It’s eleven months until the release of Selling the Ashes’ third album, and today marks a major milestone in the project. I now have all twenty songs started. I’ve decided to release a preview that compresses what will be a ninety-minute feature, down into the length of a single song. This trailer has all twenty clips in the expected order of the final release:
To be clear, I have twenty “seeds” created. These aren’t full-length demo versions of the tracks. Rather they are the first creative sparks that get the songs moving. Most songs are currently only thirty seconds or so. The term seed, is how I describe the initial riffs or notes that the rest of the song will be built around. It defines the tempo, time signature and key for the track. What starts out as a seed may end up in the final song as the melody, verse, chorus, solo, or something else entirely. It’s what gets the ball rolling, and it’s the most difficult part of the creative process for me. Once I’ve got the seeds, there’s no more battles with writer’s block. It’s just a matter of spending enough time in the studio to flesh them out into full songs.
This isn’t always how I’ve approached song-writing, and I imagine it’s not how most bands do it. On this album, everything is non-linear. I don’t just complete one song every few weeks and move on to the next. Instead, I spend a day or two writing the core of each song, and then I abandon it. I guess you could say it’s analogous in many ways to shooting a film. A director wouldn’t shoot every scene in order, add effects, and fully edit before moving on to the next shot, so why should it be any different when writing music? In a way, you could say I’ve completed pre-production. All scenes have been storyboarded, all the pieces are in place, and it’s time to start shooting.
I keep using comparisons to film making, because in the creation of Selling the Ashes’ third album, I wrote a movie script of sorts to guide the process. The script detailed twenty or so major scenes that would be in the film, and my first step was to compose seeds for all scenes. When the album is finished, these twenty songs will be about the length of a feature film; approximately ninety minutes. And as such, this will end up being a double album (although, with nobody buying physical albums anymore, does the term double album hold any significance?).
I’m excited to move on to the next phase of the project. I will flesh out each seed into a full song, with accompanying lyrics, for the scene in the script. This phase will be the longest, and I have an ambitious goal of about two songs for each week that I have in the studio. It should take about five months at that rate. Sometime around Spring, I’ll be able to move on to the final recording phase, where I track the last takes of vocals, guitar, and drums. Then comes the post-production work, followed by the release in September.
It’s a tight schedule, but so far I’m on track…