Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Creative Process?

This will be one of those blog entries that is specifically  tailored  to people who listen to/know about my band Hutson. So, for all others, beware....The following is a semi-extensive description of how the next Hutson album will come to exist.
    To begin with, every band is different, and their process of conceiving  songs is equally as diversified. But here is how we're doing it.

    In the early years of the band, it was usually me bringing a fully-structured song to the band, and everyone adding their parts around it. And even still, that method still remains - although it has been altered significantly.
    Part 1:   I'll record a basic song structure, (with or without lyrics), choose an approximate tempo, (ex. 135 bpm), and then upload the this file and recording to a folder, (i.e. "Demo Song #1"), on the server we're using.  Tony and Andy then take a listen and start constructing their individual parts, (bass and percussion, respectively - although keyboards and/or other instruments are encouraged).  By the time we end up at practice the next week, we've got a rough idea of the song idea.
   Part 2:    At this point, the song structure may go through numerous alterations. Verses and/or choruses may be added or deleted, dynamic changes may be moved around, and then discussion occurs regarding "the Feel" of the song.
   Part 3:    Yes, as retarded and cliche as it sounds, we actually spend quite a lot of time discussing this. For me, "the Feel" goes hand in hand with  whatever influence I'm coming from with the initial song idea - and as anyone who knows me is aware, most of my songs end up being a game of "Name the Influence."  I don't intentionally go in with that mindset, but it's just part of my own creative process.
   Part 4:    We manage to get a demo song idea in a working format, and record our practice in order to remember what version of the song we were most pleased with. Then, we move on to the next recorded demo song idea. This allows us not to get too attached to each individual song as we continue gleaning through our material.
   At this point, our overall plan is to get 20 demo songs to this stage in the next 2 months. We currently have 8 songs uploaded/recorded, and about 5 more ideas not recorded yet, so we're moving along at a good rate.
   After we've got our 20 songs, we'll sit down and choose which 11 or 12 songs we want for the full-length album. After we've picked the specific songs, we'll truly start organizing song structures and "feel" in order to to make the album cohesive.
    Then the recording sessions start.

   That is the basic outline of the process we've chosen to use for the song-writing for the new songs. Now, bear in mind that if Tony comes up with an idea for a bassline, (or Andy with a drum part),  the process works inherently the same way - Tony uploads the recorded bass part and Andy and I start work on complimentary  parts, (for those of you interested, "Shallow Grave" was created this way).
   I'm not going to go into lyric-writing here, because there is nothing more mind-numbing than listening to me talk about how my lyrics are written or where they come from. Besides, most questions regarding lyric-writing end up with either pretentious or completely retarded answers. Thus, I'm not going to get into that here.
   Now, this may not seem like the most spontaneous method of creating music between three people. But then again, we're not exactly the Grateful Dead.
   Don't get me wrong - jam sessions are helpful, but for our three-piece, a clear method of organization is needed to construct the songs.
   And that's how the songs are being made for the next Hutson LP. When we get around to the recording stage, I'll go in-depth on how we'll be going about it, but that's a story for another blog.

  And this week's Album of the Week  is:

"High Times: Singles 1992-2006"     -     Jamiroquai

     While I'm not admittedly a big fan of this band, there is a lot to like in this basic collection of singles. Like nearly everyone I know, I was only aware of "Virtual Insanity" and "Canned Heat" from this band. And not that those aren't great songs, they simply require me to be in a specific mood to listen to them.
      At any rate, I picked this CD up for about 10 bucks, because I was curious about the time frame. 1992? I vaguely remember "Virtual Insanity" coming out in 1996, but otherwise I was unaware of this band.
     Turns out, Jamiroquai is pretty big in the UK, (which is where they're from)... And their first few albums represent a band associated with "the London-based "acid-jazz" movement in the early 90's"... Who knew?
     While the later albums since 1996 appear to delve deeper into 70's disco/funk and electronica, this collection pretty much sounds great and has gotten plenty of repeat listens from me over the past week since I got it.
      Like I said, I'm not a huge fan, but as a collection to show off what this band is capable of, this CD really hits all the marks.... It could even make me more than just a casual fan.
     Besides, a white guy who sounds like Stevie Wonder?  Awesome.


BrianV said...

Mark Twain used to lock himself away and write, then emerge with his work and read it to the family, etc, seeking feedback. They'd throw in their criticism and back into his study he would go. So I think some bands--probably you guys being one of them, do their best work individually, then bringing it to the group for input, criticism and refinement. It seems you guys have a pretty good system in place as far as that goes.

BTW, really enjoyed the Spacehog cover at the show a few weeks back. A totally awesome blast from the past!!

Bryan said...

Thanks Brian! That makes 2 people at that show who dug the cover! =-)
It's a great song - that we might pull in out of our set for awhile.. But you're totally right, it's a blast from the past - which is kind of nice and nostalgic..
I still owe you beer, BTW....
Good info on Mark Twain - and the similarity is definitely there...
I got another blog I'll be posting up tomorrow afternoon, so stay tuned....