Every obnoxious 13 year old or 50 year old guitarist has a soft spot for the days of yore, when music was simpler and dominated not by “rappers with auto tune” or “this modern pop shit”. When music was made by musicians who played instruments and guitar was at the forefront of the sounds on the radio.
In this piece I will go over how to write like your favorite hard rock bands of the 90s to get in touch with that real authentic side of music and summon the sounds of your youth (or your dad’s youth).
How to write a Tool song
Riff in D Phrygian
Slow tempo polyrhythms and off beats
Although they can be quite experimental, the majority of their most popular songs are in D Phrygian
How to write a Soundgarden song
Pick some random obscure tuning (or just drop D) Put on a blindfold and try to play a pentatonic minor riff Only one song is in standard tuning between my two favorite Soundgarden albums, Badmotorfinger and Superunknown
How to write a Helmet song
Riff in E Phrygian
Drop D tuning
For best results, play on an inexpensive beginner/intermediate guitar with EMGs after realizing EMGs are probably best for metal and this is, after all, the epitome of metal. Run through the highest gain distortion you can find, I recommend a Boss Metal Zone, and your favorite solid state modeling amp. A line 6 spider tends to do the trick (no vintage tube stack could ever measure up to INSANE Mode) or your dads Fender combo.
How to write a Gojira song
Riff in C Phrygian
Slow chugging during verses, heavy main hook during choruses, simple fast tremolo picking guitar solo
How to write a Meshuggah song
Play an intense series of low notes at random and pretend it was on purpose “No I actually wrote music you just wouldn’t understand the rhythms”
When I first started playing an 8 string back in 2016 I pretended Meshuggah was one of my biggest influences and that I knew what I was doing.
How to write a Nirvana song
Pretend you’re an 11 year old who just learned barred chords and pentatonic minor If you want to nail the authentic conditions of which the original songs were recorded and performed, you can pretty close by ask your drummer to tune your guitar for you before playing.
How to write a limp bizkit song
How to write a RATM song
Simple repetitive riff, between 1-6 notes Don’t bother writing a guitar solo just smash your guitar into your amp and throw your pedals at your band mates
Well there you have it. Now you are ready to impress everyone with your authentic real rock music which is so much better than that Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift or whatever 2011 artist that you still like to hate. You are now equipped to utterly decimate any other “musician” but remember, with great power comes great responsibility, so rock on with caution!