Three days before the hotly-anticipated release of her first studio album with the Handsome Furs, FLARE.com caught Alexei Perry running errands on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Perry was renting a car for the next leg of the band’s Canadian tour and attempting to plan her wedding – something she swore she’d never do – but Perry’s life is taking all kinds of unexpected turns these days.
Perry never saw herself in music. It wasn’t until Dan Boeckner, Perry’s fiancé and front man for the successful Montreal band, Wolf Parade, started tinkering around with some experimental sounds while on break from Wolf Parade a year ago that she got her introduction. Perry, a writer with notable poetry to her name, was around to lend an extra pair of hands on the drum machine and when the pair began jamming together, creating music as a team seemed a natural evolution to their relationship.
Since coming together musically to form Handsome Furs, Perry and Boeckner have been blessed with a fortune they can only hope will hold into their first studio release. They scored a record deal and booked live shows almost immediately, including gigs opening for Modest Mouse and indie faves, Arcade Fire. As Perry explains, “It’s nice to open up for bands like them because their audiences are more open-minded.”
And you do have to be somewhat open-minded to love the music of Plague Park, the band’s first studio release. It’s not experimental in the multi-member band sense that Arcade is – Alexei even jokes that as a 2-piece electronic-driven project, they are the anithesis – but the sound they have defined is unlike anything in mainstream. Heavily influenced by Scandinavian black metal, the duo’s objective is to create as much noise as possible. Perry works on the drum machines layering in organic beats that accompany the indistinguishable lyrics that Boeckner delivers. “Dan loves using his voice as an instrument,” Perry explains and truly, more than singing the words, her partner turns them into sounds which are intentionally difficult to decipher. Although occasionally, the album’s theme of rural versus urban does manage to creep through.
Through it all, Perry has been an experiment of sorts herself: an experimental rock star, that is. As she recalls, for their first show in Oslo, Perry stepped off the plane with the realization that she’d never before done so much as a sound check but was about to perform for legions of potential fans. She admits to a definite “what the heck am I doing?” moment, but Perry has since learned to embrace her place on stage. With Boeckner taking the main role, she’s just enjoying the thrill of being up there and getting to wear some funky outfits. High-waisted pants with tiny vests and double hair buns, which Perry has creatively sculpted to make the process of growing out her fringe a little less painful, make up the nouveau-rocker’s latest look.
Perry does admit however that the on-stage thrill is not quite the ultimate. She is after all a writer and having Plague Park reviewed in The New York Times a few weeks ago was somewhat of the ultimate for her. But what she’s most proud of with this record? “It was a family affair”. Beyond working as a soon-to-be-married couple with Boekner, Perry’s sister was able to do the cover art for the album, making Plague Park a full blown love affair. And, as Perry is quick to point out, “that’s the way it should be”.