Brooklyn's BODEGA combines the thoughtfulness and wit of lead songwriters Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio's lyrics with a cheeky attitude and an array of influences on their full length debut. The album, called Endless Scroll, released via What’s Your Rupture? records last week, and the band has been out on the road for the better part of this year playing songs from the record.
They're currently overseas on a UK and European tour, but Ben Hozie recently took some time to chat with us about his songwriting approach, their touring essentials, their favorite fellow Brooklyn bands and more.
Congratulations on having your debut album out this week! The writing on this record has such an authentic and thoughtful quality to it-- is it sometimes difficult to get into that space when you’re in the writing process? If so, how do you get around that challenge?
It is difficult to get into the proper headspace to create — the most important thing is to stay away from the internet to avoid distraction. I am old school - I write best with pen, paper, and acoustic guitar.
As far as the inspiration behind the songs, you obviously have some pop culture references, like with “Jack in Titanic.” Did you find yourselves drawing inspiration from other mediums like film or TV on other songs?
I’m also a filmmaker so I am always thinking about cinema. When it comes to music, you listen with your eyes and see with your ears.
How was it working with Austin Brown as the producer, and what was the recording process like?
Austin Brown is a very hands-off producer. He set up an 8 track tape machine (the same one Parquet Courts recorded Light Up Gold on) in their practice space and had us play all of the songs live. We did the whole record in four days. I kept wanting to embellish the arrangements but he was very adamant about keeping the recording as simple and honest as possible. I am a big fan of his band —- I became a peacock internally to show off the songs.
I love the 360/VR video you put out for “How Did This Happen !?” Who came up with the idea, and do you have any plans for more VR videos in the future?
The VR vid was Nikki’s idea. We wanted to fake a live show recording which would mock the trope of super hype ‘live’ videos. Honestly, I’m not crazy about virtual reality. I find it very limiting - the art of cinema is ‘framing’ and ‘cutting.’ VR removes human agency from the medium. It was a fun experiment but i’d be surprised if we did it again anytime soon.
I caught your recent set in Chicago at The Empty Bottle and you guys all had such a fun and energetic stage presence. Who inspires you as a performer?
I have a lot of heroes of the stage (ones you might not suspect from our music) : Bruce Springsteen, Perry Farrell, Public Enemy, and the Grateful Dead.
Speaking of playing live, you’ve toured a ton this year; from playing SXSW to traveling to the UK and Europe. What have been some of your favorite shows or highlights of tour?
Some of our best shows have happened in unlikely places. We played at a library in Birkenhead and a batting cage in Philadelphia. Every show is different——- we try to make every show unique.
When you’re traveling, what are some of your favorite ways to stay entertained on the road? Any podcast or album recommendations?
Good books are the best. We are pretty obsessed with the 33 and 1/3 book series. I’m trying to read them all. Right now i’m going back and forth between ‘Trouble Boys: The Story of the Replacements’ and ‘Bubliminal’ by Leonard Mlodinow.
What are your go-to snacks or drinks that you’d pick up at a bodega?
The two essential liquids : coffee and beer.
Who are some of your favorite bands fellow Brooklyn bands that you think everyone should check out?
Milk Dick, Parlor Walls, GUSTAF, Eaters, Pill, Public Practice, Operator Music Band, Straw Pipes, Shilpa Ray, and The Consumables.