Of course everything is bittersweet these days but I thank Polaris for the nod in nominating us for their prize.
All forms of love and support is truly meaningful currently. So thank you fans and judges. I mean it: it means a lot.
I cannot begin to give words or reason or clarity to this very personal and private situation which has been made public. Instead I can only express the immensity of my gratitude for the love and support and curiosity and collaboration and fortitude of spirit that you shared with us and helped us be committed to. My world is forever larger and grander and wholly changed because of the experiences created by and given to the Handsome Furs. I trust that those amongst you who loved us, I’m sure, were able to see the largeness of my heart in this. Trust that it will continue on. And that I will always be deeply thankful. I will honour every precious memory of what we had together. Thank you, truly and widely, from the very reaches of my heart.
The band have had an urgent health issue come up, and will be unable to make the overseas trip in April. Alexei and Dan do not take having to cancel performances lightly, and if there were any way to make the trip, they would.
Thanks very much for your understanding during this difficult time.
Oh man: I love how divided the attention to the Jersey Shore coverage has been. Part of me wants to let the true Handsome Furs fans know that we actually have no control of how MTV uses our material, part of me wanted to explain that we did Sirius radio the same day Jersey Shore did and coincidentally took that silly photo, and the other part of me wants to let everyone enjoy their guilty pleasures - which frequently include questionable television choices. xo, Alexei
Here’s Alexei’s Top “Ten” Great Things From 2011 In No Particular Order (from SubPop.com)
Number one: Belgrade Punk band Repetitor’s debut album Sve Sto Vidim Je Prvi Put
Number two: Making out on a docked Ukranian gun ship/venue in Budapest prior to stage time
Number three: Crossing eight borders in sixteen hours touring through the Balkans with Bernays Propaganda
Number four: Terreneo Festival in Sibenik
Number five: Martinis in a can at 3am on day off in post-recession deserted Reno Nevada
Number six: Sweatiest backstage wardrobe change in chapel of First Unitarian church with Thee Satisfaction
Number seven: Onstage vs frontrow full frontal nudity at a squat show in Berlin
Number eight: PDX police bust us during “fake raping” of “What About Us?” director Scott Coffey
Number nine: Encore at Neumos in Seattle the band grows exponentially to include Suuns and Talk Demonic
Number ten: Four minute crowd surf at Palaty Kulturana in Warzaw
Number eleven: PJ Harvey sighting at show in London
Number twelve: After thirty minute “interrogation” by Swedish narcotics officers, realizing that merely raising your voice is an effective way to avoid a trip to the police station in Scandinavia
Number thirteen: The dingy that transported our uninsured gear to our show at Beach number five in Lake Ohrid Macedonia (plus naked nightswimming afterwards!)
Number fourteen: The amazing young man who came out to his parents immediately before coming to our show in Boston and then danced harder than anyone in attendance
Number fifteen: Our tour manager eerily and robotically being able to sing every single word of every single song played on XM radio’s Back Spin… “She’s so fly she’ll drive you right out of your mind. Steal your heart when your blind. You’ll fall in love and you’ll be screaming dreaming. Never trust a big butt and a smile. That girl is poison.”
Number sixteen: The fact that Prince Hubertus is a real person and we met him and his shinily bejeweled and wildly patterned crew in the sketchiest back alley of East Hastings where a junkie was practicing his knife throwing skills at a telephone pole
Number seventeen: Epic Lord of the Rings style mushroom picking adventure followed by day long smoke sauna in the Finnish countryside
Number eighteen: Crazy ass May Day party in the hills above Sarejevo featuring live band on tiny porch and entire roast lamb
Number nineteen: Performing as punk rock karaoke super group with No Age after packed secret show in the basement of an Albanian restaurant in Skopje. Karaoke band begins covers of Black Flag, CCR, Bob Dylan and others four hours after show had officially ended.
Han Xia directed our brand new video for Serve the People! We love her. She wrote a little about her inspirations for the video and we wanted to share it with you. Thank you again to Han Xia and to all our friends in Beijing. We miss you!
The very first time I met Handsome Furs was when I was in my second year of film school. I could not speak English and was immersed in weird music and films, awkward and shy. Then these two people showed up and kind of changed my life. As we walked around Beijing talking it was like finding a part of your family from the other side of the planet, it was so special.
I first heard the song (Serve the People) at a concert venue called 2kolegas. Handsome Furs began their second tour of China there. That was a drunken night, young people chatting and drinking everywhere. I totally got puzzled in this scene, I know they wrote this song for Asia, but as I looked at the people around me they seemed to be happy about who they are. Where they happy to lie to themselves, or had they already become used to a life without any freedom? The city behind us is extremely weird and beautiful. It feels like it’s gonna run like a crazy person at any second.
Alexei asked me if I wanna shoot a music video of this song. At almost the same moment, I thought about my high school classmate Yang. He is a cute, shy street cleaner who is into indie music a lot. His only interest is collecting records and listening to them. He goes to 2kolegas every weekend, and watches every gig alone. He doesn’t dance at all. He told me once that he dances in his heart, you cannot see it. This young man earns less than 300 dollars. He cleans the streets from sunrise to sunset; the people who walk behind him have no connection with him. He serves us, but nobody serves him. He knows nothing about how gorgeous the world is outside his mind. He has no idea when this kind of life ends. He feels he has no right to hate it.
However, I know clearly there are thousands of people living like this here in Beijing. I feel a connection with this complicated city. I also hate the invisible damage it brings to young people. This is a feeling I cannot translate with any language.
I cannot express my grateful heart with any kind of words. I do hope people like Yang will get to see this video, and that they will realize: I love myself and I can be a better person. I have not been abandoned by time.
This is my story. I believe you have your own stories with Handsome Furs as well. I love them not only because they are awesome people, or for the amazing music they make. It is because they are totally in love with life, and they have the power to connect this love with the lives of individuals, and then change these people with their passion. It is a god-given talent.
Han Xia Is 24 year old girl from Beijing who is in love with the Chinese independent music scene. She graduated from the stuffy and conservative Central Academy of Drama and has since worked as a music promoter and tour manager. As an aspiring music video director, she has many strange thoughts and explosive ideas which she puts into practice in her videos.
There are certain days that make me relatively sure that I am one of the luckiest girls in the world. Some times there are even days where I receive confirmation of my fortunate existence via snail mail. With happy thanks to the postman who braved the windy and uglying winter weather of Montreal’s city streets, I must make two announcements.
1. Some of you will remember my earlier posts about being delighted about shopping in Bangkok, taken as we were around the mazy markets by two eager locals who liked to barter on my behalf. Today I received a package from 5 X 5 clothing just because they noticed my enthusiasm for shiny home made fashion. Check them out here http://5x5clothing.blogspot.com and fall in love. As I have.
2. Others will remember my more recent post about our show in Zagreb. At this most beloved and wildly energetic concert, two smitten fans stole my shoes as souvenirs, intending each to keep one on their respective mantel places in their homes and “maybe one day brag to our kids that we have shoes that once belonged to Alexei from Handsome Furs.” However, these two lovely women read my eulogy for these particular shoes and had Stealer’s Remorse. In a story that proves just how small the world can become when you have Macedonian friends that live in Croatia and, in a round about way, made a connection to these two ladies, the shoes have ended up once again back on my doorstep. In the package was a letter I will forever treasure and a little souvenir from the city where my heart lives. Truthfully, part of me wishes I could send them back to the girls because I am so touched by their kindness. That said I promise to give them future opportunities for thievery whenever we next return to Zagreb – because most likely I will kick off these same heels in sweaty delight.
Thank you, world. I am honoured to be loved by you.
Check out the photos here!
“Can you write about this for your tumblr? You need to write about Warsaw.” A tender gentleman held my hand and expressed this wish after our show in Palaty Kultura. There is, of course, always a risk to being an open book: You risk exposing yourself in ways that are not always most flatteringly. But truth be told I’d rather all my flaws be exposed than be unknowable. I feel lucky in my line of work to meet excellent people nearly daily and I like that some of them know a thing or two about me from the writings that I do for this tour journal. Of course much of it is poorly written and perhaps frequently even boring but the consequence of these dispatches is that I have become approachable in a whole new way. People will more immediately engage me in political debates or challenge my theories and dissatisfactions with the world. They will also advise me on things to do and things to eat and bands to hear and the secret spots hidden in every good city. It’s become an increasingly worthwhile exchange. So when I am asked to write about Warsaw - as if I wouldn’t – I have many things to tell you and not simply because you asked for it but mostly because it was tremendous. For the second time within twelve months we had the opportunity to play in Stalin’s middle finger. For architecture lovers, you will now this building as the city’s grandest and most debated feature of the skyline. For us, it is a perfect venue. A symbol of oppression taken over by the people it used to make feel small. And now it feels huge for all the right reasons. I will also reintroduce you to Emi – the promoter with the perfect smirk and world’s best hugs. She is scrappy and tender. She will elbow your ribs when complimenting you. (“Seriously, Handsome Furs are really big in Poland right now,” she says with a wink but then follows with, “But I mean it… actually.”) And she will also take all your terrible rotten laundry and clean it while you soundcheck and eat dinner, even though she is busy with both promoting the show and working as a lawyer. Needless to say, she is one of my all time favourite people on this earth. Her face alone makes me feel calm and safe and happy and excited all at once. When KFS take stage, I realize how many people have arrived and I feel nervous. (All evening I’d been nervous that they weren’t coming but suddenly the place is packed.) Both Chairman Cyprian and new hire Lodz promoter Blazej have taken trains from their respective homes in order to attend. Having the night off – after two immensely successful shows of theirs in Krakow and Lodz – they become the Front Row Heroes of their company namesake. They are moshing by the second song. The best way that I can sum up just how wonderful the crowd was for this show is in this way: when Dan jumped to the floor during What About Us? to sing directly into their faces and link arms with them and jump around chaotically, he was lifted into the air for his longest crowd surfing of our career. The people would not return him in time for his synth line finale. He stayed mid-air, mid-song, screaming his heart’s content, contentedly. It was a unique thing. A crazy rare lawless and chaotic moment. To be literally taken in arms by the people certainly makes you feel like you are serving them right. So, my dearest Warsaw, I would have written about you with a warm heart and beaming smile whether you’d asked me to or not. But I’m glad you did. It makes me know I’m yours. In a very real way that makes me feel honest and open and happy to be in this world together with you.
“That’s not the way things are done here in Copenhagen.”
Frequently Danes compare themselves to Swedes, as we all tend to define ourselves by the differences from our nearest neighbours, and frequently Danes find themselves a little looser than Swedes. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that Swedes are their stiffer brothers, more strict and more dominated by rules and more conservative in their demeanors and personalities. However, I find this to be least truthful in the “Free State of Chrisitania” which presents itself as a lawless community within Copenhagen’s city limits. It’s the sort of place I want to like – ideals of anarchy, protection of the rights of artists and outsiders – but what it has become instead is a community invested only in the right to smoke weed. And unfortunately they have lost their drugs to seedier dealers over the years. Believe me when I say, I’m all for people’s choice and rights when it comes to drugs of any kind – I’d like things to be made more safely available for all – but I think when this becomes the only ambition of a populace, a lot of other important rights get lost along the way. I will scan briefly the rights we lost in order to play at Loppen: the right to nice lodgings (we were in fact downgraded to a shittier hotel without warning immediately after arriving from our ridiculously early morning flight), the right to a balanced meal, the right to be helped with loading our gear, the right to drink alcohol, the right to even passable sound, the right to amicable hospitality from the venue staff even though we’d all mutually agreed to these simple egalitarian terms. We did our best to make things work, of course, but it wasn’t an easy time. When the manager of Loppen told the kindly and well-meaning promoter that we were not allowed to have our backstage rider, Dan and I were forced to have a little chat with the man. “We don’t allow bands to drink liquor before 10 pm,” he shrugged. In our defense, Dan exclaimed, “I’m a thirty-three year old man and I’ve been on tour for many many months and you agreed to our contract. What’s the problem exactly?” He shrugged again and said, “We’ve had a problem with bands getting too drunk to play.” I stepped up a little and said, “We don’t have that problem.” Again, a shrug, “That’s not the way things are done here in Copenhagen.” I hate meaningless rules so I said, “I’d rather you not act like my mother, I guess. If one wanted to, one could get themselves drunk in a matter of minutes. This 10 pm deadline you have set is a strange and arbitrary thing that doesn’t feel very fair. Plus, I’d like a glass of wine with my “meal.”” And eventually he relented but it took a lot of unnecessary teeth pulling. I love Denmark and we’ve had many excellent shows in the nation but I struggle with the nonsensical regulations of Christiania. None of it felt very good despite the show itself. It felt like there were stipulations and guidelines to everything we wanted to do – decreed by some unknown entity with no built in protocol for dialogue and recourse. It felt a little like everyone had given up. But we didn’t. Despite being under-attended and certainly the worst sound of the tour (due to one long-haired stoned out grey cloud of a man – indifferent and dreary and most likely deaf), we rocked out to Battle Cat very happily. And when we finally played, I thought “This is the way things should be done in Copenhagen” because the crowd was lovely and determined to have a good time. And, in the end, it felt like we were all on equal footing with them sharing big dreams despite the failed conditions of our given locale.