Ezra Furman cites many Minnesota-made influences

Ezra Furman performs "Restless Year" live in the studios of 89.3 The Current. (MPR/Nate Ryan)
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Ezra Furman performs in The Current studio (full session + interview)
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  • Ezra Furman performs in The Current studio (full session + interview) 20:19
  • Ezra Furman - Restless Year (Live on 89.3 The Current) 02:09
  • Ezra Furman - Lousy Connection (Live on 89.3 The Current) 03:57
  • Ezra Furman - Can I Sleep in Your Brain? (Live on 89.3 The Current) 04:15

Ezra Furman may be from Chicago, but he wears his Minnesota influences on his sleeve, inspired as he is by Bob Dylan and by the Replacements. "And I'm no stranger to Prince and the Hold Steady," Furman adds. "I think I first came [to the Twin Cities] in 2007 or something. It's a nice town, very nice to me."

On his most recent visit, Furman and his band, The Boy-Friends, were in St. Paul to play a show at the Turf Club. They stopped by The Current earlier in the day for a session hosted by Mac Wilson.

From among his influences, Furman says Dylan was likely the most powerful one, particularly Dylan's album Blonde on Blonde. "That was a big one for me," Furman says. "The only music I liked was punk music when I was 12 or 13, and then Bob Dylan opened a door in [my] brain. That's what we want records to do, right?"

Here are additional highlights from Ezra Furman's interview with Mac Wilson:

On the connection between Tom Sawyer and Death in the song "Restless Year":
"In that situation, I'm like Huck Finn, and Death is my best buddy. We're getting into trouble, causing chaos, spending all our time together. We feel totally safe around each other."

On his pace of songwriting and releasing music:
"It's not always possible to put out a record a year. I guess I haven't done that. I write a lot of songs, though. I could definitely put out a record probably every five months, but they may not be my best records. You want to save it up for a little bit so it gets really good."

On influences versus imitation:
"To me, I think the road to authenticity leads through imitation. There's something large that good artists try to funnel through themselves and see what comes out."

On his discovery of the Replacements:
"There's a couple people that deserve credit for showing me the Replacements. But Eddie Argos [of Art Brut] was all about Hootenanny, the second Replacements' LP, kind of the most drunk one. He was like, 'That's the best one.' I think that's an unpopular view, but I can see what he means. It's got a helluva charm to it. ... [Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus] had a little thing talking about his favorite song on some website, and it was 'Androgynous'. I'd only started down certain Replacements rabbit holes; Let It Be was waiting for me. Patrick Stickles, that's a guy who I could call a hero of mine, even though we're like the same age almost."

On whether the Replacements' song "Androgynous" was ahead of its time:
"If you hang out with alternative kids and queer people, you're going to notice the indignities they suffer. It seems a natural thing to write a song about, and Paul Westerberg is so good, he could write about anything. … [But] that's only kind of a basic decency he's showing, I think. I wouldn't give him so much credit for writing a song about how queers are people too. It's true there's not that many songs about that, even today. So yeah, OK, I'll give Westerberg the compliment. It's a great song."

Songs Performed


"Restless Year"
"Lousy Connection"
"Can I Sleep in Your Brain?"
All songs from Ezra Furman's 2015 album, Perpetual Motion People, available on Bella Union records.

Hosted by Mac Wilson
Produced by Lindsay Kimball
Engineered by Michael DeMark
Web feature by Luke Taylor

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6 Photos

  • Ezra Furman - 6
    Keyboardist Ben Joseph performs with Ezra Furman in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Ezra Furman - 2
    Ezra Furman performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Ezra Furman - 3
    Bassist Jorgen Jorgensen performs with Ezra Furman in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Ezra Furman - 4
    Ezra Furman performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Ezra Furman - 7
    Saxophonist Tim Sandusky performs with Ezra Furman in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)
  • Ezra Furman - 1
    Ezra Furman performs in The Current studio. (MPR photo/Nate Ryan)

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