Sunday, January 19, 2014

fun.'s former CLT soundman kickstarting record

Daniel Hodges - Telephone Wire from Mahogany, Inc. on Vimeo.

The other day heading toward Kickstand on Central Ave., where the mac n' cheese is so creamy it's practically the only mac n' cheese my 3-year-old will eat, I noticed a billboard for Charlotte rock trio Hectorina's new album "A Thousand Jackals" hanging over Thirsty Beaver Saloon. This is significant for a couple reasons. It's a cool idea for one. Hectorina is doing a residency at nearby Snug Harbor this month. Its new record exhibits the evolution of the band and, for those of us that have been paying attention for long enough, frontman Dylan Gilbert (who has been releasing albums since he was practically a 'tween).

"A Thousand Jackals" was produced by the band's friend Daniel Hodges, who was massive pop band fun.'s touring sound engineer when he was barely out of his own teens. He was 18 when he started touring. These kids are doers, I tell ya.

Hodges was there as fun. was breaking. Before that - from 2009 to their last shows in January 2013 - he worked with Steel Train, which is the band that fun. spun off from. Hodges worked "Letterman" and "Conan" with both bands; was there for Steel Train's guest appearance at "Yo Gabba Gabba Live's" Radio City Music Hall show; worked the MTV Movie Awards, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, and South By Southwest as well as toured Europe, Australia and Japan.

But he left the road to focus on family as things were blowing up for fun. The older brother who'd mentored him in the music business died after a short illness. Hodges didn't return to the road. He's since gotten married and works in music locally.

"A Thousand Jackals" isn't his first recorded work. He started that when was 15. He's produced Matthew Butler and Chris Daub and is currently working with fun.'s Charlotte-based touring guitarist/keyboardist/backing vocalist Emily Moore.

Now he's ready to release his own material. He's a little over halfway to his Kickstarter goal with six days to go as I type this Saturday night. The pitch video is worth watching just to see him interview himself, but his is also a compelling story of why he wants to finish this record. It's the last thing his brother said to him.

As with other Kickstarters, donors get something for their money. Some incentives are pretty creative. One is to have Hodges produce a track for you. Another is Gilbert covering one of Hodges' songs. Yet another features drummer Will Noon, who toured with fun. and Straylight Run and has his own band, Cuddle. Noon is helping Hodges with the project. There's a Skype guitar lesson and, maybe best of all, having Hodges replace a family member in your family portrait.

You can check out all the details here and listen to a stripped-down, acoustic song above to give you an idea of his songwriting style. You can also check out his work on Hectorina's new record here.