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WAM SONG OF THE YEAR They Write The Songs

Tired Lion
Tired Lion

The WAM Song Of The Year celebrates its 25th anniversary with nominees in 16 genre categories and over $40,000 worth in prizes. BOB GORDON ponders the ins and outs of songwriting with some of the nominees in the lead up to the Awards Party this Saturday, March 21, at the B-Shed in Fremantle.

TIRED LION

Matt Tanner, lead guitar

 

How does it feel as songwriters to be nominated in the WAM Songwriting Contest?

It feels great, we’ve been making music together since we were fresh out of high school and always just played what we enjoy. It’s nice that other people enjoy what we’re making.

 

Describe the writing process for I Don’t Think You Like Me, the song for which you have been nominated?

The song organically came about during a jam one night. Everyone was on each other’s instruments mucking around. Eventually a little section of the riff came about and from there we jumped back on our own instruments and expanded upon it. Usually songs for us take a bit of tweaking to get them exactly how we like it. I think with this song it was like a week or something before we were happy to start playing it live.

 

As time goes on do you know more about songwriting or simply learn more about it? 

I don’t think we’ll ever know fully about songwriting but definitely learn more as we go. When a really good part comes out of us it will usually begin with someone saying, ‘Hey, let me try something that will probably be fucked’, then it turns out to be a pretty good part. As time goes on I guess we learn there’s so much inside people that is waiting for an event or inspiration to draw it out.

 

Do you have ways of awakening the muse, or do you await inspiration? 

Generally it’s life’s events that give us inspiration. As soon as something happens that makes us extremely happy, pissed off, sad or whatever you can guarantee we’ll be in our rooms demoing heaps of ideas on our iPhones. It’s very hard to write when we’re content so sometimes we’ll try to rock the boat in our personal lives to get some ideas out. Once we’ve got the basis down and it comes time to all sit down and work on the idea – it sounds lame but – it’s kinda just inspiring to be jamming with your mates and just enjoy what we’re doing.

 

How’s the rest of 2015 look from here? 

2015 is looking amazing, we’re over in Melbourne at the moment touring with Luca Brasi and Gnarwolves. Then we’ll be back again in a few months with British India and then our own shows. We’ve teamed up with some awesome people behind the scenes who’ve been hinting some big things for us too, so very, very excited to see what happens/let people know what we’ve got up our sleeves.

FELICITY GROOM

How does it feel as songwriters to be nominated in the WAM Songwriting Contest?

This town has some incredible songs in it. I am a massive fan of Kučka and Methyl Ethel to name a couple of musical guns writing said songs. To be nominated is a winning feeling. A nod of recognition for your work, though the work keeps going and the songwriters keep creating and, as WAM would agree, there’s hundreds more songs out there today in this state alone that could have made it into the competition too.

 

Describe the writing process for Better Days, the song for which you have been nominated?

Better Days began with a tinkle on a pianola. The pianola part of the instrument doesn’t work anymore… but they keys have a special bell-type tone to them. I wrote the lyrics later. The lyrics are an unabashed… no holds barred, love celebration. I don’t write these kinds of songs often, but you know, you may as well celebrate the good things in life if they’re happening. There’s so much other stuff that celebrates the wrong things.

 

As time goes on do you know more about songwriting or simply learn more about it? 

I am constantly learning… all the time. Every song. At the moment I am doing a Noisemaker Academy class, learning how to use a device called ‘push’ which is enabling new approaches to structure and sounds in songwriting. Every song is its own little planet in a universe and considering there’s multiple universes there’s a lot to learn about.

 

Do you have ways of awakening the muse, or do you await inspiration? 

Writing on different instruments often helps. The different sounds of things gives way to new ideas. I used to wait for the muse a bit more than I do now. When you have a child you have less time to while away the day waiting for the muse to come have a drink with you. It’s better to just start the brewing process on your own… and if you make a good drink then the muse will have a cup for sure.

 

How’s the rest of 2015 look from here? 

I’m off on tour in April. April  11 at Mojos, April 15 in Sydney, April 16 in Melbourne, April 17 in Brisbane. That’s the near future. Then there’s the rest of the year… which will be writing album number three.

THE DECLINE

Pat Decline (guitar/vocals)

 

How does it feel as songwriters to be nominated in the WAM Songwriting Contest

I have to say I am pretty stoked. It’s a very cool feeling that a song I wrote could be up for any kind of award.

 

Describe the writing process for Cool Kids Can’t Die, the song for which you have been nominated? 

With this one, like a lot of our songs, I already had everything pieced together before I took it to the band. I write songs as a whole piece; the music, the melody and the words, and then the band help me build on it, add new parts, rearrange things a little. That’s how we usually make a song.

 

As time goes on do you know more about songwriting or simply learn more about it? 

I think you learn what works for you, you find your sound and the way you structure things and you kind of work your new songs around that framework, and it gets easier. That being said, I think songs always need to retain that sense of mystery. I don’t like the idea of finding a formula and sticking to it too much – I like to challenge my songs. When I write something new, I want it to be in the same vein as the old stuff, but I want to show that growth. It should be better, and if it can’t be better, it should at least be different. My friend Noah Skape from Total Waste and formerly Faim once said to me, ‘There’s no rules, just do what sounds right’.

 

Do you have ways of awakening the muse, or do you await inspiration? 

A bit of both, I never sit with a guitar in my hand and try to write a song, but I don’t really await inspiration either. I say that because I never stop thinking about songs and where to go next – I’m always churning ideas in my head. Songs usually focus on a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot, and they usually come out when I’m doing something like driving. I get a line of lyrics and a melody, and I slowly build it from that in my head. By the time I get a guitar in my hands I usually already know how it goes.

 

How’s the rest of 2015 look from here?

It’s looking pretty exciting. We’ve already announced that we are heading to Europe to play some festivals mid-year and that we have a new album coming in the next few months. We’ll be doing a bunch of Australian tours like usual, and going to some new places as well. All will be revealed soon!

MISTER AND SUNBIRD

How does it feels as a songwriter to be nominated in the WAM Songwriting Contest?

I’m proud to be nominated and especially proud to have two nominations. I also play drums on three other nominations, so very excited indeed. It’s stiff competition this year as well.

 

Describe the writing process for the songs for which you have been nominated, 7 Years Bad Luck and My Baby Must Be Blind?

I usually start with the guitar line or a hook that’s been in my head then I come up with a melody. Then come the lyrics. The subject of a song is something I’m always thinking about. I like to write about my life experiences that are relatable to other people. I think a great song is one that has meaning to more people than just me. A hit song hits a chord with most people.

 

As time goes on do you know more about songwriting or simply learn more about it? 

You can have a collection of amazing parts that make up a song but unless they are arranged well together it fails. I’m learning more about this every time I write a song. Sometimes it’s adding parts but usually it means removing unnecessary elements and keeping it simple. I find that if a song falls out of you instantly it’s often a winner. Once you start to labour over a song it can get over complicated. Music is always mysterious.

 

Do you have ways of awakening the muse, or do you await inspiration?

Heartache is always a good muse. And travel. Anything that removes you from routine and opens your eyes.

 

With the album out how’s the rest of 2015 look from here?

2015 is looking positive. We have a new album entitled The Anatomy Of Mister And Sunbird in which contains the two nominated songs and comes in a hardcover book with 15 of my own illustrations. It’s a project that took three years to complete and were very excited to get it out there and heard. It easily the best album we’ve made. This year we hope to get to Japan after some East Coast shows.

CHAOS DIVINE

Ryan Felton (guitar)​

 

How does it feels as songwriters to be nominated in the WAM Songwriting Contest?

It’s great recognition of the work we have put in, and a privilege to be considered among some of WA’s biggest names in music.

Describe the writing process for Soldiers, the song for which you have been nominated?

We work hard on our songwriting and we spend a lot of time getting it to level we are happy with. Like the rest of our new album material, Soldiers was no different. It typically involves myself and Simon (Mitchell,  guitar) sitting around with a few beers just coming up with riffs and parts and getting them recorded as demos, and then we all come together as a band and turn those ideas into songs.

For Soldiers, we wanted to write a song that was aggressive, big and heavy without being obvious about it, and to keep up the energy level throughout the whole song. The theme of the lyrics are confronting in nature, as is the video clip, so we wanted that reflected in the songwriting from the get-go.
As time goes on do you know more about songwriting or simply learn more about it? 

I think over time we have all learn what works and what doesn’t. We will always strive to write something a little different each time and we are never quite sure what the result will be when we set out to write a song, but that’s part of the fun!

Do you have ways of awakening the muse, or do you await inspiration?

Writing music is like anything else – if you don’t put in the effort it will show. Sometime it comes really easy – you have a flash of inspiration and a song more or less writes itself, while others really need a lot more work and effort to get going. I find that listening to as many different types of music as possible helps with getting inspiration. You might just hear a little line or riff that gives you an idea that you wouldn’t have otherwise thought of, often in genres of music you would least expect.

What did you want to convey on your new album, Colliding Skies?

Lyrically there are a few different themes on the album around political activism, environmental degradation and personal struggle all linked by the common theme of internal and external conflict. Musically we wanted to push ourselves into new territories with Colliding Skies, with more melody but equally more power and energy than anything we have done before.

 

With the album out how’s the rest of 2015 look from here?

We have some really exciting things in the works both in Australia and overseas so from here it’s all about playing more shows and getting our name out there!

 

Chaos Divine launch Colliding Skies this Friday, March 20,  at Amplifier with Förstöra, OPIA & Carthasy.

RUBY BOOTS

Bex Chilcott

 

How does it feel as a songwriter to be nominated in the WAM Songwriting Contest

It feels phenomenal! It’s songwriting that I spend most of my time crafting as far as creative outlets go so it’s really exciting when the songs make an impact and get a good response. That’s the golden ticket to feeling great about it right there!

Describe the writing process for the songs for which you have been nominated, Wrap Me In A Fever and Ruby Blue?

To be honest Wrap Me In A Fever was written a couple of years ago so it’s hard to revisit that place of which it was birthed again, but I do remember it was in my favourite cheap hotel room in Newtown, Sydney whilst on the road that it was written. I was pretty miserable and broken hearted that day and was really happy to have had the day off to go off and write it, it was one of those ‘release/therapy’ songs, the kind that help you resolve something in order to move on.

Ruby Blue was a chorus that had been kicking around for about a year before I re-visited it when I was staying in Utah with Vikki Thorn (The Waifs) writing songs, it was such a great process because I’d never been able to place what it was about, we used it as a metaphor for what creativity and the love of music can be, that unrequited love that you can’t turn your back on, what it gives to you and how it nourishes your soul.
As time goes on do you know more about songwriting or simply learn more about it?

The best bit about songwriting is the mystery, it’s the endless well of possibilities, of course the more you fine tune it the more you learn, but it’s the combination of the emotion and the craft that can go any which way. It’s not like riding a bike, once you know how to ride you’re all set. Songwriting keeps on giving, listening to Dylan records or Jackson Browne makes that point pretty well.


Do you have ways of awakening the muse, or do you await inspiration? 

You mean like royally screwing things up in your life and making huge mistakes, sabotaging close relationships to reach heights of emotion to write from? (laughs) I think there is a point where some songwriters become self-destructive to write, I have definitely been through it, and sometimes unfortunately still do, though it’s not my go to place anymore. Now I try to let other people’s lives, views and approaches be the muse.

How’s the rest of 2015 look from here?

Pretty busy… I’ve just been around the country with Shovels And Rope and Shakey Graves and head back out next week with Tony Joe White. My debut album comes out in April so I’ve been busy rolling all that out, I’ll be touring the full band nationally in May to support the release, it’s really exciting! The Americana Festival in September is something I am looking forward to playing again this year also!