OEB’s 5 SXSW Qs – Ezra Furman
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
OEB 2013 SXSW Review
Of all the bands we are spotlighting this year, I imagine not many have traversed the streets of SXSW as much as Ezra Furman, who is hoping to make his sixth appearance in Austin this year. Furman took some time to answer some questions for OEB about his potential set at SXSW (featuring a new backing band) and how his musical directions have changed, yet at the same time have remained consistent.
The Year of No Returning shows a mellower side to your music. As you progress along your career, do you sense a change in the music you want to make or do your tastes vary minute-by-minute?
I have always been a manic performer onstage and on record, and it’s true that I went for something a little more subtle on The Year of No Returning. If you scream all the time, it can start to fail to connect. Sometimes you have to slow down and make yourself felt on a different level. But I hope it’s clear that I still love rock’n’roll, toe-tapping songs too. I want to be capable of doing any kind of song. Deep down, though I know it’s impossible, I want to master the art of song completely, be able to do absolutely everything. Still, recent things I have been working on should dispel any myth that I am mellowing out, once they are finished and released.
As a ‘new band hunter’, I rarely find acts that embrace the musical tenets of the classic rock generation, rather going for more electronic influences. What connects to the sounds of decades past and why is that relatively missing on the current rock plane?
It ain’t news: sounds go out of style. Rock music isn’t at the top of the pop music heap right now, and it’s probably a good thing. Maybe now that it’s finally getting shoved back underground, rock and roll artists will become more interesting. Considering the popularity of zombies in our culture lately, we should all be aware that just because it’s underground don’t mean it’s dead. As for me, I love what I love, and I make the kind of music I love regardless of what’s popular. Right now, you have to dig a little bit to find people playing this stuff well, and I hope people are still willing to dig around and find records like mine.
It looks like you’re listed as a solo act on the SXSW roster. Are the Harpoons in tow or is this run a solo effort? Anything new for 2013 you’ll be supporting?
If I do indeed make it to South-by-Southwest I will bring my band with me. I’ve formed a new band or two to play shows and make records with, and I intend to be appearing at full volume as often as possible.
This is your third consecutive SXSW. What does this week in Austin mean for you?
Actually it’ll be my sixth. To me it means getting to come to Austin, a place I really like, at kind of a crazy over-hyped time. The challenge is to wrestle some genuine positive experience out of the overcooked mess of attention-hungry music business people. Somehow I’ve always been able to do that, at least for a moment or two.
Have you had a chance to look at the SXSW band list? Any artists you are hoping to catch yourself?
Eleven, at least that I’m aware of. Alphabetically: Black Lips, Caitlin Rose, Camera Obscura, Cold War Kids, David Wax Museum, Frightened Rabbit, Spirit Family Reunion, Tegan and Sara, The Thermals, Tijuana Panthers, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. But the way things go I probably will only see maybe one of them.