The 5 Pillars of the DIY Band, Part 1: Writing

Greetings Guitar World readers! Before I get started, I'd like to introduce my band as many of you probably have never heard of us. We are Stealing Axion, a progressive groove metal band from Tacoma, Washington. Take a moment to check out our recently released single, “Mirage of Hope” (stream via the YouTube clip below).

Over the next five weeks leading up to the release of our debut album Moments (available in stores/digitally August 27th in Europe and August 28th in the US) we are going to discuss five key points (or pillars) that have helped get us to where we are. To kick it off, I'll go over what probably is the starting point of any band: writing the music. Undoubtedly, everyone who writes music or lyrics has their own way of going about it, but I'd like to walk you through our process.

For me, about 99% of the time a song is born from one simple musical idea. For every idea that actually makes it into a song, it would be safe to say at least a dozen are either thrown away or sent to the huge folder of recordings/scores filled with files like "idea1," "riff5," "song99," "poop". It's normally easy to tell when a riff is a keeper because more ideas will come pretty easily once it's recorded or down on paper.

I have this odd tendency to write the middle of my songs first and build a beginning and an end around it, and sometimes this can be pretty tricky. Once I get a complete song structure, what I call a skeleton, I move on to the demoing stage.

We do all of our demoing on our recording computer at home. Being able to do this is very beneficial to the writing process for me. Sometimes a riff that I think doesn't sound good ends up sounding badass once we add more things to it, and in the past before I could demo so easily I probably would have just shelved the riff. This is the most fun stage for me, as this is where we all get together as a band and mess with adding layers like leads/cleans/synths.

I feel like a song can greatly evolve here and almost become something entirely different, and that's why I enjoy it so much. Oh, and there are never too many layers. Never. With Phil, Josh and I doing this together and separately, material starts to build very quickly. Once we feel we have enough material to work with, we move on to the lyric stage.

For the lyrics of this album Josh brought a technique to the table that really helped bring it all together. He and our good friend Ben came up with a story for the album, and from that parts of this story were assigned to songs based heavily on the mood and tone of the music. Then it was a matter of organizing the order of the songs to match how the story was told. This was the most conducive form of lyric writing that I've ever been involved in and I'd highly recommend it to anyone having troubles with writers block.

Check back next week for the second pillar of the DIY band!

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