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Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 9 of 28

Inspiration with Ryan Clark

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

9. Inspiration with Ryan Clark

Lesson Info

Inspiration with Ryan Clark

we have another guest with us in the studio. This guy's from Seattle from a famous band and a really talented musician and graphic designer. Actually, I got to check out some of his graphic design work, and it's pretty pretty amazing stuff. He's He's really talented, didn't we're excited to have him here. His name is Ryan. How you doing, Ryan? Thanks for having me. Yeah, absolutely. So I'd love to hear just a little bit about like, your background may be how you started. Give us, like the elevator pitch of Like how you started in music where you're at now as a working musician, cause I know there's a lot of people at home that are trying to figure out to make a living to music. Um, I'm 35 years old this year. I grew up in California, for the most part, Oregon and California. My parents were fairly musical. So, um, there was, you know, my dad played guitar, my mom saying so there was always kind of music happening in the house. My brother and I were very interested in art visual art. Ou...

r whole lives. Grandfather was an artist for NASA for 28 years. Um and so a lot of that kind of just got passed down to us. Um, around the time I was 13. 14 got really into skateboarding, skateboarding kind of segue wade into punk rock and hardcore like it usually does. Um, kind of left the skateboard for the guitar. Um, learn guitar for a while, both through my dad and through some or more regular guitar classes. Starting out like, 14. You started playing 14? Yeah, on dime about as good as I right now as I was when I was, like, 15 or 16. Uh, that's kind of where it is, where the action stopped. Um, and yeah, just kind of dove headfirst into the music scene. You know, back pre internet. It was all about just like d I y finding out bands from friends or from the thanks list of albums that you buy or what, you know, work him out. Um, so it was really exciting time to be into music. Um, to be into a scene that kind of felt like it was in your pocket. Um, So the hardcore scene is kind of like where were born and bred. Um I signed my first record contract with my parents help when I was 15 years old. First US tour was when I was 17. That was with Focal Point. That band broke up shortly after that. US. To our I think none of us were really ready For what? That world waas at the time. Um, started a band shortly after with my brother, who would started playing music a little after me, Who's actually he's four years older than I am, but he start a little later than I did called training for Utopia. Um, we put out to eat peas into full links over the course of about four years. Um, that ended kind of gradually ended towards, um, about 1999 2000 when both of us moved up here from the Sacramento area to hear, um, focused a little more on graphic design in our careers in that visual arts field, which we still dio to this day, he and I worked together with a company called Invisible Creature, which is just the two of us. We do a lot of music, packaging and anything and everything really a lot of illustration toys you name it and a rad stuff. So it's invisible. Creature dot com invisible creature dot com Yeah, we started in the music industry, so we've done, you know, 600 album packages over the course of the last years and then branched off into more kind of corporate clients and some different kinds of projects. Um, but I've been doing the band kind of all at the same time. My brother was in the band with me, the newest band, Demon Hunter, which we started about a year after we moved here. He was in the band with me and we started together. Hey, quit in 2008. He's got three kids and he kind of runs the business, so it just got to be a little too daunting for him. I'm married, but I don't have kids. So it was a little easier for me to juggle the two things which I still do and we're about We are seven records in a tous point. And so yeah, it's been going about 12 years, just released our newest record. There's just this past April, so awesome, so cool. I'm always interested to hear how family members work together and continue to work together in a really professional like at a high level guy. Grew up in a family band to you can't win their family members. You can't just fire. Yeah. I mean, it's not like you can fire him and hire a new guitar player. Whatever, so Yeah, it was great. You know, it was like a very it wasn't weird when he left the band, you know, it was kind of understood. And he's, you know, our biggest fan on the sidelines at this point, but, um, yeah, it's kind of gave me, um, more of the rains in terms of the song writing and stuff like that, which, um, I didn't mind, you know, I like kind of working in a bit of a vacuum and just kind of being in my head. So, um yeah, works sweet. It's awesome. We're We're really glad you're here. Thanks for being here. You're going to do some plan? Ah, a little bit of just talking. Mostly. Just talking about. See talking? Yeah, Awesome. Out. Well, let's Let's get right into it. You ready? Yeah, Something interesting about demon Hunter and I just wanted to throw in is, uh, appropriate for this class. But I think it's kind of odd these days to be able to tour that little and still like retain status. And I think has to do with the fact that the band's really song oriented, uh, and songs, you know, stick around. So you know, someone gets into songs. You can Onley tour once a year and they'll still go See you like a lot of you know, the cooler European bands don't come around too often a really great music. People will still go see them. And I realized that geography has something to do with that. But it's also the fact that their music comes first and so people will stick around. Whereas you get a lot of, um, a lot of trend, your bands that don't really pay attention to their songs and that to keep touring relentlessly just to keep people's attention up. So, you know, somewhat relevant Teoh, the whole seven. That this class is about runs a perfect example of what happens if you actually focus on writing good songs. You tourist much, which is actually kind of cool. Yeah, we kind of figured out a different method right off the bat, kind of out of necessity because none of us wanted it to her full time, which ended up working in our favor because we were, you know, we would hit, you know, whatever city you are in, like maybe once every two years. So it became more of an event, and the people that were going to come out to the show's would make a point of coming out if we were, you know, not gonna be around for another two years. So it kind of worked in our favor. That's incredibly rare. It's almost unheard of a think for at least for American band. See that? Well, actually, you guys don't very much either. Yeah, which is really cool. I think smart bands do it like that. There's no reason. The tour for nine months thats was not in my blood. I like it in short spurts. I don't think I could ever swing it like some people dio Yeah, I don't like either. So with that, let's talk of, ah, songs. Um and, uh, I'll just give you guys a quick intro and then we'll get right into it. One of the main things that we're going to talk about is something that we touched on earlier. But we're gonna take it even further. How to take influence from other music without actually stealing. I think plagiarizing is where the bad thing tune we're going to get into the difference that you and influence and actually strata plagiarizing. And there's a specific things you can do. Teoh not go down that road. And one thing that's really cool about Demon Hunter are all the hooks, is hooks for days and, uh, talk about how to specifically identify those and try to create your own. Whether or not you'll be successful is not really within the scope of this class, but, well, at least identify what what makes a hook. And we'll talk some more about transitions, cause that's what you guys in the world of the Internet said. You suck it the most. So because I already know who Ryan is and let's talk about a Demon Hunter song writing philosophy. You were kind of saying to me earlier that it's all about basically walking a line between going way too far into Nickelback territory or ah, way too far the other way into being just inaccessible, that this is something that kind of is like in the back of my mind, almost as a subconscious thing when I write, whether it's the music or the lyrics, and it's really nothing to do with my my taste in what I like to listen to because I listen to weird, abstract stuff and I listen to really what people would consider corny, cheesy pop music. But where I find Demon Hunter is somewhere in the middle. And so I'm always trying to kind of find that that gray area of definitely has a hook definitely is catchy, but also has some kind of like dark, melancholy sound to It doesn't go too far into the kind of, um, poppy, uplifting sounding chords and structures and things like that. But it also doesn't dive too far into kind of, um, the atmospheric kind of ethereal sounding kind of art, more artistic sending stuff. But I just know that's not where we fit in. Well, I guess, uh, every songs different, obviously in unique, but just basically, um, if I'm just wondering, just as a matter of like, siren philosophy, if you find that you have a song just in general. I realize this doesn't apply every time you have a song that happens to fall too far to one side in the album writing process. Was your go to move, ditch it or refine it? Or does it just visually a specific, I would say, usually ditch it in. The reason why is because it usually feels I don't realize how, and it's usually because it goes too far that way. The corny side, Um, because I feel like that way is that more deliberate decision going to weird and abstract is a little more of a deliberate decision. Where is too corny can sometimes be an accidental decision. And usually I don't realize that something came off a little more corny than I thought it would until the song's almost done. So instead of going back and revamping the song at that point, it's it's kind of a lost cause. That's what I find any way. There's something that we actually talked about earlier, and I think you can't hammer it home enough, which is some songs just don't work out, and it's better to just let him go. I think a lot of amateur writers don't do that. And so we mentioned earlier. You get that local band that will come in with the same five songs that had for 10 years, when they could have written 100 songs and been way better. I think it's Ah, it's a definite flaw, Uh, writers that are not as good as being way too attached to the material. Yeah, that's figured you would've ditched it. Yeah, and that's something you'd learn after years and years of doing it and sometimes releasing stuff that you don't feel great about. Sometimes it you don't stop it before it even reaches that point. There's plenty of things on every record I've put out that I would I would take off if I were to redo it. You know, the songs that I feel like kind of a little bit left field that felt like maybe I felt like a the time fit. But in hindsight, I don't think they really do. And do you, uh, just had a care? I say, Do you find that like those songs that you tend Teoh regret or whatever you want to say, the word is Do they tend to be songs that the crowd likes or are usually in line with what they like. Um, it's a good question. Uh, they're usually kind of deep cuts or like beach. Besides, they're not usually songs that fans really have had much of input on, or at least that I've been able to tell. So you don't like him and they don't like either, pretty much probably, Or it's just like, you know, there's kind of buried tracks that no one really talks about. And I guess it's good that they're buried in there not like featured prominent songs. But still, I would replace him. Good. Yeah, that seems to me like the way to go. Eso I guess, one of the things that people that at least from what I know, people that have lots of ideas, so they tend to write a lot. I call it preceding. Uh, other people call it like pre pre pro or whatever, but I find that the more you right, obviously, the less you're attached to ideas and therefore the less you attach the bad ideas and the easier is toe. Just cut the fat and come out with something that's all around much better, but I feel like in order to do that, you kind of need to set up your life in order. Teoh be able to capture ideas when you get them. I just wanted Teoh, I guess. Pick your brain about what you do toe. Yeah, to make sure you don't lose anything cool. Well, I mean, the good thing about one of the good things about everyone kind of having a smartphone or something similar these days is that you kind of have. It's likely that you have a recorder like in your pocket. So what I usually find myself doing is whether it's something I'm deliberately working on. Um, it's kind of in the forefront of my mind or if it's just like just a melody that strikes me at a random time. And oddly enough, it usually happens when I'm driving. I think it's just because I can't really be doing anything else, but, like maybe thinking about songs and parts and ideas and things, it's either driving or flying where I feel like I get the most done. But, um, yeah, I just voice record into my phone. Um, it could be little riff ideas that I just kind of hung with my voice. It could be lyrics. It could be vocal harmonies. It could be how several of those ideas work with one another, usually all kind of hum a, uh, vocal harmony and then on the same track on the same recording. I'll just hum what I think the guitars to do under, you know, just just kind of a basis to go by. And I'll just gather these, like throughout the year, two years or whatever between records and as we get closer to actually recording a record when I that's when it's kind of in the forefront of my mind. And I'm almost deliberately doing it more often and trying Teoh be in the mindset where I'm taking my phone out in recording ideas more often. So that way, when I sit down to start doing demos, I have, like, you know, 50 60 of these little starts and yeah, and if one of them, you know, sit down and start playing one of them on a guitar, and it just doesn't sound like what I was thinking in my head and what my voice was kind of doing, I could just go to the next one, you know, or sit there and tinker with that one until it sounds right. You know, change a few parts or whatever. Um, but having like a big kind of library of these little sparks for me has been, um, has made the the demo ing in the writing process like way less arduous than I think it would be if I wouldn't have done that. Have you ever said to yourself that's such a good idea? I'll definitely remember it and then totally lost it. Yeah, usually that happens late at night. And, uh, and my wife's a really light sleeper, but sometimes all roll out of bed and, like, go in the other with my phone is, you know, whatever. Like, I've gotten to the point where I have to, because I know that I'll forget it. I have to record it, so yeah. Yeah, I think that if you don't get it immediately, it's gone. Yeah, I'll do it on airplanes. Like I'll tuck my head into things like, you know, whatever it takes to get it to get it down, like go to the airplane, bathroom or whatever. Just, you know, record it. Yeah, I guess the moral of the story is to just make sure that you get it when it's there, totally risk losing it.

Class Description

It’s easy for musicians to get so caught up in the latest gear, plugins, and presets, and forget that ultimately, it’s all about the music. Join Eyal Levi and special guests Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter), Todd Jones (Nails, Terror), and John Browne (Monuments) for an in-depth exploration of what it takes to craft great songs.

Eyal will share the tricks of the songwriting trade he’s learned over years of experience as a producer at Audiohammer Studios (The Black Dahlia Murder, August Burns Red, Whitechapel) and guitarist for Century Media/Roadrunner artists Daath. Throughout this two-day course, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the three core components of metal/rock songwriting. You’ll learn about basic song structure and riff-writing; melodies, leads, and vocals; and fine-tuning the arrangement to take your song from good to great. Eyal will be joined by special guests -- from musicians to producers and more -- who will empower you to take your songwriting to new heights.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Metal Songwriting Slides Session 1

Metal Songwriting Slides Session 2

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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user 6f3d0a

Eyal and all the guests are awesome here and really provide a solid education on Songwriting and writing within the Metal genre. One thing that Eyal said that really struck a chord with me, was how Songwriting was being taught at the music school he dropped out of and how it was uninspiring. I completely and thoroughly agree. I own many, many books and videos on Songwriting and I cannot get past the first few pages because it doesn't speak to me and my needs as a Songwriter who is focused on writing Metal. I've been playing Guitar for 25 years now and this is the very first course I've seen that takes Metal songwriting seriously and as a subject worth studying. I would like to commend CreativeLive on having the guts to feature heavy music so prominently in their courses and thank them for helping us establish Metal as a more serious genre. One that is worthy of awards, praise, distinction and honor. In Metal and Strength, R. Ross Strength Keeper Songwriting/Guitars/Vocals/Arranging

Mike Lamb

This was a massively inspirational and incredibly helpful course. By the end of it I had a notebook full of incredibly useful tips and tricks, and I definitely plan a rewatch as soon as possible. I've been in bands writing songs for the better part of 15 years, but this has put a lot of focus on some of the corners I've cut or the areas where I've been lazy with the smaller details. No matter where you are in your songwriting you'll definitely benefit from this, and Eyal articulates everything in an engaging way and positive way. Even if you think you're a good songwriter, there's a tonne here you can benefit from. 10/10 - Thanks Eyal!

Marco Ramírez

Great course, I have enjoyed it a lot and I'm sure I will come back to reinforce many of the concepts shown through the videos. Right now I'm good to go with ideas to apply to my songwriting skills and reinforce several concepts I already had developed prior to this course. This is a great lesson series... even for advanced musicians, anyone can get stuck in this wonderful world of writing and this course shows you tools to get out the best of this process.