Perspective In Sound – Making Music with Riley Hodges


Riley Hodges is a musician from Long Beach, CA. Having grown up in the bar business, Riley operates Shannon’s bars, restaurant and entertainment venue with his family.

Over the past few years as the Shannon’s businesses have grown, Riley has endeavored to focus more on creating and playing music. His latest project is Life on Mars.

Friday, October 13, 2017 at The Compound Studio, Long Beach, CA –
Photo by @hey_andrewg

Life on Mars is an eclectic-rock album that was inspired by a journey through Iceland in 2016. The song Live One writes about this experience, asking, “What’s it like to be a stone shot into magma bursting out?” From there the album took shape as a metaphor for life on Earth, what we’ve done here, how we’ve grown, our follies… and if we went to Mars, what would we want to bring and do differently?

Life on Mars album artwork by Eric Stoner –

The album conjures a utopian dream where virtues like Empathy and Courage are held in high regard. The songs chat an earthly tone with the opening track, Streetwalker, reciting the exclaims of pedestrian life through bouncy beats, clean guitar riffs and a padded saxophone, while Maybelline, a dreamer for equal rights wanting to sleep among the stars, follows a laid-back funk-rhythm that is supported by uplifting vocals and a Hammond B3.

September 2016 photo by RH – “As you drive along Víðidalur, you will come to Kolugil Farm which stands beside the Víðidalsá river. Just below the farm, the waters flow peacefully downwards to plunge into the deep, rugged gorge called Kolugljúfur. Their journey then sends them cascading over many waterfalls which bear the name Kolufossar Falls in honour of the giantess, Kola. It is a breathtaking sight to drive across the bridge and watch the calm waters of the river suddenly leap and tumble onwards over so many impressive falls – a sight which will leave no one unmoved.” –

C’est La Vie reminds us that such is life while drawing the listener into a world of psychedelic and bouncy rhythms whereas Coming Home brings us back to solid ground by expressing the simplicities of passionate love with a pedal-steel, rocking solos and female backing vocals to support words like, “That old house feels just like a smile sittin’ on a summer night, and maybe we’ll smile while we’re rockin’ on a ‘lil baby porch swing.”

September 2016 photo by RH – “Iceland is a country in the North Atlantic Ocean that is aptly known as the “Land of Fire and Ice”. It is an island born out of volcanic eruptions over millions of years. Up until 8000 years ago, the entire island was buried under ice.” –

Next up, Live One takes aim at the god within us all, rooted in the evolving chaos of actual rocks and forms of matter underlying the processes behind life on earth: “If One is a gift to the many, God is manifest in contemplating. Between this and that are those that seek nought in the shackles breaking. Stillness in your mind, it feels just like a loving kiss. I wonder if it’s known that we can be the nothingness…” Expect 2 minutes of soaking and frantic saxophone to convey the messages further sonically as the song finales.

September 2016 photo by RH – “Kirkjufell (Icelandic: Church Mountain) is a 463 m high mountain on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula, near the town of Grundarfjörður. It is claimed to be the most photographed mountain in the country. Kirkjufell was one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones season 6 and 7, featuring as the “arrowhead mountain” that the Hound and the company north of the Wall see when capturing a wight.” –

If the first half of the album is dreamlike, the second half shows that reality has finally set in. Let It Go stories the simple wisdoms of attachment as jangly strings quickly turn to screaming guitars, wet vocals and apoplectic lyrics, and Long Couple of Days follows a more balanced path using folk elements and a classic line, “Shoo fly outta my way.”

September 2016 photo by RH – “ancestors of the Icelandic horse were probably taken to Iceland by Viking Age Scandinavians between 860 and 935 AD. The Norse settlers were followed by immigrants from Norse colonies in Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Western Isles of Scotland.” –

Finally, High Low culminates in energetic fashion with heavy drums and heavy distortion to make a statement anthemically that given a choice of high or low, “we can go high” and “when you’re ready to come we can light sparks.”

September 2016 photo by RH: SVÖRTULOFT AT SNÆFELLSNES PENINSULA – “Sailing in the Faxaflói bay and the Breiðafjörður bay in the western part of Iceland might be secure and calm, but traveling from one to the other can be quite tricky. The sailing by the tip of Snæfellsnes peninsula, past Svörtuloft is still a serious business. Throughout the centuries there have been drastic incidents and casualties. Ships have stranded, and as anyone can imagine looking at the sharp and black lava cliffs, this is not a good place to strand a ship. Most of them are quickly blown to pieces by the shore. The formation of the cliff is quite spectacular as they are dark and black lava cliffs.” –

Check out the promotional release of Live One, and full album release in May 2019.

If you like my writing, please check out more where that came from.

Special thanks to Antoine Arvizu at The Compound Studio, and to Eric Stoner for use of the album artwork, APOCALYPTICUS ROMANTICUS.

Sunday, October 15, 2017 at The Compound Studio, Long Beach, CA – Photo by @hey_andrewg
Sunday, October 15, 2017 at The Compound Studio, Long Beach, CA – Photo by @hey_andrewg
Photo by Andrew @ The Compound Studio while recording album, “Life on Mars” with Riley Hodges (left), Tim Bullock on bass (center), Antoine Arvizu on drums (right)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: