Songwriting and Pre-Production
I want to talk a little bit about Ah, this song in particular. You know, I'm a strong believer of when inspiration strikes toe somehow document it. Somehow recorded, I utilize voice notes a lot. Um, any sort of video either on my laptop on my phone. Um, I play guitar a lot, just randomly at home. And if a rift starts coming together and I don't have time to work on a song work on music, I just film myself playing that riff and I'll come back to it. And, for instance, with this song, I was actually walking my dog and the drumbeat and kind of the main guitar, if just kind of popped in my head, and I'm just homing it as I was watching them peeing stuff and you know, So I just recorded on my voice that I was trying to find the voice. No, but I didn't have it. Unfortunately, and and then when I started actually working on the music, I went back to that voice note, and I was like, I think it's gonna be a cool song because I've always wanted to create a song from one simple melody and showing...
how you can change the dynamics and corporate are different undertones under each part to create a lot of dynamics and build a cool song, cause if you noticed the baseline is the same riches driving throughout the whole track. And when I do demo, I write most of this material, especially on the road with between the bear to me and, um So I tried anything that makes it easy for me toe to carry around and to get things done quickly. Like I was talking with you earlier. I'm very I can't focus like Jamie. Jamie could sit in front of the computer and just do Q. And all these things that takes so long where I'm like doing a drum part, checking my email, you know, talking about people and, like, I just can't focus like that. So for me, it's important to have someone like Jamie that sits down and will make these sloppy ideas come to life because, as you'll see by this demo on this screen, um, I titled it TG for Thomas Child's February 1st is when I started working on it, and I use easy drummer for drum ideas and I use the pop rocket. I have a few different kits. I really like the jazz and cocktail kick our kit a lot for just kind of having different tones that you wouldn't only not have in rock or metal. And, um, I just get simple beats, like with this song. We're going straight up. Hopefully here, e I make the drums, I make the drums as basic as possible And especially with this project, cause I knew I was gonna have ah, really good drummer playing on it. So I wanted to have the drums very bare bone. And I gave it to him, and I was like, This is the feel of the song, But I want you to really put your flavor on it. Um and honestly, I don't want to spend the time thinking of fills and and adding dynamics the drums. So I literally make I carry this little guy around, and this is what I right. Yeah, right. A lot of keys. I write a lot of, you know, drum patterns and stuff with this because I can keep in my book bag. I could bring it out when I get an idea. Um, it's just really handy, you know? So I know me. Just, you know, with this song I put down the drum track and then I tracked the guitars, have a inbox to which I bring on the road with me and just go direct in. And I actually used amps in logic, and I just kind of tweak it. I honestly don't know a lot about gear. I just kind of go for what I think. Sounds right. So I just got a basic idea and put the whole song together. And that's kind of honestly how I approach this song O in base. The funny thing about base in this song is I didn't have a base, so I just tracked some crappy guitar, but awkward a doctor, which obviously doesn't sound good. And I would never release this, or I shouldn't let people even here this, But just all stuff to get Yeah, but motive and develop things could be quick, you know, and and you can spend more time working on the actual song than the production side of it. Because if you know, you're gonna go in the studio, you know, someone like, you know, professional is gonna take care of that. Um, so I always think about that. And, you know, obviously my my approach is a lot different, depending on the song. You know, if it's a gets hard driven song or a keyboard driven song, or if it's a piano and vocals, only you know it all. It all starts with a simple riff or chord progression, and I just build, you know, that's that's my favorite part about music is building and, you know, intertwining melodies and just making a section something special from something that's not think. It's approach is important to note that Tommy with the solo stuff, you know, he's You write a whole bunch of different styles of stuff you've done. Yeah, metal. You've done electronica and acoustic type of thing and, you know, rock or whatever. And I'd imagine like, you know, even though you might use logic for everything, that's a completely different approach where you enjoy doing a variety. Yeah, and the reason I do use logic. First and foremost, it was what I learned to record on, and it's comfortable for me, and I just haven't taken taking the time to really go beyond that. But I really like it. Smitty. Capabilities for keyboards Sparely. Yeah, and doing electronic stuff. It's It's quick is really fast, and I really like that aspect of it. And I still learn every single time over my laptop. I learned something new, and and these classes, you know, like I've learned a lot from this. It's awesome to kind of use logic with the Bt bam stuff. Also, that I right? Yes. Yeah, Blake does. You know, we dio all our own pre production. Our drummer Blake records everything in his house, and I do vocals on my end, and Blake uses pro tools. He does? Yeah. So he just sends me the file. He said he sent me a file with, ah, a separate click track to the song and then the actual song and all right vocals or keys or whatever needs to go over after we have the whole skeleton. But but anything all right starts with logic on mind. It's amazing to think, because, you know, I'm from North Carolina, and you're originally from North Caroline, which live in Southern California. But with technology, it's craze ableto you know, Tommy and the rest of guy Tommy Blake and the rest of guys can do stuff that the practice place and pro tools. And then you could send files to you and you in Southern California can work on stuff. When you're in it, send it back. I mean, it's as one development over the past, you know? I guess. You know, five years, decades I had blown my mind. I mean, even when we started the band like we didn't record anything before, we got in studio like Paul and I would sit in our apartment and learned this song, you know, we'd write the songs on guitar and just learn, Um, you know, you didn't wouldn't even record him anyway. And it's just slowly become using technology toe help. And, you know, I forget things like, That's why I'm always carry my phone, have a voice, Nothing for lyric ideas because I will forget you ask people that know me Well, I forget everything instantly. Well, that's one. Something I'd like to talk about personally as a producer or whatever. You know, the the amount of preparation that you guys do is appropriate, I think is, you know, is professional, You know, even for the amateurs as possible. You know it, you know, use these as tools to remember and formulate your ideas and stuff. But like said, don't use them as tools to actually be the product. You know, like I think a lot of a lot of the clients here. The reason in the past five years, you know, you are so from must you know, in my business or whatever it seems like there's there's a big trend of people just riding all the material with guitar pro and in the computer and things like that, and they're actually not able to perform it. I think you know, Tommy and Bt Bam guys do do a good job of, you know, they use these tools to write the stuff, but it's actually stuff that they know they can play, and then or if it's something that they think, it might be difficult. They'll discipline theirselves. Teoh, actually Ah, rehearse and be able to perform in the studio and tools like guitar pro great, especially if you're in a band like us. We have 789 records. You have a lot of material, and if you have those files with how to play your songs, tabbed out and, you know, five years from now you're like, Oh, we need to play that song We haven't played in forever Instead of sitting there learning about here, you can go. You can reference it and get the song tied again for the live situation. But it's cool. Well, we all have a very different approach to our running. I mean, Dan. He uses reason to do all his recording, um, drums and everything. He doesn't reason Blake this pro tools for the band's preproduction. Paul doesn't like to record. He likes guitar bro because it's fast for him. He's the same as me. You don't like to sit there on his laptop and he you know he'll write riffs on a guitar and just have it. So we consent to us so we can hear his ideas and build off of those. So it's cool. We all have very different writing styles in the first place. But even as technology goes, we use different things. Yeah, I didn't realize everybody used. I guess it does. He just kind of think I improv Yeah, and he works of Blake because they're very close to each other. And, you know, when he's with the band, he works with stuff of Blake, So yeah, but there are the secret of BTB. Yeah, the preproduction man, it's just, I mean, is a long process. You know, we record the record basically over and over till it's right before we even send you anything or start anything with you. Yeah, that's the one thing I've noticed, you know, like Blake usually comes in. He's got he's got all the click tracks mapped out like a You know, it saves a lot of work on my end or whatever. There's no you know, you know, we don't have to waste time, you know, second guessing, tempos and figuring all that out stuff. You know, you know, having said that, if you're doing more simple, strip, strip down stylist, musical whatever is not as big of a deal is is between the barony mirrors or something that improv helps. Yeah, exactly. But it's It's one of those things where, um, I really think it helps to just be prepared as prepared as possible. You know, it'll keep your, you know, you know, keep the cost down, you know, and allow time to do the extra special stuff. The extra vocal layers, the extra mixing the extra production to take your project to the next level. I think you know, the more prepared you are, the better. You know, I think Bt Ben or shining examples of how that is Dylan should be done to my experience. Yeah. I mean, right now we're writing, and that's what's going on right now. Actually, play for you. I'm joking. No. So how long does it take you? I'm just curious about, like, the real practical, like, day in, day out, writing on this thing. How much time do you spend it? In a block of time. When you're doing it, you spend eight hour day arrived and the pins I recently started. I have a two year old now, so I You know, when I'm home, I try to be a dad. And so I try. I've started writing a lot on the road with this material especially. So, um, you know, I just made a part of my routine. Wake up, get breakfast, start my day and sit down and start working on ideas. And, you know, I would work until sound check sometimes after sound check. And sometimes if I'm still feeling after a show, get back at it. Especially it's like it electronic something sitting on my bunk and do it or something. So you know, it's It's something that that makes me as I've gotten older. I feel like I need purpose on the not so much waiting around, just feeling worthless, like I'm being productive every day and feel like I'm working towards something alongside the live aspect of being on tour. So that's why I've done and I've really enjoyed it. And but as Faras is the band, I mean it really depends. I mean, I mean, it's it's like it can be a six month process to right for us, for it could be this records been pretty quick, but we've worked a lot like, you know, full full weeks. They've been getting up three days a week. I personally work on it, probably 34 days a week online. So yeah, it's a lot of work. I think a lot of bands don't realize that sometimes you need to do that because it's not cost anybody money. If you're sitting at home, you know I hate to always think about money. But when you're older, you have to you and you have toe Think about this things. So yeah, really? Between the bearing me for those you guys watching, you know, You know, I imagine a lot of you guys knew who between a very me isn't like their sound. And obviously you got what you guys do is well beyond what most bands do in terms of progressiveness, you know, the actual physical demand, the performance and and the song structures and the amount of parts and riffs and and drum stuff that you need or whatever. And it's, you know, it's me. It always is blowing my mind. You guys come in and you're more prepared than somebody doing a boom smack rock record. You know, I think it's because of the material. We know its demands. That, and and the fun thing with writing with us is we really. We really improve each other skills, every record, because we do right challenging things and we help each other. I think starting out like I mean with solar project. It's It's such a great outlet for me. I really enjoy dripping down, staying away from things that are technical and creating songs from, you know, 23 riffs. Um, but starting out, I really recommend playing with a band or at least a few guys that can help you become better. What you do, you can you just learn so much by playing with people working with people rather than just doing everything by yourself. So I think that's important because that's that's how I've anything I've done I couldn't have done without the guys, you know? I mean, even this I really any of this without myself as a producer. And I've been working with you guys and you guys challenge me and I'm like, Man, I got a record between the bear to me and I do this next record is next record has to be the next level. Ah, you know, because there, you know, continue. No, they constantly climbing their success or whatever, have been constantly climbing their success in the in this industry or whatever. And it's just, you know, want Toe Bill to provide a product in the production that complements what they're doing. And, you know, do you know do my best work? I think it's kind of probably similar thing that actually works within the band. Definitely. I think that's part of the reason we've worked with you for so long. It's just we both in building from each other. Try hard anyway. But it was fun, man. I mean, at the end of the day, everybody wants to have fun. You know, my still my favorite part of being a musician is recording, and I know a lot of people that they don't like that part, but it's I could do it every day. If I had a 95 goings to every day, I would love it. So yeah, so it's really me. And it's all personal preference. It's just my opinion or anything. So yeah, but I mean a Sfar Azaz. I mean, if people are interested in how I approached lyrics, it really is the big, broad spectrum as faras where I get my ideas. I mean, sometimes just an idea pops my head, and like I said, I go to my voice notes. I have a list called ideas. They're literally just writing constantly. If we might go that be a cool song title, that could be a cool record title this could be a cool topic. Or, you know, and depending on the material, a lot of between the bear to me material lately has is more suitable for a story. We've dunmore concept records, and I tried toe my approach for writing as a storyteller. Within that music is I kind of right, like you would write a score but in reverse. When I listened to the music, I envisioned the story happening. So I have the music and I'm trying to envision the picture. And that's kind of how our write lyrics for that kind of style, Um, and in a lot of the solo stuff or even earlier, between the bear to me, you know, you I've tried toe really get personal and you know, things you just want, just like every lyricist or singer. You just want to get some things off your chest and ideas you have that you think you're interesting, hopefully think are interesting and, you know, just something that fits well with the song. Like, for instance, this song. It's it's kind of it's kind of dark, gloomy, aggressive, Um, and it's a It's about my fear of death, which I it's something that I can't get over. It freaks me out. You know, I'm very honest about it. And it's the songs kind of like medial in dealing with that in hopes of helping that problem. But it hasn't. But you know, certainly when you have that personal connection to a song, I think it brings out it brings that out to the listener. And hopefully they can kind of get a closer look at you because I think music should be personally, even Russian artistic expression, you know? Yeah, I like my space on a personal level, but I think, you know, with music, I like you. I like to share a person like I'm obviously I'm opposite in sharing enough already. One thing I was had a question about or whatever. As far as you know, you guys a long time. But as far as the lyrical content with Bt Band stuff, you guys have been kind of concept will stuff. I mean, I noticed a lot of stuff is kind of, you know, the surface is ah, you know, I guess fictional type, type of stuff, whatever. But you guys, you think in political terms like analogy and things of that nature. I'm not really a political kind of guy. You never I've really never put that in our lyrics. It'll I'm I'm a very strong believer of people can do what they want, You know, I'm not trying to preach anything, anyone. So anything personal, Just my personal feeling on something that involves me. You know, I'm not trying to really change anything, change the world, but ah, with the storytelling. I do try to put some personal touches on it and a lot of stuff people would never notices. But it's stuff that I know I'm like, even though that's a character. That aspect of that character is very similar to how I would act in that situation. I would I would handle, you know, isolation for a long period of time, or how I feel when I'm on the road and I'm isolated in my bunk and I'm freaking out, you know, being away from my loved ones, you know, there's there's different things that I deal with on a personal level I can get across in a storytelling form. Even if someone didn't wouldn't know that that was happening. Just more expression of that I feel and how you think about something a supposed to trying to get a message or point across. And I've had some kids ask him about that before late. Was that song about I'm like, Dude, I I don't Yeah. Sometimes I forget way we've written a lot of material. I mean a lot. So you forget what your son was? Well, yeah, I mean and yeah, where are where your head was that exactly where your mind was at that point. So but yeah. I mean, my approach to everything is just if it's it's like the approach you have. If if something sounds right, it's right. You know, when I write vocals, I really always try to start with What's the first thing that pops in my head? You know, with between the bear Me Right now I'm writing vocals. You know, I go on, I mainly do it my car because it's very quiet. Just me. I drive somewhere secluded, Sit there and I'll you know, if it's something melodic, something singing. I try to think of a melody, and sometimes I write lyrics on the spot to that melody. Um, and if it's a killer, melody. I'll record it on my voice note because I will forget it, and I'll go back to it when I actually demo. It s so that's how I write. And with screaming, I take a totally different approach. I don't right. While I'm thinking of the melodies screaming, especially the older stuff, I would just have my topic for the song and I would just right on right on, right on, right. Not even think about Pattern Head or anything. And then I wouldn't read what I wrote it all for a day or two. Come back to it, realize that most of its garbage and kind of keep editing it till I have something that can work with. And then I start from the beginning and I'm like, Okay, that will work there. You know, this could be a cool section there, and that's how I approach like the more heavy aspects of what I do. So it's kind of it's kind of weird. I do. The heavy, lyrical approach in writing approach is very different from the the singing stuff. It's want, like free association. Yeah, get a whole bunch of content. Yeah, and I tried tried to do that Wising in and it just doesn't work because sometimes you want to rhyme something, you know, you hear in your head and you're like these things. You know, you need five syllables here and, you know, have a freaking huge sentence. This doesn't work. I remember the first album you were jumping around my parents basement with the microphone literally had the vocals were have back roads to me earlier. Yeah, I remember the doubles. You're like, Hey, let's deal with that. You're like, yeah, mute that one. I'm just gonna do it again. And it was like there's different stuff. Somebody worked. Something just happen. All that record spree trying have been trying to get you guys ever get is cool way recorded alive in five days, you know, full length record, you know, 10 criminal record and sonically is not good. But the way it was that I feel I feel like as faras production goes, it really fits where we all were at that at that moment that time it was kind of like That's how everybody was like and that's I feel strongly about about that. A lot of musicians like toe talk bad about their past and, you know, production. I'm sure you're like that in your but I mean a lot of it's It's where you were as a person. As a musician, you know, there's things. Technology wasn't exactly limitation. I listen to our old records and, you know, there stuff that I wouldn't write right now. But it's like it's perfect because it's 100% what we were doing, what we're feeling. And it felt right. So I think it's a little weird to me when I hear someone be like God that records John like it was important at some point your life and you spend a little time on you know, there's a when you're doing why happened, you know? So where the same thing is like, Why did I have a mullet on Look back? Because it was awesome. It was awesome, actually, Still is awesome. Mullah still gets respect. Yeah, I mean, as far as writing, you know, I don't really know how to elaborate much more than that, you know, guitar. I mean, I was like I said earlier. I think yesterday I'm not trained in anything, so it's it's a learning experience and and working with people are guitarist Paul on bases. Dan. They're very trained and working with people like that. It helps someone like me, you know, kind of be in between that world, you know, completely natural are completely just winging it. Somebody can help you like I mean, we should do it this way. And I think as musicians, it's important to work with. People would be open to those ideas because you're not always right, you know, apart can always be improved by someone else's opinion. And even on a producer standpoint, I think I think don't be afraid for someone to tell you to change. You can always try it like we're seeing yesterday. You can always try it if it if it sucks, you go back to where you were. Start over. You think from from an outsider looking at B between the buried me what? Your solo stuff. That there's a the only thing formulaic about it, if that's a word, is that there is no formula. Exactly. And I'm saying they only asked the only aspect of it. This formula is like, Hey, we're gonna just do what feels right at the time. I'm just gonna sound What? You know what? I'm in the mood to do theirs. You know, like, I really respect If you're like you guys haven't been like, Hey, we need we need to go home or commercial because we could make more money or we need to be more heavy because this scene wants us to be like we used to will be whatever what you know, It's just like you just do it artistically. You feel like doing it feels right at the time. I mean, I think, I mean, I think we do just from day one with music. People wrote it because they wanted to express themselves, you know, they wanted to create something that made them enjoy it. You know, I think that's that's the most important thing. And I think when you are trying new things and doing new projects and work with new people, you know it does keep you interested because you don't get bored. You know, the second on board. I don't want to do it anymore, you know, with anything. So it's like you want, you want toe. Things need to be fresh, and you know you grow as a person you want to try new things, You and ah, I I just think it's weird toe. Do what you feel others want you to do because you never can have a grasp on that, you know? I mean, that's something every musician deals with, especially Internet comments, and you just can't. You have to do what feels good to you. You know, I'm not gonna right a technical death metal album because I can't, you know, it's like you have to know what you're good at. What what works for you. And no matter what you play or what you write in that part, that's that's Ah, that's a notion that's driven like my development terms of, you know, my whole business model and strategy is providing the services. The producer. I'm not trying to impose my sound style on you guys or any of my other clients or whatever, and I think cause I was I was in a band, you know? I know how it was. You know, I know how it was to to have a vision and want to express myself and, you know, try to approach. You know, we worked with other producers and stuff, and they just either weren't willing or able to give me the sounds on the tones that we wanted to get, you know, and toe let us express our art. You know, I think that's ah, you know, it's definitely shaped what I do. And it also puts, you know, just like you said, You wanna do stuff that's fresh myself as a producer, I don't part of another reason I don't have a sound is because I'm constantly I want to do different things, different projects. You don't want to make every band sound the same. I mean, I think technically, I could probably, you know, get a higher fidelity recording if I use the same tones, the same presets, the same thing and just kept building and making it better and better. You know, um, you know, with each project, you know, I could probably get better. And you know, um, fidelity and things of that nature, whatever. But I would kind of I think I would personally get bored. I think you know, and like said I don't think it serves the clients who are you have art and want express themselves. I don't know I just feel like a So how did it you going from the first record in Jamie Basement? How did BT Bam build a career that spans seven or eight records? Oh, now there's, you know, your whole band is making their living. Yeah, touring and and selling records and playing shows because I think a lot of people we got questions about that, Yeah, coming in from online. I think that's well, I mean from the beginning, Paul, our guitars pole and I, We and Will the guy that played drums of my celebrated. We were in a older band called Prayer for Cleansing and we we did local things on the East Coast and we I think they went out west once when I wasn't in the band. But when that band kind of dissolved away, we started between the bear to me and we knew from Day One our focus was That's right metal. But how we perceive metal like that's not be stuck doing what everybody is supposed to do. You know, even the first record, we have a jazz section we recorded ah, bar scene behind the jazz section of us. Drink, You know, glasses clinking restaurant experimented with these things from day one because we're like, Let's have fun with it because, I mean, at that point, there was there was not anything to do with with Music are with money and music and yeah, from day One I mean, there wasn't money and we didn't ever expect to get any. And I think if you're a band starting out, you know, one mistake we made was the second we had a record label that took interests were like, Holy crap, and we just jumped into it. You know, I feel like you need to be careful. You need to be, have patience, get a good lawyer. Seriously. I mean, it's it's it's seriously important, especially nowadays, and, ah, I mean, it's just hard work. I mean, we always from day one we booked our own shows, you know, we played with friends, bands, we, you know, we'd save up money to rent a van. You know, when we first started out, we would just go to our shows in five separate cars and put our gear in the back, you know? And you following up enough money for a van. You Tauran that you know, Then you get a trailer and you say it's you slowly build up your business and, you know, you just tour. And at first you waited a whole tours that were how shoes and which was fun. It was a learning experience. You become better as a player because you can't hear yourself. You can't hear anything. You know your live scenarios of nightmare. Um, and then you just you just tour and do what you do. And that's really how we've approached it. We've never been like, Okay, next year we're gonna do this. We still don't. You know, we This is our gold. Five years from now, it's like we just we write what we feel was us at that moment. We we do the tours that we think it right for us. We every decision we make, we make as a band. You know, nobody is more important than the other. You know, we have a great right now we have a great team with management and booking that just really they know our vision and they can help you with that. But that's another thing. I don't think band should rush into management. Don't think Russian the booking right away because it's not super a central at first. I understand it's a lot different now than it was in 2000 but, um, you can do a lot of things yourself, especially with Creative, Live and other educational platforms. You can learn a lot on your own and really take things into your own hands and screen your own T shirts. And you know, there's everything you can do yourself. But you just have to know when the time's right toe bump it up a little bit, you know, and that we went 78 years without management. We did it ourselves. And then there was a point. We were like Something has to change and we knew that as a group and we made that decision. I think the advantage of that to is, Then you know, you know what to look for in a manager, because you yourself, you know what's happening. Doing a good job or not, because exactly know exactly what should happen