DEMOLISH Asks: What Makes A Good Song? (1988)

By Curt King

I thought it would be neat to get inside the head of each band or band member that I spoke to and or hung out with, you know -to find out what makes them tick. For this issue I decided to pose the following question to a wide selection of bands:

What do you think makes a good song…and why?

Gary Meskil (THE CRUMBSUCKERS) – 1.)  “It’s gotta’ be melodic. 2.) It’s gotta’ be memorable and 3.) It’s got to be musical. That’s about it (if it has those three qualities), oh and good lyrics too.”

Gary Meskil


Brian Lehfeldt (WEHRMACHT) – “I dunno’, I guess if it’s fun and I really like playing it a lot.”


Brian Lehfeldt – Drums


Mike Gilbert (FLOTSAM & JETSAM) – “I think a song should be catchy first. It should catch your ear and then by the end of the song you should be up on your feet and kinda’ fidgety about doing something. The sound of certain chords or chord progressions’ can make you do that. Other ones are going to make you feel like, oh, this is nice…big deal!”

“For example: a DOKKEN song (sorry Don -ed!). I can listen to that and I won’t feel like going out and running around the block or something. But if you listen to a METALLICA song, it’s well-written and it just makes you wanna’ get into a fight! That’s what I think makes a good song – if you can feel something after you done listening to it. Even if it makes you feel like crying or something, it definitely proves a point.”


Terry Carter (WRATHCHILD AMERICA)“The song should take me somewhere I’d rather be. I should be able to hear that the writer followed his instincts, his own likes and dis-likes and his feelings. I think it should tell a story in itself. I like to see a picture in my mind when I hear it.”


King Diamond (MERCYFUL FATE/KING DIAMOND)“I don’t like to do the ordinary way of writing songs, like, intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, verse, chorus and end -you know. That’s not very interesting to me and it seems to be too easy. But still, when you listen to other bands that do it that way, some of it is really good. It depends on who’s performing it and how their performing it.”

“The production plays a big roll also. If you have a real good heavy production, a simple song can work fantastic. It depends on who did it. What was the vocal line like, how is the guitar performance and how are the drums. Even the simplest song can have a very, very strange and interesting drum beat. So you can do so much even though you are working over a simple riff.”

“When I’m writing music I’m playing a lot of stuff. When I come up with good riffs, suddenly I’ll continue whatever I got and I will never think in terms as, now I’ve got a verse, now we’ve got to come up with a chorus – that doesn’t mean much to me.

If I come up with a good chorus line and there’s room for it, then it’ll be there. If not, it’s not gonna’ be there! It’s gonna’ be exactly how I feel. I’m not thinking in any strict terms, it’s very, very open and free when it comes to composing.”


Michael Kelly Smith (BRITNY FOX/ex-CINDERELLA) “A good strong hook, a good melody and LOUD everything. It should be tastefully played, yet not being over-played nor under-played. Just a good, solid song, like straight-forward rock n’ roll without being too progressive or too basic.”


Dell Hull (LETHAL)“Basically something that’s melodic with a lot of feel to it.”



Dan Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT)“That’s too vague. I guess something that makes you want to hear it again. I don’t like the SCORPIONS for the same reason I like NAPALM DEATH.”

Dan Lilker – Bass


Lenny Rutledge (SANCTUARY)“Just a basic, good song structure with melody. First, you gotta’ get a good, strong rhythm and then you have to get a good melody line within that. Then you have to get a good subject and then you have to base it all within the music and notes.”

Lenny Rutledge


Stephan Gebedi (THANATOS)“I think the structure of a song is the most important thing. You can play fifteen unbelievably killer riffs, but if they don’t fit together -it sounds like shit. So you should try to get a number of good riffs that fit together and combined the right way.”

Thanatos LIVE


Steve Murphy (PROCESS REVEALED/ELDRITCH RITE)“What draws people to music is similarities in the music-to-speech patterns and bodily movements (not Satan). I listen closer in the construction to the balance in harmony, rhythm and sometimes melody and also lyrical content.”

Steve Murphy – Bass


Doug Piercy (HEATHEN) “A good killer rhythm-section with something memorable about it -whether it’s super-crunchy, melodic or whatever. Also needs a good chorus and guitar solos. Basically, a well thought out, good structured song and not just re-hashed crap!”



Paul Arnold (AT WAR)“Originality is one, but not over-original, because over-originality can turn into weirdness at times. It’s also got to be an aggressive song and self-confident. Just all-around entertaining.”

Paul Arnold


Peter Wagner (RAGE)“First, the riff itself has to be original. Then there must be a groove in the song. Some bands add one thousand riffs to a song, so in the end, you don’t know how it began and what you heard. Finally, the guitar and vocal melodies must go in the ear.”

Peter “Peavey” Wagner


David T. Chastain (CHASTAIN/C.J.S.S.)“M * u * s * i * c * a * l * i * t * y.”

David Chastain – (pic C.Metz)


Peter Lundstrom (AGONY) “I think that it has to be interesting and not all that fast.”

Peter Lundstrom


John Brenner (REVELATION)“Mostly out-right HEAVINESS —whether fast or slow, speed makes no difference. Also it must have sincerity in the lyrics.”

John Brenner

Killjoy (NECROPHAGIA) “Something that’s new and original. It’s also got to have a lot of power!”

Killjoy (Frank Pucci)


Kevin Steele – Vocals

Kevin Steele (ROXX GANG)“I’m a guitar freak, so it’s gotta’ have a good lead and you gotta’ be able to rip! To me, what’s hard, is to write a song that your happy with that you don’t feel like you have sold-out.

A song that still has some edge but, yet it’s gonna’ appeal to a lot of people. Commercial enough to appeal to a lot of people to get on the radio.

You’ve also got to have the hook and catchy chorus too.”


So hopefully now you will know “what makes a good song!! Maybe you enjoyed reading these as much as I did asking them and compiling them over the years.

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4 thoughts on “DEMOLISH Asks: What Makes A Good Song? (1988)

  1. Hope you dig this post. I have a bunch more just like these, so stay tuned for a Part II (and maybe even a Part III in the future).

    So which quote or answer do you like best?

    Curt “Crusher” King

  2. those quotes are interesting.
    very unique and worth reading.

    good stuff…


  3. cool man.

    glad you dig the quotes. Appreciate the support.

    What does the “M” stand for? METAL I hope! ha ha…

    stay tuned for more great 80’s music.

    Let me know your fav.’s or anything you would like to see posted.

    Curt “the” King
    Demolish HQ

  4. Pingback: 80′s Metal Poll:What Makes A Good Song? « Demolish Fanzine

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