Face The Music with Jon Hodgson

Most interviews with games industry figures tend to be about our latest game or “hot new thing” we’re working on. But what about the people behind the games we play and, hopefully, love? Little is said, or explored, of the actual person’s tastes, or how they got into the hobby, etc.

Face The Music is a new column in which I aim to explore a side that is rarely explored – music tastes of the people behind the games we play. What do they listen to? Bands they love? Greatest gig? Do they use music whilst they work, or whilst they game?

Each week I’ll be chatting to someone in the games industry about their musical tastes. This week I’m joined by Jon Hodgson, whom I had the pleasure of working with at Cubicle 7 many years ago. Jon’s a fantastic artist whose art you’ve quite possibly seen across a number of products over the years. Jon currently runs his own publishing company, Handiwork Games, who publish the BEOWULF: Age of Heroes game and are currently working on a new edition of one of my favourite games, a|state.

What are your favourite bands and genre?

I’m sure a lot of people will answer the genre question the same way – I like so much stuff it’s hard to pin down favourites, and they change all the time. “Alternative” I guess covers it, but it’s way too broad. And I also really love a loaf of pop music too.

Favourite bands from the widest view would be:

Urusei Yatsura (90’s, Glasgow indie band, not the anime)

Sonic Youth

Pavement

Wolf Alice

Hiss Golden Messenger

Bert Jansch

Velvet Underground

David Bowie

Underworld

Goldfrapp

And as they say, many, many more!

How many gigs have you been to? What was your first/last? Your favourite? What band/performer have you never seen live but would love to (or have loved to if the band/performer have broken up, retired, or died)?

I really love live music and when I was a youth I was at gigs and DJ nights twice a week most weeks.

My very first gig was The Thompson Twins at the Birmingham NEC, supported by Shreikback, who terrified me. I was 9, and my sister took me. I do remember wishing it’d been Herbie Hancock in support, because I had a Herbie Hancock album on the other side of a cassette to a Thompson Twins album.

My favourite gig has to be PJ Harvey on her Is This Desire tour. It sounds ridiculous, but it felt like she was looking right at me throughout the show. I’m sure everyone else in the place had exactly the same feeling. That’s such a great album and she’s a great performer.

The last gig I went to? Gees, it’s hard to remember the before times. It was probably The Sword in Glasgow. The Sword are an awesome stoner metal band if you’ve not heard them. They were really good live.

In terms of regrets? I had a chance to see the last (full line up) Fields of the Nephilim gig and turned it down because I couldn’t be bothered going that night. That was a mistake as they do a good show.

I would have liked to have seen Bowie live, but probably in the 70’s.

I’d love to see Kyuss play live. Not sure that’s ever gonna happen.

The Sword – How Heavy This Axe

Do you listen to music whilst writing/designing/drawing?

Hell yeah. I find it helps to listen to stuff I know really well, so I can occupy a non-vital piece of my brain with it, and keep it quiet and help me focus. I’d slipped into listening to YouTube while working at the end of last year, and it’s been really good to get back to music in the New Year.

Do you use music whilst gaming?

Yup – I love a good atmospheric sonic backdrop. I compose them monthly for BEOWULF digital packs.

What are your top five favourite albums?

Oh gosh that’s so hard. My selection will have to be a bit arbitrary, and I bet if you asked me on another day you’d get a different list.

Slanted and Enchanted – Pavement

Suzanne Vega – Suzanne Vega

Thunder and Consolation – New Model Army

Songs for Drella – John Cale and Lou Reed

Slain by – Urusei Yatsura

If you were stranded on a ship hurtling through deep space, which ten tracks would you want to have with you?

Well that’s a very difficult list to compile too! I’d rather have ten albums – what’s wrong with this spaceship? Here’s a stab at a top ten tracks I’d struggle to live without.

First Day on a Brand New Planet – Urusei Yatsura (Not actually a joke on the whole spaceship thing – a favourite track that saw me through some tough times in the 90s, and I’ll always love it)

Formidable Cool – Wolf Alice (it’s just such a great track and I could listen to it all day)

Dirty Boots – Sonic Youth (Classic. Essential. I’d rather not have to pick just one SY track but here we are)

Superstition – Stevie Wonder (another song I could listen to forever. The sounds are just so… delicious to my ears)

Heroes – David Bowie (bit of a cliche but the sounds in this track are just incredible, however overplayed it is these days)

Summer Babe – Pavement (again, tough to pick one track, but Pavement were the soundtrack to a big important part of my youth and that sticks with you. This is the first track from Slanted and Enchanted and would have been the first Pavement song I heard. Did you know they recorded the drums afterwards?)

The Bitter End – Placebo (this is my “moving to Edinburgh” song. That marked the end of some tough times, where for a little while I thought I was going to be homeless. But I wound up in an amazing city, I had money in my pocket, a new place to live, and got lost riding the buses around Edinburgh to this song.)

Summon the Fire – The Comet is Coming (this is just such a celebratory and demented track and I absolutely love it)

To Live is to Fly – Cowboy Junkies (another life anthem. Always makes me weep but in a good way)

Underworld – Juanita: Kiteless (Second Toughest in the Infants is one of the greatest albums ever, and it has to appear somewhere on my listings! I love a bit of electronic music and not much has appeared here)

Pavement – Summer Babe

And a non-music question – any plans/projects for the coming year that you’d like to talk about?

Sure thing – we have a whole bunch of stuff upcoming for BEOWULF: Age of Heroes, our ENnie-nominated two-player hack for 56e. We’re also printing the awesome BEOWULF PDF adventures in a book. Can’t wait. And also I’m super excited about a|state second edition using the Forged in the Dark rules. There’s some really cool stuff in that, both in terms of production values and additions to the rules.

LINKS

Handiwork Games Website : https://handiwork.games

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