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4 Weird (But Awesome) Ways to Come Up With Creative Lyrics You Haven't Tried

William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin. (Photo by Charles Gatewood)

I know lots of people who claim that lyrics don't matter to them. I'm the opposite. I mean, they don't have all have to be Bob Dylan, or Dan Bejar, or Nas. They don't have to be profound. Or poetic. But bad ones can ruin a song for me. They can be silly, they can be gibberish, they just can't be bad (whatever that means).

Lyrics may be inconsequential to some pop music, but even the stuff that seems like a trifle can bring about something unexpectedly revelatory either as an insight or a hook. Whether or not they matter to you, lyrics will have a place in songs of all stripes (save a revival of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass-inspired easy listening jams). But filling an empty page with words can be just as much an obsession as it is an obligation, and for some artists, it's often a painful roadblock to putting a song to bed.

The 6 Things This Unknown Band Did to Make a Sizable Profit From a Short Tour

Trevor Dane and Rolfe Briney IV of Freak Deakys (Photo by Paul Cordes Wilm)

"So what did you guys do different?"

"I don't know, really. I feel like we did pretty much all the same stuff [bands are supposed to do]."

I'm talking with Rolfe Briney IV, lead guitarist for Birmingham, AL, garage rockers Freaky Deakys. He and Trevor Dane, the group's lead singer and other guitarist, recently returned home from a brief yet busy tour that found them playing 12 shows over 10 days. After talking about the crazy things that happen on tour, there was one thing that totally shocked me: they made a sizable profit.

The Best Vehicles to Tour in for Bands on a Budget

T. Hardy Morris and the Hardknocks load up the minivan that they use for short, regional tours. (Photo taken by the author)

Money, such as it is, is hard to come by in the music business of the 21st century – so most bands have to jam econo just to break even (if that). Fortunately, there are lots of cost-efficient options for the modern touring band – especially those who are only able to make regional jaunts. So I thought I'd hit up a few touring musicians for some real-world advice. Some of these options are more fuel-efficient than others, but all are reasonably easy to attain. In fact, you (or someone in your band) may have access to this stuff already.

Touring can be difficult, but it's an adventure that every band needs. Plus, it’s more fun to play shows than to sit around and will your SoundCloud plays into double digits. So read on, and hit the road.

Rocking Out Without Rocking the Cradle: How I Balance My Music Career With My Family

Photo by Allison Kelly via theglobeandmail.com

To get in the mood for writing this, I've sequestered myself outside, on the far corner of my back porch, with a TV tray for a desk, a $100 digital audio interface I bought seven or so years ago, an electric guitar, a bass, an extension cord and, of course, my laptop. It's lovely outside. A hint of fall has been cutting through the southern heat all week long. There's also been a bit of lightning – enough that I should go inside but, since there's no rain, I just wait it out a bit. It's not heat lightning – probably just some far-flung remnants of a tropical storm.

But why risk a potential lightning strike? I can make music and not worry about waking up my 18-month-old daughter – and, more importantly, her mother, who has claimed (while pregnant) that my strumming an unamplified electric guitar from across the house carries into our bedroom (where the door is shut). Sitting outside with my guitar running straight into my computer hasn't been a problem. So, weather permitting, my porch becomes my studio – which is especially nice after being stuck inside all day.

Road to Nowhere: Is the Internet Killing Touring for New Bands?

Banditos signing their record contract while en route to one of the 150-plus gigs they play annually. (Photo courtesy of the band)

The internet has brought the world closer than ever before, yet for young bands on the road, the tool that should be their strongest ally might be working against them.

My hometown, Birmingham, AL, has a strong local music scene. There are lots of great bands, new venues, and supportive audiences. Musicians play in each other's projects without much care for sticking with specific genre. As a result, both the bands and the crowds are more musically diverse. There's a general pride in seeing local bands succeed – even if it's a band whose music you don't particularly care for. It's lovely.

But I've noticed something: not as many bands want to leave the nest. What's more, fewer bands from the Southeast seem to be making it to town. There was a time when trading shows with bands from out of state was the norm. Now it seems that bands are more likely to stay in their own bubbles rather than branching out.