As I reach the twentieth anniversary of first stepping up to the microphone to be lead singer of Weird Decibels I look back on the past two decades with a sense of achievement that the four of us have written and recorded seven albums with another one on the way. I feel lucky to be able to write songs (a few great, some good some bad and some awful) it is something I take for granted and I cannot understand when people say they cannot write songs. Then I remind myself that I cannot do the things others take for granted. Derek thinks the drums are easy… Stu pulls a solo out of the hat and the Bass I recorded for the album Morningday made me appreciate just how good Greg is at his chosen music discipline. Anyway the bottom line is I have to write songs all the time, for I fear if I stop I will lose the only skill I have. This brings me to the ‘solo career’, my mistress in the Weird Decibels marriage.
You may wonder why I express guilt at creating music without the band. There are a number of reasons. The main one is I’m not creating music with the guys, something I swore I’d do so long as they let me. The second is some of my best work (you may disagree) has been on my own where it should be with the guys and sometimes I think I spread myself too thin. There is only so many albums you can write and they should always be the best that you can create. So I’ll take you on a wee tour to see how the solo albums fit in.
The first was ‘Gods In The Kitchen’ a rather rough acoustic album recorded 1997 on a four track, this would be just around 1997’s Weird’s ‘Firkin Outburst’, at this point the band was beginning to lose its way (although its a good record). Next was 1998’s ‘Monkeys On A Stage’ another sketchy acoustic album. 1999 saw ‘A Twist and a Turn’. Three albums in quick succession. At this time Weird were about to end their first era and release ‘Cold Home Street’ in 2000. 2002 saw ‘The Armour is Broken’ the first solo album (and perhaps last) that I was insanely proud of. Around this time I was in the Seventeenth were our writing was frustratingly sporadic. The writing slowed.
However 2004 saw the return of industrious writing and the second coming of Weird and ‘One More Solo’ around this time Derek and I recorded Sllablo’s 9 hours. My fourth solo lp ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’ arrived 2005 as Weird leaned towards covers to pay for the ‘lodge’ albums Riot/Quiet Act which would arrive 2007 and 2008 respectively. This phase was lean lyrically, songs of drink, ennui and Eurovision… Things went quiet for Weird after the ‘Acts’ so 2009 saw the release of ‘Creeping Ash’ my 6th solo acoustic album. After this record I swore never to write another acoustic album again.
2012 saw three years of focused writing to create Weird Decibels 1. I could not believe it had been a four-year gap between Quiet Act and WdB1 It is however arguably our best record. I had sickened myself of the acoustic guitar and had been listening to a lot of early Metallica and Megadeath so lyrically it was a lot stronger than previous albums. This brings us to 2013. We had started writing Weird Decibels 2, Derek sustained an injury and I had writers block, The band now had down time and I had to find a way to write songs again. In December 2013 I sat staring out the garden thinking that I was finished writing songs. So I played the guitar and listened to RM Hubbert until my fingers blistered. I record it all into a Nexus 7 and Morningday started to take shape. A full five years since my last solo record.
Morningday is still unfinished and I have the usual concerns of how it will turn out. It’s more than a solo album Kevin Bryne (drums) and Jemma Burt (piano and violin) are very much involved. Its strange having a full band sound without Weird Decibels. Morningday started out acoustic but it grew into something different and refreshing. All my energy has went into it which is where the guilt comes in. However I conquered the writing block. I feel recharged and ready to put everything into Weird Decibels 2 which will be the 17th studio album of which I’m a part of. Chuffed with that!