Ezra Furman interview: Music, guns and not being a stripper

11 Feb 2014 @ 11.43 am
| News
Not a stripper. Or an exotic dancer. Ezra Furman
Not a stripper. Or an exotic dancer. Ezra Furman

American indie rock’n’roll innovator Ezra Furman has been on quite a journey in recent years, from road-trips around the States to super-hyped European tours and a five star album review from The Guardian.

Ezra will be spending Friday, February 14, here in York, for a gig at The Duchess that’s likely to be one of the city’s live music highlights of the month – and a far better St Valentine’s idea than dinner for two at Nando’s.

We spoke to the young troubadour on the subjects of rock, romance and life on the road.

Ready to rock… Ezra live
Ready to rock… Ezra live

You’re soon off on a European tour. How’re you limbering up?

I try to set my mind on lofty things. Touring can drag you down into the mud of boredom and dead-end nihilist hedonism, which is not my cup of tea.

I also listen to the songs a lot and try to remember their emotional cores, their root feelings of total excitement, and memorise those so that I can access them at will.

What makes your gig better than chocs for Valentine’s Day?

I won’t rot your teeth, for one thing. There’s not a ton of gender-based b.s. baggage attached to my shows, either. Only just a touch.

Which is better, romance or reality?

I happen to think reality is quite romantic, if you’re rich.

Does your music just ‘happen’?

I just listen to music all day trying to understand why some of it makes me feel more alive. Then I get all excited and think I know what kind of music I should be making.

Then I go try something out that ends up quite different than the stuff that inspired it. Think of a child looking at picture books while he’s finger-painting.

Any weird experiences on the road?

We showed up at a tiny venue in Portland, Oregon, to find it surrounded by police cars, maybe ten of them. We park nearby and walk over to see what’s going on.

As we head toward the front door, a cop points a gun at us and says, “Everybody down on the ground, hands behind your head, NOW!”

Not wanting to be shot, we all got down on the ground and put our hands behind our heads. “Don’t move!” yells the cop. Other cops are pointing guns at us as well.

Then he asked us a very perplexing question: “Are you strippers?”

None of us know what to say. I say, “No!” Then I say, “Sorry, did you say strippers?” The cop rephrases his question: “Are any of you exotic dancers!”

We all respond, “No!”

The cops get us on our feet and put us in five separate police cars, which bring us to a police station. They put us in a hallway of holding cells, where we sit silently for about half an hour.

Then a cop comes by and says, “You gentlemen are free to go. Do you need a ride back to your vehicle?”

We did, so they gave us a ride in a police van. The show was cancelled and the venue ceased to exist.

Nobody ever told us what it was about, and to this day we have no idea what happened.