The Real Deal New York

Rocking out with Real Estate

New Jersey-born musicians name their band with a nod to the industry

December 01, 2011
By Katherine Clarke


Real Estate

Real Estate rocked New York City last month. No, there isn’t another mortgage crisis on the way. This Real Estate is a Brooklyn-based indie rock band, who played the Bowery Ballroom last month before heading to Europe for the last lap of their 2011 tour. The band released their second album, “Days,” with Domino Recording Company this fall.

Real estate — at first blush, a very unhip concept — may seem like an odd choice for a band name. But it made sense for this trio, composed of guitarists Martin Courtney and Matthew Mondanile and bassist Alex Beeker. The three, who grew up together in suburban New Jersey, have parents who work in property sales.

And they aren’t the only band with a real estate-related moniker. “Apartment,” a four-piece rock band, formed in London in 2005, and there’s an alternative New York City rock band called “Condo.” A 1990s Emo band named itself “Sunny Day Real Estate,” suggesting a world so commercialized that even sunny days would soon be available for sale.

For Real Estate, however, the name choice was a little more literal. Courtney’s parents, Martin and Mary Ellen, are brokers at Gateway Realtors in Bergen County. Mondanile’s father (also named Matthew) has worked in commercial real estate for the past 30 years, and is currently a senior managing director in Cushman & Wakefield’s valuation services practice.

Courtney even tried his hand at home sales before forming the group three years ago.

“At the time I started the band, I was getting my real estate license,” he told The Real Deal. “It was going to be my fallback.”

Mondanile felt that the name “Real Estate” jibed with the band’s mellow aesthetic and songs about life in the suburbs.

Ironically, Courtney actually didn’t like the name when it was first suggested by the other band members; he was never enthusiastic about property sales.

“I couldn’t show a house and get excited about it,” he said. “It’s just not my cup of tea.” Luckily for him, critics praised the band’s 2009 self-titled debut album, and he let his license lapse as the band gained popularity.

There are, of course, downsides to the name, especially in the current economy, said Tom Postilio, a Manhattan real estate broker and cabaret vocalist.

“Cocktail-party conversation could easily be misconstrued,” he said, “when somebody mentions how awful real estate in New Jersey is right now.”

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