene more than because of it.”

The future Atlas Geniuses saw many of their fellow musicians get caught in a feedback loop and fall prey to complacency. Rather than feed the beast, the Jefferys chose to woodshed in their high-tech garage, and the result was the 2011 song “Trojans,” a debut single that satisfied their own artistic curiosity.

“You can easily just rest on your laurels and not evolve,” Jeffery said. “We wanted to create music that we genuinely loved and not because there were 50 girls coming to the show every week. I’m in Los Angeles at the moment, and you can see bands doing the same thing because it makes them feel warm and fuzzy about what they’re doing, but in the grand scheme of things, is it really true to their musical instincts?”

The Atlas Genius strategy resulted in a gold rush. Influential music blog Neon Gold featured the tune, and within a few months, the group was stateside and signed to Warner Bros. Records, suddenly needing to fill out a full album to go around the bright Phoenix-style groove of “Trojans.”

The resulting record, When It Was Now, cracked into the U.S. Top 40 after its 2013 release, and its 2015 follow-up, Inanimate Objects, is proceeding apace. The band’s new single, “Balladino,” features a striking stop-animated video paying tribute to their grandfathers’ service in World War II.

While the group moves forward with a busy touring schedule this summer and fall, including a performance at Austin City Limits in October, Jeffery said they are already working on new material.

“We’re recording at the moment, and we have a bunch of songs that could be on the next album, or an EP,” he said.

Print headline: Atlas rocket, Australia’s Atlas Genius took a direct flight from a home studio in South Australia to alt-rock stardom in the U.S.

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