Ryan Taggert is opening up for Rob Thomas. This dude wrote the 5 biggest pop songs of the past 18 months, and he’s opening for Rob Thomas.
OK. Rob Thomas is a douchebag. But the people who write for him are fucking geniuses. What I am so sensitive to are hooks and bridges and transitions that work in between. And that’s what I was working for on the record. I wanted to create familiar pop songs that at the same time are produced differently and work at a different angle, but at the end of the day strip it and play it on a fucking Wurlitzer with just vocals and it’s a pop song. People ask “why do you list Randy Newman as your biggest influence?” It has nothing to do with his witty lyrics; it has nothing to do with what he stands for and being able to develop characters. It’s the Newman songwriting. He’s so fucking awesome. Harps and Angels - a guy with that kind of career, releasing an album so late, that is that good, is like unprecedented.

The Donnas started off their career with this punk dude writing songs for them. They said that the one thing they took from him is this one sentence, which is one of my favorite sentences about the truth of pop music: One good song sounds like another good song. That is what Pandora is based off. Sometimes songs sound like a song that is completely odd and weird and not at all in the same genre. And you hear a little bit of a hook. Like in “Battlefield,” a little vocal piece of it that lasts less than three seconds that they ripped off a Paramore song, Paramore’s one hit. It’s the difference between sounding like every other song and giving it this little emotional hit. Out of all the things he could have taken it from, it’s that attention to detail.
The smartest work in literature, music, playwright, any kind of theatre, and film or television: referencing. Referencing, referencing, referencing. Understanding your surroundings, understanding your ancestors and the people who made you you. And being open to that. All those things combined make for such a powerful, new piece of work. And I have no problem saying who I love and who I rip off as songwriters because that’s how you learn. When I’m 50 years old, I’ll be writing completely differently. As a new songwriter I feel like that’s what you are supposed to do. I feel like you are supposed to be super-malleable and all these different artists should be making you into something new. That’s why I listen not to music, but to structure. I listen to hook, hook, hook, hook. If you have a good hook, you have gold in your hands. And I’m not talking about monetarily. It’s just so valuable to your song.

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