More Than a Feeling: Interview with Ezra Holbrook By Andrea Rizzo
Thirtysomething singer songwriter Ezra Holbrook has been making beautiful music most of his adult life. He took a few moments to share with Careersingear.com on how his deep love with music began, why he digs the Portland music scene, and how yard work isn’t a top priority. You can find out more about his music here: http://www.myspace.com/ezraholbrookmusic.
1. How did your love of making music come about?
I think it began with a love of listening to music. I had a really strong connection with music ever since I can remember; most of my early childhood memories are actually tied to songs in one way or another. I can remember sneaking out of my bed in the dark when I was probably five or six and putting my ear to the door while my parents listened to Neil Young's Comes A Time or sitting on the floor in our living room listening to Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles.
When I was about nine or ten, my Dad gave me a cassette copy of This Year's Model by Elvis Costello (with a stern "Don't tell your mother..." It turned out New York by Lou Reed was on the other side, which had some adult language on it as I recall). That album completely blew my mind. I listened to it obsessively, memorized it start to finish, it completely captivated me. I found that not only did I have a strong connection and deep enjoyment of music from a more technical side (musicianship, lyrics and melody, etc.) but I felt a powerful emotional connection with it as well. Sometimes it almost seems like the memory of how a great song made me feel is actually more vivid than the details of the song itself.
By the time I was in high school I knew I wanted to be a musician. I had been playing various instruments (mostly drums at that time) and dabbling with trying to learn to write and sing. Honestly there was nothing else in my life that I found very inspiring (with the exception of the things that most every high school boy finds inspiring: boobs, beer and anything else that would most likely make your parents mad). It was as if everyday life was some sort of foreign universe and music was the world that I belonged in. I knew I had to be a part of that intangible something that had influenced and affected me so profoundly. Plus girls like guys who play in bands.
2. It sounds like your album, Sympathy for Toys and Puppets, had been a long time in the making. How has it been received?
Sympathy was quite a bit of work to finish. Not only was it difficult in terms of working with the label but I was pretty young and naive at the time and a bit of a control freak as well. As I've gotten more experience making records I've learned to trust the process a bit more and let go of some of the over-thinking perfectionist stuff. So some of my earlier recordings were perhaps a bit overwrought. That being said, it seems like most folks that enjoy my music tend to see past the production and more technical aspects of the record and look more at the songs themselves; so in that regard it seems like Sympathy was received really well. It helped put my name out there a bit as a writer, and most of the folks that became fans of that record still come out to see me play today which I consider high praise.
3. You have worked all over the west coast. How are you enjoying the Portland music scene?
I love the Portland music scene. There are so many great songwriters and musicians here and it's a town that is still really supportive of them. It’s an unusual place to play music in the sense that Portland is a pretty DIY town and there is very little real "industry" presence here. As a result, I think Portland attracts musicians who are looking more for the experience of the creative process and access to the amazing talent pool of musicians and recording studios here, and less for their "big break." There seems to be more emphasis on what you're doing and less on who's watching you do it. It's got more of a small town feel in that way, more of a sense of community. Not much room for inflated egos (although those are delicious...waffle humor!). Most of the bands here are very supportive of each other and it seems that the overwhelming sentiment among Portland musicians is that success for any breed’s success for all.
4. What other projects are you working on in addition to your own music?
Right now I play drums for Casey Neill & the Norway Rats as well as Redray Frazier, two really talented singer/songwriters here in Portland. I also do a lot of record production for various folks. I'm also planning on mowing the lawn at some point. Probably not actually gonna do that last part.
5. Are you working on an upcoming release? If so, what is it?
I just released a new solo album called Save Yourself in February. It's available http://www.cdbaby.com or on iTunes. I also have a new band called The My Oh Mys, we're working on new recordings as we speak, and should have stuff available on the Internet this summer.