Preview / Interview: Handsome Furs

It’s appropriate that Montreal husband and wife duo Handsome Furs are rolling into our backyards only days before the 4th annual Mission Creek Festival. Dan Boeckner (also a principle songwriter in Candian super-group, Wolf Parade) and wife Alexei Perry know what it’s like to live in a small market, “I drove 200 miles to see Drive Like Jehu in Seattle, they never would’ve played my hometown.”

Both Boeckner and Perry come from small towns where the last good show was the one their own bands played in the basement of a church or a friend’s garage. As 60+ bands prepare for the week-long festival that almost makes it a point to be too big for Iowa City’s britches, Handsome Furs believe in a similar booking style, “When our booking agent asks us if we wanna play a 200-person venue in Ames, Iowa [The Maintenance Shop on Friday], why wouldn’t I?” The duo’s tour itinerary reads like where-the-hell-is-that of the music industry, even avoiding Minneapolis’ famed 1st Avenue Club to play the space’s smaller room the 7th Street Entry—both of which the band could probably fill.

Where the youthful malaise of small town life informs much of Handsome Furs touring, it’s actually the big scary world outside that inspires much of the duo’s music. Boeckner and Perry opted to jump straight into that big world for their very first show, moving from the intimate space of their studio apartment to Oslo. Having their first show in the seemingly bizarre setting established, from day one, the band’s aesthetic: travel.

The group’s debut Plague Park was directly inspired by their time in Scandinavia, and their latest effort, and sophomore follow-up, Face Control owes it’s existence to time spent in the former Soviet Union. “A lot of people decided they wanted to give us post-punk from the former eastern bloc,” Boeckner said of the fans they met. Boekner and Perry found that for these former Soviet nations that post-punk was the soundtrack to revolution, “this was their revolutionary music,” he said, “this mutated version of Joy Division.”

And there really isn’t a much easier description of Handsome Furs’ new album. In fact, Face Control’s release was delayed because a New Order reference in album stand-out “All We Want, Baby, Is Everything” had to be cleared by the seminal post-punk band-the vestige of the surviving members of Joy Division. Face Control is cold and dense and owes as much to the steely drive of their host’s music as to the layout of the cities themselves. Boeckner found inspiration “walking around a place like Warsaw, the architectural style is stridently utilitarian…kind of a more brutal aesthetic to it.”

Handsome Furs starts to feel a bit like a Lonely Planet travel guide, exploring primarily uncharted territory for touring bands and reporting back to smaller markets, almost creating a track between areas often over-looked by larger acts. “It’s easier for us to take risks like that,” Boeckner said of the duo’s uncharacteristic touring desicions, “there’s only two of us.” There are fewer issues and fewer mouths to feed, so the band can jet off to Latvia’s third largest industrial center, Riga, once they wrap up their stateside touring. “We’ll probably only get a 100 Euros to play there, but we’re gonna do it,” Boeckner chuckled.

Handsome Furs play at the Mill on Saturday, March 28th. Charlottesville, Virginia rockers the Cinnamon Band and local Joy Division devotees Datagun open the show.

The show begins at 9PM and the cost is $8. Adavance tickets can be purchased on Iowa Tix.

Download: Handsome Furs - What We Had (from Plague Park)

Download: Handsome Furs - I’m Confused (from Face Control)

About the Author

john c.

University of Iowa graduate with BAs in English and Cinema Studies. John bides his time as a staff writer for and with contributions to Little Village Magazine ( John hosts an hour-long show on Monday's at 5 pm through the University of Iowa's radio station 89.7 FM KRUI ( dedicated to Iowa music. "Corn Fed Music" is a showcase for Iowa artists, musicians formerly from Iowa, and acts visiting Iowa. This is a forum open for guest DJs, in studio performances, interviews, and new material offered to those who may not have access to larger media outlets. If you're interested in getting a song played, an interview, or performing a short set (20-45 min) in studio you can contact John at

One Response to “ Preview / Interview: Handsome Furs ”

  1. ha! “Joy Division devotees”…

    good writing, John. Can’t wait for this show!