Q&A: Jonathan Hodges, creative force behind Chicago solo project Bomethius, talks latest release


Photo courtesy of Sayora Rakhmanova

Jonathan Hodges, the singer-songwriter behind Bomethius, playing guitar. Hodges just released his sixth album, “Awful, Pompous, & Artificial.”

Jack Austin, Senior Staffer

Multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Hodges is the driving force behind Chicago solo project Bomethius. He released his sixth album, “Awful, Pompous, & Artificial,” on Dec. 31, 2022. 

Hodges has been a regular performer with music event company SoFar Sounds since 2019, which organizes what they describe as “secret” concerts with surprise lineups across the world. 

He spoke with The Daily about his latest album, musical career, SoFar Sounds and the Chicago music community. 

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity. 

The Daily: How long have you been working on “Awful, Pompous, & Artificial”? 

Hodges: I’m typically working on two records at a time. The oldest song on the record is probably “Barren Field.” I started writing that mid-2020. As far as writing goes, it’s about two years, but when it came to actually recording properly, a year ago. 

The Daily: Lyrically, what themes are you exploring on the album?

Hodges: They generally deal with deconstructing certain aspects of what you were raised to believe. In my case, a lot of it had to do with theology and how you view and treat other people as a result of that. It’s about taking apart the worldview that you grew up believing but never really had the freedom to question. 

The Daily: Why was that important for you to explore?

Hodges: This is my sixth record. Every record is about where I am at that point in my life. I want to release a record every year until I die. At the end of my life, the listener or anyone who’s interested can go through and watch the development of a person both as a human being and as an artist, and (see) someone who’s trying to make beautiful things out of the dreadful chaos that ensues whenever you’re living. It’s a very honest effort to look at myself and the people around me and to make of my life what I want it to be. 

The Daily: How would you describe your sound? How does the sound of this album compare to that of the five other albums you put out?

Hodges: The sound on this record is a lot more mature. It’s a lot more aware of what it wants to be. I think especially early on, like on my first record, it was an attempt to prove that I could play this instrument or really push all the limits. On this one, it is just comfortable with what it is. The arrangements are more cohesive, more compelling, and interesting. On some of the previous records I hadn’t quite found my voice properly. They were very minimalist, very stripped back.  I am always attempting to introduce some new sound or tone or instrument. The point is really to make them where you can really feel immersed in the experience of listening to the record all the way through.

The Daily: How did you first get into music?

Hodges: I started the violin when I was three. I kept playing it and got a degree in violin performance. But while I was in college, it really cemented in my brain that I didn’t want anything to do with classical music. In 2017, I started recording my own (music) because I (had) been writing since high school, but never had a means to record. Around 2016 or 2017, Apple put GarageBand on everyone’s iPhone. I started recording on that. From there, I was able to get some better equipment and start putting my own stuff together in a higher quality environment. 

The Daily: What are your impressions of SoFar Sounds? How do their shows compare to gigs where the audience knows you will be playing? 

Hodges: I actually really like SoFar a lot. Putting a show together with the venue directly and trying to make sure everybody knows what’s going on and what time things are at and all the rehearsing is a very stressful thing to do. With SoFar I’ve never really had to deal with any of that. I just show up and play my set and get paid and leave. You get to connect with so many people that you probably otherwise never would have been able to. Now I have friends in LA and New York City that I probably never would have gotten to meet or play for here. 

The Daily: How would you describe the Chicago music community? 

Hodges: Very warm and welcoming and diverse and very fun. There’s a deep set willingness and generosity of spirit that I found to be overwhelmingly present in the majority of the artists that I meet and want to collaborate with. 

The Daily: What are some of your goals for the future?

Hodges: My goal is still to put out an album a year. Beyond that, I would like to be able to play more house shows, more things that I’m putting together with people directly. I think that’s the next level, the next step. I’d say sonically, the goal is for this next record is to be a little bit heavier. Louder. Maybe it’s angry, I’m not sure, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead and some (Black) Sabbath and Judas Priest. I’d like to really push the boundaries.

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Twitter: @JackAustinNews

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