My Writing Process

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Hey everyone. How are you? I am fine.

We’ve had a lot of stuff going on in Hello Industry world lately. James and I are working on the 2nd half of the Hymns album. We’re all working on some business-y things like looking at booking agencies and management. We’ve been playing a lot of shows in Peoria this summer/fall which has been really fun. And I’ve been writing quite a bit. I think we’re up to 5 or 6 “keepers” for the next album. I could be off, but I estimate we’ll start recording the next album mid to late 2010.

The songs are all kind of turning out to be along a common theme. I haven’t planned it this way at all. And I’m not going to share the theme with you now, but I will share about how these songs come into this world…

Here’s an insight into my writing process: I live my life. While I’m living my life I see someone or something that jolts me just a little bit outside of my world - like a very zoomed out or very different picture of things for about .01 seconds. That insight triggers something inside my brain that feels very overwhelming and the only way for me to cope with it is to sit down and play some music by myself. Usually a phrase or maybe a melody line accompanies this picture - like an soundtrack behind my slideshow - so I base what I’m playing or singing off of that.

That’s the easy and nice part. What follows that probably classifies me as someone who deserves some psycho-analytical attention.

That .01 second piece of information is permanently in repeat mode inside my head. While I sleep it’s playing. While I’m talking it’s playing. Always playing. At the beginning is the worst because it’s such a small bit of music. Over and over and over. I feel sometimes like I’m going insane. I’ve even started to get sick to my stomach at times because I feel nauseated by the repetitiveness. But as it repeats I’m working it out - like it or not. Sometimes I have a big chunk of a song figured out after a night of sleep.

So a lot of the writing process happens in my head. Eventually I sit down again with an instrument and get to actually hear what it sounds like. This part becomes fun again. After that, I record it into garageband or similar program and email it to the band. I can tell how good it is based on the time it takes them to respond to the email. If no one responds for a week I go back into repeat mode and rework the song in my head.

Once I or the band deems it a good song, it enters the arrangement stage. This is when the song releases me and the stop button is pressed. The silence is beautiful! But so is the excitement to see where the song will go next.

If you’ve never had a band play music that you’ve written, you really should. It feels great. A bunch of talented musicians interpreting and deciphering days and weeks of your deepest weirdest inside thoughts. The random and abstract becomes a living, breathing thing. It has its own life. And when it breathes it’s beautiful. Usually. Otherwise we dump it and go on to the next one.

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