Jason Hodges is such a casual, soft-spoken guy that you could be caught off guard by the noise he makes in Suppression, Amoeba Men and Bermuda Triangles. Hodges not only screams and destroys instruments in those three Richmond bands, but also runs C.N.P. Records, which releases music from kindred spirits such as Men's Recovery Project, Hallelujah! and Locust.
With a reputation for exploring the most experimental aspects of rock music, Bermuda Triangles actually emerged from a desire to, well, experiment. “I started doing four-track recordings in my room three years ago,” Hodges says. “I wanted to mess around with drum machines and keyboards and do something a little more tropical.”
But again, don't let him fool you. Bermuda Triangles play exotic island music fused with the sturm und drang of classic industrial. “I was messing around with steel drum settings and marimba settings on my keys and running them through delay pedals, giving them a kind of swirling effect,” Hodges says.
Backing him up on a Spacemen 3 cover sparked the interest of former Can't Kill It drummer Jared Young, who gradually convinced Hodges to flesh out the solo project with a full band. They nabbed multi-instrumentalist Bill Porter, ex-Hallelujah!, just before he moved to Austin and added Sean Cassidy on sax a year later. They recorded a demo to give away on a tour to South By Southwest, but the first official album from the four-piece, “Okay, We Built the Pyramids,” is due out in early spring. Style Weekly sat down with Hodges and discovered how the loudest band in the world makes some of the loudest music in Richmond.
Style: Tell us about that one song.
Jason Hodges: I was late for practice one day and when I got there, Jared and Bill were both playing drums. They were doing these outlandish patterns and I was like, “What are you guys doing?” We didn't start working on our other songs, they just kept playing, so I was kind of forced to play with them. I turned on the steel drum setting (on my keyboard) and started doing this wacky riff and that's how we came up with “Bloo.” It starts off with the two drums, then builds and builds and gets crazy, with the drums just collapsing on each other. It's complicated, but it's still coherent. At the end of it are these swirling drums, which took me a long time to get. It has a swing to it, so I have to move with it when I play the keyboard parts. If I don't swing with it, I'll get off-time, white-man style. (Jared and Bill) had it down already. We toured three times and by the last tour in September, I finally started getting it, too. The tour before that we got in an argument in Providence because I messed it up. Jared said, “We're not gonna play this live anymore!” and I was like, “No, we have to play it live.” He said, “One more time. If we look like fools one more time, we're not playing it anymore.” The next night I nailed it.
“Bloo” is a good example of what the new record's going to be like. There's definitely a lot of big percussion on it, a lot of interplay between the drums. The new songs that we're writing after the record have even more percussion, because now I'm playing two toms.
Jared wanted to call the song “Blue,” like the color, and I didn't like that. So he said, “Alright, b-l-o-o.” I said, “Okay, it's gonna be about a ghost then,” and we came up with this ridiculous story about a ghost who is smarter than your average ghost. When they do EVP experiments he stays quiet, but then while you're asleep, he whispers in your ears. Those are the lyrics pretty much.
Style: What is your first musical memory?
Hodges: I was big into The Incredible Hulk show when I was a kid. Then I saw Kiss Meets The Phantom on the Park and Gene Simmons busted through the wall like the Hulk, so I became interested in Kiss. My parents took me for my fourth birthday in 1978 to see Kiss in concert. We were way back in the back of the stands and I had cotton in my ears, but I remember the flying guitars and the fire and the blood. I hate Kiss now, but it was a good experience.
Style: Do you secretly still own any Kiss records?
Hodges: I still have the Ace Frehley solo album and probably Destroyer.
Style: What is your most outrageous moment as a band?
Hodges: My favorite story is from the first tour we did a year ago in December of 2008. It was right when we got the band together, our first trip. We did this show in Ithica, New York at this little record store. We have a song called “Cannibal Island” that we never wrote an ending for. So, at the end of the song, we don't stop, we just keep playing, and I'm screaming “cannibal island!” I crawl outside and am screaming it outside and I look behind me and the whole audience is there, screaming “cannibal island” along with me in the streets.
Style: Do you usually get that reaction with new audiences?
Hodges: The reception has been really good, but we definitely play to our audience. There's a lot of the same faces that come to The Triple shows. When Suppression opened for (extreme-metal act) Converge, we played for a lot of people (that had never seen us). That show went really well, because Suppression is like a stand-up comedy act with bass and drums and the music is really nuts. Amoeba Men also played with (old-school British punk group) The Slits. But, we haven't had the opportunity to branch out yet with Bermuda Triangles.
Style: How did C.N.P. Records get started?
Hodges: In middle school, I was into metal. In high school, I discovered punk and then got into faster hardcore and grindcore. That pretty much led to Merzbow and Japanese noise stuff. We had a big circle of friends in Roanoke who were all into cool music. I started a noise-core band the last year of high school. We had this amp going haywire, so we started experimenting with weird electronics. For awhile, it was straight up noise. Then, in 1992, we started a tape label called Chaotic Noise Productions and put out tapes from Texas noise guys and people in Finland and Japan. The first actual CD release was in 1998, when I moved to Richmond. It was a compilation called Audio Terrorism, which had 99 bands on it. That's when I changed the label to C.N.P. records and I've been putting out vinyl and CDs ever since.
Style: What do you have in store for C.N.P. fans this year?
Hodges: We just started a blog to give away old releases, stuff that's out of print. I have a lot of older releases that have just been sitting in my closet. We were too ambitious and pressed way too many CDs when we first started some of these bands. There are also demo tapes that have been long gone and I had friends digitize them. We just want to give away a bunch of old stuff and some new songs here and there. We can also keep people up to date on what's happening with us. I'd never started a blog, but I've been writing for the Outernet out of Canada and Black Fontanelle out of Austin for awhile.
We're doing this Yo! C.N.P. Raps comp that should have been out a long time ago, but we've been working on other stuff. Before Bermudas Triangles was a band, Bill was doing his solo stuff (under the moniker) Big Eats, and we both did a rap song and made guest appearances on each others' tracks. Joe Legs from Ho-Ax does a solo project called Yoko Boner and he did a rap-metal track. Ryan Parrish, from Darkest Hour and Suppression does this thing called DJ Renaldo and he did a track as well. I'm still new to this, so I don't really know how to get the word out to people, but the site is http://cnproachmotel.blogspot.com.
Bermuda Triangles will perform on February 6th at The Triple with Buck Gooter, William Wesley and The Tiny Sockets, and Spirit Fingers.