Two for the Road is an artist-on-artist interview series in which we pair two tourmates to discuss life on the road. In the latest installment of the series, Ezra Furman and Grace Cummings get to know each other better before embarking on tour together.
Most artists have a knack for storytelling, but few have the conviction and voices to match like Ezra Furman and Grace Cummings. Both women have strong, expressive vocals; they root their songs on guitar, only to let them roam free with wonder and curiosity. And, they’ve both mapped out a 2022 tour, with Cummings supporting Furman across North America on several dates this summer.
Furman’s sixth solo album, All of Us Flames, is also due for release on August 26th, while Cummings has already been touring the globe in support of her second album, Storm Queen, which was released back in January. Her frequent travels led her to meet Furman in person at South By Southwest in March, where she had witnessed Furman’s magical performance qualities firsthand. “I heard something playing and I thought, who the fuck is this?” recalls Cummings, “And then I turned around and it was Ezra.”
Similarly, Ezra certainly had some praise for Cummings. “I was driving in a car at night and heard ‘The Look You Gave,'” she says. “It’s a song and a performance that just makes you go, whoa! Wait! That’s happening now?”
Furman has every right to be a little surprised at the immediacy and style of Cummings’ music — her husky voice and confessional songwriting feels lifted directly from the ’70s, echoing Robert Plant’s howl, Joe Cocker’s rasp, and perhaps most importantly, Bob Dylan’s intimate and poetic storytelling.
Dylan is a big figure for both Cummings and Furman: Furman claims that he was a “formative character” for her, and Cummings shares a story of seeing his concert in Texas this year and likening it to a religious experience. But both artists excel at exactly what Bob Dylan was all about — they thrive in dissecting weighty topics through a personal lens, and never losing their authenticity while they do it. It’s clear that seeing Furman and Cummings play together is sure to be a special experience, one that prizes community and sensitivity above all else.
Ezra Furman’s North American tour begins in Los Angeles this Thursday, May 19th, and already, the pair are excited to get to know each other even better. “I’m a big fan and I’ve also never seen you live, and I’m excited to see you live a bunch of times,” says Furman with delight. “We are forging a relationship, a friendship, potentially though the act of being watched and heard by strangers. Nothing wrong with that!”
Check out Ezra Furman and Grace Cumming’s full Two For The Road Conversation below, and get tickets to their upcoming North American tour here.
Consequence: Where did you first meet each other or hear each other’s music?
Grace Cummings: Ezra and I did get to meet at SXSW. I actually knew that I was on the tour already, and then I heard something playing and I thought, “Who the fuck is this? This is amazing!” And I couldn’t see who it was. And then I turned around and it was Ezra. And I was like, fucking of course. So, it was really funny that I actually really liked the music that she was playing.
And I think something that I was listening to a lot was “Point Me to the Real.” I am a massive fan of that song and I think that the chorus is just so Dylan to me, “Like a Rolling Stone” or something or like that. The way the chorus goes, I think it’s classic. So, I don’t know Ezra, if that’s true for you, but I think maybe that could be some kind of similarity between us.
Ezra Furman: I had a sense that you, like me, were a Bob Dylan acolyte or lover. I started writing songs when I heard Blonde on Blonde. And I was like 13. But, yeah, we haven’t exactly met. Well, we met for like two seconds. This is definitely more than we have ever talked. And I’m really, psyched to meet you. I’m excited to meet you right now.
I don’t really know when this was, but I think I was driving in a car at night and heard “The Look You Gave.” I guess on a playlist of some streaming service, somehow it crept into my life. And it’s a song and a performance that just makes you go, “Whoa! Wait! That’s happening now!” I’m a big fan and I’ve also never seen you live, and I’m excited to see you live a bunch of times.
Cummings: Yeah, me too.
Consequence: Grace, I know you’ve been playing tons and tons of shows since the start of the year, so what has it been like spending most of your year so far on the road?
Cummings: It’s certainly different from the two years that came before it. It’s kind of… shocking, but it also feels really normal as well. Like, I’m sitting in a hotel room in Glasgow right now. I got here about five minutes ago. And I have to go to sound check in however long. And I feel like I am just constantly in that like, “Sound check is in a bit,” mindset, you know? And driving around and all that kind of stuff. But, I welcome it very much and it’s what I’ve been wanting to do and what I’ve been very sad about not doing for the past two years.
Sometimes when I get fed up or tired or my bandmates are like really getting under my skin or something, I just remember how much I want to do this and how great an opportunity it is. Yeah, it was really hard. I don’t know what it was like for you, Ezra, with lockdowns and things like that. I’m from Melbourne, in Australia. We had the longest lockdown in the world. We had an 8:00 p.m. curfew. You couldn’t go outside, you couldn’t leave your home for more than an hour a day for exercise and stuff like that. It kind of does something to your brain, and I feel like I am getting to be more myself now. I feel like myself, if that makes sense.
Furman: Yeah, it was definitely a heartache for me. Yeah, lots of canceled shows. At the same time I think I learned… I don’t know. I’m a parent now, it’s a different stage of life and I was longing to be home. My little one was born at the very end of 2018. And, so he’s three-and-a-half. So, I guess I’ve had this special time of never being away for this whole giant chunk of his toddler life.
But at the same time, early on, when it was like real lockdown with no daycare, no anything and all of our work we had to do in our life… first it was canceled, but then it was work from home. A friend of mine lost their home and had to move into our living room for a while, so our house became a place… it wasn’t like the boredom that a lot of people described. It wasn’t boredom. It was like such crowded chaos.