Last night I met and had a long conversation with the band Stop Light Observations before their show in Durham. They are nice guys with an interesting depth to their lyrics.
Cris: What is your songwriting process?
Tim Charron: I always write the guitar and vocal parts together. I usually don't have lyrics and then try to put them to music. I always try to do it at the same time.
Most of the time I will start with a title and build the story and the song around the title.
Cris: Wow. I don't think I have ever heard of a songwriter approaching it that way.
Tim: This way I know the end game, what the story and the song needs to lead to, the payoff. So I have the title, which will usually be in the chorus, and I go back to the beginning and I start building a song. I try to lay out a story. Why am I saying the title? What does it all lead to?
Cris: How does inspiration figure into that? Because that sounds very methodical.
Tim: In Nashville I am around a lot of professional songwriters who go to the office every day and from 10:00 to 1:00 they are writing songs. That's really methodical. I don't know how to do that.
A lot of times I will come up with a title and parts of songs when I am either going to sleep or waking up, kind of in that half-awake state. I'll come up with a title and maybe part of a chorus and I will scramble to write it down.
Sometimes ideas come when I am driving, when I am working out … and it is really important to grab it, write it down, hum it into your phone, just something so you capture it. Then the work begins when you have to actually sit down and follow up and address it.
"We're not a pop culture. We're an indigenous, Jazz, R&B, funk, roots culture. This is what makes New Orleans different from any other city in America: Our music, food and culture is alive and breathing today. And that's why people want to come to New Orleans, because they can't experience what we have in their own home town." - client John Papa Gros
Cris: Why the bass guitar? What initially drew you to play the bass?
John Pierce (Huey Lewis & The News): Between the ages of 12 and 16, with our little band from the neighborhood, I was the singer. And I wrote, I guess, all of our stuff. And my favorite part of the whole process was the bass line.
The other thing when I was little … remember that tune “Tighten Up”? Archie Bell. It had a great bass part. I'm 16 and I say that's it. I just became infatuated with everything about the bass. And I certainly didn't want to sing anymore. It turns out, that was probably a pretty smart move.
So at 16 I just totally commit. And then two years later I'm at Berklee College of Music.
Basically, I played enough instruments that I finally found the one that resonated. The sound of it. The whole vibe. What it does. How it affects the sound of the music. I just fell in love with it.
"Another guitar teacher friend of mine said, "You know, the hardest thing to do when you're playing a guitar solo is to stop." It's very true because I don't know where it comes from, but you seem to have this innate desire to continue and fill up the sonic space. You want to fill everything up, and that's not how you should do it. You should let it breathe. It's so hard to do. You really have to show some restraint and be economical about how you present it. It's more effective to do it that way." - Ryan McKay of clients Louis Prima Jr and the Witnesses