An early member of Iron Maiden, keyboard player in Cutting Crew, founder of The Kashmir Club, the man behind The Bedford, radio presenter, television presenter, Tony Moore has an impressive and diverse CV covering almost every aspect of the music industry. Somehow he has also found the time to play countless shows performing his own material, including appearances at The Royal Albert Hall and a support slot with Duran Duran. Tony also writes and produces for other artists, has written 'The History of Songwriting' and been awarded a 'Gold Badge' by The British Academy of Songwriters Composers and Authors for his services to songwriters and his major contribution to the creative industry. Here he discusses his songwriting tips.
- Do you have a daily songwriting routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike? I am (generally) an inspirational kind of songwriter, although I like to try and write 2 or 3 songs (or fairly complete sections) each week. However I do enjoy the discipline of co-writing and knowing that we will need to deliver something and I also enjoy the challenges of working to pitch.
- Do you have any tricks to get the creative juices flowing? Working at about 2am is often the most inspirational time for me- but I also keep copious voice messages and notes with lyric ideas, melodies, riffs and chord sequences that I will revisit , if I am feeling dry.
- Do you find you normally start with a melody or lyrics? Usually the melody and a scratch lyric (that usual forms the basis of the main lyric or title) I let stream of consciousness deliver what I need (mainly). However, I often see or hear things that I know will be a good song idea and try and keep them simmering till I can get behind a guitar or piano.
- Do you think that melody is the most important aspect of a song? Actually yes, I always say that melody trumps lyric - there are some amazingly successful songs with fairly average lyrics where the top line is so infectious that it functions as an "ear worm"- but when you get lyric and melody equally balanced (Paul Simon, Billy Joel etc) then I think you end up with something very powerful.
- How long does it take you to write a song? I am generally the kind of writer who likes to finish things once I have started - when in the right unpaired moment the main body of a song might come in half an hour or an hour and then I will take time "polishing " the lyric and structure - maybe revisiting over a few days till it feels complete - sometimes I might have a rush of inspired writing that hits a brick wall after the verse or chorus and then I come back to it days or weeks later with fresh ears.
- Could you explain a little about the writing process behind a few of your songs? For me it is usual a moment of inspiration that kicks things off, and generally at about 2am in the morning. Beautiful Country is a song I wrote for ILONA, the artist that I am currently working with. We both love Country Music and in particular the kind if Shania/Lady Antebellum cross over genre. I had just returned from the States where I had been seeing and hearing a lot of country acts in the media over there that we don't know about in the UK and it got me thinking about why that is. It seemed to me that we actually like great country acts over here, artists like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton have always been very popular. But I realised that much of the heart of Country music is the lyric and very often the traditional Country lyrics talk about subjects that have no resonance for us in the UK - We don't have rodeo's and cowboys, the shops don't sell Tootsie Rolls and we have no idea what a Honky Tonk is. So I began writing a ballad melody, slightly melancholic observing the differences between the culture I grew up with (cold weather, warm beer etc) and how so many Country references are alien to us. It isn't ironic or sarcastic, but simple, obvious truths about our differences. However I wanted the chorus to be uplifting and talk about what we do share. I worked at developing the themes until I came up with the idea that we can (and do) all share one Country with no borders and no boundaries and where money is no needed, one Beautiful Country called Love. Harmonically and melodically I wanted to channel the great rock ballads of the 70's but with a Country edge in the story telling.
- What songs that other people have written do you particularly admire? The older I get the more I recognise just how brilliant Dylans songs are, especially because it is often the brilliant interpretation by other artists that show how powerful and universal his writing is. I love Imagine ( Lennon) for it's simplicity and it's honesty and the underlying sense of hope that it carries.
- Do you think that a technical knowledge of theory is important or does it get in the way? Technical theory is really just craft and craft is something that you can choose to use (if you understand it) where it seems needed. Some of the great songwriters didn't study the craft, but they had a natural instinct for the successful construction of words, melody, harmony and rhythm.
- Do you tend to revisit your songs and rewrite them? Only until they are finished. I never mess with them after that - most songs happen very quickly and then I take a day or two to refine them - I may let one simmer for a week or so and see how I feel later, but once I am happy, then it's done as far as I am concerned.
- Do you write songs with a view to being commercial and following current trends? I have a very "pop" ear so I write the music I love, with the message I wish to impart but with all my senses being aware that I want it to find a commercial outlet. I don't follow trends but I try to cut away any excess fat and stick as much to the meat of what I am doing to make it as strong as possible.
- Have you done much co-writing, and if so what do you see as the benefits? I have done a fair amount and always enjoy the process - working with other people ALWAYS brings something different and original to the table - I don't always come away with the greatest song, but 9 times out of 10 we will have something exciting that could never have existed outside of that meeting/working environment.
- Who do you view as great songwriters. Who has inspired you musically/ lyrically? Paul Simon, John and Paul, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Billy Joel, Sting...oh the list could almost be endless!
- Do you feel that when there's conflict/struggle in your life that it inspires better songs? I think that songwriters are able to channel the frustration, hurt, disappointment and general pain in their life and make it musical..The special ones are those who create music that doesn't depress others (by being too self indulgent and miserable) but inspires them to feel a universal bond through the melody and words.
- Do you have any idea where you ideas come from? I believe that every song has already been written and exists somewhere in the infinite and ever present universe and that inspiration is the act of our inner energy connecting with the universe around us at a fundamental level and being able to discover this music and bring it back. I have heard so many writers say that "the song wrote itself" or that they have no idea where it came from. The challenge is that ALL songs are out there - good AND bad - and the best songwriters are the ones who instinctively know where to look for the good stuff, the bad songwriter are just the ones who bring back the first thing they find and believe it to be good enough.
- Do you have any advice you'd like to share with budding songwriters out there? Write all the time, no matter if you think what you are doing isn't great - it's about practice and the often cannibalising the best bit of an old song to make a new one even better. Read as much as you can - absorb language and experience and learn to observe the world around you and be hyper aware of what people say and do, as they will often give you little nuggets of creative gold to work with if you are prepared to listen.
Click on the following to find Tony on the web.
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