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HPX spotlight: Handsome Furs

Synth-rock’s king and queen bring their crazed stage show back to Halifax.



Much in the way that Dan Boeckner's singing voice often sounds strained yet kinetic on record, does his voice over the phone. Boeckner and wife Alexei Perry, who play together as Handsome Furs, took time out from a band practice/recording session in Montreal to chat. Perry's voice, unlike her husband's, is hardly road-worn; she's rather chipper. The two pass a phone back and forth, enthusiastically discussing their history, their sound and, perhaps unsurprisingly, world politics.

"It's going to be our fifth or sixth time playing in the Balkans," says Boeckner of their upcoming tour to the newly healed, former Yugoslavia. "We've played three times in Belgrade; one of my favourite audiences to play for," he proudly states. They have 11 stops lined up for the Balkan Peninsula, and welcome the post-war points of view shared by some in the region.

"I've had some people go off about the west to me, while I've been there—and a lot of what they had to say was totally legitimate," says Boeckner. The band took inspiration from touring in Russia to fuel last year's Face Control LP, and with two Asian tours now under their belt, they have even more subject matter.

Still, the couple's heads are never buried in the sand: "I think Alexei and I are old enough that we've kind of grown out of that sort of black-and-white, proselytizing-on-stage punk thing," Boeckner says.

So they're a tactful, political indie-rock duo, with a big sound. Boeckner handles guitars and mic duties while Perry controls vintage synths and drum machines. Such has been the formula since the band's inception in 2006, shortly after the success of Boeckner's other group, acclaimed indie quartet Wolf Parade.

Boeckner's punk leanings have always translated into a bolder sound than the "indie rock" you hear on How I Met Your Mother—demonstrative on each Furs record, and all three Wolf Parade discs. While Perry says she had the same Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees records as her future husband, Perry's handle of the backing beats isn't without warrant either. "My dad lives in the Caribbean, and so I spent a good chunk of my childhood sort of island-hopping and listening to a lot of dance hall," she says fondly of the experience.

When asked about a new Furs record, Boekner states that "depending on what our slave-masters at Sub Pop say, spring 2011." This means there is a chance Haligonians could hear some new treats during their HPX show on Saturday, their first show in Halifax since playing Virgin Fest last year. –JD

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