J Roddy Walston: Songwriting Survey
J Roddy Walston and the Business is currently out with their fourth studio album, Destroyers of the Soft Life. In the midst of touring, the lead singer of the titular Virginia rock band dropped by TIDAL to take our brand-new TIDAL Songwriting Survey, which includes questions about preferred songwriting mediums, cliched words and making music after kids.
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On songwriting after kids… Well the process changed, for sure. [Now I] approach songwriting in a more methodical way. Clock in and start working on stuff, you know. I guess the whole thing kind of pumped the brakes, as far as how hard we were touring, too. We took a lot of time to write this last record. Maybe we would have done it without having had a kid, but it definitely [came] out of more focus on trying to stay home and write.
The way I approach songwriting music is constantly evolving. Like, it sounds ridiculous, but I’m like, actually trying to learn … about music. Everything I’ve made has just been by this dumb luck or muscle memory. On this tour I’m going back to basics and learning fundamentals of music theory and stuff like that.
On songwriting mediums… I’m a mixed bag. I definitely walk around with an iPhone at ready, you know? I think that’s probably changed songwriting for most people, having a little voice memo recorder at any given time.
I dig in quite a bit on demoing. Wait for something to grab me and then I kind of follow the path of least resistance. There are easily five versions of every song on the record. I think it’s one thing to write and recognize that you’ve written a good, basic song structured song. Being able to kind of break it out of the box that it seems to like [is another] — taking that thing that feels like it’s just heartbreaking ballad and turning up the volume, shedding the light on it.
On song titles that do not yet have songs… I have a long laundry list. I have an idea for some sort of funkier kind of band and everybody in the band kind of hates it, but I wanted a song that would be called ‘Peach Impediment.’
On ideal co-writers… I feel like I’d be the person that didn’t want to pick up an instrument and kind of be like, ‘Play this, do that,’ you know? I’d be standing there not wanting to pick anything up because I’d feel like I’d slow it down, you know?
On the process of songwriting, using only gardening terms… Tilling… I’d say, having to dig up the ground a little bit. Some sort of way of disrupting your process, I think, is pretty clutch to getting you over the hump and getting you somewhere new, musically. And, I guess that requires some sort of shovel or ho or motorized tiller, depending on how upset you are … and then there’s just a bunch of manure.
On words to avoid… I don’t really need to hear another band say the word ‘whiskey.’
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