In Part 2 of 2, Joe McMurray and Aaron Sefchick continue their conversation with Brent Lyons of the “Solving Sounds” podcast. They talk about the process of writing and recording an album, the popular music scene, and the way that society consumes music.

Brent tells us about his approach to writing and recording an album from start to finish. He writes songs in batches, with a focus on the overall sequencing and journey of the album (think Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”). The guys discuss the virtues of creating music for art versus promotion. Brent talks about how he writes individual songs – using different instruments to create the main hooks. The guys hash out creativity in the studio, including working with engineers who have songwriting/arranging input, using different equipment for different tones, and using Ableton and MIDI to spur creativity.

Finally, Brent, Aaron, and Joe talk about the state of the overall music scene and how it is influenced by the ways that the general public consumes music. With the lack of new band cultivation by major record labels, the legendary bands of the past have been elevated to even higher statuses, and reunion tours and tribute bands have gained momentum.

Check out Solving Sounds on your favorite podcasting app or at:

Hello and welcome back to another
episode of Fret Buzz The Podcast. My name
is Aaron Sefchick and today we’re gonna
jump into part 2 with Brent Lyons of
the Solving Sounds podcast. Today we’re
gonna get into Brent’s process and how
he writes and records an album. We also
get into the idea of recording a couple
songs for like an EP versus something
like an album. Then we talk about the
advantages of using different
instruments to kind of fill the sonic
space of the album and the positives
that that has and later on in the
episode we start talking about how the
general public consumes music and how
that’s changed over the years and maybe
where it’s going in the future. For those
of you who may not know, we also have a
YouTube channel so all of these episodes
are available on the Fret Buzz The
Podcast YouTube channel. So stop by,
subscribe and check us out. Again, I also
want to plug that on May 3rd we will be
doing our 1-month Song Feedback Club
LIVE on YouTube and that’s where every
month you start a new idea, nothing old
but everything new and you write a song
from start to finish,
submit that to
and our panel on May 3rd will give
you feedback and critique your song. If
this sounds interesting to you, by all
means, stop by, go
down to the submit button there in the
middle of the page, send us a link to
your SoundCloud or wherever you may have
your music. You can always send in an mp3
or anything like that. It’s a fairly
simple process. So looking forward to
hearing all of your submissions and
hopefully we’ll see you on May 3rd. With
that, let’s get back to the episode with
Brent Lyons of Solving Sounds podcast
on Fret Buzz The Podcast. So ok, let’s
jump into this whole idea of writing
an album from start to finish and that
process of what it entails and
all the trials and tribulations that one
might go through yeah have you actually
gone through the process of actually
releasing an album that you’ve created
your own brain
yeah that’s right I have it’s um on
Spotify and iTunes it’s actually called
in flow this is what I called it just
because it was kind of this like
difficult thing for me to do especially
when it came to the vocals I hadn’t
really done that before
so I was kind of like freaked out about
it so I thought of it as like I named it
in flux it was sort of like me trying to
get past that phase and get to a spot
where things were just kind of like
flowing and coming through without any
sort of like judgment or fear and just
trying to kind of be creative for it
sometimes sake without sort of being
super analytical about it but at the
same time it’s like when you’re doing a
big project like that by yourself you
know the process is so slow you kind of
can’t help but be analytical so I found
a large component of it to be about
making decisions and being able to kind
of stick with it especially like in the
demoing process when you’re first kind
of figuring out what the songs are we
kind of mentioned it a little bit
earlier but when you’re working and
logic or Pro Tools you can just you can
really go into a black hole if there’s
no one to kind of bring you back out you
know when it comes to just adding things
or trying to make things work so ya know
on a macro level did you approach this
album as a larger concept that all fit
together and then write the songs to to
fit the album’s needs or did you write
songs and then conglomerate them into an
album yeah it’s kind of interesting the
way it worked out I wrote the songs in
batches which I really liked doing and
would recommend I would write four songs
at a time and at first I would do all
the instrumentation and then go back and
do all the vocals later and it’s it’s
funny because I found breaking it up
that way into chunks helped keep the
spark a bit alive because if you do like
10 or 11 or 12 songs or whatever and you
write them all before going into the
studio at least in my experience I found
a lot of times the older ones you’re
kind of over a little bit or it’s like
you know there’s like a ticking clock
with like the freshness of a song to me
and I feel like you need to capture that
while you’re still sort of excited about
it because for me I’ve definitely found
the newest thing I write is my favorite
you know I get the most excited about it
and I think if I wait too long to record
older songs it kind of loses its magic
so I think it’s really cool to kind of
capture it while you still have that the
hardest part and you can’t you can’t
really avoid this is when you do kind of
release the whole thing when it’s all
even still those those first four songs
I’m sort of like how those are I’m kind
of over them a little bit compared to
like the later songs yeah but in terms
of like a concept I did sort of take on
like a lyrical concept and it it was
just sort of about like I’ve seen
earlier trying to get out of my own way
just because I was kind of nervous or
maybe just didn’t have the self
confidence to try to pull something like
that off because it is you have to be
careful cut right because you can it can
be this like ego thing of like oh look
how great I am I’m showing off I can
like do all this stuff which I was
really trying to avoid and also you can
run into this thing where people are
impressed that you did that but it’s
like that can bleed over into what they
think of the songs like is it a good
song does it stand alone as a song
itself or is it good because you overdub
everything yourself
you know what I mean yeah so you kind of
have to check that part of yourself but
yeah that was kind of the loose concept
and yeah it was interesting to you
because as I was doing that
after I did the first four I found
myself writing in response to those
first four and I actually liked that
because I was always thinking in an
album context and I’d write the first
four were just whatever came out and
then the next batch I was like well I
don’t think I have like the opener to an
album yet like I’m super into like
sequencing and kind of like the journey
of an album like I don’t like songs that
are just like a bunch of one-off songs
thrown together in a collection you ran
into that a lot with fly EPS I found
just because you don’t really have the
time and space to kind of carve out like
dynamics or a sequence or arrangement
that takes you somewhere but with an
album you can really kind of immerse
yourself into this world that you’re
creating so I found that I got really
into okay I need to write like the
opening track how do I want the album to
start and just from my particular taste
I really like albums that have an
introduction and I created this first
song that was half the songs just like
the intro it’s kind of like a slow
fading thing you know it’s kind of its
kind of shoegaze it just kind of like
sets the tone and you just kind of
groove and then it like kicks into like
a traditional rock song but I thought it
would be kind of cool to have the intro
be like half the song something I wrote
this kind of like compartmentalized rock
song where it was like like the intro
was the chorus riff and then I do like a
rock and verse and then a the rocking
chorus but now at vocals and then I
would do like a quiet verse and then
kind of a bridge that was like an
inverted version of the course but all
that would be like two minutes and then
the songs over so it’s like a four
minute song but like half of its just
this kind of build-up intro yeah and I
think if I had just sat down and wrote a
song I never would have got there
because I wouldn’t be thinking in that
kind of context of an album so I think
that is super helpful when you are
writing them to think okay how do I want
it to start how do I want it to end
okay I have all these rockers I need
something to go against all that you
know just thinking in terms of
dynamics and arrangements that that’s
always my favorite part of an album or
just writing in general even within a
song so that’s kind of how I loosely
approached the sort of concept of it I
wish I could do more of that
I I get caught up like there’s not time
to record an album for me like just with
my schedule like I get I feel the need
like I need a certain type of song for
promotional reasons in order to you know
get a gig or whatever and so I end up
like writing something to fit the need
of that like the promotion that I need
rather than being like I want to write a
masterpiece that people will want to
listen to you it’s more like I need a
venue owner who has he’s gonna give me
ten seconds I need them to listen and
like what they hear in the first 10
seconds it’s like the exact opposite of
what you’re talking about
tonight like I completely appreciate
what you’re saying I wish I could do
so busy yeah and it is all about an
intention like for me this was just like
a passion project you know and that’s oh
I totally hear what you’re saying as
well but for me you know I just really
like the idea of kind of having like a
definitive statement that was kind of
mine that’s like out there forever yeah
just the idea of like okay if it was
just you know it’s got my name on it
what what do I want to say in that time
frame you know and and I kind of have an
old-school mentality when it comes to
albums and songs in general like I love
a full-length LP I love diving into a
world that an artist creates and sitting
in it for a while but I’m very conscious
of the fact that that is not how most
people anymore music in 2019 yeah so I I
definitely think your perspective is
definitely more kind of current in that
it’s like how do you grab people right
away and kind of hold them you know get
people’s attention that’s kind of the
premium today in terms of music
listeners I would say yes that’s kind of
a sad necessity
yeah yeah
I miss the days of the album that’s for
sure yeah and I mean the cool thing
about doing music for fun or not trying
to make a living off of it is I approach
it as I’m gonna do exactly what I want
all the time and if you know like it
that’s fine I’ll listen to it but it’s
like just for me I want my you know
statement or whatever to be exactly what
I want and kind of impartial to what’s
like popular at the time
yeah it’s kind of interesting and
talking about all this I’m kind of in
the back of my mind here at fret buzz
the podcast every month at the end of
the month where we hold a a challenge
it’s not a competition but it’s more of
a challenge for one’s self in terms of
going through the process of writing
something in one month start to finish
you actually don’t work with any old
ideas it’s all new ideas so on the first
of the month you just start from scratch
and start creating one song and by the
end of the month you share that that
song with the community and then you get
actual feedback in terms of what people
thought was good what maybe you should
work on so it’s a good because obviously
when we write songs and we share it with
our friends or family or fans even
they’re a little biased you know they’re
gonna learn no matter what you produce
they’re gonna love it so it’s kind of
interesting to hear an outsider’s
perspective especially if maybe you’re
writing in a genre that one of us or any
one of the members of the community that
are not exactly familiar with that genre
whether you know whether it’s EDM or
hip-hop or jazz or rock or whatever it
is even classical we’ve had people
submit like classical pieces and so
maybe you may not be that well-versed in
it but it’s always interesting to hear
ones feedback on something like that to
kind of get this outsider’s perspective
and to give you going into the next
month maybe a couple things to think
about and then hopefully by the end of
this journey if it ever ends that you
just become a better songwriter because
you’ve been pointed out some things that
you could or would want to work on yeah
I think that’s great I think it’s it’s
really special when you can have people
that will like give it to you straight
because I’ve definitely run into that
where it’s like friends and family will
listen to your stuff and you’ll be like
Oh what you think gonna be like it’s
great like Oh what parts all of it you
know but I definitely have a few
musician friends where we’ve kind of
established this like trust with each
other where we’re sort of brutally
honest with each other and it comes from
like a loving place because it’s like we
know you’re not gonna hear this from
anyone everyone’s gonna give you the
it’s all great speech or whatever yeah
so I really value those few people that
I do have that will tell me exactly what
they think and and I’d do that with them
you know I’ll think of like the worst
possible thing I can say it’s like okay
here’s like the most nitty-gritty thing
I feel it’s like I don’t
I love 90% of it this 10th a 10% thing
is like yeah I can do without it buts
like I’m gonna tell you about it cuz I
know no one else will right and you
don’t even have to take it it’s just
like I know that we have this
relationship where we can trust each
other and be brutally auswitch with each
other and it’s all good yeah yes yeah I
think having that that level of feedback
and positive criticism is is essential
yes it can be so hard for a new
songwriter who’s who’s not confident in
their songwriting to take that criticism
yeah but not personally yeah you’re like
just trying to write a song at all and
yeah yeah but it is very helpful yeah
especially if there’s something that
you’re insecure about and then you get
that feedback but and you’re just like
oh my god I knew it they just confirmed
it yeah you know I mean your
insecurities yep I know I know I go on
it I’m working on it yeah so when you
recorded your album are you doing
acoustically are you actually recording
real drums are you recording real
guitars real bass or are you doing it
anything in the box or how does that
process happen yeah I’m kind of old
school and I do everything real like I
remember when I was teenager I was super
hardcore about things being real like I
remember I wouldn’t even listen to music
like because I’m like a rock-and-roll
kid whatever yeah yeah and I remember
like even if a band had like since I was
like that’s not rock and roll you know
which is like stupid and I’ve really
come the other way around it but when I
first started recording by myself like I
mentioned a little bit earlier I got
that for track when I was you know like
18 19 and it was so hard because I try
to do the drums first like playing drums
to nothing and I wouldn’t have a click
track so I’m just kind of hoping it’s
you know semi static or whatever and
just in rhythm and then I try to overdub
the guitar and the guitar would be so
loud I could like barely hear the drums
so it’s like okay I can’t even like here
where I am and then I would try to just
I even went to the lengths of
manufacturing a click track by starting
with me clicking drumsticks together
first and then going back and like over
doing the guitar over that so like but
that was my like humble beginning of
recording so now everything feels like
super easy by comparison but I’m also
super glad I did that because that kind
of built me up but um most of the time
how it works is all right the the song
on the guitar like I’ll write the riffs
and kind of figure out the changes in
progressions on guitar and I’ll record
that first kind of going back to what I
was saying earlier about reflecting on
my previous work and kind of right in
response during those second and third
batches of songs I would sometimes start
with the bass just to kind of mix it up
but most of the time I would record the
guitar to the click track first then I
would do the bass and then I would
record real drums this is just the
demoing phase right I would record real
drums but just being able to like hear
everything so nice but uh and then I
would not do vocals until the very
so I would record all the music do the
demos then I would go into a proper
studio and then I would have to like do
the exact opposite process because the
engineer I was working with was very
firm about recording the drums first
like you have to have the foundation to
like build on it’s like oh can I please
just record the guitar to a quick track
formula we need to follow that formula
it’s tough when you don’t have any like
scratch tracks or whatever right right
exactly and it’s funny on the very first
batch of four I did I realized that I
wasn’t sticking to the clique perfectly
mmm so when I tried to play to my demos
it was it just added a little extra work
of kind of cleaning it up so I was like
okay I don’t want to do that I want to
play the drums too just a clip to make
sure I’m dialed in so that just involved
me really learning the song to where it
was like totally in my head and I could
play the drums too just a click track
and nothing else and I’m also kind of
hardcore about like I remember the
engineer would say like oh you know you
don’t have to actually like count all
the pauses you know we can like cut that
up you know and space it out later I was
like no I want to like have the space
for the guitar intro as I’m like doing
the drum so I’m just kind of sitting
there bobbing my head the clicks like
hearing the guitar in my head and then I
do all the drum parts and then I would
go back and do the bass parts and then
the guitar parts and then I would go
and that’s when I started figuring out
the melodies on the keyboard that I was
talking about earlier right and figuring
out the vocals that way and then writing
words to those vocal melodies then going
back and doing the vocals separately and
while that’s going on I’ve kind of
started on the next batch of songs but
that’s that’s kind of how it when I
always did the drums last in the demos
just because I don’t know I I’m a huge
Smashing Pumpkins guy because that was
the band that kind of broke me open as
teenager and I was always a huge jimmy
chamberlin fan I always loved how he
played drums I always felt like he his
plane added so much to the songwriting
and just kind of the drive and feel of
the song and I was thought that was
super important so when I write drums I
always try to think about ways to help
the song out as opposed to just kind of
like walking down a study B I try to
think in terms of song dynamics and how
the drums can help with that and I’ve
just found that doing the drums last
helps me with that ya know that makes
sense the same like you said in terms of
actually recording it in the studio you
know if you don’t have a scratch track
to kind of go off of and work those
little tiny details of you know dynamics
or making this part come alive a little
more and working around the guitar or
the vocals drum wise if you don’t kind
of go through that process then yeah you
do have a tendency to just kind of think
of drums as the foundation and just kind
of holding the beat type of thing rather
than a musical instrument yeah exactly
did you and and right now there’s a lot
of a lot of people kind of talking about
this buzzword the demo itis right now
I’ve heard it quite a bit as of lately
but this idea of creating the demo and
then going to record the actual CD or
the the final track and then actually
falling in love with the demo more than
the actual final track did you find any
of that happening at all no a lot of the
reason is I’m not that great of an
engineer or recorder I’m not a huge like
gear guy when it comes to recording yes
so the demo process actually I’m glad
you brought this up so the demo process
for me is really about learning what the
song is and being able to kind of hear
it without playing it and hearing all
the parts together not just in my head
but kind of physically right physically
here at all because I don’t know if you
guys have run into this but I’ve run
into this a lot where as I’m playing
something I think Oh
this is the perfect accompaniment for
the song this is exactly how it should
go and then stepping back and listening
to the recording of that so now my brain
is not thinking about playing and
listening it’s just listening mm-hmm and
for some reason I’ll when I’m just
listening it’s like oh that’s not the
perfect accompaniment like as I’m
playing it it felt right but as I’m
listening to it I’m like oh I need to
tweak it so that is a huge part of the
process for me and you know when you’re
writing like in a company like baseline
to a guitar riff a lot of times in my
head I think I know how it should go but
when I actually do it and listen back
and kind of hear how all the parts are
actually interacting with each other I
hear like oh that’s not quite right and
I tweak it but um in terms of demo I
just yeah all my demos are so crude to
relief that you know some people and it
doesn’t mean it doesn’t really matter if
it is crude or not it’s this idea of
I’ve listened to my demo so many times
to kind of get the idea of what’s going
on behind my song then it’s just kind of
stuck in your head that raw that rawness
of it and then once you take it to the
studio that rawness and that you know
cuz we as home studio musicians when we
hit the red light you know hit that
there’s not a whole lot of pressure and
therefore that creativity has a little
bit more leeway you can come out you
know you can you can capture a moment
pretty quickly if you’re feeling
inspiration versus going into the studio
you’re under the pressure and it’s just
a little bit more intimidating clock
ticking and you’re spending money
exactly right so to be able to capture
that same kind of excitement it’s a
little bit different and that’s where
this whole demo I just comes from is
this like yeah but I like that I like to
feel that I got from that demo it was
very raw was very real how do I get that
out of the studio I’m recording cuz it
just almost sounds a little too polished
so it’s kind of an interesting concept
that’s come up I’ve heard like I said
I’ve heard it for a couple of months now
being mentioned over and
over again and it’s very real I mean
I’ve gone through the same thing where
I’ll record something and I’m like
that’s that’s what’s what I’m looking
for but then you go to record it
professionally and it’s like ah this is
cool I really really really like this I
love the final product it sounds a nice
and everything like that boy there’s
lots of the demo that you know is
missing you know there’s there’s parts
of that demo I’m just really loving I
think the thing for me is I have a
really great relationship with the
engineer that I work with his name’s Don
Farwell he runs earwig studio in Seattle
and he’s become one of my best friends
over the years to be honest like I
started recording with him with my band
in 2012 and he just like got it and he
you know had been in bands and I had
heard his band’s music and I totally
loved his band’s music so I think part
of the thing for me is I have such a
trust in the person I’m working with and
he just makes it so comfortable for me
yeah in the studio but I don’t really
feel that that pressure of like oh no I
gotta like as fast as possible and yeah
and I can tell him if I think
something’s too polished or squeaky
clean he has no problem you know
dirtying things up or making it more raw
so yeah
I don’t know I think for me it’s just
having that that communication in that
relationship with the the engineer and
producer you’re working with to try to
get that send out I feel like the demos
it’s just kind of me learning what the
song is and I don’t spend too much time
listening to it to where I get locked in
like this is how the song goes this is
the only way I want to hear it and so
when I go in the studio I kind of have
the foundation in my head that I can
bring it out and Don the engineer just
really helps me kind of take it to a
next level and can help me kind of
realize my own vision I don’t feel like
you’re pushing his own yeah vision and
that’s a great that helps me a lot with
the with the kind of transition between
the demo to the the studio version of
having an engineer who’s partially
songwriter is incredibly helpful like
almost producing it yeah yeah kind of
get them both bustable best of both
worlds the engineer and the producer
kind of helps you along and kind of
realizes your vision and helps you along
with that coming making that come to
fruition yeah absolutely and I remember
he would have these super subtle
suggestions that felt like nothing at
the time to where I would do it just
kind of be like alright Don like
whatever I’ll try it and then and I’ll
be like oh my god that like made the
song whether it was just like in amp
choice or like a pedal choice like I
remember there was one song where I was
doing a lead and I was done and the
guitar was like feedbacking and I was
kind of looking at him through the glass
like okay stop right and he was doing
the like keep going thing I’m just like
letting it go and I was like okay
whatever someone’s like sitting there
cutting the guitar like what is this so
then I went back and he he had
incorporated it so it kind of bled back
into that last chorus that happens after
the solo so there’s this kind of like
feedback II kind of fade in/fade out
kind of flange thing going on and I was
like dude that is so cool yeah these
small things you know like he would have
these like amp choices like I was saying
I’m not a huge like gear guy so he would
just suggest these amps that just
totally like articulated the guitar tone
in a way I wasn’t thinking but was like
so much better than just that maybe the
more like generic tone I had originally
gone with yeah just small things like
that yeah yeah you’re you’re taking up
more of that sonic space and most
guitarists that when they come in to the
studio they do have this by instead of
all I’ve got my amp and I’ve got my
guitar and I’m gonna play on my amp and
I’m gonna play on my guitar but you do
have that whole studio full of you know
toys that you can play with and and this
Fender Strat and this you know Les Paul
or whatever it is Parker fly or doesn’t
matter what it is through a Marshall or
fender you know high watt or whatever it
is it doesn’t matter all of those are
going to give you a different tone and
if you have two different guitars or
multiple sources the more that you can
kind of play with that sound they’re
going to not trample on top of each
other and kind of fill that that sonic
space a little bit more full so you get
that when you listen back you’re like
ooh that that sounds nice and warm I
like that or they opposite it you might
want it to cut yeah right I’ve
definitely played my sound live is often
what I would describe is warmer but then
in studio stuff it’s like okay let’s try
a Telecaster on the yeah on the bridge
pickup I mean on the yeah on the bridge
pickup and like I need that to cut
because the it needs to have that treble
to be heard over the yeah piano and the
rhythm guitar or whatever it is studio
playing in the studios I think it’s just
incredibly it’s it’s fun because there’s
so much creativity just being able to
like try something here back
crystal-clear I’ve I’ve had a good time
trying different harmonies and that sort
of thing and things that I would have
never been able to try live yeah it’s
the studio if you haven’t been in the
studio’s you gotta get in there I highly
recommend it it’s actually my favorite
part of the process like I love playing
live it’s great having that kind of
energy going back and forth between the
audience the performers but I just love
the creativity in the studio I love that
like something doesn’t exist and then
you just like go in and something
happens and at the end of the day like
this thing is like existing in the real
world and I love when like ideas pop up
you know it’s like you just try
something or something happens and
you’re like oh what was that and it’s
like oh well that’s like perfect and
that’s how the song goes now and it’s
just like whoa you know just you can
capture that spontaneity or just capture
capture a moment that can last forever
yeah yeah there’s there’s such
excitement in the studio you know yeah
that’d be it the actual recording
process or you know the whole mix down
process and the bands all like on pins
and needles like oh man this is so good
you know that there’s that excitement
that happens where like you said you
know you’ve got nothing at the beginning
and all of a sudden at the very end of
it here you’re able to give the client
their that final piece and it’s just
like oh this is exactly what I’m looking
for it’s such a gratifying feeling and
there’s such a release to because I I’ve
felt in the past like before I’ve
recorded a song it’s like I carry the
weight of that song like in my mind but
then it’s like once it’s a record it’s
like okay I don’t have to like carry I
don’t have to like remember it or I
don’t have to hold on to it anymore now
it like exists and it has a life of its
own now yeah I could I could die and
that song would continue to exist yeah
exactly well after I’m gone you know you
you would uh you just mentioned the word
release that did you have a release
party for your album or did you go
through and promotional or anything like
that it’s kind of funny it really was a
passion project and I kind of did like
the opposite of what I normally do with
bands right
I’ve definitely how about a kaliesha’s
and stuff but for this like I just I was
honestly like more interested in what my
other musician friends thought so I
would like send stuff to them and get
their feedback and stuff and yeah it’s
kind of funny because I’ve been waiting
to perform live because I just actually
finished recording four new songs and I
think I might put out an EP just kind of
for fun and I was thinking like oh this
would be kind of the time to you know
get a band together it’s actually like
learning this stuff get some friends to
help me out and actually like bring it
to life ya know and actually do like a
proper because it felt kind of weird I
just kind of throw it up on the internet
you know because if you don’t have a
band it’s like okay I can’t actually
like manifest this live by myself
um but I wanted sort of a reason to do
it I wasn’t like quite ready I guess at
the time but now that I have these new
songs like oh I kind of want to put them
out and I kind of want to you know have
a band actually play and kind of slide
into like a proper release or maybe like
more of a like a bigger awareness yeah
that album you know just didn’t feel
right to so I just kind of do like I
don’t know like ass off or at least I
guess dqo right it’s yeah put it up and
was kind of a little it was a little
anti-climatic I’ll be honest but I think
but I think I’m ready now too and I have
the like support from other musicians
soon to help me out to like play the
parts so that’s a whole other tricky
thing trying to get other people to come
in and play what you wrote you know just
kind of do you a favor essentially yeah
yeah yeah but that whole process I
imagine once if indeed you actually go
through that process and actually have
the other instruments or other musicians
learned learn your parts and learn the
score and oh man the the feeling of
coming off of that first show or you
know you’ve just performed your album
the way that you know it was meant to be
in a live situation oh wow you know ARM
arm hairs like wow that’s amazing yeah
yeah totally I can’t wait I’m really
excited yeah own it I want to go back to
what you’re talking about with in the
width in your recording process mm-hm
and you were talking about recording
everything live at least in your demoing
yeah stages have you ever experimented
with like I use Ableton and like it’s
incredible to use the the MIDI
instruments on there and at least in the
writing phase I found like you know you
can loop a couple measures and if you
want to try to write a harmony or change
the bassline you just grab the little
note and move it over you know maybe not
in the end actually keep that as your
final recording maybe record it with lot
of instruments but have you ever
experimented with writing using me those
outlets I honestly haven’t yet but it’s
something I’m definitely interested in
going forward after going this album I I
felt like I had reached a point where I
had sort of taken my own style as far as
I could it’s like okay I’ve like made
this statement and I feel like if I had
continued to do this over and over again
I’d probably be treading water so I’ve
been looking for ways to kind of break
out of my comfort zone creativity was
one thing I’ve been trying to get into
is using since more and just kind of
breaking into that world and and like
saying earlier in my you know older like
punk-rock mentality I was very like anti
drum machine you know when you play
drums you want to hear that sound it
just drum machine sound crappy by
comparison it’s very like cold and I
don’t know robotic but you can tag me
here and play so acoustic drums that’s
for sure
actually I can a rock context but I’ve
been inspired by a lot of artists that
have used drum machines in really
creative ways so it’s something I’m
definitely interested in exploring now
just to kind of like I’m saying break
out of my comfort zone and try new
things yeah I think it’s incredible it’s
an incredible tool maybe like I said
maybe not as your final product but to
be able to like here’s the here’s the
song what would it sound like if I move
the crash you know to the upbeat you
know to change little things I’m able to
instantly hear the full picture yeah
it’s very useful and I don’t you said
you use logic yeah does it have can you
do MIDI drums on it oh yeah it’s got
everything like awesome mess around on
demos where it was like you know the S
button is the kick in the cave with
scenario just kind of doing like little
finger drums you know yeah yeah that’s
super fun just to kind of get something
going yeah you can do that and then you
can uh at least unable sand you can
quantize it so it kind of like lines it
up to a sixteenth note kind of moves
everything it kind of perfects it a
little bit if you want to just if you
want that to the grid yeah yeah moves it
to the grid that’s cool that like you’re
saying get that like instant response if
you have an idea you can hear how it
sounds instantly and then kind of
troubleshoot you know try different
experiments and kind of affect it in
like a super fast amount of time yeah
yeah yeah it’s
you know working with since and working
with Middies it definitely opens a lot
of avenues I know with me for pro tools
I’ll just sit with any one of the sins
or expand and I’ll just sit there and
kind of play around with things like you
said Joe it shift shift ideas around or
shift blocks around and just kind of see
what happens it’s it’s always
interesting something kind of shifting
things it’s always interesting like to
have a solo within a song you’re
creating a lead or something with that
in a guitar or even with MIDI and then
just just kind of take that block and
shift it so where where you would
intentionally put all your root notes
like you were talking about before Joe
you know landing on the root or landing
on the third intentionally within a solo
or within a when in a chord progression
it’s always interesting to be able to
lift that shift it over by two bars or
four bars or even an odd one like five
bars and just hear how that solo sits
over top of your chord progression is
always really interesting you’re like
wow that’s not what I expected it to
sound like that’s interesting I never
thought to do that that’s very cool yeah
it really is it’s it’s very interesting
to hear your guitar solo shifted and be
able to hear it hit different accents
that you normally didn’t think it would
hit and it’s like wow okay that’s that’s
cool it’s like what’s it called when you
play like fives over for like a Hema
Hema Hema Tolo hey Mottola yeah kind of
get a little bit of that effect yeah
that’s that’s very cool yeah recording
is so much fun I love it I love it it’s
there’s nothing like like coming up with
an idea it’s like Oh last night I was
sitting here and in this room till 3:30
in the morning and I had my daughter’s
little grand piano it’s one of those
really tiny really tiny ones right and
I’m sitting here I’ve got my condenser
microphone and my dynamics mic in this
tiny little grand piano and I’m coming
up with ideas and
all for the songwriting club and by the
end of the month it’ll be it’ll be
something I’m not sure exactly what it
will be but I’m gonna create something
out of nothing
for me personally each month I try to
kind of tag me on what you were talking
about Brent a little bit earlier I am
purposely every month trying to create
something different my first month was
like a jazz tune my second month
February was more like a
singer-songwriter a beat happy kind of
song this month I’m doing just unnatural
sounds so I’m doing like my kids grand
piano belong with like I had a dinner
bowl that I was eating out of and I hit
the side of the bowl it’s like Bing I’m
like that’s being recorded I’m going to
be using that so I’m just getting
different sounds later on and I’m gonna
try to do like an EDM song or a hip-hop
song or I’m just gonna try different
things that I’m not usually used to
doing just kind of expand my my walls a
little bit because I think we all as
musicians kind of need that at some
point we all definitely kind of find
ourselves in these ruts and trying to
kind of push ourselves in different
directions is is extremely important
yeah I found having things like
deadlines or just constraints really can
help your creativity yeah it just kind
of forces you to make something happen
you know it’s almost like you know a
nine-to-five job or something where you
have to like sit down and produce an E
and it’s sort of it’s so different from
like waiting for inspiration to strike
mm-hmm and sometimes you might think
like oh maybe it won’t be as good if I
try to force it but it always kind of at
least creates something interesting and
maybe if the result is not what you want
maybe it’ll lead you to the result it’ll
just bark something yes I absolutely
agree 100% you learn better if you
continually turn out material versus if
you just wait for inspiration because
you’re doing just that you are doing a
lot of waiting
Tonie skells who was on about I don’t
know 18 19 episodes of Fred buzz with us
he he was he really cared about
songwriting and he was saying like
you’ve got to practice songwriting just
like you would practice your pentatonic
scales on my guitar like he was a fan of
writing was a song a day or a song a
week yeah yeah just like you know
writing for the trash can like this
might not be anything doesn’t matter
it’s practice don’t get too attached to
each song yeah yeah the more you write
the better you will be that you will get
I tell these this to my students all the
time and especially you know private
students and bands you know you have to
write a eight terrible tunes to get your
first good one you have to go with that
process if you you can’t get caught up
on that first couple of songs and say uh
you know this this sucks I don’t want to
do this anymore because it doesn’t sound
good well yeah of course doesn’t sound
good nobody starts off doing anything
playing piano or the guitar riding a
bicycle or whatever like babies and
walking you know nobody ever starts off
perfect at it you have to fall a bunch
before you get really good at it and
songwriting is no different you have to
write for the trash can like you were
saying Joe you have to you have to write
a bunch of junk before you can kind of
go oh okay now I’m starting to get the
handle of this yeah it’s like even if
you have a ton of natural talent if you
don’t put the practice and work in
you’ll never get there you know it’s I
think a lot of people forget that and
they just see the end result they just
hear the song or see the performer on
stage and think like oh wow that person
so talented it’s like oh no you haven’t
seen like the hundreds of hours of me in
my room you haven’t heard all the demos
that led to this like you have no idea
like how many failures it took to even
get me to this point now you know yeah
yeah there’s if there’s a meme that
keeps on coming up on Instagram that I
see that’s got the one computer screen
where this guy’s like you know hunker
down over this computer screen and
editing and all this kind of stuff
it says how music is made and then
underneath that it says how people think
music is made and it’s just a button
looks like no but we’re only that easy
you get boring if it was that easy
yeah it would be formula that people
would figure out but that’s the cool
thing about music there is no guaranteed
formula it so is a matter of discovery
and experimentation you know that’s like
part of the the mystery and the fun of
it yeah yeah I would disagree in that
there is a formula but it’s way too
overused right we’ve talked about this
yeah we’ve talked about that what so
somebody was it’s called music memos and
it’s for iOS but it’s I haven’t used it
yet but he had suggested it to me but
apparently you can grab a guitar or
piano I don’t know I guess we just
talked about guitar but it will record
your guitar and then it processes it
like real time and then when you play it
back it’ll put a drum beat to it and
it’ll put a home it’ll put a chord
progression behind it as well
I’ve heard of that yeah I might be crazy
yeah yeah that’s that’s pretty crazy
it’s like it’s similar to my my trio
plus looping pedal that I use for my
performances i strum the chord
progression in and it spits out drum
beat and bass line which I can then
modify on the fly yeah it’s pretty
incredible yeah I mean it’s great but at
the same time it’s like no no where’s
the creativity in that you’ve gone too
yeah Watson’s gonna be putting all the
music out no no music is and we’ve
talked about this on past episodes you
know I I strongly feel as though that we
are in a you know music goes in hills
and valleys and I feel as though
and I could be wrong but I feel as
though we’re in a little bit of a valley
right now I think that music hopefully
can only go up from here I would like to
see the music scene be it rock be it
whatever it is come a little bit more
alive in the future I feel like right
now we’re just kind of regurgitating a
lot of the same things over and over
again the creativity is not as much as a
what it was once upon a time and I’m
just talking about a mainstream level I
would like to see the musicianship and
the depth of music be a little bit more
widespread I feel in my opinion there’s
a lot of one note rhythm type of thing
going on we hit like mostly on a guitar
where it’s day to do-do-do-do-do
do-do-do-do-do it’s like one note it’s
like okay that’s cool and I get it but
at the same time there’s so much more
available musically and dynamically that
I only see music hopefully getting a
little bit better from here there’s a
lot of discussion about how blues has
vanished from rock and roll I hope to
see that come back at some point there’s
guys out there like Gary Clark jr. is
headlining festivals and okay
but again that’s one person I’m talking
to Debbie trucks and I mean I’m Dean
yeah but no Tedeschi trucks that they’ve
been around for a while talk about new
people on the main scene it’s you take a
look at yesteryear and that was all over
the place it was all over the place
radio was filled with tons of people
tons of people who were musically
challenging the landscape and I don’t
see that happening as much right now do
you think that has to do with the lack
of music sales or people buying music
because I kind of associated it with yes
the fact that labels are
being such a hard time making money that
all they’re doing is investing in these
acts that will have mass appeal right
normally that comes down to more generic
bland music right right no III agree
with that Orly and it also comes down to
the labels not putting their trust in a
band like they used to you know used to
have a label right you exactly you would
have a label who would take a band well
actually it would take a handful of
bands they would take ten bands and
those ten bands they would develop them
and if their first album or two flopped
that’s okay we’re gonna stick with you
and develop you and we’re you know we
believe in you type of thing where now
it the current way of doing it is is it
yeah we’ll take on ten bands and if one
of them has a hit we’re dropping the
rest of them we’re gonna go with that
one band and they may about like what
can you do for me today kind of thing
like you gotta have that instant hit
instant result otherwise you know
there’s no time to waste
yes absolutely I agree so yes I think
that plays into a lot of it as well yes
you gotta go see your local bands yes
there are lots of people doing cool
stuff it’s just not on your FM radio
stations yeah yeah on the indie scene or
the underground scene or the local scene
short yeah absolutely there’s there’s
lots of stuff out there and even you
know even on Spotify playlists or
wherever you can find tons of stuff
that’s musically just really interesting
and it’s you know there’s a wide variety
out there but on the mainstream that’s
that’s where I’m finding the
disappointment is is it’s just not
pushed the way it used to be that for me
is disappointing because unfortunately
that’s where a lot of our youth is
getting there is getting their
information yes they do use Spotify and
what I like that but most
then not because you’re not allowed to
have a phone as a kid your internet you
should be a little bit restricted so
that just leaves you no radio and the
popular the popular things like that
it’s it’s just like ah I wish I could
see the I wish I could see the variety
that I used to you know when we were
growing up
I think another part of the problem is
that the delivery system of music is so
fractured like in the 90s you know
everyone in the country would be
listening to the same thing whereas now
there’s so many different platforms and
resources to get music and I fall into
this too you can fall into your own
little niche oh yeah music and only
listen to that and only get suggestions
for bands that sound like that and it
just kind of creates all these tiny
little subgenres as opposed to this big
kind of massive coalescing of everyone
listening to the same thing and that
becomes mainstream yeah and that kind of
goes back to what I was saying earlier
where it’s like the only thing that does
become mainstream is this very sort of
mass producer like kind of bland
non-offensive music that has a potential
for mass appeal that’s the only thing
that like breaks through yeah yeah I
mean it used to be things like MTV you
know I mean everybody would go to MTV or
vh1 and that’s where they would get
their music from that’s long gone now
and it’s just it’s it’s all over the
place and yeah I mean even terrestrial
radio I mean I don’t even remember the
last time I listened to the radio you
know I’m always listening to podcasts
alright you know Spotify or whatever so
I’m like curating my own music you know
and it’s really easy for me like I was
saying to get cut off from people that
are curating new music or kind of trying
to drive a a new genre or what have you
you know you know yeah it’s it’s tough
we don’t we don’t have those singular
voices or
curators like we used to yeah it’ll be
interesting to see in the future how the
arena rock or big bands or if that will
cease to exist I don’t know if you’ll
see the big pink floyd’s or Led Zeppelin
or Pearl Jam’s or I don’t know if you’ll
see that again
I maybe maybe not as often I don’t know
it depends on what happens in the future
with the whole landscape of music and
how because it’s a suffering industry
right now it really is they’ve got to do
that’s for sure and now one other
interesting kind of phenomenon that’s
come up in the last few years is it’s
the era of reunion bands yeah you know
all these people getting back together
and then tureen again in a way that I
don’t think has ever happened in
previous decades you know where it’s
just everyone’s doing it I don’t know if
that’s because people are going back and
listening to the old music because
suddenly it’s available everywhere again
but I’ve almost seen older bands
reuniting having more success than newer
bands starting out maybe that is has
something to do with I don’t know a need
for nostalgia or something like that but
yeah I’ve definitely seen this this
reunion culture kind of exploded in the
last decade yeah I think with in terms
of things that I’ve been witnessing and
hearing from especially the kids is that
the information musically that those
songs from yesteryear give is much more
engaging people want to hear those songs
because there’s a lot going on within
that that music versus now it’s very
stale in one tone so yeah I could see
that pooling back and getting that
appreciation for for those bands of
yesterday year and kind of going oh yeah
well those bands they’ve got a lot of
cool stuff going on versus the stuff
that’s going on now it’s kind of like
it’s not as nothing it’s not good I
can’t say that it’s just not as there’s
not as much going on within it there’s a
lot of like
like yes the power cord existed back
then in the in the 70s and the in the
80s but it wasn’t like the power cords
for like or punk you know like yeah the
Sex Pistols and and and the Ramones and
that was like that was the power cord
and like you had like Metallica and the
metal scene also doing power cords but
even then they didn’t there was a lot
going on within that music what it was
just straight up power cords sure Sex
Pistols Ramones they were just doing
straight up power cords and but they got
away with it because that was Punk that
was a movement that was a that was a
revolution that was happening around
that time now popular music just uses
power chords all the time and it’s not
used in a punk way it’s just because
it’s really easy to do and it’s musical
and I can throw for power chords
together and now I’ve got a song or
you’re lucky if you even hear a guitar
and songs days on the rewrite it’s like
okay I think some of it too is the
labels are thinking about the immediacy
of a new song like it’s all about making
money now getting good out and I don’t
think they’re thinking about longevity
like bands from previous decades worth
so maybe that’s why the songs are a
little denser or just a little bit more
complex even just in terms of what’s
going into them and and what they mean
to people and the longevity yeah yeah
and you know you you did have before a
band working on a tune for months months
at a time you know they’d sit down with
their producer who know what not like
that and they they work things out
versus now now you usually have a team
of people and you’re writing that song
within an eight-hour day mm-hmm you know
and the singer didn’t write the words or
you know there’s right yeah you know
learning someone else’s melody over like
a track that a producer wrote you know
yeah that’s like the imagine dragons or
chainsmokers it’s like
most of their stuff is they don’t write
it they have somebody else write it for
them and they buy it and then they put
it on the radio and sing it and label it
as the chainsmokers yeah it’s like oh my
goodness gracious okay that actually
kinda reminds me of how I’ve heard it
described in like the 50s you know that
kind of like factory mentality or you
had you know songwriters and producers
doing the track when you’d have singers
yeah you know that would just come in
and just do what the the producers did
you didn’t work it connected to it but
yeah definitely I don’t know I think it
goes back to the business in a lot of
ways it’s like what can make the most
money today and just kind of I don’t
know get yo get out not really think
about longevity that’s just my theory no
I I agree I I think it’s all about the
money it really is that there I think
there’s I think they’re struggling I
think that that it’s the money in music
is nowhere near what it used to be even
20 years ago and they’re scrambling
they’re scrambling for a buck and then
any way that they can get that buck they
will yeah and I really think it’s on us
as as local artists and you know
podcasters communicators to express to
people the importance of going to live
shows and some quirky and local music
you know I really held out for a long
time on getting Spotify just because I
knew it was screwing over musicians but
you know eventually I admit it I did
cave and I love it yeah yeah but I don’t
think most music fans are just regular
people understand the importance of
their attention when it comes to just
going to shows and you know paying for a
cover paying for an album even if it’s a
digital copy I mean it really is you
know the lifeblood of a local musician
and if people are upset that there
aren’t more independent artists you know
it really starts on that level you know
yeah it goes both ways and everyone’s
you know involved and has a role to play
but I think with us being you know kind
of local independent musicians we
really need to explain that to people
the importance of that to get that seem
thriving yeah no I agree thank you guys
so much for having me it was really cool
to meet you guys and talk to you guys
and I’m really stoked about this
workbook you’re you’re putting out I
really wanted to check it out
thank you I’ll send you an advance copy
just to get you coming back and what
might not be as clear as you’d think it
should and they’ll be very helpful for
me yeah I’d love to be involved that
sounds awesome and so you can find Brent
Brent’s podcast solving sounds check it
out he’s got some cool things to say
similar vibe as us in a lot of ways
different different people different
topics is there a is there a website or
what kind of social media should people
follow you on yeah so uh our Facebook
and Instagram is just solving town’s
podcast the website is well the podcast
is hosted through libsyn so it’s just
lips and dom / solvent down to podcast
but I’m sure wherever you’re listening
to fret buzz you can find us as well you
know we’re on iTunes Spotify stitcher
Google podcast all those try to make it
easy to find cool that’s where you can
find me ex with your album yeah that’s
on Spotify and iTunes it’s just under my
name rent liens and it’s called in flow
wonderful alright well thank you so much
Brent we really do appreciate it and
have had a wonderful time
oh it was my pleasure I think you guys
so much for having me okay excellent and
we’ll see everybody next week for
another episode of fret buzz the podcast
thank you for coming out guys

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