This has been my first blog for a little while, as I’ve had a holiday and have been working hard on getting some new songs ready for shows in the Summer. So far we have booked a slot at the Tramlines Festival Fringe in Sheffield and also a show with at the Angel Microbrewery, Nottingham with our pal Connor from AC Audio. Anyway, I thought I’d talk theories on songwriting, as lately I’ve had a couple of really interesting interviews with online bloggers from far afield.
I wanted to go into a theory that not only do I think that songwriters often adopt their heroes’ vocal mannerisms and songwriting themes but they also adopt their Ways of writing too. I’m into the likes of Bowie, Mark E Smith of the Fall and David Byrne of Talking Heads, so when I started out, my ‘style’ (and I couldn’t sing back then) was adapting jams from the band, cutting and pasting their music into what fit with the - mostly improvised - vocals. I never used the cut-up technique (used by the author William Borroughs and adapted by Bowie - you can watch him using it in the film Cracked Actor on youtube), but as my words and phrases were stream of consciousness, they had that vibe anyway. I’ve still tried to keep that looseness to how I write and I think that’s what makes Prime songs different to the norm. Let’s face it, we aren’t Flaming Lips or Radiohead when it comes to musical experimentation, so there has to be something else to make the ears prick up.
At the same time I was starting out I was involved in a local magazine, Night Flight, and one of the bands I would talk to regularly were the local Mansfield indie rock madmen Lucky Bullet, and their singer Daz’s hero was Jim Morrison of The Doors. So his way was getting notebooks full of lyrics and as soon as he got a feel for what his (very good) band were playing he would adapt a particular idea to the song. And put his soaring sixties/seventies style vocal to the music, along with some very deep lyrics.
His other bandmate, Roger Portas, who is known as DaDD and remixed the Prime song Bye Bye (feel free to have a gander on youtube too), is a stereotypical studio boffin, and as he grew up with bands like Erasure, Yazoo and early Depeche Mode (in which Vince Clarke’s vision dominated the project - often at the expense of his relationship with his band-mates). Roger’s songs with his duo Video Tape Machine are constructed from scratch by him in his home studio, even down to vocal melodies which he will sing (badly in his opinion) on the demos. Then his singer Tom will take the vocals to the next level when the finished track is almost ready.
Whatever your way of writing, and how those early influences stick around, it doesn’t really matter. I think it’s important how you adapt and grow. Hopefully, you’ll always improve and get better technically. But don’t be afraid to hang onto that early experimental thing you have, as it keeps things fresh. Listen to different new (or old) music, but also remember when listening to your heroes just why you want to do this. It will stand you in good stead.