Evening Hymns is the moniker of musician Jonas Bonnetta. Playing a mellow singer songwriter stuff that evokes a plethora of complex emotion, Jonas is a musician to see while you still can. Before this amazing show, Jonas answered some questions for the Arthur about his sound, and inspiration.
I guess the first question is, what is your inspiration for music? And how far does music go back in your life?
I grew up around a lot of music in a pretty passive way. We listened to music growing up. It was never a focus but I clearly remember music always being on in our house. For some reason, and I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, I felt like I wanted to write lyrics. This eventually led to writing some songs with my friend Kyle in high school, and then I eventually learned some guitar and bought an 8-track and started making little recordings in my parent’s house.
What are the origins of you as a musician, and your sound?
I guess the above kind of answers that. I was making multi-track recordings early on in high school and playing around with sounds and writing songs.
Where does the name Evening Hymns come from?
I wanted to come up with a name that kind of hinted towards the sound of the music. At the time I was making really gentle music. I guess that’s all it is still really. Just louder gentle music.
Have you ever played Peterborough before? And if so, what do you think Peterborough has to offer that other cities don’t?
I’ve played Peterborough many times. I actually lived here for 3-4 years when I was in my early twenties so I’ve done my time. I love going back to Peterborough to play because so many of these songs I play were written in the city or have characters connected to Peterborough.
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming album, and its creation?
I recorded it in the country east of Peterborough, in a little town called Mountain Grove, where I live. I have a home studio there and my long-time collaborator friend James Bunton engineered it. These were all songs that I wrote after touring my last record Spectral Dusk for two years. That record was about my Dad who passed away in 2009 and touring it really took its toll on me, emotionally and physically.
I went back to the studio and really wanted to write about what that experience was like. In a lot of ways it feels like a continuation of my story and my mourning process and helped me gain some perspective on where I’m at with everything.
Do you think as a songwriter that there is a large emphasis on ‘progress’ from album to album, be it a change of sound, mood, subject matter, etc. I find that lots of reviews will be critical of a new album that has the same themes, or sounds of a previous album. Do you see any pros or cons in this approach?
I think we put instruments in our hands and sing songs and then we try and sequence them into records. I’ve never been in the studio and asked myself “are we doing the same thing as the last record?” as all these records are documentations of a time and a place. It’s not really an “approach” by any means.
Some bands make 5 records that sound the same and if you happen to like that sound then you’re in luck but if they all of a sudden change their sound it disappoints their fans so it can go both ways. As long as I can hear integrity in a record and I think they’re saying something genuine and I like the way it sounds then I’m going to listen to it.
Your music seems to have a lot of physical imagery, and even sometimes, uses field recording, how does the physicality of where you’re from, and nature play into the formation of your music?
It’s very important to me. I always think that I’m not writing songs but trying to create an environment for someone to exist in for 5 minutes. You paint these little pictures and tell these stories and hope that a listener can lean in close enough to become part of the song.
On the general, could you nail down a few influences?
Mojave 3, Tom Petty, Sam Amidon. If you had to choose one song that you’ve written as introduction to a new listener, what song would that be? One of my favourite songs on the new record is Connect The Lines. Mostly because I really enjoyed the process of recording it. It was a folky guitar song that turned into a moody piano jam at the eleventh hour and I’m really happy with its transformation.
Can you speak on your upcoming show at The Gordon Best Theatre?
It’s such a special room to play, and like I said earlier, so many of these songs are haunted by ghosts of my Peterborough past and that always makes it more engaging for me to play there.
Finally, Favorite beer? And/or Alcoholic Beverage?
I do like Lagunitas IPA in the spring-fall and a Duvel in the dead of winter and an Old-Fashioned pretty much anytime.
Evening Hymns plays the Gordon Best Theatre on November 13th with opener Kalle Mattson. Be sure to check out this line-up of musicians!