Ezra Furman: ‘It’s in my blood to have a fear about encouraging fascism’ - The Irish Times.
By Ed Power
The cult indie singer on his angry new album, falling out of love with Morrissey, Trump’s treatment of refugees and why being gender non-conforming brings everyday peril
"The last time Furman spoke to the Irish Times, in 2015, he described Morrissey as his “hero”. Four years later all our perspectives of the Smiths icon are very different. Old Suedehead recently wore a right-wing “For Britain” pin on the Tonight Show. And he accused Mayor of London Sadiq Khan of being unable to “talk properly”. His halo hasn’t slipped. It’s turned to ashes.
“I’m not really listening to Morrissey or the Smiths lately,” says Furman. “When I do, it’s kind of ruined by thinking about things he’s said. And who he’s putting his support behind. I haven’t been not listening to him because I think it’s wrong to. It’s just hard for me to enjoy.”
He pauses. Furman is trying to walk a line. He may no longer be enamoured of Morrissey. But he doesn’t want to come across as if he’s telling other Smiths fans what they should or should not listen to. He’s not here to preach.
“If you can still enjoy it . . .” he says, trailing off as he gathers his thoughts. “I don’t really believe in trying to erase every Woody Allen movie from history. For one thing, that’s kind of unfair to all the people who worked on those movies or albums or whatever it is. What did they do wrong to have their work erased from culture?
“And secondly . . . we never knew anything about these artists. We’re not friends with them. I never expected my artistic heroes to be ethical heroes. It’s just if it ruins the art for you. For some people it does. For some people it doesn’t. If you were to put on [Smiths uber-weepie] I Know It’s Over Now, I’d be, ‘God, that’s good.’ I still know what’s good.
“You can’t deny that. You can’t be like, ‘yeah, that s*** sucks anyway.’ Maybe it’s a little bit ruined. Maybe it’s forever ruined. It’s hard for me because I’m a songwriter. I need my teachers. I need my texts that I study to get better at this.”"
The previous interview cited above that mentioned Morrissey can be found here.
Excerpt from said interview:
"Furman’s knack of catching the listener with a sucker-punch of a lyric before reeling them in with catchy melodies has become his modus operandi. There is a sense of the surreal in some of his songs; others are steeped in the perennial self-deprecating outsider wit that songwriters like Stephin Merritt and Morrissey have made their own.
“They’re my heroes,” he says, unsurprisingly. “They were my early awakening, a realisation that I could do it. They had something unexpected. I could write a joke song really easily, but I think something that might be true for my generation is that there’s a certain irony or detachedness expected of us, even though we really feel sincere. So the only way to sincerity is through a joke. There’s some kind of barrier to get through before you can say ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m hurt’ if you haven’t first pierced this cultural shell in some way.”"