Ezra Furman is big in Europe. The Oakland based singer/frontman/band receives rave reviews from the UK music press and regularly fills halls that can fit thousands. He sat down with us last night before a show at Rock & Roll Hotel. He’ll be at the Bowery Ballroom tonight before heading to Europe. Hopefully his guitars will hold together. More than 12 people will be in the audience.
Ezra Furman: We played at the Reeperbahn Festival, I can’t remember what venue but it’s kind of like a South by Southwest type thing in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t know for me, the memory, I thought I was imagining it because I was clouded with a deep, kind of panicked depression which sometimes hits after three to four weeks of being on tour. But yeah, three strings broke on different guitars.
Brightest Young Things: Oh okay so it’s not one guitar. It’s not like you played the show with five strings then four strings then three strings.
EF: We broke a string on one guitar, had to grab a backup, and then every backup in order broke until there was just nothing to use.
Ben was playing guitar parts on piano, you were just playing out of tune, and the sound guy didn’t care the whole time from the beginning of the festival. He just wasn’t there. Then we looked at the soundboard and it was just off, he was gone. It was a shocking moment. We played as long as we were supposed to play which was 40, 45 minutes.
BYT: Did the crowd notice? Did they care? Did they like it?
EF: I think we just threw ourselves into it with some kind of abandon that might have worked out for them, you know? They’ve never seen how we’re supposed to be so they were like, ‘I guess they’re pretty good.’
BYT: So it’s for the best that this happened in Germany and not in Philadelphia…
EF: No we’re more popular in Germany than in Philadelphia. Philadelphia can have that show, Philadelphia has had that show I think.
BYT: Did you end up selling merch at that show, did you do well?
EF: Well it was a festival so they just shepherded us in and shepherded us out. At some of these big festivals, like in the UK, it’s hard to sell merch because nobody knows where to buy it.
BYT: Are you guys more popular here? Or am I asking the dumbest question you’ve heard tonight…
EF: In England we’re about to play a 3,000 person venue. We’re a lot more popular in Europe.
BYT: I didn’t know that, I know you guys from Chicago.
EF: Chicago is one of our more popular US cities. It’s in the top three. Columbus, OH is a sleeper hit. Toronto was good.
BYT: What’s the worst city in the US to play?
EF: Kingston, NY. It’s kind of a little bit north of NYC like an hour or two. It’s technically undergoing a cultural renaissance but only twelve people came to the show including the bands I think and their parents. So it was like bands and parents.