Chicago’s 7 Minutes In Heaven may be a young band, but their EP Side Effects launched them onto the Billboard Charts. Now after signing with Rude Records, the band will return September 15th with a new EP Symmetry, undoubtedly filled with even more chart-worthy tracks. In anticipation of the record’s release we had a chat with lead vocalist/guitarist Timmy Rasmussen to discover more about his songwriting process.
Mosh: How does the lyric writing process begin for you – Does the music come first, or the lyrics? Do you collect fragments and ideas when inspiration strikes?
TR: It all depends, sort of all the above. Usually to get to the point of writing lyrics for a song I’ll have a structure written musically. Sometimes I’ll already have lyrics previously written that coincidentally work over the music I’m currently writing. Other times the melody comes as I write the music. Most times lyrics are the last piece to the puzzle for me though.
Mosh: Is this process always straight forward for you? Have you ever struggled with ‘writer’s block’ or similar?
TR: Again it’s a hit or miss for me. Only a few of our songs I’ve written lyrically within an hour. I do struggle often from writer’s block but I’ve been learning what helps is becoming more in tune with myself before trying to write. If i catch myself repeating random lines or melodies in my head I’ll try to document them on the spot in some way and save em for a rainy day.
Mosh: Do you go back to lyrics you have previously written and edit or refine them, or is it a case of ‘one and done’? Do you collaborate or share lyrics with other band members and take their feedback on board?
TR: Absolutely. I wish I was a machine and could do the whole “one and done” thing. I try to at least give all forms of expression a fair chance but I’ve also been getting better at going with my intuition and moving on from ideas that I feel aren’t there or might take more time if I’m on a roll. It’s all a learning process. Alex (Rogers, vocals/bass) is my dude when it comes to bouncing lyrics, he’s also been writing a good amount himself. We help each other revise / change words or flow, and fill each other’s gaps where needed.
Mosh: Are there any bands or artists that have impressed or inspired you lyrically? Do you try and emulate any other lyricists in particular?
TR: Pete Wentz was the biggest one for me starting out. Before when I’d hit a writer’s block I’d legit ask myself, how would Pete Wentz finish this line. There is look at what I’d written, summarize it, and explain it through some weird metaphor from a key word I’d used. Whether or not that’s actually what he’d do, it helped. I could go on about all my inspirations but I’d say Pete’s had the most dramatic impact on my lyrical style.
Mosh: Do you draw lyrical inspiration from outside of music, such as authors, films or artists?
TR: I definitely get inspired by the world around me. Where ever I am in that moment I try to maintain situational awareness to self-reflect later on. Your everyday conversation, staring at something too long, any of my senses picking up something I’ve experienced before and how it makes me feel now, a toxic relationship, it can all be narrated in your own unique point of view.
Mosh: Is there a specific space (mental or physical) where you get ‘in the zone’, or can you write anywhere at any time?
TR: I definitely need to be alone away from distractions when I write. I get distracted fairly easy sometimes so that needs to be considered. I do enjoy writing a great tune with my boys too, it just fluctuates with our schedules.
Mosh: Do you choose to publish your lyrics or keep them personal? Is it important that fans be able to access lyrical content?
TR: I never even thought of that being the reason some artists don’t make them available wow. I like to share them for sure. Lyrics and singing for me is as vulnerable as I can get. I try to use the platform and opportunity I have to give out some form of a permanent, positive message. However, I can let my demons get the best of me so don’t quote me on that haha
Mosh: Can you remember when you began writing lyrics? Was it a conscious choice? Something you drifted into out of necessity?
TR: I can remember when I started, I still wish I had the songs I wrote though. I was always absorbing myself in music and didn’t have the greatest upbringing so it’s always been my outlet by choice.
Mosh: What is your favourite lyric and why?
TR: That’s a tough one but a lyric I really enjoy that stood out to me recently is, “spill your blood until you’re where you want” from My Lucky #3 by Mat Kerekes.
Mosh: What is your favourite lyric that YOU have written?
TR: That is also a tough one but “I built my world on a landscape to invite the masquerade hoping I was a subject by design to make a change” still hits home.
Mosh: Is there anything you actively try and avoid when writing lyrics? Any topics or themes you think are overdone?
TR: YES. I’ve always tried to steer clear from writing about women, with a few exceptions because it is very overdone but sometimes they too get the best of me.
Mosh: Is it important to you that lyrics always tell a story or have meaning?
TR: Absolutely but I think it’s more important when doing so that if it’s coming from a negative place I give equally as much optimism to the story. Not everything is how you make it out to be, the good and the bad and people forget that you’re only getting one side to said story. Music can be interpreted in so many ways, I hope I can create a good starting point for the mind to wander.
Mosh: Does your knowledge of your vocal delivery have any impact on how you write lyrics? Do you write to fit a vocal style, or fit the delivery to the lyrics?
TR: This is going to sound horrible but I still don’t know my range or what type of singer I am, which I feel like would help tremendously. I have a few different vocal styles I like to jump between, I need to learn how to make the transitions smoother and figure out when I’m straining. It’s all a learning process!