INTERVIEW: Ezra Furman | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Having feared a career in everybody else’s shadows, Ezra Furman released 2013’s Day Of The Dog to critical acclaim. What ensued was a massive UK tour where he thrilled audiences the countrywide, garnering new fans in every city that he laid his hat, and rightly so. His music takes in a plethora of influences from rock ‘n roll to soulful ballads, and now this musical enigma is back with an incredible new album.

Perpetual Motion People sees Furman pouring his heart and soul into the record, yet his variety of influences are on show once again, from Chuck Berry to Tom Waits. A true musical chameleon, the deeply beautiful album is nothing short of a masterpiece. However, Furman’s live performances escalate his music to a completely new level, with his stage presence and excitement enough to light up any stage.

I catch up with him as he crosses back over to our shores for some tiny shows, including a very special show at the Westgarth Social Club.

Are you excited to be coming back to the UK?

Yes.

Following the success of last year’s tours, do you feel a kinship towards the UK?

Sure, okay.

You’re about to embark on a short tour of relatively tiny venues, was there a premise behind this?

We are playing some large festival shows, and also Shepherd’s Bush Empire in the Fall, and those are pretty big. We need to play some smaller shows to keep in shape. Also, you never know when the attention we’re getting will die down, so we need to make sure not to forget how to play small clubs.

What can people expect from these tiny shows? I’m personally worried about how the whole band are going to get on the stage in Middlesbrough!

Don’t worry. I’ll hang from the chandelier if necessary.

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“Do I have mystical powers? I wouldn’t rule it out”

Do you feel that Day Of The Dog, led to the dog truly having its day? I’ve been a fan of yours for such a long time and I’m so pleased that more people are taking notice of your brilliant music.

I wrote a song about it; then it came true. Do I have mystical powers? I wouldn’t rule it out. I’m pleased too.

Perpetual Motion People is a brilliant album, was there anything different involved in the recording of this album?

We didn’t rehearse much for this one before we went into the studio. That made it easier to experiment. Some songs turned out in utterly unexpected ways.

Also, has anything changed since you begun working with Bella Union?

Yes but it’s boring to talk about.

If Day Of The Dog were your manic record, how would you best describe Perpetual Motion People?

To me it’s the sound of the joy of giving my full attention to every emotion, rather than distractedly trying to avoid all negative feelings. When the sadness gets deeper, so does the happiness. The more you lean into the emotions, the more okay it feels to have them, and the more you can actually learn from them.

Did your previous UK tours last year have any influence on the record?

We tried some of the songs on tour and that was a dangerous move. Hark! to the Music survived that treatment; a song called Little Piece of Trash did not. If you know a song too well it can sometimes become dead before it’s even born. Also, the London-based band we toured with last May, Happyness, partly caused me to write the song Can I Sleep in Your Brain?, because it seemed like a title they would approve of. Happyness has some great song titles.

You’re known for dressing up on stage; did your feelings on gender oppression have any influence on the track Body Was Made?

Glad you noticed. Yes, that is both a party song and a protest song. It’s a declaration of independence from all LGBTQ-phobia, body shaming and sexual policing.

The final track on the album brings about the question: has your faith influenced your music in any way?

Being Jewish and trusting in one all-encompassing God is a primary influence on everything in my life. There’s nothing that mode of thought doesn’t touch in my life. Without my passion for Judaism, I would be an entirely different person. That song is about the spiritual longing that I feel every day, and the hope that the world could be radically and transcendently changed for the better. That sustains me in this cruel beautiful world.

Ezra Furman plays at Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough on Friday 10th July.

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