By ERIC SCHELKOPF
Evanston native Ezra Furman is the kind of musician that keeps the music world and his fans guessing.
On his second solo album, "Day Of the Dog," set for release Oct. 8 on the Bar/None label, Furman storms ahead in raw and raucous fashion, a stark contrast to the folk-pop sound featured on his previous efforts.
Furman, www.ezrafurman.com, will celebrate the release of "Day Of the Dog" by performing Oct. 12 at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $12, available at www.ticketweb.com.
I had the chance to talk to Furman about the new record.
Q - Great to talk to you. You just had a listening party for the new record in your old house in Chicago where it was recorded. How did the listening party go? What kind of responses did you get?
It was really fun. A lot of people came. It’s kind of a self-centered thing, to make everyone gather and be quiet and listen to the music you made.
But it was tremendously satisfying to watch people listen to it and enjoy it. People had some pretty gushing responses. Then again, there was a lot of alcohol consumed.
Q - You've said that more of the songs on "Day Of the Dog" were cut live than you've done in the past. Do you attribute that to the album's raw sound? In sitting down to make the record, what were your goals and do you think you achieved them?
The main point of this record was to be a manic, raw, up-tempo thing. I wanted to crystallize a certain insane feeling that my favorite rock 'n' roll music has.
The way to achieve this is to have a great band that plays really well together. In my new band The Boy-Friends, I am blessed with a really great rhythm section.
The drummer (Sam Durkes) and bass player (Jorgen Jorgensen) played most of the songs together and nailed it on the first take. I had to re-take most of the guitar stuff.
But the general approach of being a band that can perform all the album’s songs just as well live, that reflects part of the whole point of the record: things happening in real time, barreling irreversibly forward, the teeth and claws coming out, being less careful and more wild.
Q - Bar/None picked up "The Year of No Returning" and now "Day Of the Dog" is being released by Bar/None. How do you see yourself fitting on the label?
They put out good music, we make good music. Perfect fit.
Q - After releasing four albums with the Harpoons, you decided to embark on a solo career. Was it just the right time to start a solo career?
Yeah. The Harpoons taught me most of what I know about music, and I finally knew enough to musical decisions on my own.
They wanted to do other, greater things with their lives, and I wanted to expand my musical range, and so we have a solo career. I don’t care what people call it, really, I just want to make the best records I can make.
Q - How did you go about forming your latest band, The Boy-Friends? What do you think they bring to the table?
It was complicated, forming this band. Only one of them plays on "The Year of No Returning" - Ben Joseph, on keyboards.
But then I had to go on tour when it came out, and I didn’t actually have a band. Essentially I found the best musicians I knew who weren’t too involved with anything else at the moment, and it turned out they/we play really, really well together.
They changed everything and made the new album what it is.
Q - Do you see "Day Of the Dog" as being the sequel to "The Year of No Returning?" What direction do you see yourself going on your next album?
It is definitely the sequel, but it’s the kind of sequel that’s the yin to the first one’s yang. It’s the Manic to the last album’s Depression.
It’s the guy from the first record after he has been through disillusionment and despair and the stripping away of all he relies on, and now is ready to fight, with nothing to lose. As for the next album, it’s too soon to say anything concrete, but I am currently thinking of it as being the third entry in this trilogy.
Q - You divide your time between Oakland, Ca. and Chicago. How are the two music scenes different? Do you prefer one over the other? What do you think of Chicago's music scene today compared to when you started out?
I am antisocial. It’s a serious character flaw, but I have trouble paying attention to the music scenes around me.
I do my thing, and I listen to musicians I like no matter where they’re from, and I go to their shows when they come through town. I’m musically placeless and I don’t know anything about scenes, and I’m sure I’m missing out because of it.
Q - How did growing up in Evanston and the Chicago area influence you musically? What advice would you give to an up-and-coming musician?
I consider Chicago the birthplace of rock 'n’ roll, or at least one of its birthplaces, and my love of my hometown probably has something to do with my interest in that 1950s music. But not all that much.
I think the kind of music I like and make has more to do with my neurology than my geography.
First advice to up-and-coming musicians: please quit, please don’t do this professionally, you could be so much more than this.
If that advice is unacceptable to you, then you’re ready for my second piece of advice: do this all the time. Play every possible show and say yes to everything and keep doing it until you want to quit, and then quit, but if you can’t quit then do it even more than before, every free moment that you possibly can.
Never say no to a show, and consider every single moment of music that you create as the moment you are introducing yourself to the world for the first time.