5 Songwriting Tips From The Pros
Looking to write the next album of the year, but you just can’t get your ideas out? Luckily for you, we sat down with some of extreme metal’s best songsmiths for some advice on crafting the perfect tune!
- Inspiration (with Luc Lemay of Gorguts)
“Finding inspiration for a song is the first, and most difficult task. The other guys in ‘Guts are always asking ‘Loopy Lu,
how did you come up with this song? It’s far out, Loopy Lu!’ Well they’re not exactly saying that, I’m still trying to get the nickname Loopy Lu to stick. Kevin (Hufnagel, guitar) is warming up to it I think, especially since I started calling him The Nagelator. Which reminds me, The Nagelator still owes me 12 bucks from that bet we had where he said I couldn’t write a 30-minute song. Ol’ Loopy Lu doesn’t take kindly to folks backing out of debts owed. I’m sorry, what was the question?”
- Organization (with Erik Danielsson of Watain)
“I can’t tell you how important it is to be organized as you start to piece it all together. A lot of the little parts are hard to see and easy to drop, so have maybe like a box or something underneath you so it’ll catch all those little tiny parts. Then consider organizing each piece by how brown it is, how much it makes you sigh fondly, or even bigness or smallness. Most importantly, make sure you have your glue in the same spot, because you never know when you’ll put it on your chair then sit on it like clumsy ol’ me. Ha! I once did a whole tour with a tube of glue stuck to my britches, and you can bet I didn’t get any work done on my miniature Full House set replica that whole time. Wait, did you say ‘song’ or ‘miniature Full House set replica’?”
- Flexibility (with John Gallagher of Dying Fetus)
“You’ve definitely gotta be open to other people’s input, and be willing to budge on your original vision when it isn’t working out. For example, I always used to watch Top Gun on TV, but I’d get distracted and go rollerblading before the end. So it was years before I figured out that Goose dies. Man, that really wrecked me. I haven’t rollerbladed since. So obviously, all the stuff I had written for Dying Fetus had to be reworked, since most of our songs revolved around Goose from Top Gun being alive and well. Our big hits like “It’s Great To Have Goose From Top Gun Around,” “I Wonder What Goose From Top Gun Is Doing Right Now,” “Way To Go Goose!” plus the entire Goose From Top Gun Rides Again album had to be adjusted. I learned that I really had to be flexible, and that saying goodbye to Goose from Top Gun ain’t easy.
- Finding Your Style (with Paul Waggoner from Between The Buried And Me)
“Nothing is worse than writing a song and realizing it sounds exactly like your influences. You’ve got to add your own style. Just look at, uh, you know, those dogs that win dog shows or whatever. They come out, prance around, show that crucial bit of style, badda-bing, badda-boom, fat cash prize. Yeah, cash prize. That’s where the real money’s at. We gotta get in on dog shows. Listen, I think I got a buddy that can get us some top-notch canines. And check it out, I think I already got our angle: we’ll have a big ol’ dog that takes teeny-tiny steps around the ring, or the floor or whatever. Just picture that, it’ll be friggin’ hilarious, they’ll love it. Win a few dog shows, make a few bucks, then retire in style. Now there’s your style. Meet me by the docks in an hour.”
- The Finishing Touches (with Juho Vanhanen from Oranssi Pazuzu)
“To tell you the truth, I’m not sure how I put the finishing touches on my songs. I think—oh shoot, I just missed an opportunity to make a Finnish joke. I swore I’d be more on top of those chances. Next time, for sure. Anyway, once I get to that…Finnal… stage—nope that didn’t really work. Uh, let’s see, let’s see, I already missed Finnishing, Finnal doesn’t work, hmm. I could substitute ‘Finn’ for ‘in’ if the timing was right, I suppose. Ok, let’s try that. So, Finn all my years of writing music, I haFinn’t found one method that works Finn every song. Finn some songs you need a second oFinnion, Finn other songs you have to try every possible combinaFinn, but Finn all cases you have to have dedicaFinn. Ha! Nailed it.”
Truly inspiring stuff. Get to writing, everyone!