Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Bryan Hodge

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Bryan HodgeThe Internet is a great thing. As is MySpace. Through both of these incredible inventions I have been able to meet so many new artists. It seems that every time I log onto MySpace I find myself listening to someone new. I really like listening to acts from my home town. Indianapolis bands are great, and there are tons of them. And most of them have a real sense of talent. But when you can combine sheer talent with a great personality and a true sense to create music, you are in for a treat. That is what the man I am sitting here with today is. He is a blast to work with, and it is my pleasure to introduce you to Bryan Hodge.

Tell me your first memory of the guitar.

My dad got an old Harmony with Green Stamps. He would drag it out of the closet once or twice a year, play it for about five minutes, then it would go back in the closet. I taught myself to play on this guitar while I was in high school. I would play from the time I got home from school until it was time to go to bed. On the weekends I would play until my fingers would bleed. Eventually a crack ran around the sides of the guitar. You could pull it apart like an accordion. Then one day someone sat on it and broke the neck.

How many guitars do you currently own?

I have four guitars. My pride and joy is a 75’ Gibson Dove. I have played it so much the face has been scraped off and a hole worn through it. It looks like I tied it to the back of my car and drug it around for a while. I also have three other guitars which are nothing special but they get the job done. Also, they aren’t too expensive.  I wouldn’t be devastated if they were lost or stolen or damaged. My goal is to have a slew of Rickenbacker guitars by the end of the year. Like the old joke says. How many guitars do you really need? And the answer, of course, is “just one more.”

Do you play any other instruments?

I play a harmonica with my guitar. I’ve tinkered with the mandolin a bit and even less with the piano. That said, I’m really only interested in playing guitar.

Do you write all your own lyrics?

Yes, for better or worse.

Where do you get inspiration for a new track?

It’s funny. You can rack your brains trying to write a song and get nothing you’d want to repeat. Then while you’re backing your car out of the driveway or waiting for a piece of toast to pop up you strike gold.

Do you only play solo shows?

For the time being. I’m looking to have something going with a band by the end of the year.

Where are you originally from?

I am from Indianapolis. It doesn’t matter how many times I try to leave, I always seem to end up right back home.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

Europe. I’d love to see it all but particularly London and of course Liverpool.

You have a ton of shows coming up around the area. Do you ever travel?

Slowly but surely I’m getting farther away from home.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

Paul McCartney. Chicago. It was my birthday. I had a seat in the 24th row…and binoculars.

What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?

it was at The Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve played larger crowds but this was kind of a big deal for me. Songwriters come from all over to play there.

The smallest?

There was a little bar that is now a parking lot.  A lot of songwriters honed their skills there. I had a regular Tuesday night show. Often times it would just be me and the bartender. When he would duck into the kitchen for a sandwich it would just be me and the empty chairs.

Do you ever forget the words to your own songs?

Yes, all the time.

Tell me about D&S Productions.

This is a booking agency. I’ve only just started working with them recently. I’m pretty excited about this. It means I can spend more time concentrating on music and less time chasing down club owners.

You are no stranger to the music business. What are your thoughts on the future of live music?

I’ll just quote Neil Young.  “Live music is better, bumper stickers should be issued”

Do you have any merchandise people can purchase?

Not at the moment but I hope to have something on iTunes before long , and  a CD  soon after…could a bobble head be far behind?

If you could only play one song for the rest of your career which one would you choose?

Funny story, the first song I ever wrote, which is to say the first song I didn’t throw away after writing it, was a song I came up while sitting in the backseat of a Toyota watching the desert roll by. I was leaving Nevada on my way to Colorado. My guitar was in the trunk and I couldn’t very well tell the driver to pull over so I could fish my guitar from underneath three or four suitcases and sit on the roadside for an hour so I could write out a song. So I had to keep this song running through my head all the way to Colorado. This was a sixteen hour trip. I got home and wrote out the song and put it on tape. After that I couldn’t play the song for about three years. Take your favorite song and play it too much and it will become your least favorite song.

What are you drinking on stage?

Water, shaken not stirred.

Explain to us what a typical Friday night looks like for you.

For this summer I have designated Friday night as songwriting night. My goal is to write something I like each week and then see what I end up with by the end of the summer.

You are playing a show at a winery here pretty soon. Do you drink wine?

I’m not even a fan of grape juice. For someone who doesn’t drink I spend more time in bars than anyone I know.

Your songs all tell a story. Songs aside, tell us a story right now.

When I was three years old I loaded up on this cereal which was mostly sugar. My mom was trying to get her ironing done and I was burning off a sugar buzz. Out of sheer desperation she pulled out a record player and a stack of 45s. Then she dropped the needle on the record.  I had found my first favorite toy. I would go through the stacks of 45s looking for buried treasure. I couldn’t read yet, so I went by colors. When I had two songs on the same colored label I could tell them apart by the scratches. I listened to everything from big band to country to rock n roll.

Where do you practice?

My favorite place to practice is in my kitchen. It has pine walls so it feels like an old cabin. Its sounds great in there and it’s comfortable but not too comfortable that I don’t get any work done.

Describe your genre in one word.

Pop…Sometimes they act like folk songs and sometimes they act like country songs  and sometimes they do what they’re supposed to do and act like pop songs. But no matter what they appear to be at first, when you look closely, they always turn out to be pop songs.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

The Beatles are first and foremost. Neil Young. Tom Petty. Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Crowded House, Freedy Johnston, and Fountains of Wayne.  I’m looking to write somewhere between indie pop and alt-country.

How did you react to the passing of the King of Pop?

What! The CEO of Coca-Cola is gone?

What is your favorite venue to play?

I really like the Players Pub in Bloomington, Indiana. They really support original music. Plus Bloomington is such a cool town.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning his or her career in the music industry?

Do it because you love to do it. Do it only if, you can’t NOT do it.

Man I hear a lot of Tom Petty in your voice. Anyone ever tell you that?

Little by little he has become one of my favorites. But what you’re hearing could be a Hoosier accent that just won’t go away.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Five years older…But hopefully with more songs I’m proud of and more guitars than I really need.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

That I was a good songwriter.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.