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A Dirty Dozen with JEN HODGES from SPURGE – September 2021

| 18 September 2021 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Atlanta, GA based, Alternative Rock band SPURGE has released the official music video for “57,” off of their newest EP, Crown. Produced and directed by Daniel Medina, “57” was inspired by the internationally experienced isolation during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and features stylized imagery of the individual band members’ lives as they continue through an uncertain “new normal.” Spurge started in Nashville 2013 when Jen (bass) started writing instrumental music for her own amusement. She felt she had found her voice sonically during the creation of “The Untitled EP” and decided to play a few local live shows. She recruited the drummer in her previous band, a local metal guitarist and a jazz college student. They were received warmly in the scene. In 2015 Jen got a promotion and moved to Atlanta. She had to rebuild the band. She kept the same formula. Gospel drummer, metal guitarist, and jazz guitarist, This current iteration has played with Thank You Scientist, and Tony McAlpine. When COVID hit, the group recorded their latest, Crown. They are planning a secret show this fall in Atlanta to celebrate the release of Crown. They are also releasing a video for the EP’s first single, 57 this fall. The current line up is Jen on bass (Berklee grad, gigging musician.) Charles on guitar (gigging musician, gear head and tech wizard.) Marlon on drums (musical family, marching band, gospel, R&B.) Ben on lead guitar (gigging musician, shreddy Krueger.)” We get bassist Jen to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

I’m actually singing on the verse.  It’s pretty buried in the mix because I’m not a great singer, but I like the effect layering female over male vocals has and wanted the effect to be there, even if it was subtle.  Also, I am autotuned.  Craig and Dom both say I have a good voice but I don’t believe them haha.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I started taking piano in first grade.  I cared about it for some reason, like I wanted to do well.  I pushed myself hard for a first grader.  I switched to bass in 5th grade after I heard Flea slap the bass.  Such energy!  Once I started playing bass, I kinda gave everything else up and focused on being a musician.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

So yes, Flea.  Mother’s Milk is one of my all time favorite records.  Mindless Self Indulgence blew my socks off when I first heard Tight.  Alice In Chains gave me my darker more serious side, and Buckethead is in the mix for his technical prowess, showmanship, and creative use of putting color to chords.  David Bowie helped me embrace being an openly gay musician.  Obviously, he’s pretty talented too, but hearing his story as a teenager, the first thing I clung to was his sexuality.  Clearly, I come from a white suburban background so I’d like to acknowledge that all these artists I mentioned got their flavor from primarily black artists.  Bootsy, Reggie Johnson, Little Richard, Wu Tang.  Bowie was like me in the sense he didn’t hear a ton of black artists I believe until later in his career, but when he did he was blown away.  I remember an interview he did with MTV when he asked the VJ why they weren’t spinning black artists and that they were doing some truly amazing unique things.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Currently? Like dead or alive? We’ll go with dead first. Stravinsky. He’s not afraid of anything! Ok alive… I’m gonna say Danny Elfman. I’ve always liked him.  I’m having to learn the bassline to Dead Man’s Party at the moment and boy!  What a weird lick!  I have to keep things weird so I don’t get bored you see.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour? What do you like to do to unwind?

I like to mountain bike a lot.  Tsali in Western NC is my favorite trail.  I also like to kayak with my wife.  We just did Juniper Run in Florida.  It was gorgeous.  The first time you row by gators you get all freaked out but by the fifteenth gator you’re singing to them and shit haha.  I also like to fish.  I use rooster tails and get decent results.  Even with trout.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

That’s tough.  When I first started writing I toyed with the idea of calling us a jam band.  That didn’t stick.  Then it was neo classical, post rock, and finally progressive.  My buddy told me to just call it alternative rock and let the listener narrow down the genre, so that’s what I’m doing now.  No one has said anything cringy yet!  A lot of flattering comparisons actually.  Zappa, Tauk, The Aristocrats.  High praise!

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

When we’re together we’re playing and if we’re not playing we’re having a drink, maybe a smoke, and just chit chatting.  We’re all middle aged so it’s a different vibe than I had with bands in my teens and 20’s.  This is a great group though.  I feel blessed to have found such accomplished and chill people to work with.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Truly starstruck was probably getting pulled onstage with Stone Temple Pilots sophomore year of high school and singing “Creep” with Scott.  I’ve met a ton of amazing musicians and like to think I can hang 😉

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part is not dreading going to work everyday.  I’m so lucky to like my job.  I’m grateful for this life.  I’m fulfilled creatively, intellectually, and feel like I’m making a difference.  If I couldn’t do music I’d probably find a job on the industry side of things.  Maybe a talent buyer.  I did that for a few years and it was super cool.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I feel you with wanting to break away from the norm. I haven’t put a lot of thought into it but it makes me think of the time I interviewed Voltaire for a publication I worked at for a while because our VJ was absent.  I wanted to break away from normal questions and asked him stuff like, “Would you rather be a bat or a pig?”  He was for sure unamused!  He grabbed my notebook, scratched out all the questions I had and scribbled his own on there.  He shoved it back at me and said, “ask me these.  This is how you do an interview.”  I was kinda bummed by the reaction but I asked him his own questions anyway.  I still have the piece of notebook paper!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I wouldn’t date anyone I work with!  Don’t date people in your band!  Also, I would’ve parted ways with difficult people at the first red flag instead of the 30th.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Like I’d be the bassist in the session?  So really what record do I think my style would contribute to the best?  That has kind of a Marty McFly feel to it.  Like I’ve been influenced by people of the now past, then future.  So if I went back in time, my future influence would be kind of cheating, and there’d be no context to it.  Also, the bassist for that session wouldn’t play so they wouldn’t influence future bassists which might mean those bassists would never influence me, which means my playing would be completely different.  So the question then becomes what kind of bassist would I want to be if I wasn’t the bassist I am now?  I think my future/past influences would sound cool on an old rock and roll record like Chuck Berry.  I’d say Mozart or Beethoven but I’m not sure they had electricity then, and I’d need it to play bass.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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