Bassist JOEY VERA Explains Songwriting Process For New Solo Album

Bassist Joey Vera (ARMORED SAINT, FATES WARNING, ANTHRAX) has posted the following message on his MySpace page:

"I get asked sometimes how I get ideas for songs. Where does it come from? For the inspiration part, who knows? Could be lots of places. Could be remembering a time in your youth when you heard a particular song and it made your gut feel a certain way, could be something you're going through in life or could be a certain groove you heard while zoning out while watching a commercial on TV. I've certainly been guilty of all of these. Burger King included.

"For me, music comes from a place of unconsciousness. For the most part, that is. I won't deny that I get inspired by other things I've heard in the past, how could I not? You can't erase everything you've ever heard. What's the point of that? Art is a vehicle towards communicating stories, ideas or attitudes for everyone regardless of cultural differences. Without getting too 'Buddha–esque,' it's intended to be a universal language. So, I take what I've 'learned' and interpret it in my own way.

"This Blog series, although intended to answer questions I've gotten over the years and most recently about recording and writing music, will attempt to be informational without being overly 'text book.' So, forgive me if I write with a crooked sense rather than a linear one. This ol mind runs in several directions at once, always has. Besides, I really hate text books. Always have.

"I'm going to try to keep most of the points within the confines of the making of my new CD, A CHINESE FIREDRILL 'Circles'.

"Except for the song 'Rock, Paper, Scissors', the rest of the material was written between 2003 and 2005. The riffs for 'Circles', 'Never Say Never' and 'Grass and Stone' were written during that time. But the whole mess really went under the microscope so to speak, totally re-arranged, and basically re-written during 2005.

"I began this deconstruction with the idea in mind that I wanted to make something that was lush and somewhat meandering. And I wanted to challenge myself to stray away from the habits I have with song arrangements and instrumentation. So, I purposely stayed away from the 'A-B-C' way of writing and let the music dictate what it wanted rather than being overly concerned with song length for instance. I am especially bored with much of popular music these days, so I want to hear things that are interesting even if it's not something I'll ever remember. I made this record as a sort of exercise in reworking the way I work, and an attempt to make something I'd actually listen to.

"In order to do this I had to go to a place in my head where I could feel uninhibited which is not so easy for me. Especially when it came time to write lyrics and sing with my croaked voice. So, for just about 12 months I had my head in the clouds. My wife hated it, I was never home. I was sitting right there next to her, but I was miles away. It's the only way I can really figure out what it is I'm doing. Thankfully I have thee most understanding wife. Another benefit of sharing your life with another artist. She's a great painter and we compare digital 'one's and O's' with canvas and oil all of the time. I'm a lucky man.

"I am an obsessive writer in that once I start a song, I MUST FINISH IT before I can get any real sleep. It may take a few days, a week, whatever. But I hate leaving things unfinished for too long. I very rarely leave a song unfinished before tackling another. For the most part, I like to write songs pretty quickly and sometimes the skeleton is written in an hour. But because I really tried to challenge my writing techniques, I made myself go back with an editing mind and throw monkey wrenches into to the arrangements just to see what would happen. Sometimes, it sucked but sometimes it was really cool. And this time I'd also leave the song alone and work on something else, just to give it a chance. I realized that I become very selfish about giving in to the creative process. Sometimes you just can't control it. But mostly, when I get the ball rolling, the song just writes itself. It really does, and I love that. But at times it would be a struggle.

"During the struggles, I often will reference other things. Sometimes, it's other works of art such as paintings or installations with multi media. I'll go out to a museum, or go see a band in a club, watch a movie. Anything. I have to admit that when I was in the writing chair in my studio, staring at my guitar as it glows from the computer screen, I'll whip out a record and analyze a songs arrangement, chord progression etc. For this recording I went to PINK FLOYD's 'The Wall' a lot. Also 'Animals' and 'Wish You Were Here'. But also I went to records you might not expect such as COWBOY JUNKIES, PETER GABRIEL, SUZANNE VEGA, U2. I like to analyze chord progressions, song arrangements and production tricks and you can get great ideas from just about everything.

"I write just about everything on guitar. Both acoustic and electric. Some of the stuff was written on keyboards such as Insane. But I never write on bass. Once in a while I'll come up with a groove on bass but that's mostly for my 'funk' project. But that's another blog and myspace altogether.

"From here we get into how I put these ideas onto 'tape' and that's what I'll save for next time. It'll get more into details of how I recorded things on the next one. Thanks for reading and see you on the next blog."


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