Interview Ellfian Rahim
Having had sophomore Days recognised by tastemakers, Pitchfork Media, as the 13th defining album of the decade (so far) only to later have its follow-up Atlas receiving considerably less acclaim would have made other bands a bit critical of themselves. Not so much with Real Estate – prime real estate or devalued land, New Jersey native, formerly NYC-based and currently LA citizen Matt Mondanile (guitar) keeps on making tunes regardless. Just before they got on stage at the inaugural The Gathering in Singapore, JUICE managed to sneak backstage and catch Mondanile for a little chat…
You know that you guys are fairly big here in this part of the world. What’s that feeling like when you find out that people from other countries listen to your music?
It’s pretty cool because you can tell from the internet that people are interested in it, but you can’t really tell until you meet them in real life. It’s really cool when people know the songs, it’s a nice feeling. The Internet is a really powerful thing. I know a lot of bands go to Singapore, but a lot of music played here is big because of the Internet. It’s all just really gratifying.
You resettled recently from New York to LA. Do you find yourself coming up with newer ideas for your music when you’re in that kind of environment?
Yeah, I do. I think that just moving and being in a different environment altogether is really inspiring to me. A lot of the songs that I wrote for the next Ducktails (solo project) record, I started writing them when I moved to LA last year. And I’ve been working on them all year. So it’s been pretty cool.
And it must’ve been pretty cool to perform with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer last year.
Yeah, that was amazing. You know, he’s a bit of a role model for me and that was like playing with my hero. I can’t believe that that happened. I met him in Mexico City not super long before, so that was cool.
We watched Real Estate’s cover of the Grateful Dead’s ‘He’s Gone’ and it gave us the chills. What did it feel like to play that song in San Francisco on Jerry [Garcia]’s birthday last year?
It was pretty cool because I guess [the Filmore, where Real Estate played in Frisco] is like a legendary venue that Jerry Garcia played at, and it was his birthday, and we had never done a Grateful Dead cover before, so it was exciting to at least learn that and play it really quickly. So it was kind of spontaneous, but it was fun. I think it’s because people are hugely into them. And I think it’s kind of like timeless music. I don’t think that it’s dated from a specific time. I don’t think you can hear the Grateful Dead and be like, “Oh, that’s from this certain time.”
So what were some of the influences on your last record, Atlas, in general?
A bunch of stuff. I think we were really into a lot of British guitar music, like the Jesus and Mary Chain. A lot of stuff like that. We were also into a lot of Steely Dan and kind of softer ‘70s type kind of things.
Your 2011 album Days, as I’m sure you know, was recently listed by Pitchfork as the 13th best album of the decade so far. How important is receiving recognition like that to you guys?
(Laughs) It’s not very important, to tell you the truth. Because it’s nice when it happens, but we’re not like hoping for it or something like that. I was surprised at that. But it was cool. Definitely cool.
Real Estate played at The Gathering, Singapore on Saturday 14 February ’15.