It's been all go for Sonic Boom Six last month, Barney talks to us about the writing process and how it differs from what they have done before...
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Now That's What I Call January....SB6
This January has been a really busy time of year for Sonic Boom Six
Normally January is quite a restful period for us but it’s been all go in 2014 because we’re well into the process of writing our new album. We also have a forthcoming tour where we’ll be unveiling some of the new material.
Normally, when writing an album we will tend to write 12 to 15 full songs and completely arrange, structure and finish all the details of the songs before entering the studio. That means a lot of pre-production, all done by the band. We will then demo them up and take the computer recording software files of the demos into the studio, often recording straight over them on the Digital Audio Workstation. It’s an approach that’s very efficient time and resource-wise, but doesn’t allow for much scope for the songs to develop in the studio or the ability to shift gears in the writing of a song and pursue different angles with the producer. This time, we’ve decided to really make a change in the way we write.
We set ourselves the challenge of writing 30 song ideas with the plan of cherry picking the best 12 to 15 from those ideas as the songs to finish for the album. The song ideas are generally just verses and choruses; enough to get the idea of the song but with no real time spent on thinking about the final arrangements. We did this because we feel the structuring and arrangements of the songs are always something that can be finished later on, even in the studio. Sometimes you spend weeks and weeks agonising over a song that just isn’t that good, adding this and chopping that and because you’ve put so much work into it, you’re loathe to throw it away. Conversely, if the song’s good to begin with its generally easier to write and everything falls into place much more naturally. Whether a song sinks or swims can generally be garnered just by hearing a verse and a chorus. So, in theory, this process has allowed us to write double the songs, and have double the chance of the songs being great. In theory!
Another great advantage is that if the final details of the songs are still a little more up in the air, it means that the producer we use to record the album can get much more stuck into the creative process of finishing the songs and arranging the material. Those extra set of ears can be very useful, and it’s more difficult for a producer to be involved to a great extent if the songs are already totally finished. Another advantage at this point is that by recording 30 demos and having our record label, A&R, producers and friends hear the demos and give us reactions, we’re still at a point where we can act on that advice and are not too tied down to the songs as they are.
As we’ve been doing the writing, we’ve also got a forthcoming tour where we’re going to play some of the songs, so it’s been inevitable that we’ve had to finish a few of them to the extent that they will be possible to play live. I’ve spent the last week writing lyrics. The new material is much more ska, reggae and hip-hop than the last album so we’ve been playing around with keeping our live set balanced between this material and the last album’s more dance-rock material, as well as the older stuff too. That part of it is actually really fun and we can’t wait for everyone to hear the new material. It feels like the most natural sound for us that we’ve ever created. We hope some of you guys can join us and, as always, I’m sure you’ll tell us what you think!