First things first, I don’t like referring to songwriting as a process. It takes the magic out of it. For me, crafting songs is always different. Some come effortlessly while others come kicking and screaming. I have no special place where I write songs. It can be at any time of day anywhere in the world. My life the past 12 odd years have pretty much been lived on the road, so a lot of my songs have been written while on the road…literally. A lot of my songs come to me while driving. I have zoned out for plenty of ten hour drives and never turned on the radio once. Just running over and over in my head the songs I’m currently working on. I feel like if you give your mind some menial task to manage like driving, washing dishes or mowing the yard, you free up your mind to be more introspective. It allows ideas that wouldn’t come to you on an intentional level come a bit more naturally. Like the frame of mind you’re in when you daydream.
I am an autobiographical writer. I have not yet ventured into total fantasy or fiction in my writing. All of my writing in some way, shape or form is a reflection of my real life. There are two things that I always keep in mind as I write. The first is to remain as honest and as open as I can. If it feels like you’re getting too close or telling too much, you’re probably on to something. Some of my best work, I was too embarrassed to sing to my own band, at first. Ultimately, Mom and Dad are right… at least when it comes to songwriting. Honesty is the best policy.
The second thing I always try to remember is “details”. All of life’s major themes have already been written about. Love, Life, Death, Heartache, you-name-it… they’ve all been written about already. Those wheels cannot be reinvented, so your individuality and uniqueness will come out in what type of tread you give to your wheel. That’s where the details come in. It’s what will separate your love song from the next guy’s. The greatest compliment a songwriter can get is,” I’ve heard a lot of love songs in my life, but none have ever struck a chord in me the way yours did.” It’s the details that make people relate. It’s a misconception that you need to make a song broad to appeal to the masses. That usually just makes it generic and boring. I always keep that in mind as I write.
Now my songwriting instrument of choice is my baritone ukulele. If I’m The Lone Ranger, then my uke is my Tonto. It’s very much my sidekick. I wrote the majority of the last 2 albums with it. I write songs quick and dirty, without a lot of bells and whistles. I leave as much unfinished as I can so that the band may come in and help create a world for the song to live in. Sometimes the song keeps its original shape, and other times it takes on a whole new life form. That’s the beauty of collaboration. You end up with something greater than any one person could accomplish on their own. When it’s done right, it is unlike any other feeling. It’s how I imagine witchcraft or catching a ghost would feel like. To bring something alien into this world that never was before, but now… cannot ever be undone. How awesome is that. For me, it is the closest I have ever come to magic.