"The tracklist is very important to me. I love sequencing and will toil for weeks on that list" How we made... Country Things, Vol. 1. By Granger Smith
With Country Things, Vol.1 on in the wild and Vol. 2 just announced, we caught up with country guy Granger Smith to talk about volumes, writing with the guys, and the rollercoaster of hating/loving your own songs.
So hey Granger... first up, what started the process of making a new album?
I started the process because I was in a good creative space and it was time for a new album. This is typically what happens for each new album.
How do you approach the studio process?
I start with a good clean work tape. Guitar, vocal, making sure the click is the right tempo and the key is right for my voice. That lays the foundation to beginning building the arrangement.
Which was the first song you wrote for the album?
'Hate You Like I Love You'.
Do you have the songs written fully beforehand, or do you work on them in the studio?
The songwriting part of the process is never complete until my vocal goes to editing. I’ve changed lyrics, added verses or bridges continuously throughout the recording process, especially while I’m singing the lead vocals. I can discover then a new way to say something, new phrasing or new words that have a more singable pronunciation.
What’s your process for writing songs?
I keep notes on my phone with lyrics constantly. I also keep voice memos of melodies that I hum or sing throughout the year. My actually writing typically happens in the mornings with a cup of coffee. My process then is matching which melodies work with which lyrical notes.
You’ve written with some great co-writers like Hardy, Chris DeStefano and Corey Crowder (to name a few), how do you choose who to write with?
I need to really like them and their style. We need to get along in the room and need to be open to my process. That really narrows the scope of who I allow in the room with me.
And what was the biggest surprise through any of your writing sessions?
The biggest surprise is typically the songs that come from virtually no notes or pre-existing melody. Those are my favorite to write but there is never a particular reason why it happens that way.
You co-produced Country Things, Vol 1, how did you choose who to share production duties with?
They need to be close friends who allow me the ultimate creative direction for better or for worse.
Obviously the process was shaken by the passing of your son last year, what was the main impact on the final album of that terrible situation?
The main impact was it delayed my creative energy tremendously. The album would’ve come out in 2019.
You’ve carved Country Things into two volumes, what’s the thinking behind that?
I assumed that 16 songs was too many to consume at one time without losing the substance of some of the more deep thinking songs.
When will we see volume 2?
What was your process for choosing the final tracklist and order? And is the order important to you?
It’s very important to me. I love sequencing and will toil for weeks on that list. I like to print out cards with each title and arrange them on a table according to the best dynamic of what I like to call the “rollercoaster ride” of emotions.
What’s the best thing about the whole process?
Releasing creative energy and feel these songs come alive.
And the worst?
The painstaking process of producing usually leads me from loving the songs, and then to hating them and then slowly through tweaking and tweaking, I begin to love them again. That is frustrating.