It's more fun than it sounds
“Technology is definitely the big issue of our time,” ponders Bodega’s Ben Hozie across our long-distance line. Suddenly, it sounds like his brow is furrowing. “I think about this stuff a lot. I mean, whether you want to think about it or not, it’s definitely thinking about you.”
The air hangs dead for a couple of seconds before his bandmate Nikki Belfiglio deftly jumps in to punctuate his argument. “It’s kind of like punk rock in a way,” she says breezily. “It was born with all these good intentions but has turned into Frankenstein’s Monster. Frankenstein’s Monster with two cameras for eyes.”
It doesn’t take a detective to figure out that modern communications, rebellion and paranoia sit at the heart of what Bodgea do. For the New York-based art punks, the Internet has created a culture of self-obsessed, inward-looking, know-nothings. People who, in the band’s own words, “have playlists who know them better than their closest lover.” Whether it’s Belfiglio’s bizarre headdress, which seems to be constructed from discarded iPhones, or the band being replaced by an orchestra of laptops and tablets in the new video for ‘Jack in Titanic’, their critical gaze is firmly fixed on the disappearing border between our online and offline lives.
However, speaking as Mark Zuckerberg is simultaneously atoning for his company’s sins in front of the US Congress, it suddenly feels like Bodega’s brand of playful Dada-esque needling has captured the zeitgeist. ‘Endless Scroll’, the title of the band’s forthcoming album, might mockingly point towards a society of zonked-out social media addicts, absentmindedly surrendering their agency to click-bait and status updates, but in the wreckage of the whole Cambridge Analytica scandal, somehow it seems like the joke has just got real.
With the rest of the world suddenly jumping on the technophobic bandwagon, Hozie is surprisingly, if understandably, ambivalent about the role the Internet is playing in his life. “It’s not like we’re saying; ‘shut the electricity off and let’s go live in the woods,’” he laughs as we talk about the realities of being a musical act in the 21st Century. “When we made the video for ‘How did it Happen’ a lot of people said, ‘isn’t it a bit hypocritical that you’re making a 360 video when you guys are so against progress?’ I was like, well, yes, but our whole band is hypocritical. That’s pretty much the point of Bodega, we’re pointing out these things while simultaneously engaging with them.”
“In the end, it’s a really funny document of our scene,” continues Belfiglio. “Like, you can now get a ‘real’ Brooklyn NYC show streaming through your computer and you can now see for yourself how unexciting the whole thing actually is. It un-glamorises the whole idea. I mean, imagine if we had VR back in the CBGB days or whatever, all you’d see is how lame it actually was most of the time.”