Trent Wagler Teaches Song Writing on Campus

Trent Wagler encouraged new songwriters to write bad songs. In order to continue on with the process of writing songs, you have to keep writing, whether the songs are good or bad. Wagler described how there is something magical about the process of getting your thoughts out on paper.

Sunday evening, Common Grounds was transformed. The quaint tables and some of the comfy chairs found a new home in the adjoining art gallery and rows of chairs now filled the floor of Common Grounds so that everyone in attendance could find a seat. Trent Wagler, lead vocalist of the band The Steel Wheels, came to campus to give an informal concert and answer questions about songwriting and his music.

Wagler involved the audience, having them sing along on the first song. He shared about his experiences in songwriting and how they lead to the songs on the bands albums.

When Wagler first thought of lyrics to his song “Kiss Me Like a Stranger” he was driving down a highway and had to scribble them on a napkin he fished from his glovebox.

When talking about the beginning of his songwriting career, Wagler described how he wrote some of the lyrics to his first song after his first heart- break in high school.

“I had somehow gotten a hold of a pad of pass slips and started writing these horribly gushy poems,” said Wagler. He commented on how he feels it’seasiertowriteasadsongthana happy song. Songs need a tension in them to be interesting and sadness easily provides a tension.

Wagler is humble about his touring experiences and wasn’t afraid to share stories about when the band wasn’t well received at certain venues. The disasters tend to make good stories. In one instance the band had been continuously introduced as a bluegrass band, which they weren’t. After an encore performance an elderly woman with a walker shouted, “that wasn’t bluegrass!”

The audience at Common Grounds had the opportunity to ask questions both fun and serious.

When asked what he thought his ‘spirit animal’ was he answered a white horse, due to the one time he wore an all white leisure suit to a performance.

On the more serious side, someone asked, “what comes first, the lyrics or the melody?”

Wagler finds that his songs and musical style are often a product of his influences. He plays acoustic music for its simplicity and honest representation. His music would be the same on stage as it would be if he played it to somebody one on one.

-Ellen Roth, Arts Editor, Photo Editor, Web Manager


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