JS: That's a very tough question because I
write a lot of different types of songs; from folk to really
rock oriented material. Being a writer and not a recording
artist affords me the luxury of being able to write all across
the board. I would say more than anything there is a common
thread lyrically in my music.
TS: Where do you draw inspiration from when
the well runs dry?
JS: I don't know. Do you have any
suggestions? Haha. To be honest, there are just times in my life
when I am very open and able to receive the inspiration and
there are times when I am not. It really doesn't depend on any
outside influence. Sometimes it's just there and sometimes it's
It kind of makes me think that I don't have
any control over it. I do know that when the stream dries up,
it's best for me to just step away for a while. Take a few days
off. I have never really been able to search and find the idea
or the creativity. My struggle is learning to be open to it at
all times and learning to capture it when it is there.
TS: What is a typical writing session like
for Jeremy Spillman?
JS: They are never the same, but usually
there is some caffeine involved. It depends mostly on who I am
writing with. I do think I would go crazy if every day was the
same. I love to have a 'hook' first, but that's not always the
case either. Sometimes it's a melody, sometimes a thought, and
sometimes it's just a subject. I'm learning more and more to
just let it happen any way it can.
TS: When you write a song, do you ever write
with a particular artist in mind?
JS: Sometimes, but not always. I usually just
aim to make the song the best it can be and hope an artist likes
it, but these days I try to shoot a little closer to what I
think they want.
TS: Which do you prefer, writing alone or
JS: You know, in the beginning I mostly wrote
alone, but I have grown to love co-writing. It's just a lot more
fun to do it with someone else. In all honesty, it's a lot
easier to believe it's cool if two people think it's cool.
TS: What advice would you give someone who
wants to make songwriting a career?
JS: Just write and write and write. I believe
that there is very little someone can 'teach' anyone about
songwriting. The best thing a writer can do is to figure out why
they love the songs they love and try to do that on their own.
I would say that the first DECADE of my
writing was a lot of bad to mediocre songs. Then I finally
caught a few good ones. It's like anything else in life. Work
hard and keep at it and it will pay off.
Also, your parents and your friends are not
the people you need to listen to your music to know if your song
is good or not! They love you no matter what!
TS: What are some of the biggest mistakes new
JS: I know that in my early days I got caught
up in thinking that my song was "good enough" all the time. But
I had to learn the hard way that good enough is never gonna get
you a cut or a publishing deal. You've got to offer them
TS: Some writers claim they’re just a channel
through which songs flow; they just tune in and the material
comes. What are your thoughts on this?
JS: I very much believe that. A lot of the
time we really struggle to get a line or a melody right but
other times, when the really good songs happen, it pours out. It
does feel like we are just wires for the current to pass
through. As I said before, I'm trying to learn how to get to
that spot more readily.
TS: There are creative people who can’t
function unless everything around them is just right. Do you
have a certain ritual when writing? Does everything have to be
in its place – your coffee cup, your slippers, your pen?
JS: Ha. No. Not at all, but these days I am
pretty dependent on my laptop.
TS: "Arlington," which you co-wrote with Dave
Turnbull, is an amazing tune, the kind of composition I refer to
as a heart song. What inspired the track?
JS: Dave has been a
good friend of
mine for years. We came up together in this town. At the
time we wrote that song, his mother was in town visiting and he
was going to help her find a new car. At one of the dealerships,
he met a man named
David Nixon. (Mr. Nixon’s) son's name was Patrick Nixon;
he was the first marine from
to be killed in the war in Iraq.
Dave was a marine himself and was very moved
by Mr. Nixon’s pride for his son. The next day Dave and I were
writing, and he started telling me the story. The song just kind
of happened after that. We actually didn't think anyone would
like it so we didn't turn it in for a while. I was about to go
in the studio and record a bunch of songs, and like always, I
turned in everything I had written to my publisher. My publisher
flipped out over that song! The rest is history.