[Obligatory Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl reference]
Chris Shiflett doesn't get to write as the guitarist in his other band, so his side project Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants allows him to showcase his songwriting and love of honky tonk. It's a good thing, because Shiflett knows what it takes to be a good writer: he writes every day, and he reads every day. He knows that you can't improve as a writer unless you practice, and you won't be a good writer unless you know what good writing looks like. "You write all the time so that even if you write shitty songs, you'll be in good shape when the good ones come along," he told me.
Now that Shiflett has a family (three young sons), he doesn't have much free time, driving the kids to school and taking them to afternoon sports practices. So to maintain his skill as a writer (not just a songwriter), he often gets up at 5am before the kids are awake and writes. As for the reading, Shiflett has dedicated his remaining free time to immersing himself in the classics, having recently torn through F. Scott Fitzgerald's catalog. I came away from our conversation impressed with his dedication to the craft: Shiflett is a tireless student of the writing process.
Chris Shiflett and the Dead Peasants have a new album out called All Hat and No Cattle on SideOneDummy Records. Read my interview with Shiflett about his songwriting process after the video.