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Nothing furry about the music

BY RACHAEL LANDER | MARCH 27, 2009 7:30 AM

mp3 sample: Handsome Furs

"I'm Confused"

Fear not, no animals were harmed in the making of this band. Handsome Furs is just a clever name for two very real people who thrive on travel, performing, and making music.

Handsome Furs will play the Mill, 120 E. Burlington, at 9 p.m. Saturday along with the Cinnamon Band and Datagun. Its members, Dan Boeckner and fiction writer Alexei Perry, have been married for two years, and they say that while their union provides a distinct closeness, it doesn’t separate Handsome Furs from its musical peers.

“We both realized we didn’t want to be with anybody else,” Boeckner said. “Being a couple doesn’t really change what we do. The only difference is that we are very close, and we get to work on things spontaneously.”

The pair reside in Montréal but spend a majority of their time touring the world — travel plays an integral role in the lives of Boeckner and Perry. The two have had the opportunity to take Handsome Furs all over the world, thanks in part to the band’s small size — making it easy to pack up and leave whenever the members desire. Boeckner said they travel close to two-thirds of the year, with the remaining third spent in the couple’s Canadian home.

“I have a lot of favorite places,” Boeckner said. “I love California a lot. Internationally, I really enjoy being in Eastern Europe, especially Serbia. It was fantastic playing in Belgrade.”

Along with journeying around the world comes playing to the globe’s crowds. Handsome Furs is known for taking its experience abroad and channeling it into its music and onto its two albums, 2007’s Plague Park and Face Control, released earlier this month.

Boeckner said he is looking forward to having the opportunity to play in Iowa. Handsome Furs’ performance Saturday, the band’s first gig in Iowa City, is part of the Face Control CD release tour.
For those looking for a different kind of band to fill their Saturday nights, Handsome Furs may just fit perfectly. Stuart Meyer, Handsome Furs’ A&R representative, wrote in an e-mail interview that the relationship between Boeckner and Perry makes attending concerts a unique experience.

“Their interplay as husband/wife; and those songs [are] tailor-made for a concert,” Meyer wrote.
Handsome Furs classifies itself as alternative, but Boeckner noted his love for pre-punk and power-pop music, from which he grabs a lot of inspiration. He also said Perry has a great fondness for heavy dance music.

Meyer listed many aspects that make Handsome Furs’ sound different from the mainstream.

“Their songwriting, which is classic verse-course-verse,” he wrote. “And their image. The sexuality is somewhat unique for indie rock.”

And the band’s PETA-baiting name? Boeckner said it came from a short story Perry wrote.

“Honestly, getting a band name was one of the hardest things for me to do [in] starting a band,” he said. “It almost seems like the least important thing.”

One of the most important things to him is playing for audiences, he said; being able to play live and feed off the energy emanating from crowds is preferable to recording albums, though he enjoys that immensely as well.

“It’s one of the most pleasurable things in my life,” Boeckner said. “If it’s really going well you have a connection with the audience, and you kind of lose yourself physically. I don’t think there are any experiences that I’ve had that match up to that.”


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