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Interview: Alex Bleeker (Real Estate)

22 February 2024

Photo by Sinna Nasseri

As Real Estate launches it’s sixth delightfully indie, jangly pop album, Daniel, into the world, co-founder and bassist Alex Bleeker offers a primer on material he’s recorded and released that people should check out.

REAL ESTATE

If you’ve never heard Real Estate before and you’re not going to start with this new record, I think a great place to start is our second album, Days. It’s a perfect sort of appropriate sonic middle ground based on where we came from and where we are now. We started recording ourselves and we were super lo-fi. I think the songwriting craft was already largely in place. The sonics of the first record and that second record are based on the limitations that we had in ways that I think are really successful and cool. There’s a washed out, atmospheric feeling on the album and it’s just the one I point to people who are like “What’s Real Estate all about?”

Fans of the band might point folks to either Days or Atlas which are right next to each other. I would say start with those two and visit them chronologically and if you like those two records, there’s a good chance you’re gonna like everything else that we do including the new record.

ALEX BLEEKER AND THE FREAKS

The Freaks used to be a catch-all name with me and whoever I could find to play with. Then it really solidified into a specific band. So I was like, “Okay, Freaks are like Crazy Horse. I won’t call anything I don’t do without that specific group of people The Freaks.” There’s an Alex Bleeker and the Freaks album which I think is the best kind of coalescence of that version of the band which is called Country Agenda. It was just a period of time where that band was really active, playing together all the time, and they came out to California and we made a California cosmic country album. Love it, proud of it.

ALEX BLEEKER

I did a solo record a few years ago. It’s just my name, no Freaks, called Heaven on the Faultline. That is my most recent thing. That album was based on demos that I made that I really loved the quality of. There was something really nice about this home spun demo that used drum machines and weird keyboards. I brought those songs into a nicer studio and recreated the demo sound. I was really happy with how that turned out. That’s more of an illustration of where I’m at more recently.

TAPER’S CHOICE

Taper’s Choice is the most fun thing that I’ve done in so long. It’s just pure fun. It’s me and players from other indie rock groups of varying degrees of recognition – the drummer is the drummer of Vampire Weekend, the guitar player is Dave Harrington, who plays with Darkside but also does a myriad of other things in the jazz and electronic world, and then there’s the keyboard player, Zach Tenorio, who’s in a band called Arc Iris, and he is the greatest musician from a chops and feel standpoint that I’ve ever known.

We unapologetically started a jam band. I’ve been a fan of jam bands since I’ve been a fan of music. I’ve also been a fan of all the types of stuff that gets more traditionally covered in the Big Takeover as well as alternative music, indie rock music, weird outsider art and experimental music. Jam band stuff is kind of the butt of a lot of jokes. I’ve been like “I’m an out-of-the-closet jam band fan.” There’s more crossover than people realize and it’s becoming less of a dirty word.

We thought it would be the most subversive thing to start a jam band and call it a jam band and just play with that culture. We’re also pulling from influences that people don’t necessarily associate with jam bands but are, in fact, improvisational, like a lot of Kraut rock, a lot of jazz fusion in there, a lot of Prog rock, a lot of Yes and also The Grateful Dead and Phish. It’s so amazing to be on the nose with it and say that because even the jam bands in that world won’t say it. They’re like “We’re an improvisational art rock ensemble.” They don’t want to be called jam bands perhaps more than the indie rockers who kind of think it’s cute. We have an easier time but it does feel profound to just say it and be like, “This is what this kind of band is.” I’ve found that it appeals to people with all kinds of tastes.

We have one LP out and it’s called The History of Taper’s Choice – Volume One: Taper’s Choice. We did all these like mix tapes, these experimental mixes, they’re all on Bandcamp. You can get Volumes One through Five and then this History Of is a mix of all of those volumes. It’s like a “Best Of” of our first record.

None of it’s on Spotify, it’s all on Bandcamp. Just head to Bandcamp and dig into the Taper’s Choice world and see if you like it. A lot of people somewhat hilariously are like, “I don’t like jam bands, but I like this.” And I’m like, “Well, we’re a jam bands, so you just might like jam bands.” It’s been fun to play with that psychology a little bit.

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Real Estate’s album, Daniel, is out now. Check out issue #94 of The Big Takeover later this year for an in-depth interview with Alex Bleeker about the new album.

 

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