Updated: May 13
by Scott Roos
*Writer's note: last summer Dillon and I had an amazing telephone conversation about the craft of songwriting. Since we were promoting the League of Wolves appearance at MooseFest, much of that material ended up on the cutting room floor. Dillon is a very thoughtful guy who had a lot of great things to say so I'm bringing portions of that convo to you below.
Dillon Currie on finding inspiration:
"I try not to use inspiration as too much of a crutch. When you are inspired it's easy. You get in that flow state like anything else and get stuff done. I find that I do tend to write in waves but I also try not to lay back on inspiration. I've heard that from other guys like Jason Isbell that lack of inspiration can be an excuse not to work. Sometimes you just have to put the pen to paper and just write and if it sucks that's okay. You might get something out of that, though. In this last year my main focus was to write as much as I could while we had the time away due to the pandemic. I found there was quite a bit of inspiration around me in the last year and a half anyways. Maybe that's why it was easy to do. And you find you had the time to sit down and do it when you're not focusing on a million other things. We were all kind of stuck at home for the last little while. For my own process I wasn't exactly sure what my solo writing was like yet until things sort of shut down and I had time to work on it. It's been kind of an interesting path for me personally this year. I've never written so many songs. I found I write a lot differently on my own than I do with the group. It's just different dynamics right?"
How does he know that a song is "good"?
"I guess you never know for sure. You just have to trust your own thoughts on it. League of Wolves just try to do something we enjoy obviously first and foremost and then we think about what our fanbase will like. You can never make something that will please everybody which is kind of freeing in a way I think. Just make what you enjoy. I think whenever you write something you think that whatever you've written is the best in that moment and then lots of times you return to that song and think 'maybe this isn't that great or maybe this needs to be changed.' One thing we did learn over the years is your first idea isn't necessarily your best idea. In the past we'd kind of write songs quickly and whatever lyrics fall out to go with this song that's what they should be because it's organic. As we grew up, though, our philosophies changed a little bit where it's like 'maybe we should have a little more intent' and like anything the more time and work you actually put into a song it gives it a better chance of being the best version of itself. That's one way that our songwriting has changed a lot. We're not afraid to rip a song apart anymore. I think a lot of young songwriters can be pretty scared. The songs you write are so close to your heart as they come out. Letting the song change if it needs to is important. So that's kind of been what's been exciting for us as we've grown up. We're all open to hearing other ideas about parts of songs and directions and it makes it more fun. It's a big step to let yourself deconstruct an idea that's popped out of you. But it's a good thing to do I think. To let go."
What does he mean by "deconstruct"?
"Lots of times a song will come out. Maybe you bring it to the band. That's the difference with writing a solo project and writing collaboratively with five other people. It isn't necessarily easy right? Because everyone hears something and they all hear something else. That's what's makes a band unique. If you bring a song completed to the band as is it hasn't really been shaped by the other characters in the band and the other ideas that are there at your disposal. I think deconstructing sometimes means that if you have a lyric, or melody, or idea of the song structure in your head, when you bring it to the group you're being open to tearing that apart a bit and starting again. I think that's a big skill that a young band can have - to not be afraid of that as an option. It's not to say that sometimes you don't just nail it out of the park. Like a walk off home run or whatever. But most of the time the more work you put into it the better result you're going to get. We've learned over time to not be afraid to throw some things away."
How does he define the League of Wolves sound?
"We're fans of a lot. We started out more as folk in the very beginning and then gradually got into more of an electric sound. But fundamentally, we always go back to melodies and harmonies and strong vocals. We try to always fit in those melodic moments in songs but the idea was to play loud electric music that people can sing along to. At the same time, we love indie music. We love quiet stuff. That's why we like to do some stripped down shows once in a while. We are all fans of music in general but I think with League of Wolves our goal has been to be one of those, I don't want to say classic rock bands, just simple you know? Drums and bass and guitars and vocals. We're not really reinventing the wheel but it seems like there's not that many bands like that any more that just use the old classic rock sound so that's how we started; especially when we first moved to Saskatoon. We just keep the songs simple and fun and catchy and now as we're growing up I think some of these songs we're making now are evolving a little bit. I don't think we're ever really tied to one sound. I think we're evolving as we get older but yeah we just kinda like to keep it interesting and also do stuff that we like to hear."