A few years back Adam Ezra was officially a student of Environmental Geography at Colgate University; now unofficially he is a student of Life, traveling the countryside in his very own rock band. The amazing thing is just how similar these two personas are.
Much as environmental geographers study spatial relations in order to understand the natural world, Ezra uses the study of music and his own personal curiosity to understand the art of being human. The guitarist has seen the world through the eyes of a competitive lacrosse player, a farmer and relief worker in Kosovo. But it is through his work as a musician that he has become aware of being alive and being connected to the greater world around him.
“There are certain universalities to just being human that music uncovers, and that inspires me. I think I try to have as many experiences walking through life as I can to try and get different perspectives. It only helps you as a writer. I am continually inspired by the power of music to bring people together, to create community. And to a large extent to shape the world,” Ezra said.
But the Boston based songwriter isn’t just standing pat and allowing his music to influence and change the world. He is in fact taking direct action to make sure that he and the rest of his band mates make a difference.
“Were no Bono, but we do dedicate about 20 percent of our touring to benefit concerts, charities, and various activists causes that we care about. I’m trying to take what I learn about the power of music to shape community and put it to use in our touring as best possible,” Ezra said.
The band which also includes; Josh Gold on piano, Robin Vincent Soper on bass and Turtle on percussion, have recently started their own non-profit entity which it plans to use in the raising of funds and the creation of charitable activities.
“I’m putting together all of my pipe dream ideas and trying to create a more tangible business model. The first program we’re starting with, we’re calling ‘Concerts with a Cause’ and we’ve gone out to our college fan-base and asked ‘what’s the cause that you care about? What do you care about doing and changing if you could?’ and we have them write to us,” Ezra said.
Each month the band picks a college to visit, puts on a show and gets ideas from students about what the band’s non profit should be doing for the world.
Despite Ezra’s infectious desire to bring about change, it can sometimes be difficult to motivate college students to become activists, or to even come to his shows for that matter. Regardless of that, The Adam Ezra Group makes it their mission to put on a unique, exciting and entertaining show each and every time they take the stage, no matter how many people show up.
“There is a different mindset for every single show that we play, we never go in with a pre existing plan of what we’re going to do. We never have a set list when we walk on stage regardless of the number of people or the environment. We tend to work very hard on just being malleable to the situation, whatever it may be,” Ezra said.
For instance, during a show last year at Wentworth college, the band found themselves playing to a barely double digit audience. Taking advantage of the intimacy of the occasion the group hopped off stage, gathered the audience in a circle around them and finished the show acoustically.
“That ended up being the thing that made the show an amazing show for us, regardless of the number of people,” Ezra said.
The idea of entreating others in order to help make the Earth a more livable place ranks highly on Ezra’s list of motivational factors, but it’s not necessarily the reason he began making music.
Two of Ezra’s biggest influences are 60s folk music and 60s and 70s classic rock.
“When I’m writing, my brain is usually thinking in those worlds, (our) songs can be long or kind of politically driven, or lyrically driven. My natural inclination with the band is to make it gritty and dirty. One of our challenges is to take the things that we love about music and… (also make it) really easy to digest,” he said.
Ezra sites Tom Petty as a songwriter that he strives to emulate or at the very least learn from.
“Tom Petty is one of my heroes. He writes a three chord song, it’s the simplest thing you’ve ever heard yet it seems like he culled this song out of the foundation of creation! It feels like that song has existed for 100 years. He blows my mind,” Ezra said.
Creating art that is also easy to listen and dance to is something that Ezra and the rest of his band are constantly working on, which is one reason that it recently brought producer Aaron Johnson (The Fray, Second Hand Serenade) on board.
“It was my first time working with a producer who was really conscious of focusing on you know ‘can you sing the chorus, what is the musical structure?’ It was amazing working with somebody who was really focused on figuring out how a song is structured, and it was fascinating writing songs, submitting them to him and getting notes so I could tweak them,” Ezra said.
Much of the Adam Ezra Group’s work with Johnson will be released digitally or as short EPs leading up to a full LP release in the fall. The band also plans to digitally distribute one track every month from a forthcoming acoustic album which will be released early next year.