STRFKR’s Josh Hodges: “If nothing else, I’m prolific. I write a song a day.” (4/23 at UT)

“Union Transfer is amazing and one of my favorite venues, like Top 3.  That’s the place I would want to go to see a show,” says Josh Hodges, founder...

“Union Transfer is amazing and one of my favorite venues, like Top 3.  That’s the place I would want to go to see a show,” says Josh Hodges, founder and mainman of Portland, OR indie rock outfit STRFKR.  The band has played the Eraserhood ballroom numerous times over the years, most recently in July of 2022, and they’ll be returning to the venue next Tuesday, April 23rd.  STRFKR are currently on the road touring Parallel Realms, which dropped March 1st on Polyvinyl Records.  “I feel like this album is the culmination of everything we’ve done over… two lifetimes [laughs],” says Hodges, who’s been releasing music as STRFKR since 2008, whose music has consistently boasted varying degrees of synth pop and Pacific Northwest indie rock.

“If nothing else, I’m prolific.  I write a song a day,” Hodges tells me during our recent phone chat.  However, he admits that he was having trouble writing throughout the pandemic (at which point he had just returned to Portland, after living in LA for a number of years), with, “a depression, chemical weird thing I was working through.”  “It was a hard one to get through…  More than other albums, it was a difficult pregnancy,” he tells me.  However, he forced himself to write a song a day, whether or not he wanted to, and wound up with a folder of around 40 songs, which would be paired down to the album’s 17 tracks, which embody a through line of STRFKR’s most fun and playful sounds to date, in addition to a subconscious theme that he was unaware of while writing, which he has previously described as, “the constantly shifting nature of one’s perception or reality, especially about another person and their own shifty nature, and the way those two realities or points of consciousness interact.”

Parallel Realms was mixed by Chris Coady, known for his work with a plethora of amazing artists (Josh tells me he’s a huge fan of the work Coady’s done with Future Islands, Blonde Redhead, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.), which marks the first time STRFKR has handed mixing duties over to an outsider.  “This was our first time ever working with him or someone who knows how to mix properly.  Usually we do everything ourselves, so it was so nice.  Everything sounded so good,” Josh tells me of the experience, going on to say, “Having someone with fresh ears come in and organize everything is so amazing.  And he’s such a nice guy.”  He also says that Coady and STRFRK can see themselves collaborating again in the future: “It’s definitely something I would want to do again, and he does, too, so I think it’ll happen.”

Curious about the biggest differences between how Josh approaches making music now, compared to a decade and a half ago, he explains, “For me, the main thing as a fan and someone that creates, I call it the juice of a person, where you can feel something of them through their art.  I can make lots of different types of music, but there’s still some element of my juice in it…  When I started, I don’t know if I had that.”  He admits, “I used to be really precious about it and couldn’t record with other people.  I was really protective of it…  Now it’s easier for me to not care, not worry what people think too much, other than maybe a few really good friends.”

“We’ve always existed in our own universe, even when Pitchfork was like a make-or-break thing.  We’ve just toured a bunch and built up our fanbase organically, ‘90s style,” Josh tells me of the role live shows have played in the evolution of STRFKR.  However, he admits that the peformances are a little different from what they used to be: “Some of those early shows were really indulgent, like public masturbation, like a noise set for like twenty minutes and then drop into some song, and do new songs every night…  Now, it’s like trying to cultivate a free, fun experience for other people.  We have better relationships with our fans now [laughs].”

Josh tells me that STRFKR’s current live show will feature a little more than half of Parallel Realms, along with, “tons of other shit,” explaining that fans should expect a, “long-ass set.”  He even tells me that the band are having fun switching instruments on certain songs.  Joining them on these dates are happy sad face, who will be opening the show, and Ruth Radelet of Chromatics, who accompanied STRFKR on a short November jaunt where they previewed a handful of songs from Parallel Realms and who will be providing direct support.

STRFKR’s current batch of dates go through early May, before they head back out on the road in late July.  But Josh tells me he’s already got a ton of new music in the works: “I probably have like 80 songs I’d like to finish, but I don’t know if I’ll put them out as the band.”  And he explains that the music he’s working on covers a very broad spectrum: “There’s a guitar album, like classical guitar music that you would play when you like make dinner with your cat… an R&B album, a rock singer/songwriter album, an ambient album…  I’d like to finish up stuff that’s about 70% done, so that’s what I’m gonna do when I get back.”

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.