Q&A: Ezra Kire, the Punk Piano Man of Morning Glory
Ezra Kire, the driving force behind New York band Morning Glory, has seen his band slipped into the ‘punk rock’ category, but has opted to not let such a designation change the way he goes about making music.
Kire is a fan of the piano, and while putting together what became War Psalms (to be released March 4 through Fat Wreck Chords), the keys and ivory were a driving force behind the song writing process. Although the album is by no mean a Billy Joel on speed type of release, but the instrument that doesn’t often get much punk rock love, does make it on album.
This month, Riffyou.com caught up with Kire and learned about his affection for the instrument; why the Internet can make him uneasy; and his acceptance of art over commerce in a not-always-fair music industry.
RY: When compared to the albums you released in 2012 (Poets Were My Heroes, and Born to December), what type of evolution do you believe you achieved with War Psalms?
Ezra: “That depends on how you see the term ‘evolution.’ In a sense, it’s de-evolution in that it gets less complicated and more back to basics. There’s a lot more piano in it, but it’s not super-overt…I wrote many of the songs on the piano, and they turned out to be good punk songs when we re-translated them.”
RY: What turned you onto the idea of incorporating piano into punk rock? Not a lot of bands from that genre tend to record with such an instrument.
Ezra: “As long as I’ve been in bands and playing music, I just write the music that I hear in my head and whether it fits into a genre of music or not…that’s up for other people to decide. I feel that genres of music are things that other people choose to put onto artists so that they can categorize it, and make it easier to digest and understand. I write whatever is going on with me at the time. I write in a bubble and punk rockers happen to like [my music], so that’s fine.”
RY: Does it help the creative process to not think about genres? I’m sure many artists get trapped in the ‘fans know me as this’ mentality.
Ezra: “I try really hard not to think like that. I don’t, ever, go online or pay attention to what people say about [my music]. I never read comments about our [YouTube] videos. I’m a pretty sensitive guy and that stuff will fucking eat at me and end up influencing my writing somewhere in the future. Even if there are 100 great comments, if there’s one bad post, I’ll remember it and it’ll bother me. I’ll end up trying to please other people. Whatever someone has a problem with, I’ll try to amend that in my writing later. So at this point, I don’t fucking bother. I don’t have a Facebook or anything.”
RY: Was there a particular instance that forced you to stay away from those types of reactions?
Ezra: “No. Some websites are worse than others. I feel that people go onto certain websites for the sole purpose of bashing people or trying to bash other people online. It’s just a big food fight of words.”
RY: Isn’t that the tricky part about being in a band nowadays…the Internet can be so powerful in terms of helping a band communicate with fans, but at the same time it can be a torturous playground that rips you to shreds.
Ezra: “The Internet is a good and a bad thing because it provides tools to the people that need to get their music into the hands of people. But, it also means that anybody can do that. So, that floods the market with a lot of stuff that’s total shit. It’s better to have it that way, then the other way. I totally believe in free music and people being able to use the DIY ethic and retain creative control. We’re always trying to put music out for free.”
RY: Is there a concern that by making all music free that it may lead to the bottom falling out of a band?
Ezra: “No, not really. The music industry is set up so that only a handful of people at the very top are going to be able to make enough money at it to support their families and buy houses. Everybody who falls below that is going to have to have some other means of making money. For me, I don’t fall into that tiny percentage at the top, so that doesn’t affect me. I make music and put it out. If it gets to more people through the Internet, that’s great, but I don’t expect to make any money on it. Bands never made much money anyways. I remember when I signed my first record contract, I looked at the splits on record royalties, and I think we were getting 10 cents off of every record…they were retailing it for $10 or $12. Then you have to divide that up between five band members. If you’re Coldplay or Foo Fighters, then you can accrue enough money to make a decent living off of record sales alone. As far as the other bands, that’s not [going to happen]. I never equate the two things together: making money and music. That was never a very believable thing to me, so I never went in with that attitude.”