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Handsome Furs - Furs On Parade

Author: Nina Bertok
Monday, 16 March 2009

3D’s Nina Bertok speaks with Alexei Perry of Handsome Furs, the pseudo-side project of Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner.

“It’s a weird way to live,” confesses Alexei Perry, one half of husband-and-wife duo Handsome Furs. “You’re constantly fed back what you’ve just poured out, every piece of music you make is instantly shoved back in your face through people’s reviews and opinions.”

Such is the life of a muso, as Perry and spouse Dan Boeckner will tell you, though they wouldn’t have it any other way. Comparing their daily existence to that of a couple of gypsies, Perry claims Handsome Furs is a band entirely based on travel, exploration, and reflection.

“We just got back from a tour that took us to Berlin and France and Italy for a few weeks, then in two days we’ll be in New York and after that we’re headed to North America and back to Europe again,” Perry explains. And while Handsome Furs have plenty of stories to tell of their travels, it’s in Eastern Europe that the majority of their inspiration comes from.

“The most recent place that really touched us was in Serbia when we played Belgrade a few months ago,” Perry recalls. “It’s such an amazing place. We got to meet some of the folks that work at this guerilla radio station called B92, which played lots of anti-Milosevic protest songs and where they promoted a lot of shows that were happening around Belgrade. We spent two days there with these people and had no sleep because we just loved hanging out with them so much. We had a tour guide who was sort of a translator too, Svetlana, and she walked us through the city and showed us where some of the bombings had taken place. It was such an incredible city to see.”

Handsome Furs’ adventures in Eastern Europe extended to Russia, Perry adds, where the couple encountered discrimination the likes of which they’d never experienced before – and which also provided inspiration for their sophomore album’s title, Face Control.

“We think what we call ‘dress code’ in America is bad, well, in Russia and other Eastern European countries they have a similar policy but a lot more harsh. You can spend all your money reserving a table in a ritzy nightclub or restaurant, but when you arrive at the door you’re still subject to face control. Basically, if a bouncer doesn’t think you’re pretty enough, you’re not getting in. There’s one bouncer in St Petersburg who is known for denying supermodels. We went through that when we tried to get some lunch at this totally down-to-earth, normal-looking place where some guy at the door scanned us up and down and said ‘no way’… We’re not famous or anything but in the end they found out we were part of the band touring there and we got in.”

Describing Handsome Furs’ new album as a completely organic, no-frills follow-up to 2007 debut Plague Park, Perry claims the duo aimed to craft songs so as to complement the live setting as much as possible.

“We were thinking about the road,” she says. “We were trying to abide by the practice of getting the first take to be the best take. We’re a band that doesn’t like to do lots of tweaking and post-production. Capturing the original idea and going straight into it is what we’re about.”

WHO: Handsome Furs
WHAT: Face Control through Sub Pop / Stomp
WHEN: Out now
MORE: subpop.com

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