Interview: Evening Hymns
Published on May 8th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Rocksucker was recommended the evocative indie-folk of Toronto’s Evening Hymns by The Wooden Sky front man Gavin Gardiner when we interviewed him in March, so we fired over some questions to songwriter Jonas Bonnetta in the hope of finding out a little bit more about the whole operation. First though, check out this choice cut from their forthcoming new album Spectral Dusk…
How long have you been writing and performing music for?
I’ve been writing for over ten years. Didn’t really start taking it seriously until about six or seven years ago. I had a punk band when I was in high school and started writing around then I guess, but that was a lot different then now. It didn’t really feel so much like writing. I was performing around then too so I guess I’ve been in this game for over ten years.
Who is in the band at the moment? And what do they do?
It’s always at least me. Usually it’s Sylvie Smith too. Then the rest of the band constantly changes depending on who is available to tour and play shows with us when we go out. The last few times we’ve been out it’s been a duo, which is limiting, but efficient on the road. We’re coming back to Europe this fall with a full band and I am super excited! When we’re a duo it’s bass and guitar and vocals, with some extra drones/keys, etc. that I’ll play with loop pedals. Becomes a bit of a circus. The fall tour will be full band so drums, bass, guitars, keys, lots of voice!
How would you describe your music, if pushed?
I feel that it comes from folk music. There are elements of experimental and pop and rock all mixed in. It’s not something that I’m conscious of for the most part. I certainly try and experiment on top of the simple song structures though so I guess I recognize that much. Under the layers of everything I think the songs tell stories, maybe a lot of the time through metaphors or a little clouded in mystery, but they could be played on guitar by one person and sung and I guess that’s my connection to folk music.
Who or what are your primary inspirations for music-making?
I’m mostly just walking around and looking at everything and trying to soak it all up. My environment affects me the most. If I write in the city it’s liable to be more of scrambled song. The country influences me and helps air out songs a bit more. That’s where I prefer to write. The new record coming out, Spectral Dusk, is all about losing my father in 2009, so that was obviously the main inspiration for the new record. I’d never written on a theme before and there was a remarkable amount of energy and emotion to work with there. That was more of just trying to corral those feelings into something cohesive, that could paint a picture that, to me, seemed like a complete, or close to complete, snapshot of my relationship with death and my father.
I’m also inspired by my friends making records and all the music that I like to listen to. I want to make a lot of records and I’m constantly changing directions based on what I’m listening to.
Where can we hear your music?
Three songs off our last record are streaming on our website: www.eveninghymns.com
And we have a new song from the upcoming release on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/eveninghymns. It’s called “Asleep in the Pews” [embedded above].
Video for “Dead Deer” from Evening Hymns’ last album Spirit Guides
Which have been your most exciting gigs so far?
We got to play Union Chapel last year with Timber Timbre, who are good pals of ours. That’s a beautiful room to sing into. That was a highlight. Anytime we’re in Europe is pretty amazing to us. I grew up in the country back here and never thought in a million years I’d get to travel to Europe let alone play my music there, so I’m pretty grateful any time I get to play overseas. It’s still hard for me to believe.
Got any more big gigs or festival dates coming up?
We do but nothing I can announce yet. Ask me again in two weeks! ;)
Are there any other up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
Well I run a small record label here in Canada called Shuffling Feet Records and we just released a record by a guy called Jos. Fortin. The album is called Typewriter and you can stream it here: josfortin.bandcamp.com
It’s a beauty!
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire back catalogues of five different musical artists along to tide you over, whose would you take?
Neil Young, Tom Petty, Jim O’Rourke, Nick Lowe and Miles Davis.
Jonas Bonnetta, thank you.