The New 'Jersey Boys': More With Alex Bleeker
In March, Real Estate released its fourth studio album, In Mind, and Bleeker sat down with BERGEN to discuss their new sound, why arts funding was so crucial to their success and why being from New Jersey is “cool.”
How has being from New Jersey influenced you as a band? It’s been really cool to come from Jersey because there’s a lot of pride that people from New Jersey share with one another. It sometimes gets a bad rap, but it’s like people who like a sports team that always loses—you come together and have a lot of pride. And it brings us together with other bands from Jersey. There’s a lineage of music from the Hoboken scene, specifically Maxwell’s Tavern in Hoboken and WFMU radio. For instance, we discovered The Feelies and loved them, and it turned out they were from a neighboring town. So we got to meet them and play shows with them. It’s cool to be part of that. We are really proud of our Jersey roots.
Bergen County has produced a lot of successful musicians. In what way do you think this area is conducive to creative success? We come from a place of affluence and privilege. We recognize that we are very fortunate that way. We had all of these incredible opportunities with public art education in school, and we had progressive parents who supported our endeavors in the arts.
And that’s an important topic right now with arts programs in danger of losing federal funding. Exactly. We’d like to see those opportunities given to all people. Having those resources to do what we wanted to do had a massive influence on our success. There’s a lot of inequality, and we were just so fortunate to be born into a place of privilege. We are a shining example of what a solid public school education can bring.
Where in New Jersey did you used to play or see shows? I grew up going to Maxwell’s in Hoboken, but honestly, a lot of our local shows were happening in people’s backyards or garages.
What would you say to other artistic kids growing up in the Jersey ’burbs about pursuing a creative career? My main advice is don’t stop, and don’t let anyone discourage you. I used to say, “Have a plan B,” but now I say, “Do whatever you want.” Music doesn’t have to be your source of income or career—you can still do it if you’re passionate about it. To be successful by any measure, you have to just keep going and keep creating. That goes for anything you’re passionate about.
What was your plan B? Actually, I’m doing my plan B. My plan A was to become an actor!