Interview with Alex Bleeker from Real Estate
We sat down with Alex Bleeker from Real Estate (bass, vocals) and talked about Real Estate’s latest album In Mind, their summer tour, band names, and why being yourself is so important.
This interview was conducted by staff contributor Chelsea Phou and edited and condensed for clarity. Check out the interview below, and don’t miss our concert review of Real Estate with special guest Habibi at the Columbus Theatre.
WBRU: The name Real Estate has an interesting origin. I’m told that the name was decided around the time the band was formed, when Martin was studying to acquire his real estate license, and the name was decided after lengthy deliberation. What were some of the other band names that you originally considered?
Alex: There was another band name called “Warlords,” which is our secret band name. We have a hypothetical album called “Harsh Winds.” None of this is really true anymore, but it was at the time. I don’t remember any others that were actually on the chopping block. That’s kind of a good question — a good alternative to the “how did you get your name” question. Actually, “Night Breeze” was a possibility, but that’s an even worse name than Real Estate I think so we lucked out there. I’m not going with “Night Breeze.”
WBRU: You recently released your fourth studio album, In Mind — do you have a favorite song off that album?
Alex: I don’t know if I have a favorite, it fluctuates. I remember the time that we were recording it — and it still holds true today — that I was really into this song called “Same Sun.” It’s kind of poppy but also sort of weird in its own way.
WBRU: Are you interested in experimenting with new forms of media? Your interactive music video for “Stained Glass,” where you could color the video as it was playing, was really awesome.
Alex: I think that was really cool and I’d definitely be interested in doing more stuff to engage people in new ways. I think it’d be great to have a virtual reality Real Estate experience.
WBRU: What have been some of the most memorable moments from the tour?
Alex: Last night we played Iowa in this barn. It was in the middle of this really gigantic, 100-acre farm that has been converted into a venue. It was really sort of unique and out of the ordinary, with a lot of nice people running the barn. That’s definitely been the most memorable trip out of the tour so far. [The tour] has been really fun, really good. We’re almost halfway through now. New crowds and new songs. It’s been great.
WBRU: So your next stop after Providence is at an international festival in Portugal. How is playing larger festivals — and international ones — different than playing at shows such as the one at Columbus?
Alex: They’re really different. I think — to be honest — I’m really happy to play in Portugal because it’s awesome to have music take you all around the world. Actually, Portugal is one of my favorite places to visit and play so I’m really excited about that. But in general, I think we prefer to play smaller shows that are our own shows. At festivals you don’t really get a proper sound check. Time is often short and it’s rushed. I don’t know if most bands perform at their best in a festival setting. I think most bands enjoy performing at their own shows, especially at some place like the Columbus Theatre, which is sort of cool, intimate, interesting and sort of an alternative type of venue.
WBRU: Where would you like to perform that you haven’t visited yet?
Alex: I’d love to be able to perform on every continent, so so far we’re missing Antarctica and Africa.
WBRU: Do you think you’ll be able to play Antarctica?
Alex: It’s not impossible. There are some scientists who live there I think. I actually knew somebody who went working for a research scientist or like, as a cook in the mess hall or something.
WBRU: How did you connect with Habibi?
Alex: I actually didn’t know them before the tour. Their singer is friends with our drummer Jack and he had seen them play a little record release party. We were talking about opening bands and he suggested them and we all thought sounded like a good idea.
WBRU: If your house was on fire, what would you save?
Alex: …Myself! [laughs] This is sort of a typical/expected answer, but there are a couple of instruments that I have that are valuable to me, both sentimentally and monetarily. A guitar or bass would easy enough to grab. It’s probably one thing I would grab, if it had to be one thing.
WBRU: Would you rather have a dragon or be a dragon and why?
Alex: I think I’d rather have a dragon because I don’t know what being a dragon would be like or what sort of consciousness a dragon would have. It might be one of those wishes that like sounds cool, but ends up like some sort of parable — you actually shouldn’t have wished to be anything but yourself, you know? So be yourself! I think that’s the message. [laughs] But I think if I had a dragon then maybe I could ride on the dragon. And the dragon and I could become friends after some sort of long period of feeling each other out and become buddies at the end of the story or something.
WBRU: So having a friend versus changing who you are.
Alex: Yep definitely, that’s the moral of the story there.
WBRU: Some of our listeners will be at your show on June 15 at the Columbus Theatre in Providence. What can we expect at the show and from your tour with Habibi?
Alex: It’s the last show of our tour, so it’ll be fun and celebratory and we’ll also be playing some new songs that haven’t been recorded yet. We’re working on a new record, and we already have some songs for that record.