An Australian musical gift from Adelaide

June 14, 2013
Atlas Genius is coming to the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den on June 20.

Atlas Genius is coming to the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den on June 20.

For most Americans, when it comes to Australian rock bands, there’s a tendency to focus on what’s coming out of Sydney… and the rest of that nation essentially is non-existent as far as casual Yankee music fans are concerned.
But Atlas Genius—which is vocalist/ guitarist Keith Jeffery and his brother, drummer Michael Jeffery—comes from Adelaide, Australia.
Adelaide, which is in South Australia, is the nation’s fifth largest city, 874 miles from Sydney and 451 miles from another well-known city, Melbourne.
“It’s kind of eclectic,” said Michael of the Adelaide music scene as he spoke by phone from somewhere near Sacramento, Calif.
Atlast Genius comes to the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den on June 20.
“Adelaide is kind of isolated,” said Michael.“There was a strong metal scene, which is obviously not where we come from.”
Although Atlas Genius played their own material when they started out in the clubs, they also sprinkled a good deal of covers into their set lists. “To get the shows to pay the bills, if you played cover music, you got booked.” But their repertoire of other people’s songs did not contain anything that would remotely be considered “metal.”
“The Police, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones… that’s what interested us,” said Michael. “We’d only do songs we liked.”
Changing times, however, provided the impetus for Atlas Genius to take things to the next level. Once slot machines were legalized in Adelaide, the demand for live music in the clubs where they made their living began to wane.
After making some noise in Australia, the band began to pick up attention in America when SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Alt-Nation began to play their track, “Trojans.” Listeners responded positively to the track. And even without any promotional efforts, and without an American label, the record picked up 45,000 sales on i-Tunes.
Finally, in February 2012, Atlas Genius made its first journey to the states.
“It was an exciting time,” said Michael. “But we also were apprehensive about how things would play out.”
After all, the band was coming from an isolated place like Adelaide, said Michael, and Atlas Genius were heading out into one of the biggest music markets in the world.
But rather than focusing on how audiences would respond, Michael said, the band did its job. It focused on its music.
And the U.S.A. liked what it heard.
The band now has an American label to help it pave the way in the States.
“American audiences have been really great,” said Michael. “The reaction to the shows have been really great.”
And for this jaunt to the States, rather than touring as a support act, Atlas Genius, which is supporting its album “”When It Was Now,” is headlining.
Atlas Genius continues a long tradition of siblings leading bands, going back to the Davies brothers in The Kinks to the Gallagher brothers in Oasis to even the Jonas Brothers.
While some brothers like the Gallaghers are known for conflict, drama, and fisticuffs, Michael said this isn’t the case with he and Keith. “We have very similar tastes in music,” said Michael. “We don’t really butt heads that much because we come from similar backgrounds.”
“We’re definitely not like the Gallaghers,” said Michael.
As far as how songwriting duties are handled in Atlas Genius, Michael said, he works out ideas on his own away from the band, typically handling the melodies and lyrics. Then he brings his efforts back to the rest of the group and “we work it out from there.”
“It’s a democratic process,” said Michael of the songwriting efforts of Atlas Genius. “We work on it till everyone’s happy.”
As for what Atlas Genius is like in a live setting, Michael said, “I have never seen a show since I’m playing in it.”
But, he said, Atlas Genius tries to keep the shows interesting for themselves. “We extend our songs,” said Michael. “We rock much more (than the studio recordings).”
After Atlas Genius leaves the Mohegan Sun, Michael said the band will continue to be on the road in the states for another six weeks. After that, it’s a return to Australia for another two weeks of touring in its homeland. Then, it’s back to the U.S. for the summer festivals. Then it’s on to Europe.
Atlas Genius performs at the Mohegan Sun Wolf Den in Uncasville at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 20. The show is free.
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