The Real Estate market is definitely improving. At least, the market for the New Jersey band with the dreamy- reverb laden pop called Real Estate. Since the beginning of ’09 they’ve won loads of admirers, local and beyond — something which figures to only continue with the release of their first full-length later in the year. A couple of hours before their show at Death By Audio on Friday, I caught up with vocalist-guitarist Martin Courtney and drummer Etienne Pierre Duguay (who splits his time with the psych rock outfit Predator Vision).
John Norris: Guys so it’s the first ever Northside Festival — does it feel like a festival yet?
Etienn Pierre Duguay: Last night it did — there were a lot of people out and we got free beer and free shoes at the festival office.
JN: Does it seem like an idea whose time has come — our own answer to South By Southwest here in Brooklyn?
EPD: Yeah, for us South by Southwest is just like show to show, from one house party to another, so to have something similar in Brooklyn, where a lot of us live, that’s a great thing.
Martin Courtney: It does makes sense. So many bands are living here already — why not?
JN: A few weeks ago The L Magazine published its 2009 “Eight Bands You Need to Hear” and I guess as a measure of respect they put you guys toward the end as a band that’s already kind of on its way. Does it feel that way to you?
MC: I don’t know, it would be nice to think but it’s a hard thing to gauge. You read a lot on the internet but it’s hard to know where those people are coming from and you don’t know how many people read those sites — but it’s all definitely nice.
JN: One thing people have latched onto is the Galaxie 500 comparison. Were they a legitimate influence on you musically?
MC: Um, no. I had listened to them but not enough to be a real influence. But now, because of the comparisons, I’ve listened to them more. Honestly, I don’t really hear it, but they’re awesome and it’s flattering.
JN: Well, one band that definitely does cite Galaxie 500 as influential are your friends Titus Andronicus. You guys go a long way back with them...
MC: Yeah, they’re from Glen Rock, we’re from Ridgewood, and we kind of met in high school. When I was in high school I met Patrick and Andrew, who’s no longer in the band, and started writing songs with them. We were pretty serious with that for a while, but then we all kind of went off to college. Soon after that Patrick started Titus Andronicus, which has worked out pretty well.
JN: Patrick likes to fly the Jersey flag on stage — and I’ve noticed you too like to mention on stage that you’re from New Jersey. A lot of Garden State pride?
MC: Definitely. You can’t help but rep for Jersey when you’re from there, just because it gets so much shit.
EPD: I mean we’ll be on tour and be at a gas station and some guy walks up and is like (southern accent) “Where y’all from?” We’ll be like “uh, up north.” He’ll say “I see you’re from Jersey.” We’ll kinda say “yeah," and he’ll be like “I’m sorry” — just ripping.
JN: Do you sense more and more people coming to the shows, knowing the songs?
MC: I think so. We’re definitely playing shows that I am more excited about, playing with more exciting bands. And some more people seem to be coming to see us, and sing along, which is cool. To the easy parts, like the “Budweiser, Sprite” thing (“Suburban Beverage”).
JN: Because some of the vocals are pretty buried, and with all that reverb, kind of hard to figure out. Do you like it that way?
MC: I definitely do because I just don’t put too much emphasis on lyrics. I like words that are sort of like a mantra, that you can chant — but I don’t always put too much thought into them.
EPD: They mean something to me — like “Fake Blues” (a song about, basically, how your life doesn’t really suck all that bad) — because I once had a job doing telemarketing for Lincoln Center. That was awful, just getting yelled at all day long by people on the phone. I am so happy to be playing drums.
JN: Do you still have a day job?
EPD: Not a steady one, but I save money. I live at Market Hotel.
MC: I have a real estate job, which has nothing to do with the name of the band…
EPD: Yes it does.
MC: Well it sort of does, but it’s not like we named the band after me being a real estate agent. I’m not an agent ,I just work there.
JN: Speaking of the name. I guess it never occurred to me how much lingering affection there is out there for Sunny Day Real Estate, but some have had this visceral reaction feeling like you guys have co-opted that name.
MC: Which is weird; I never listened to Sunny Day Real Estate — I guess they’re sort of emo or something?
EPD: A better form of emo.
MC: Anyway, that was completely unintentional — it’s just one of those things that people latch onto but it doesn’t really mean anything.
JN: Well from “Beach Combers” to “Let’s Rock the Beach” to “Pool Swimmers” to “Black Lake” — there’s a lot of water references going on. Now, you’re from Jersey but not from the Shore, so why…
EPD: We love the beach!
MC: No, that really comes from just writing a lot of the songs last summer in a span of like two months, and it was the summertime, we were just out of college and were thinking what’s a good vibe for the band. And we wanted to write songs about the most chill things you possibly can, and that’s like, swimming. Who doesn’t like water?
JN: You haven’t done an official national tour yet — is one planned?
MC: We’re talking about doing a couple of week in California in August — but we don’t have anything official fully nationwide yet.
JN: Any bands you especially like playing with?
EPD: Yeah, Woods, we’ve played with them a bunch — The Beets, Vivian Girls, and Girls, who I think are great.
JN: And another band that so many people seem to be talking about. You can really see waves of interest building for one band after another, and then certain bands — the more outspoken ones, often — seem to incite the haters. It’s happened to Vivian Girls, and it’s definitely recently happened to Wavves, who you guys are playing with soon (July 15th, Bowery).
MC: Yeah and we’ve played with Wavves before — we’re super psyched about that. They’re great — and that’s just a shitty situation for him.
EPD: I’m all done with the hating. I’ve hated a lot in my life and now I’m like whatever man, just chill vibes.
JN: And finally, the status of the full length — is it coming along?
MC: Yeah, it definitely is. But we’re recording with our friend Sarim (ex-Titus) and he just went on tour with his punk band Liquor Store. He’s awesome. We’re almost at the point where we’re ready to mix it; it should be done in the next few weeks and it should be out in September on Woodsist. That’ll be self titled. And we’re also almost done with a six- or seven-song 12” for this kind of boutique label Mexican Summer. It might be called “Easy Listening”.
EPD: I’m hoping for a record release party on my birthday: September 4th at Market Hotel. Worldwide tour to start the next day! We’ll see.
JN: Thanks guys, good luck.