Preview: AJR’s New Album, ‘Neotheater’

The Met brothers, Adam, Jack & Ryan are releasing their next LP, Neotheater later this month. They recently stopped by BUILD Series for a chat with moderator Kevan Kenney to discuss their creative efforts and influences on their third album.

Adam, Jack & Ryan speak about “Neotheater” at BUILD Series

Ryan, the main producer of the band, told the audience that they wanted to make albums with “their favorite songs that haven’t been made yet.” He compared it to the recent hit horror movie, “Us” from director Jordan Peele in which their respective body of works are going to be something fresh and new, something that truly hasn’t been done before.

“It took us a really long time to figure out how to not copy other artists,” he added.

The band didn’t want to be another Vampire Weekend or Coldplay. They wanted to be AJR and have their own unique sound with albums that will have fans listening to over and over in search of new details and elements each time they listen to their songs.

For Neotheater, the Met brothers were influenced by Israeli productions and 1930s movie choirs. “Nobody knows what that sounds like — a lot of the pop music and hip-hop there, every song sounds like five different songs in one and it’s constantly switching,” explained Ryan.

“The movie choirs and the way they harmonize sounds really alien and we thought, let’s combine all of that stuff with like the dirtiest hip-hop beats and the coolest AJR kind of like sounds.”

The concepts in the new record are things that haven’t been written about before and Ryan alluded that the 12 songs off of Neotheater are really complex and three-dimensional kind of like “Mario Kart” on the Nintendo Switch. It’s deeper and richer than “Mario Kart” on the Wii a.k.a. their previous album, The Click. The newer songs cannot be described in just one sentence much like in the latest “Mario Kart” Switch game, the graphics have been enhanced and you can see further into the racing course and see more details than ever before.

Adam, the bassist and eldest member of the band told the audience that going into the new album, he and his brothers went through an extensive process at looking at “The Click,” and figured out what were the most resonant elements of each track that fans loved to listen to while also figuring out “how you balance that for the next album but also pushing yourself forward” sonically given the influences they had at the time.

In addition to that, the Mets all went back to school part-time and delved deep in their creative writings. They observed people and the issues many of them faced. They also went to many parties and spoke to party goers about their feelings. The connections they saw through their conversations also helped drove the group’s songwriting process for Neotheater.

AJR has evolved since they formed more than a decade ago in 2005. Lead singer, Jack expressed the changes they went through and described it as “many weird phases.”

“We went through a rock phase, our Broadway phase, it was kind of a nightmare. We went though the really, really hip-hop [phase], like let’s be hip-hop all of a sudden, why…like Jews from Chelsea in New York should be doing hip-hop, no!!!,” Jack said.

Through all those experimental phases, they decided why not combine them all together.

“Let’s just do everything we like,” Jack concluded.

Neotheater by AJR releases and streams April 26th. Tickets to see AJR on tour can be purchased here.


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