Ezra Kire is back on top, baby! For a while it seemed as though the Leftover Crack guitarist/ Morning Glory front man was on permanent sabbatical, popping up a few times a year for L.O.C. shows and then fading away again.
But then, last year, he dropped the first Morning Glory release in nine- count 'em- NINE years, Poets Were My Heroes. The record was as intense as an episode of Breaking Bad, detailing Kire's battles with addiction, his family, and romantic relationships. But also, it rocked, man. It rocked.
Now that Poets has wrapped up Kire's past, he and the rest of the gang are already back at the races, working on the next Morning Glory record. In order to get the inside scoop, Punknews Features Editor John Gentile met up with Kire to talk about the new record, Chubby Checker, and those three times that Kire saved the lives of old ladies.
Click Read More to see how Ezra is keeping NYC safer, one old lady at a time.
The last time we spoke, we talked about some pretty heavy things. But, now, it seems like things are going really well for you.
The funny thing about life is that no matter how much you have you always want more. That feeling of dissatisfaction never really goes away. Saying one day you'll be happy is like saying one day you're going eat once and for all. Yeah, things are great. Learning to enjoy it is something else. If you figure it out please let me know how it's done. I'll definitely take notes.
Poets Were My Heroes was a very personal record. Did it ever bother you that fans knew so much about your personal life?
Man, good question... When I started my first band I was 13. Back then it was word of mouth, or the passing of a cassette, hand to hand, which allowed people to "discover" you. Now-a-days, being in a band can be dangerous to your future. Anything you say is forever on record. It's all right there online, easily accessible to anyone with a cell phone.
An employer wants to know about you? They'll just google your name. I doubt people even look at resumes anymore. If any of your work is worth anything it's online. Everything we do and say is under surveillance and scrutiny from all types of authorities, especially after the homeland security act was passed. That's pretty bad news if you're saying anything subversive or anti-establishment… and these days it's harder to write things off as being "young" or "artistic."
Being in a band, especially a band of free thinkers, is a lifetime commitment now. If you want to be in a band, you better really mean what you're saying, believe in it and be willing to deal with the consequences later in life if things don't "work out." Things have come back on me in million ways I would have never expected. I work freelance for Clear Channel sometimes and they all know who I am and that I was [speaking in authoritarian voice] "in a band called Leftover Crack," with a song called "Clear Channel Fuck Off." You know, "the first song on a record called Fuck World Trade". Irony of ironies, huh? But some of them don't think "Clear Channel Fuck Off" is very funny. Who would have guessed? It's a very small world and you better be willing to deal with that fact. As for me and my music, well, I believe.
So, you're saying that the modern age has made almost nothing private. Still, do you try to keep at least some parts of yourself out of the public eye when releasing music?
Not intentionally. But, I've had a ton of great experiences and good times which I never really talk about. I leave that part to the music itself. Compared to so many in the world, I have had a blessed life. As you probably know I grew up half way around the globe in a little teardrop shaped country called Sri Lanka. The extreme poverty, corruption, warfare, and underprivileged life there left an indelible scar on my heart and my philosophies. Yet despite all those things, my friends there were the kindest, caring and happy people I ever knew.
Jello Biafra said it best when he said that everyone needs a fucking holiday in Cambodia. I'm blessed just to live in New York and I think that comes through in the feel of our choruses, no matter what the content is. I've gotten to experience a ton of things other people only get to dream about. I'm very lucky.
I really liked the Born to December EP. But, for the life of me, I cannot figure out what "Sara Says" is about. Can you tell us a little bit about that song?
I was in a relationship with a girl named Mariel. I wrote a song about our relationship called "My Mariel," which was never released since it revealed some things that she wouldn't want made public… nothing bad on her, really just on me. She had a sister named Sara.
One day Sara jokingly said "you should write me a song, too." I guess she had no idea what I had written about those troubled times with Mariel. So, I wrote her a song that was kind of vague and ambiguous. The words aren't really what are important in that song; it's the shape of the words that make them fall into place. It has vowels in all the right places and sounds that are all strung together like a puzzle. Essentially the title was for her and the words were about how fucked up the world can be. Eventually Mariel and I broke up. I don't think Sara has ever heard her song.
Also, I really liked how "Jesus Christ Boogie" uses the crucifixion as a template for a dance craze. How is it that after 2,000 years, and at least ten Chubby Checker albums, you are the first guy to make this connection?
Ha! I love Chubby Checker. You know he has a song called "Stoned In The Bathroom"? This was supposed to be a Choking Victim song, originally. The main singer [Scott Sturgeon] and I came up with the idea years ago when we were still friends and hanging out a lot. We thought it was a hilarious idea and laughed about it one day for a long time, making up a whole dance. While I do remember the laughing and kidding around, I don't remember if it was his idea or mine or if we came up with it together, as we sometimes did. But, I decided to put it to my own words and music anyways.
Scott Sturgeon is working on a new Leftover Crack album. You were in Leftover Crack for the vast majority of the band's active years. What is the relationship between you and the rest of Leftover Crack like, right now?
Bad. I quit.
On iTunes, "Morning Glory" often gets mixed up with the Oasis album. Is that an annoyance, or do you see yourself infecting the minds of people who seek out nostalgic, Beatles-references recorded in the 1990's?
I like Oasis and the Beatles, but that's coincidental. At one point I wanted to change the name of the band. I prefer M-Glory, but when I told Jello Biafra and the Alternative Tentales team, they took a staunch position against it. I decided Fat would never go for it either, so I didn't even try. But a band's name is supposed to shape the sound of the music, and in that I feel I have chosen correctly.
When I picked the name out years ago it was meant for the tunes I was writing in the early mornings for the No Time to Sleep record. It had a broad visual feel to it. It symbolized something grand to me. I never expected it to last this long.
Are you guys working on new material now?
M-Glory has some 16 or 18 new tunes already demoed and a ton more in the pan. Last February, we went on a writing spree. I never had so much fun. I'm also working on an "acoustic" record right now, but I hate calling it that since there's so much crap out there under the guise of being "acoustic folk-punk." The acoustic shit I'm working on is more political than personal.
I've also got a ton of kids' songs- that I don't know what to do with- including such hits as "Who Blew A Louis?," "Twinkletoes," "I Love Trash- An Ode To Oscar," "Sandbox Boogie," "Brooklyn Stomp"-another Chubby Checker-style tune- "Me Cowlick Is A Brain Antenna," "Wee Wee Slide," "Where's Dad?," and "ABCDE,F-Me." I'm not even kidding.
What is some of the new material about?
In two words, it's 'revolution rock.' In more words, it's mainly about the politics of life, I suppose, and how we don't have to buy into the system in order to be happy and live a comfortable life, and how we don't have to fuck people over to survive. I always believed strongly in Leftover Crack's message except for the drug stuff and the totalitarian nihilistic philosophies. I like to try to offer a solution beyond suicide. I'd like to think M-Glory always offers up some hope at the end of the day. That's just my shit and the way I see it.
For those interested, in more words, the new material is much heavier than our previous stuff. It rocks more. It's heavily guitar and drum driven with some piano. It's its own thing, really. It's less scattered than the Poets material and is ultimately way more cohesive both musically and lyrically.
For the first time I feel lucky to have a platform to speak from. It's a unique thing when you can write songs and you know dozens of people, maybe even hundreds or thousands of people, will listen to what you're saying. I feel blessed and I'm choosing my words carefully. "If you could say one thing to the world what would it be?" That has been my question while writing these songs. I want these ones to count. I feel like we're finally coming into our own with these songs. It's just starting to sound like the M-Glory I always envisioned. I'm very excited. There is a general feeling in the band right now that we are working on something very special. It's a feeling I haven't experienced since [Choking Victim's] No Gods No Managers. It's hard to explain. All I know is that this is a record that must be made.
Give us one crazy story that happened during your last tour.
We played a show on our last tour in - I think it was Newcastle, England. I was under the weather that day and entered the venue feeling light headed and stuffed up. I think I drank some UK version of cold medicine and hot tea. I felt totally fucked. I drank a few Jordian-style beers to help me get on stage. We started into our set but the vibe was off. I kept cutting songs out of the set that I felt I couldn't sing. I usually don't do that, but then I wasn't exactly myself that day. It felt like we had played for 45 minutes to an hour but I guess we were only 6 songs deep when I couldn't do anymore.
Man... kids were pissed. They started screaming at us "fuck you! 10 fuckin' quid for six songs?" I ushered up the strength to play one more song, hoping to appease them... and then jetted the building. I lay down on the pavement behind the venue, head spinning. One kid got up in my face and his friends had to hold him back. Good thing they were there too, because he would have destroyed me. Those English cats mean business when it comes to brawling.
And of course, it was the only show of the tour that our booking agent Ian attended. He was there with his girlfriend and it was really embarrassing. But, you just can't tell someone "every other show we have played has been great. I swear!" It just doesn't work that way. Everyone was pissed. My band most of all. They confronted me two days later when I felt better. But, I really felt worse. When we got home our drummer Early quit. This incident probably had something to do with his departure, though I don't know that for certain.
For what it's worth we announced a free make up show for the Newcastle kids when we go back- hopefully- at the end of the year. In the UK, they like to knock you about when they're unhappy and make an end of it. But, since they didn't actually give me any black eyes I think I may get it next time. A punch in the eye followed by a beer, no doubt. Wish me luck.
What is one thing that would surprise us to learn about Ezra Kire?
In my free time I'm actually Batman. Not like crime fighting Batman, but life-saving Batman. I'm not bragging when I say that last year I saved the lives of three people on the streets of NYC, all separate incidents. One lady collapsed and fell down a flight of stairs on 10th Street. One turned blue on a park bench when I was walking by. And one lady went into full mouth foaming seizures on a packed subway car on my way to rehearsal in Queens. I saved all of them.
The first I caught before her head hit the pavement. The second I breathed air into. But the third one was the most dramatic.
It was some serious movie shit. While everyone else sat there in shock on the subway car I jumped up and cradled her head in my left hand. I whipped my leather belt off with my right hand. In one fluid motion it came off and made a snap in the air before I swung it into a coil above my head and put in her mouth to prevent her from biting her tongue off. I pulled the emergency stopper and the train ground to a halt at the next stop. My iPod was still blaring some heavy classical Beethoven shit. After I had pulled her from the train I stuck around until she was stable and 911 arrived, then I just faded into the crowd. None of them ever learned my name. I felt like a super hero. Taking First Aid was the greatest thing I ever did. I carry a CPR kit everywhere I go. I'm basically like a Guardian Angel, just not near as cool or handsome. New Yorkers have a bad reputation but in truth we almost always help those in need when someone is in trouble. Yeah, I'm fucking Batman.
You know, out of the seven citations on the Morning Glory Wikipedia page, four are directly attributable to me, but I did not put them on the page myself. That basically means that I am the Don Corleone of punk rock, right?
More like the Don Juan I think. I love your writing because you always have poignant, well thoughtout questions and you never edit me or leave shit out. You just can't put a price on that. It's too bad though... you're a great writer but pretty much just garbage as a person.
Any last comments?
To sum things up, there's only one way to get a bad tune out of your head and it's to think of a worse, more annoying tune. And White Lung is my favorite current punk band.
Thanks for the interview dude!
War! ... as opposed to the all obligatory.
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Managing EditorAdam White
Contributing EditorsKira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile
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