Monday, January 21, 2019

My afternoon at Ezra Furman’s

Posted by admin On January - 10 - 2009

Typical Ezra, wide-eyed with his homemade t-shirt.

~Z.T.~ “I’m not dressed and I’m not going to get dressed while you’re here,” Ezra Furman says as he opens the door. He’s wearing the same t-shirt he wore at the concert last night, boxers and has a blanket draped around himself. Last night, before playing a blistering version of “Big Deal,” he said he always wants to keep it personal. Not wearing pants is pretty personal.

Ezra Furman is on the verge of breaking out in a big way. His band released their latest album, Inside the Human Body, to rave reviews in October. Their weekly Monday night gigs at Schuba’s were consistently packed with fans begging for an encore and Greg Kot gave them a glowing write-up in the Chicago Tribune.

ezracover350Being on the verge of being big doesn’t pay the bills, though. “You can be famous without making any money,” he says. “I don’t get any money when someone writes a good review. The band probably would have broken up if gas prices hadn’t gone down.”

The shirt he’s still wearing from last night is a plain white t, which Ezra wrote “Man is a messenger who forgot the message” on in red sharpie before the show. It’s a quote Ezra got from by Rabbi Abraham Heschel. I would have gone with Heschel’s “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.”

We’re sitting in Ezra’s childhood home in Evanston where he’s been since around New Years. He’s heading to his home in Boston. Well, not really his home. He doesn’t have an apartment to go back to. Someone stole his checkbook a few months ago and stole his identity, forging checks all over Boston. He called it a very disorienting time where he had no home for a couple weeks. He got the money back, but doesn’t seem to have enough to afford a place in Boston. His girlfriend is there. He hopes she quits her job and sells t-shirts and CD’s on the road with the band.

ezrapromo01“It’s kind of a bad thing to romanticize poverty. I have a feeling I’ll be OK no matter what happens, so I’ll do what I want.”

“I’m in love with the world and unable to participate in our society. I just romanticize everything,” he says as he twirls the threads of the blanket still wrapped around him. Ezra’s always playing with something. Stacking and unstacking three ash trays, flipping through three magazines, never staying on a single page for more than a second. “Almost all my songs are written in bedrooms. I have to hide away to make stuff.”

Ezra Furman is about songs first. Music second. As he says in his official press bio, “The album is about your soul busting outta your chest–how our humanity cannot be suppressed, and how that which inside cannot be kept inside. That’s how I’ve always felt about being human.”

Ezra’s parents bought him a guitar when he was 13 on the condition that he learned Bob Dylan and played it for them. “I listened to Dylan for my mom, but I got really into that. I found you don’t have to listen to Sugar Ray. I became a different person. I wasn’t pathetic anymore. I was just weird. I found punk rock, Randy Newman, John Lennon.”

He is weird, but in the best ways. His voice mail starts normal. “Hi, it’s Ezra Furman.” Then it gets weird. “Oh no! (garbled sound) Oh no!” When he’s on stage, it’s clear that he despises every second in between songs. “There’s a big disconnect between how I feel during the song and between the songs. During the song I just have to do what’s required. In between I’m uncomfortable and I don’t know how people see me and I don’t know what to say.”

Watch this love song to Kirsten Dunst. Especially the opening.

He’s fantastic at banter, though. When he played John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, he called Yoko a Cu**. He asks if anyone is a guitarist b/c he’s worried he’s out of tune. He apologizes for “not taking this serious enough,” but he seems serious to me. “The reason I still talk anyway is I want to treat the audience like people. I don’t want to say the faceless rock star stuff you hear at any show.” He introduces songs with stories. It’s always intimate.

“Me and the Harpoons measure success by people that have a heartfelt thing that we changed their week.”

Ezra’s playing the Noise Pop festival in San Francisco in February, SXSW in March and Lollapalooza in August. From there, who knows. He has a bank of songs he’s sitting on and wants to put out another album as soon as he’s let back into the studio. Ezra says he won’t let 2009 go by without making another album.

After an hour and a half of sitting in his living room, Ezra seems more restless than normal. He stands up and sits down twice. I think that’s my clue to leave. “Time to shower and start the day,” he says. It’s 6 p.m.

Listen to some Ezra Furman.

7 Responses

  1. The Dankness Said,

    how old is mr. furman

    Posted on January 11th, 2009 at 6:45 pm

  2. Teibs Said,

    I believe he’s 22.

    Posted on January 11th, 2009 at 9:20 pm

  3. Anonymous Said,

    A very nice blog you’ve made here. It was nice to see you the other day.

    One thing: I called John Lennon a c–t, not Yoko Ono. And I really only wanted to get him back for that one recording of “How Do You Sleep” when he calls Paul McCartney that same word.

    -Ezra Furman

    Posted on January 11th, 2009 at 10:57 pm

  4. Teibs Said,

    Thanks Ezra. Sorry about misquoting you on the c–t. When I think of that word and that couple, I automatically go to Yoko. Good seeing you too.

    Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 11:02 am

  5. Sami Said,

    Ezra, I still have your first cd floating around somewhere! (I think you made it when you were a sophomore in high school?)
    Anyways, way to rock out in a White Sox t-shirt. Nice interview, and great success in ’09.

    Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 11:55 am

  6. Festival Crashers » Blog Archive » Ezra Furman: I believe in a Rock ‘n’ Roll heart Said,

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    […] My Afternoon at Ezra Furmans […]

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