3 Songwriting tips with the Long War
The Long War is an Indie Folk/Rock band with a modern take on Canadiana. A vocal-forward group, the band often layers chorus and verse melodies with three-part harmonies. The songs come from a singer/songwriter's perspective but develops with each member's input and interpretation. Which, ultimately, leads to The Long War's defining sound.
Jarrett Lee, songwriter and frontman of the band, shares how a great song can come together and lends some helpful tips as to how to keep the creative process flowing.
Describe your songwriting process...
Most often the song begins as a riff or a tag that grows into a chord progression followed by a vocal melody. From there I sing a bunch of nonsense and try to catch what comes out that works while paying close attention to the songs structure as it begins taking shape. Playing the rough sketch over and over while recording helps to build new ideas or eliminate ones that don't work. When the bones of the song are there I finally piece together what I'm trying to say, snatching some of the phrases that caught my ear. In this moment it's best to kind of get out of the way and not overthink so that what comes out flows, catches the ear and is honest meaningful.
Sometimes a song hits you out of nowhere and other times it requires more attention, with more finessing needed to solve it. There's no one way, be open to either so that when that moment comes you're ready to do your thing. Always follow the melody, trust your instincts and most importantly finish the song in spite of any overwhelming uncertainty that may occur. The more songs you complete, the better. Capture those moments, and follow through. A catalogue of work is imperative.
Record yourself humming, write down lyrics, give yourself the opportunity to express an idea no matter what you're doing or where you are. If you feel the urge, pick up your instrument or hum while recording on your phone. Play a riff over and over, and record it. You never know what may come of any of these ideas. If you're stuck, share your recording with your friends, your bandmates, your partner. You never know what advice you may receive. Don't be afraid to collaborate!
Songwriting can be very cathartic especially when the content comes from a dark place. It's important to be healthy, when writing, avoid those negative thoughts or inclinations and be serious about your craft. When you're head is right and your body is healthy you get shit done! It's important to remember when you release a song into the world it's no longer yours. Be OK with letting go.