Drawing parallels to the work of mighty Frank Zappa and David Bowie, as well as Isis, Cult of Luna, the Mars Volta and the Dear Hunter, the Atlanta-based band Spurge seems like a promising act. But delving deeper to their most recent release, an EP simply titled “Four More Songs” reveals plethora of different sounds and vibes.
The creator of the band, bassist Jen Hodges gives us an insight into the world of Spurge, their writing process, and more.
What made you go for the name Spurge?
When I first got players together in Nashville, this was just a solo project and I was releasing material as Jen Hodges. My musicians were wanting like a “Jen Hodges and something or other” name. I told them I was down and whatever they picked was good for me. My drummer at the time had a very endearing lisp and excited called out “Sthpurge!” We were all kind of unsure what he said at first. He said it again and told us it was a kind of weed. We all dug the double entendre. For a while we called ourselves Jen Hodges and Spurge. We dropped the Jen Hodges this year because the band feels like a total group effort at this point.
How do you usually describe your music?
I like to call it progressive post rock. Most of the time people have no idea what that means so I end up explaining that we play post rock type textures but add in guitar/bass/drum solos. I’ve heard people call it neo-classical rock, experimental, ambient, and fusion before. I believe someone called us a jam band once as well.
What is your writing process like?
Whenever I’m noodling around on the bass or guitar by myself I’ll come up with a few riffs I dig. I’ll usually collect 15 or so riffs over the course of six months and start stringing them together using theory to craft transitions. I record a scratch take with me playing all the instruments and send it out to my band. My band are all top tier at what they do, so I tell them whatever guitar/drum parts they write is cool with me. They always come back with some pretty sick stuff. We rehearse it, record it, then I’ll go back in and record my bass solos as the finishing touch. It’s an odd approach but I like how loose and open it is. The creative process is my favorite part of playing.
Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
There are a lot of players I admire. Their music inspires me to contribute to humanity’s little collection of sound. I’ve never been able to duplicate other people’s styles. Mostly due to my bass being upside down and backwards. However, I like being a part of the musician community and hearing other people’s music motivates me to keep writing. Some of the musicians who influenced me at an early age are Flea, Buckethead, Jimmy Urine, Layne Staley, David Gilmore, John Paul Jones, Victor Wooten, and Thundercat.
What is your favourite piece on the new EP “Four More Songs” and why?
Oof. That’s tough. I like the bass solo best in Amphibian. I like the verse in Om the best. I like the piano solo in Rain the best. I like the guitar riffs in David Bowie the best. I like Miles’ vocals in Amphibian the best. I don’t think I can pick an overall piece I like best though.
What makes “Four More Songs” different?
Different than my other albums? Or different in general? Different than my other albums because I had an idea about what I wanted before I started writing. I knew for sure I wanted to write a 7 minute song, a David Bowie tribute, a schizophrenic piece with a metal bridge, and I wanted to finish Rain. I had been in the process of writing Rain for five years at that point. It was a reject song from a previous band. The record is different in general because it’s got my style in it. All my music is different than most stuff out there. I am proud about that. I feel like I finally found my sound.
What should music lovers expect from “Four More Songs”?
Beauty, ugliness, groove. A lot of texture. Some experimentation in recording techniques. We recorded Wayford’s vocals on Om by putting a box fan between him and the mic. I broke a major rule and stacked 4 bass lines on top of one another in David Bowie. My poor producer wasn’t too happy about it. He’s the man though and heard my idea and made it work. I think this is a record you can listen to all the way through and be sucked in enough not to skip any parts. There is no filler. And you never know what’s coming next.
What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
All of the emotions. (I just made myself laugh.) I’d like them to feel content, relaxed even. I’d like them to forget about their phones and their responsibilities and allow themselves to be taken through the story. Maybe hype during the more exciting parts. Entertained. I’d like them to feel entertained. Whatever emotion produces that outcome is fine with me. As long as they are indeed feeling something. Then I’ve done my job.
Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?
I’ve never been on tour where we don’t sleep in the van or on the floor or in someone’s basement so I’d have to say studio life. I’d love to experience tour where we get a hotel room each night. That might change my mind a little bit. Tours have been fun, yet exhausting. Studios are sacred spaces. The creative process is my favorite part of playing so the studio is hard to beat. I know a lot of people can get stressed out in the studio, but I’ve always been comfortable not having control so I just let people be themselves on the tracks. If I don’t like it, I’ll edit it later. I think the music reflects the positive vibes in the studio.
Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.
Wow that’s tough too. Only 3? John Prine Live, Dark Side of the Moon, and RHCP Mother’s Milk. I just looked those choices over for about two minutes and I’m sticking with my answer.