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LP3 Update #3: Trimming the Fat, Increasing the Phat

  |   2011, Songwriting Notes

Originally Posted January 2011 on Tumblr

Well, it’s some random day of the month, so you know what that means: a Banner Pilot Album Three Songwriting Update!

Let’s recap. When I posted the last update we had 6 or 7 songs. We’ve scrapped a couple of those since then and added a few more. Most of these new ones have been in the last three weeks; in other words, you could say that we’re on fire. Well, maybe not “fire”. Maybe “a roll”. Or “a tentatively encouraging pace.” Yeah. Kick ass.

Granted, most of these new ones aren’t sure things, and in some cases we don’t even have vocal melodies sorted out yet. But they *feel* like they have a good chance of working out, unlike the vast majority of Rough Ideas we have, where the feeling is closer to, “Eh, well maybe this might be OK at some point, possibly.” You can just tell sometimes. The sketchy ones are similar to a Bad Job Interview…. halfway into it you have a bad feeling, and while there’s a tiny chance you could turn things around, it’s pretty clear you’re screwed. At a certain point, further investment of time is pointless and it’s better to stand up and say, “You and your battery charger factory can go shove it, mister.” And then you walk up the street and start fresh somewhere else. Like a Jamba Juice.

That’s what we did recently: abandoned song ideas that were, upon further inspection, probably futile. And there were a LOT of these. I mean, as recently as two weeks ago we had tons and tons of rough ideas and random riffs and stitched together chord progressions, most of which were sad and unfinished and directionless. Looking now in my iTunes folder, I count 203 demo files. Granted, there are duplicates, but still: it’s SEVEN POINT TWO HOURS of mostly crappy demos. Most of them are just rough ideas I came up with in Garage Band, some are recordings of the live band at the practice space, some have vocals, some don’t. Most of it is no good, and again: 203 files, SEVEN HOURS.

Having this crushing volume of ideas floating around turned out to be counterproductive. “What should I work on? Something in the “LP3 – September Best” folder, or maybe ‘LP3 – Older Crap Heap’? Didn’t ‘Spanish Reds – Alt Vocals Sept 2’ have a cool part? Wait, was ‘Wimpy Riff’ the track I wanted, or was it ‘Chorus Idea – Track 7 (2)”?”

Total confusion. So we went through basically every file we had a couple weeks ago and ruthlessly discarded 99% of them. Now it’s way easier to tell where we’re at, and to focus on the songs that actually have a chance of seeing the light of day. Before it was “7 pretty good songs and 40+ ideas that have cool parts here and there that maybe we can combine stuff from and blah blah”; now it’s “these 10 songs have the best chance of working out, and these other 4 have some cool parts. The end.” WAY easier. The end result will be an album that’s much better than if we were just like, “Screw it, the 12 songs that are closest to being done, boom, there’s our album.”

So there you go. There’s the update. Next time: a discussion on song tempos! Whoo hoo!

-Nate