VERTICAL HORIZON GUITARIST MATT SCANNELL HAS ALWAYS BEEN COMFORTABLE WRITING ALONE. He has been his band’s primary songwriter from their 1999 breakthrough, Everything You Want, to the upcoming release Burning the Days [Orn]. During the band’s multi-year hiatus, however, Scannell discovered that co-writing was just the thing to lead him into new creative areas. —Matt Blackett
“When the band took some time off,” he explains, “I dove headfirst into collaboration. I had been scared of doing that for years. I looked at my creative juices as a finite thing, and if I wrote with others, I’d be wasting my songwriting chances, which is a really awful way to look at it. I was able to have some great experiences with other writers like Richard Marx. We’d get in a room and have a blast together playing music and some great tunes came out of that. A lot of the pressure was gone and it allowed me to reconnect with the reasons why I wanted to be in bands and play music in the first place.
“Collaboration also got me into being a bona fide producer. I wrote with this guy, Tyrone Wells, who’s on Universal, and I ended up producing two tracks for him. I built a studio in my house and we recorded there, which also took away the pressure of being on the clock in a big studio. I wound up getting a much better understanding of the entire songwriting process by writing with these other artists. I tend to be a perfectionist and I think that can hold you back. But I learned that sometimes you knock it out of the park and sometimes you strike out, and that’s okay. Because you’re going to go back in and try it again.”