Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker on Making and Touring Their, “cleanest, most succinct pop record to date.” (TONIGHT at UT)

“Every show’s just been amazing…  It’s really fun to connect in a physical manner for the first time after not being able to do that for so long.  We’re...

“Every show’s just been amazing…  It’s really fun to connect in a physical manner for the first time after not being able to do that for so long.  We’re never gonna take that for granted again,” says Alex Bleeker, bassist and co-founder of New Jersey indie rockers Real Estate, who have been on their Infinite Jangle Tour since the first of March, following the release of their sixth LP, Daniel, which dropped February 23rd on Domino.  The night prior the band played an extra special album release show at Union Pool featuring a crowd made up entirely of guests with first, middle, or last name’s featuring Daniel (Dan, Danielle, Danny, Daniella, Danielson, etc.), which Bleeker tells me was his idea, during a recent phone chat: “It was awesome!  It was so fun!  It was an idea I conceived of on a whim a few months ago and fortunately, we had enough Daniels to fill a room!”

Real Estate did some post-lockdown touring (with a November 2021 date at Anchor Rock Club in Atlantic City), but 2017 was the last time the band played the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection (with back-to-back appearances at NON-COMM and a headlining date at Union Transfer), which was apparently actually Bleeker’s home for a short while: “I used to ‘live’ in Philadelphia in 2008/2009.  I moved to what was then a really different Fishtown and I would commute to New York.”  He also tells me that he was definitely a fan, even though his sports allegiances remain north of here: “I mean, there’s New York City-New Jersey and Philly-New Jersey, and we’re definitely New York City-New Jersey, so I’m not gonna go hard for the Eagles (I grew up a Giants fan.), but I’ve got love for Philly!”  He even claims that the cheesesteak from Grilladelphia (R.I.P.) at the Rock ‘n Roll Exxon is the best he’s ever had.

Tonight, Real Estate will be returning to Union Transfer as part of the second leg of the Infinite Jangle Tour, which kicked off earlier this month and features support from singer/songwriter Marina Allen, who is not to be missed.  And while Alex tells me that the band is still plenty excited to be playing the new material off of Daniel, fans can definitely expect to hear favorites from the back catalogue as well: “We’re playing a lot of stuff from the new record, but the setlist changes every night…  We’re trying to survey the fans to see what they want to hear, and then ‘the hits,’ but any fan of Real Estate will hear something they like.”

Daniel was recorded over the course of nine days at RCA Studio in Nashville with producer Daniel Tashian (who also produced Sarah Jarosz’s Polaroid Lovers, which dropped this January and which we discussed with the Americana singer/songwriter earlier this year).  Like Jarosz, Bleeker tells me Real Estate really enjoyed working with Tashian: “He’s a really, really creative individual in a lighthearted, whimsical way…  He’s fun and eccentric in a way that I didn’t really expect.”  He goes on to characterize the album as, “our cleanest, most succinct pop record to date,” saying that Tashian, “trimmed the fat,” and, “kept us focused if we were getting too grandiose.”  He also tells me that the band thoroughly enjoyed being in the city itself: “It was awesome.  It’s such a company town, with professional musicians working professional hours.  We worked from 10-6, and then we had a tradition of going to a meal together every single night, and there are so many great restaurants in Nashville.”

The album’s third and most recent single is a song called “Flowers,” which the band has previously described as, “the closest Real Estate will ever get to like a Shania Twain style country rocker.”  However, likely the most surprising thing about it is the accompanying music video, an animated video directed by Magnus Carlsson, who created Radiohead’s famous “Paranoid Android” video, which Real Estate singer and co-founder Martin Courtney has called his choice for the greatest animated music video of all time.  Curious how they managed to pull this off, Bleeker jokingly tells me, “Everyone in the world has an email address [laughs].”  However, he goes on to admit that the possibility of getting Carlsson to do the video isn’t something that initially occurred to the band: “We were asking artists through Instagram who could do something like that, but our schedules never worked out, so that was actually like a last-ditch effort, so we reached out and he was like, ‘Yes!  I love the song!  I’ll do it.’”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.