Yesterday, Philly Mixtape brought you the smokin’ hot review of Ezra Furman‘s show at MilkBoy, and after his blazing set, Ezra sipped some music tea with us for a spillage that was hot, strong (Darjeeling), with the conversation fearless and inspiring.
In now his 3rd solo album (6th album if you count all the work done with The Harpoons…and of which you should), Ezra has recently opened up about his bi-sexuality, coming to terms with constantly moving around, and his gratefulness to still be doing music. Mixtape has been following this kid since “Mysterious Power” way back in 2011 so we’re quite happy to be able to sit down during Ezra’s “Restless Year” and discuss such topics. Break a few tea mugs with Mr. Ezra below.
EF – Meeting people who have been moved by this stuff is my favorite thing. It’s the wholepoint, to me, and the fact that I actually get to talk to people who have loved my records is the number one reason I am still making music. Nothing like it.
PM –Other than Lou Reed and a little Neil Young that I hear on PMP, what are some other influences that have inspired the sound, feel, and lyrics of this album?
EF – There are so many. Chuck Jackson, Vampire Weekend, the Del-Vikings, Happyness, Leonard Cohen. I listen to tons of music and it all swirls in there.
PM –I find comfort in what you wrote in the PMP album booklet regarding your experiences with masculinity. That whole piece hit home. I used to find it a bit funny but now I find it quite a struggle to relate to a community that I’ve been boxed into. That wasn’t really a question, just more of a statement…I feel I can relate to you.
EF – I’m fiercely resisting all pre-existing identities in order to forge my own authentic self. We all have to do it at some point. The clichés people have in their minds have nothing to do with how one should actually live.
PM –You’ve mentioned dressing up as a release. Does this also feed into gender identity for you or is it just a projection of feeling free from social norms and stereotypes?
EF – It’s more gender-driven than non-conformity-driven. I dressed as I was told to for many years, so it’s not that I’m such a rebel. It just gets hard to keep playing a part that’s not right for you, that’s all. I feel much more comfortable now that I wear what I feel like regardless of what gender people expect me to be.
PM –Where can you get a $5 dress?
EF – Cross Roads, the used clothing store down the street from my house in College Avenue in Oakland, CA. It’s hard to shop for feminine clothing for the first time. But I’ve mostly done it alone. Striking out on my own in the women’s section of the store.
PM –Is there anyone that you’re currently into right now as far as music / artists ?
EF – The list is long. Here’s three recommendations: Tristen, Fiona Apple, Krill.
PM –After seeing you during the Mysterious Power tour (with Apache Relay in LA / SD), how hard has it been to keep the machine going?
EF – Very. Everything is hard. Don’t get the impression that any of this music career stuff is a walk in the park. The Harpoons broke up and I had to build a new band. I got lucky once again and ended up with an incredible one, The Boy-Friends. Even so, it’s been terribly difficult. And still, I’ve loved it, warts and all. It’s a moneyless, stressed-out life and it’s fucking worth it.
PM –How is the San Fran music scene/community compared to other cities that you’ve lived in (Boston/Chicago/etc)?
EF – I don’t know. I’m not a good community member. I’m a loner. It’s stupid, but it’s pretty much the way I am.
PM –Who would you love to tour with if you had the opportunity?.
EF – Patti Smith. Patti Smith Patti Smith Patti Smith. Can you ask her? We’re nice people she will like us.
PM –Anything else you’d like to say to the kids out there?
EF – If you are having trouble: you are stronger than you think. Just being a person is hard work, and it’s supposed to be. It pays off; stick with it.
Electric chaos is the word I’d use to describe Ezra Furman and the Boyfriends show this past Saturday night at MilkBoy. It was a family affair but you know…the dysfunctional kind.
First song “Cherry Lane” was a rough start between the sound going haywire and Ezra’s guitar breaking multiple strings. The packed house paid no mind as all faces were eager for Ezra’s return. I met a young lady who came all the way up from Virginia, having seen them perform in D.C. the day before. She told me it had been so long since they had been in the states, having toured Europe and then readied the release for Perpetual Motion People, Ezra’s newest release (3rd album, but 6th if you count his albums with The Harpoons…of which I do). Everyone in that space had a similar story. These are true fans and they are growing in numbers.
His backing band, The Boyfriends, were more of a staple than hired guns with saxophone solos throughout, a jack-of-all-trades keyboardist/guitarist, and a bassist who really looked like he was your boyfriend. By the 3rd song the band had gotten comfortable and the crowd upfront were getting wild. By the last song everybody in that venue was dancing: a mix of 1920s swing to and psuedo-mosh-pit (really just one guy and a few fist pumps here and there).
Highlights of the show included their newest hit single “Restless Year” that was too short you just wanted it to be played again, “Wobbly” a strange awkwardly catchy tune about feeling…awkward, the sing-a-long to “Lousy Connection,” and huge admiration and applause for “Mysterious Power,” a song from his previous band The Harpoons.
The best part…I’ve never seen a band at MilkBoy where the crowd demanded an encore, trapping the band in the middle of the crowd until they went back on stage…only for them to play four more songs including “I Killed Myself But I Didn’t Die.”
Philly’s own Danny Newport opened the show as well as Chicago-based band, J Fernandez. As I usually say but mean it more than any other time…you really should’ve been there. We missed you.