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A native of Evanston, Ezra Furman, 22, is now lead guitarist, singer and songwriter for a four-piece musical group called Ezra Furman and the Harpoons. The band was formed in Boston during the band members’ years in undergraduate school at Tufts University; now they are somewhat vagrant.
In a January interview from Boston, where he had returned months after graduation to visit friends, Mr. Furman said, “I don’t really know anymore, what’s my home. We [the band] might move back to Chicago this summer … or New York. … We’re still in talks about it. We’re really just bums. We’re in transition.”
If bums, Mr. Furman and his band-mates, guitarist Andrew Langer, bassist and singer Job Mukkada and drummer Adam Abrutyn, appear to be working, aiming to advance their success as a band.
Already the Harpoons have received marks of music industry approval. After playing several shows to campus crowds in Boston and self-recording their first record, “Beat Beat Beat,” in dorm rooms at school, the band was signed to Chicago’s Minty Fresh record label, an accomplishment for any new musical group and a clear-cut step toward a career in music.
The band now has two records with Minty Fresh: “Banging Down the Doors” (2007) and “Inside the
Human Body” (2008).
In April, the Harpoons were officially announced as part of the lineup for the 2009 Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago in August, an annual three-day outdoor concert whose roster also includes big-namers like Depeche Mode, Kings of Leon, Rise Against and another Evanston native and cult-supported musician, Andrew Bird. Lollapalooza attracts thousands of people to the city yearly, and could slingshot the Harpoons into higher circles.
A prolific writer and energetic singer, Mr. Furman has contributed enthusiastically to getting the band noticed by Lollapalooza organizers and others. One critic characterized Mr. Furman as “emitting sarcastic Midwestern angst with a lot of intelligence and a lot of heart” (NPR’s “All Songs Considered”); another suggested he “tumbles through his songs in fits and starts, full of wildly poetic lyrics” (Time Out Chicago).
“I think the audience does a lot of the work in a show that I play. My job is to meet them halfway, kind of. Try to get them to be human beings with me,” Mr. Furman said.
In January, Mr. Furman returned to Evanston to play a solo concert to a crowd of new fans and old friends and family, at S.P.A.C.E.,1245 Chicago Ave.
At that show and during and during this interview, Mr. Furman expressed his interest in communicating through music.
“Writing songs has really become my way of responding to life. I was writing songs long before I was showing them to anybody. Songs kind of come up. … [An idea] haunts me for a little while and it has to come out,” he said.
“I want the words to be right more [than the music]. I provide the chords, and the band makes it into a really good musical piece,” he said.
Possibly just as effective for the band’s growth have been the Harpoons’ efforts at networking. Mr. Furman said his band has been “infiltrating the Boston music scene, meeting other bands and playing with them.”
Ezra Furman and the Harpoons are slotted to play at noon on Aug. 8, and at an “after-party” concert at the House of Blues later that night. Before that, though, they will return to Evanston for a Starlight Concert at Twiggs Park at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 6.