Name: Vapors of Morphine
Members: Dana Colley, Jerome Deupree, Jeremy Lyons
Occupations: Saxophonist (Dana Colley), drummer (Jerome Deupree), guitarist (Jeremy Lyons)
Interviewee: Jeremy Lyons
Current release: Vapors of Morphine's Fear & Fantasy is out via Schnitzel.
If you enjoyed this interview with Vapors of Morphine and would like to find out more about their work, visit their official homepage. They're also on Instagram, Facebook, and twitter.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
People expect bands to have original material, so sometimes we make something up. Not much depth to it.
I’m pretty out of practice, and don’t chase my muse much anymore.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualization' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
No. You start making something, and eventually you see a shape forming.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
When I do attempt to write, I need an instrument (usually guitar or bass), a yellow legal pad and a recording device. I play ideas, catch them on tape, and later go back over them and start writing ideas on the pad that go with some music I put down.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Um… I do the rituals — coffee, tea, weed, mood lighting, —- but usually don’t get around to the writing part.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
Excruciating. No, that’s a lie. The first bit is easy. The finishing is hard. I usually start with music, but occasionally I get a great idea for a lyric. Those are the times I might write something quickly.
Otherwise it’s like slowly chiseling away till something take form.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
The lyrics are farmed out to a colony of poets that live on an island in the middle of the Brazilian rainforest. No, actually — I think I answered the question previously.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
STAY AWAY FROM OBVIOUS RHYMES. Lazy lyrics kill me. Don’t write “I love her;” illustrate the fact with words.Try to show, not tell.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
Um… who the hell else is doing it if not me?
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
The “Creative State?” I’d like to live there. But I don’t, so I can’t answer the question.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
I don’t use the computer when I write songs. I use an instrument, a pencil and a yellow legal pad, college rule. It’s usually done when it’s got 2-3 verses and a chorus, and I no longer hate it.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practice?
Play it live for a while to get an arrangement worked out.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
Well, if you want a record to sound like you want it to, you have to get involved. I’m crap when it comes to pressing the buttons, but I know what a lot of the buttons can do. I’m good with sounds, and with ideas of how to get those sounds.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
Making and putting out records has always been a long, grinding process for us. So the question is moot.
I only get that empty feeling if we put out the album and nobody cares for it for very long. And that’s what usually happens. But I like having a product to stand behind.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Making a cup of coffee — if you know how to do it, it will come out pretty much the same every time. It takes about five minutes. And you only get to drink it once. That’s pretty different from writing a song.
I love cooking WAY more than writing songs, because it’s a lot easier and there’s more immediate gratification. Playing a gig is more like cooking, because when you’re done, it’s all gone.