I like to sit with the guitar and and without planning anything specific, just try and express my mood at the time. Whether that’s heavy distorted guitar or guitar with endless reverb and delay, depends on my mood.
I’ll usually come up with a basic idea and I’ll record it down. If it’s chord changes, I’ll experiment with splitting it between two, or more, guitars. Sometimes power chords one side and triads, extensions or whatever else I’m hearing the other.
Once I’ve got this far I’ll think about what sort of a part is this…? Does it sound like a verse? A chorus? Or something else? Will there be vocals here? If I feel I’ll have vocals here, I won’t add any additional guitars, keys or overdubs until I have a vocal idea down. Gotta leave space, can fill in the gaps later!
What I do next depends on what the initial idea sounds like.
If it sounds like a verse, I might start thinking what kind of chorus could I imagine could work with this?
I might stop there and have the idea on my phone, listen to it every so often and try to imagine and hear what sort of chorus I want.
I’ll usually have an idea within the next couple of days or so. Sit down with the guitar and record some basic ideas down. Then experiment with voicings, splitting guitars etc etc until I’m happy with it. Experiment with ways to connect the two ideas together.
It’s sort of a rinse and repeat process where I’m mostly trying to hear what I want before I play anything.
At this stage I might think about drums. Now this can be a long process. Programming a few variations, then experimenting with where the accents are etc etc. I usually end up changing the original rhythm after experimenting with drum beats.
Once a few parts are down, in their basic form, it’s easier to come up with other sections, intros, outros etc.
Eventually the basic full demo is done. Then have to start thinking about vocals, which is not something I’m very comfortable with yet, but lucky for me I’m a big shoegaze fan so plenty of reverb, delay and layers hides a lot I’ll record melodies down without words. Make sure I’m happy with the melody before worrying about words.
When basic vocals are down, I have a listen and experiment with overdubs, background keys, fx etc. Does it feel like something is missing? If so, what and how do I fix it?
I only start to record guitars down properly when I’m certain I’m happy with the demo. Then that’s a whole other process.
So my process is sort of messy I suppose… I don’t plan too much. I find if I try to hard, it just doesn’t work for me.