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Ezra Kire Brings Morning Glory Out of Hibernation With ‘Poets Were My Heroes’

Last Updated 11/3/2012 10:48:50 AM

By: John B. Moore

More than a decade in the making  -- growing from a solo project with a drum machine to a full-fledged band -- punk rock mainstay Ezra Kire has just turned in quite possibly the most surprisingly catchy punk album to come out of Lower East Side since those four dudes with the shaggy bowl cuts and matching surnames.

Morning Glory originally started in 2001 by Kire when he was still in Leftover Crack, Morning Glory self-released an LP, then followed it with the EP The Whole World is Watching in 2003, before putting the project on ice for the next 10 years or so. With his future in Leftover Crack up in the air, Kire, who sings, plays guitar and piano, thawed out Morning Glory and got to work on Poets Were My Heroes, the group’s third release.

Remarkable for its depth, the album covers all bases: punk, pop, metal, ska – Jesus, there’s even a French horn on this one, which has got to be a punk rock first.  Though there are plenty of political rants in the lyrics, the record is overall pretty optimistic and catchy as hell.

Kire was kind enough to speak recently about the band, the hiatus and why he resurrected the group.

Innocent Words:  Though this is the first full-length, this band has actually been brewing for about a decade now, right? Can you talk a little bit about the band's history?

Ezra Kire:  Morning Glory was sort of my visionary project, my imaginary band, the one you would always talk about starting at parties -- it's the band I always wanted to be in. Mainly because it's unconfined to any genres, labels, or reviews. Most musicians know that sometimes you will hear a band and you can't help but think, "Man, I wish I could be in a band like that... but damn it, my good conscience will just not allow it!" This is that band for me. It's the music I want to make, without the stupid politics. It's telling the voices of better judgment in my head to fuck off, basically. It took years for all the pieces to fall into place though, and a few more years to find the right players. But with that pie in the sky, sometimes chasing it is half the fun. The irony with this band is that of course it has been receiving better reviews than anything else I've done.
IW:  Why did you finally decide to focus on Morning Glory at this time?
Ezra Kire Morning Glory Poets are our HeroesKire:  There were no prospects of a new record with my other band, and I want to write and record music. I got sick of playing the same songs over and over and over again. The other members seemed content to tour endlessly on the same 40-minute set we'd been doing for years. It got boring, and I finally just said "enough." I got fed up with the empty promises of a new record. In fact, now that I think of it, there wasn't even empty promises. It was just tour after tour, and show after show, the same 10 songs and in-between banter. It was actually getting embarrassing to get on stage toward the end there. The singer would talk over everything I said into the mic, step all over my words, leaving me feeling totally disconnected from the audience. Performing was boring the hell outta me. I would sometimes play entire songs upside down on my guitar just to make it interesting for myself. It was just time for me to do something else. It was nothing personal with anyone in the band, my heart had just left the music, and everything in the universe was telling me to do something else.
IW:  Is the band on Poets Were My Heroes the same one from The Whole World is Watching?
Kire:  No, one by one everyone that was on The Whole World EP got bored of waiting for me to commit and rotated out for other things, which is actually all the better, since now I get to play with some of the best musician in the New York punk scene. Early Gates not only plays drums but is also master of the guitar, bass, banjo, and just about every other instrument on the planet.

 Lucky left some big shoes to fill when he split in 2010 to start his own band (Devastation Wagon). Eventually we found Shawn Gardiner, an awesome guitarist and a natural songsmith, to replace him. But it was a long quest for the right person. By the time we found Shawn we'd been trying out guitarists in New York for a few months. Adam "Sixgun" stepped in for John John Jesse, originally from Nausea, when he left to continue his very successful career as an artist. That was a heavy loss at first, too. And Metal Chris is now on bass, but since there are so few good -- and available -- bassists in NYC, we actually had to convince him to come home from Greece to join our band.

But now finally we have a solid lineup. In fact, it's a little too efficient. It makes me uneasy to be in a band of such proactive and driven musicians. I'm used to a slightly more debauched and selfish type of inter-band politicking and behavior. This band is weird, to say the least. They actually practice with or without me! It's unheard of. They know how to drink too, of course, but man, they get mad if there is nothing to do. It's uncanny.
IW:  Do you have any plans to re-release the EP?
Kire:  Possibly, but there's not much point in printing something for just a few extra new songs anymore, is there? Once something is "released" online it's available to the world in perpetuity. Everyone has it. Automatically. Instantly. Forever! So not really, not at this point. I'm not super happy with the label it's on right now, but they believed in us when no one else would, and that counts for something to me. I suppose we could re-release it with some new songs on it, but that would only be interesting for about one day. 
IW:  I have been listening to “March of the Asylum” over and over again since getting this record. Can you talk a little bit about how that song came about?
Kire:  Funny, that song was originally a throwaway track that we saved for the very last day in case we had a little extra studio time. I put it on mainly because I love the drums in it. It's a two-part song, really, and the second half (“Quemar Las Fronteras”) is essentially one long drum "solo." Very percussive. Originally the song was called “Fuck the Army/Join the Anti,” which I wrote years ago in Arizona, which explains the army drill chanting and the reveille bugle intro. A good revolutionary reggae-rock track also keeps the record on the Clash side of things. I can't say that song turned out the way I originally expected, but it was essential to the fire, feel and tone of the record as a whole. It was also one of the few "political" songs I felt strongly about, so in the end it went on, I'm pretty sure mainly at the insistence of Jesse (Cannon), the chief engineer.
IW:  Do you plan to tour much after the album comes out?
Kire:  Yeah, we'll be touring out the year and into the next, plus we'll be working on a new record in the interim. We hope to release at least one, maybe two 7-inches off of Poets with some of the extra tracks that we did during those same sessions. I think we have like six songs we didn't use. It's nice; I've always wanted a "single." And it's a great way to get a few more songs out there with their own set of complete artwork.
IW:  You talked a little about this at the beginning, but any update on Leftover Crack?
Kire:  I'm not sure about that. Last I heard they were talking about doing that new record. Then I heard otherwise. I know they just played some shows. Its funny -- I was in the band for years and nothing... then I leave and they decide to do a new record. Maybe I was what was holding them back the entire
IW:  What else are you working on?
Kire:  I'm trying to get a proper advance from our label so I can go away to a mountain retreat for a month and write the greatest record of all time. But hey, no one ever believes me when I tell them that! We just want to keep putting out music. A good friend of mine is a director and a creative visual artist who had an idea for a stop motion puppetry music video for “Born to December.” I think that would be perfect for that song. So that may be in the works. He's a brilliant guy, so you can have high expectations for that one!
IW:  Well, those are all the questions I have. Anything else you want to add?
Kire:  It's funny, we really enjoyed making this record a lot, but it worked out in such a way that caused it to be delayed significantly. So now that it's finally out, I'm totally over it. I'm on to making the next one. Maybe if I start right now it will be out in a timely manner.

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