Not even two years ago, the brothers of budding Adelaide, Australia-based band Atlas Genius were college students squeezing in jam sessions between engineering exams. They were studying for fall 2011 finals when their first hit “Trojans” went viral. Now, they’re popping up on Pandora stations, performing on Conan O’Brien, and rocking out on stage in front of thousands of eager fans at huge music festivals such as Lollapalooza and South by Southwest.
As students by day and studio designers/rock stars by night, the trio spent hours constructing their dream studio while covering classic bands like The Police and The Beatles at local pubs to pay the bills. It was in that homemade studio they put their first song together and put it on the web, merely hoping to get a couple listens.
Here’s why the internet is beautiful. Neon Gold blogged about it, and the song attracted thousands. It was featured on the Triple J Unearthed Website, SoundCloud and went up for sale via TuneCore on iTunes, Amazon and Spotify worldwide – literally all before they woke up the next day. “We were totally surprised,” said Keith Jeffery, lead vocalist and guitarist for the band. “What really surprised us is the way the song kept spreading. We were happy after the first few weeks and the people that had heard it, but the song just kept going and going. It stayed in the charts in America for a year.”
The band took their first trip to America only months after their internet debut and left signed with Warner Bros. Records. One E.P. and an album later, they’re still not satisfied. They’re currently working on a new album. “We’ve got a couple of songs that didn’t make the album that I think are really strong but didn’t quite get finished in time,” Jeffery said. “I really want those to get on the next album.”
Jeffery, who deferred college to pursue his dreams (which were at one time, just a “pipedream,” he said), left me with one piece of advice for college students, “Of course, you need a specific amount of money to live, but I think there’ a real satisfaction in doing what you love. Don’t do it for the money, because that may or may not come.”
They keep it real when they talk about success. They know how lucky they were, but realize that if their product weren’t stellar, luck like theirs wouldn’t have been much of a help. Nor would they deny the power of networking. “I really think it’s all about word of mouth. Like, if your friend is raving—or five of your friends are raving— about the same thing, you’re probably going to check it out,” Jeffery said. “If you write a total stinker of an album and market the hell out of it, it’s not going to turn a crap album into something decent.” It comes down to this oh-so-refreshing take with Atlas Genius: if the music is good, it’s good. It’s safe to say the band is well on their way to becoming great.