The Close is a trio of introspective lyricists. What is the most important thing you each have learned about songwriting over the years?
The most important thing we have learned about songwriting over the years is that if you do right by the song, the song will do right by you. You can’t force it. Most often, if you do right by the song, it will seemingly write itself.
If a song is going in a certain direction, we try to let it go there, regardless of genre or feel. However, we have a few tried-and-true rules that we adhere to, our own little recipe – mainly because we are more commercial writers by nature. Sometimes we tweak our recipe a little and break the format, if that’s what the song requires: like starting a song with a chorus, or simply having 3 verses, like in our song “Lies.” It just came out that way and we felt like it was super impactful with our harmonies, so that’s what it was saying and we let ourselves be ok with the outcome. If you really let a song breathe and not overthink it, you will know when it’s complete. Oh… and no filler lines!
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a singer-songwriter?
We would advise a new singer-songwriter to have thick skin and not be too hard on yourself. Find out who you are and what your voice is, and live up to that; that’s your bar.
Also, it’s very helpful to have “big ears.” That’s what our late friend and mentor, Harley Allen, taught us a long time ago. If you will listen to what people are saying around you, you can come up with some amazing hooks!
Also, be willing to put the time in. Songwriting is both a craft and a skill, as well as a talent. Be open to re-imagining the song, and don’t be afraid to put it down and pick it back up. And we think the best advice to someone starting out is to get a white board and brainstorm their hook. If you can write 20 things related to your hook, then the song will basically write itself.
Remember, the world chases stats: gold records, Grammys, and Oscars. Don’t be stay-focused. Someone who sings and writes lyrics but doesn’t write music and meets someone who can add music to their lyrics can be successful. They’ve found gold.
Stop and appreciate what you have, then reset your goals. We feel like we are already successful because we’ve found each other and we get to do this. We are so blessed to have this connection between the three of us. We don’t forget it or take it for granted. We get to play our music to people who want to hear it! What else is there?
Blending various genres, Americana, contemporary folk, roots and country infused with a commercial pop sensibility. Taking the genre blending melodies and adding your harmonies. What is one thing you wish more people knew about songwriting across the genres?
A good song is a good song and can be cut into any genre. Songs don’t cross genres; productions and recordings do.
We wish more people knew that writing across genres can lend itself to criticism, and that can lead some artists to curb their creativity and stunt their growth as writers. As songwriters, we want to have confidence in our art. We work on it until we like it, no matter what others might think about it.
We all grew up listening to a wide variety of genres, from country to hard rock and even acapella, gospel, and rap. Listeners tend to expect an artist to stay in a fixed space, dictated by their previous works. Then, when they put out something unexpected, the listener is unsure of how to process this, and that’s normal.
A good example of this is when Alice-N-Chains released their first album, Facelift, a super grunge/rock album, and then followed it up with an acoustic EP entitled Sap. It was certified gold, and they were able to reach fans they never would have found if they had stayed steadfast in the grunge/rock genre. We are a bit like that, unafraid to let the music guide us, even though fans sometimes take time to process what they’re hearing. For instance, we released our acoustic EP, Hello Heart, to a great response. It is very indicative of what we do best: heavy harmonies and acoustic guitars. However, that’s not all we do. So when we were compiling which songs to include on our new album, Orbit, we didn’t want to limit ourselves based on what we’d already released.
We hope to have latitude so we can grow as writers and hopefully not alienate our current fans so we can grow together. Basically, we do right by each song, regardless of genre.
The Orbit album, your first full-length release that encapsulates a powerful message of self-empowerment and reaching a state of fulfillment. In what ways do you each make sure you find balance between music and your personal lives?
I’m not sure we have found a balance between our music and our personal lives. We live and breathe music, and it’s really hard to find separation. I think that the theme of “balance” is less about who you are and what you do and more about empowering yourself to be who you are, do what you love, and don’t be afraid to live boldly. Come out of the shadows, live, grow, and make mistakes, but don’t hide or retreat. We think that’s good mental health and emotional “balance,” which is what we strive for on a daily basis. Grow and feel good about your life. Then sleep really well at night!
Choosing “Living It Right” as the album’s focus track. The song focuses on inner reflection and the realization that you may not be fully embracing life’s opportunities. How have you been able to stay on track towards your goals as you each navigate through life’s challenges?
That’s the challenge, isn’t it?
People say that they lack resources, but the truth is that they lack resourcefulness. This is a dangerous mindset that can stop you from moving forward. You can’t know it all, be it all, and have everything at your fingertips. We have roadblocks too. There are a lot of them. We work hard to try to figure it out and keep moving forward. We can attribute most of our success to this mindset.
That’s a tough one, because we have had so many wonderful experiences! But the most memorable experience is not really the memories of a stage, a green room, or a venue. It’s the one-on-one interaction with that one fan or fans that really get it. Those times when you feel the connection with someone is everything in that moment. It’s absolutely unparalleled in reward.
What do you each like to do outside of music, hobbies and interests wise?
James is a HUGE golfer. He would be on the circuit if it weren’t for music. So we try to play as much golf on the road as we can, if time allows. Shannon LOVES to fish and to be outdoors and go camping with his buddies. Lori is a lifelong learner and is always taking classes on her interests. She also LOVES to read and is also a screenwriter.