The roots of inspiration manifest themselves in so many different ways. And when it comes to songwriting that spark can ignite at just about anytime.
In order to better understand the mindset and background of a band, what better way to gain insight into that process then to ask those band members about what they find influential? I asked several members of bands with ties to Arizona about what inspires them to write music, and to share some insight into their creative process.
Over the next few weeks we will post a different interview featuring some of Arizona’s most outstanding musicians.
The first posting in this segment will be from Jeremy Tally. Jeremy has been in several amazing bands with ties to Tucson. Over the years he has been the driving force behind several amazing bands, including Scathe and Bury Me Standing. Most notably he has been the guitarist for The Bled. Over the course of a decade, they released four full-length albums, two split releases, and two EP's, and changed the face of hardcore.
Sadly, The Bled have all but wrapped up their tenure as a band. They are set to do one last run of shows in the UK in February 2012. If you missed ever seeing them live, you missed out. They were, by far, one of the most dynamic and talented bands, of any genre, to come out of Arizona.
Thanks for agreeing to participate in this interview, Jeremy! What would you say gives you inspiration when you are writing music?
Jeremy- There's nothing really poetic about the way I write music. It usually comes from just sitting in my bedroom with my guitar trying to emulate a guitar riff that I have in my head. Inspiration can come from anywhere at anytime. One thing that is constant is that I'm usually alone (on the toilet, in the shower, walking around the grocery store, etc.) when a guitar riff will pop in my head.
Are there any films, or books that have proved to be a recurring influence the way that you look at your art?
Film has played it's role in my inspiration a few times before. We have a song on our last record called When Exiting Your Vehicle that is based entirely on the film Beetlejuice. Although the title to that song was taken from a concept that the Heavens Gate suicide cult kept referring to in the videos they filmed before taking their own lives. Exiting their vehicles was a metaphor the used for when their souls would leave their bodies. A lot of our song titles are taken from film quotes or media quips. Usually for lack of an original idea that would compliment the music or lyrics better.
Are there any habits/rituals that you and/or your band mates have when writing music?
Usually the one habit or preference I suppose would be that I like to be alone when I write because I like to hum the guitar riffs out-loud when I'm putting them to guitar. It takes away the self conscious factor. It's also how we communicate ideas at practice when we are putting the songs together. Lots of mouth noises.
Have you ever written while on tour? If so, how did you arrange songs while being away from you studio and in a different environment?
Sometimes I would escape to the van by myself with my guitar and try to write but usually the chaos of being on tour and the scarcity of privacy intervenes with the process. Being comfortable and not distracted is a tremendous factor in the song writing process.
What sort of influence does the music and writings of your peers influence what you create?
I think all songwriters are a product of their influences to some degree. I always try to reach a little further back to the bands that left me in awe when I first got into the genre of music. I try my best not to become influenced by bands that are actively touring. One consistence tool that has helped me I get into a writers block is asking myself what would Refused, or Deadguy do with thus guitar riff. Usually it reinvigorates me or gives me some sort of foundation to build from.
How long have you been into music? What are your earliest memories of hearing something that really moved you? Were your parents musicians? What albums changed your outlook about what music is or could be?
My earliest memories of music were of classic rock that my mom would listen to as well as random 80's music and Glam Rock. I was enamored my hair metal when I was kid. Bands like Poison and Motley Crüe were like my version of Saturday morning cartoons. But I really have to credit Metallica's "...and Justice For All" and the explosion of Nirvana's "Nevermind" as something that really made me look at music differently. They were the first bands that made me want to create. The textures and almost symphonic guitar playing on Justice was the first thing that really made me want to play a guitar. It was the equivalent to a lot of kids seeing a homerun being hit and wanting to be a major league baseball player. Nirvana's "Nevermind" really managed to balance our Metallica's meticulous detail with Kurt Cobain's stripped down approach of letting his music be almost animalistic. I was in awe of the way he almost had a disdain for his instrument. He turned guitar chords into a frenetic pawing at his fretboard. It was abusive and utterly exciting that someone could channel so much energy and passion and chaos and somehow make it all make sense. I would say blending those to influences shaped my songwriting more than any other bands.
The Bled inspired countless bands across the globe to give it their all. Do your self a favor and pick up an album from The Bled. You will not be disappointed!
Pass The Flask (2003)
Found In the Flood (2005)
Silent Treatment (2007)
Heat Fetish (2010)