Chris Masson 1977-2014

Chris and Cage

There are a few reasons Greg and I started Weird Decibels; seeing Chris Masson on stage was one of the biggest. A truly dynamic singer; he fronted the rock band Cage in the late 90’s. Seeing him play live opened a door for me; he gave me confidence to pick up the mic and try it myself.

Chris was one of the most energetic front men i ever saw.
Chris was one of the most energetic front men i ever saw.

Thursday nights at the Martell were a highlight of our week. We’d grab a few Gold Beirs and watch local bands play. Cage were probably the best I saw. They were solid; tight as hell. Ewan is a fantastic drummer and he knitted with Warren on bass. Phil, took care of the guitar. Their music was frantic, aggressive and raw. While the trio played there was a front man who would pace around the stage and as he sang he would scream into the ground, kneeled over trying to get every ounce of young anger from his soul. He would rock back and forth as the music took a hold of him. He was intense and it felt as if he meant every word he sang, he was one of Falkirk’s greatest vocalists. He was Chris Masson.

As I left the Martell with my best mate Greg, I turned to him and said; lets start a band.

There was a cost to the late Thursday nights; we would have to go to school the next day and i guess it had an impact as we stumbled out of school towards Falkirk college to follow hopeless dreams. Chris and I were young and we were having a laugh.

We were a close group although I'm the awkward one.
We were a close group although I’m the awkward one.

Falkirk College and Firkins.

Chris and I attended Falkirk college in the late 90’s. He was in Cage and I was in Weird; both singers we had a lot in common. I believe he studied sports psychology (i could be wrong) and I was studying computers. Literally just staring at the screen if i’m honest. There were no mobiles then but we would meet in the busy corridors and arrange the weekend which would start on a Thursday at the Martell and end on Sunday morning as we were ushered out of Pennies. These weekends were an incredible time of hope for our bands and our futures.

Then came the day we got our bursary. Chris and I would laugh as we walked out of the college to the pub.  We went to Firkins and with our new found wealth we would by some drinks and with our change we would fill the jukebox for the next few hours. Then we’d sit at a table by the window and watch the world go by. We would  talk about music, women and anything else that a late teen would want to talk about. They were wonderful times. He was very supportive of our fledgling band. He would give me advice on where to send demos and how to handle gigs. I was unaware that Cage were coming to an end.

It was a gig in Cumbernauld town hall; we were on the bill with Cage. It was to be their last appearance. I truly thought that Chris would find another band and i think he tried different things. Cage came to an end and i was gutted. I thought they would be one of the first bands to break Falkirk; they had been signed to Baghdad Radio and put out a single on vinyl. I was amazed at that. Chris explained that they recorded the record at a studio called Split Level. He gave us the number. It was the greatest studio we ever set foot in.

A thoughtful Chris
A thoughtful Chris

Our Friendship

Chris and I would continue to meet in Firkins and occasionally head out to Glasgow to listen to music. The weekends flew by and we had many, many laughs. he introduced me to a very attractive woman called Kirsty who would become my wife. We were a close knit bunch of friends who would often sit on the floor of Firkins before we would get on our unsteady feet and walk down to Pennies. Then we would dance to Rage Against the Machine, Nirvana and other bands of that era. Chris would try with all his might to get me to fall in love with Faith No More but I was too obsessed with Kurt Cobain. As my relationship with Kirsty developed I drifted away from Firkins and saw less of Chris. Every time I did meet him he was the same warm and softly spoken soul that he ever was.

One of Our Greatest Listeners

Showing off our tees!
Showing off our tees!

Everytime I met Chris he would ask what the next record was or when the next gig would be. When I told him he would be there supporting us and he bought our CD’s. He would tell me what he thought of our work and it was honest. I knew him as a singer so I really appreciated his encouragement. Weird Decibels might’ve been around longer but I always looked up to the frontman of Cage.

Weird Decibels had started a series of podcasts and we had arranged to get Chris to come down and sing some Cage songs with us backing him. Everyone was so excited by the event; we talked about it and we planned it but it never happened. I feel we had let Chris down because i knew he was really up for it; we were playing a lot of gigs at the time and the weeks and months went past. Talking about doing things is fine but doing is so important and we didn’t do it. Life has a funny way of punishing you for not doing the things you say you will.

Chris was a thoughtful caring person
Chris was a thoughtful caring person

Encore

I stared at the screen of my mobile when the message came through about Chris. Another of our friends taken to soon. I knew someday we would meet again and catch up but i got caught up in the normal life that surrounds me. Time is a funny thing; it takes things away from you. Now it has taken Chris.

Yet time gave me those days with Chris; we sat in our favourite bar and we played our tunes. We would sip our beer together, we would share our stories and our jokes, we would raise our glasses and clink them together then we would look out of the Firkins window and watch the workers go by and we would forget all about time.

Pabs

Advertisements

Gig Diary. Ivory Blacks. 6th Nov 2014

Black and white photographs by Kevin Byrne

Stu rocks the ivory
Stu rocks the ivory

It was a dark and stormy night as we pulled up to the slightly hidden doorway of Ivory Blacks; a venue known for its brand of heavier rock. We were looking forward to this despite the ‘playing on a mid week night’ doubts that were nagging us.

There were three other bands on the bill War head, Ritual Spirit and Fourth Gate, It was nice to speak to Bathgate rockers Warhead they were a sound bunch.

we got some chips for tea and we were ready to go
we got some chips for tea and we were ready to go

The sound check was kinda back to front; we wnet on first so we soundchecked and everyone else did a level check. I liked the sound on stage. The venue was empty though and we were due to play in 20 minutes.

the er.. setlist
the er.. setlist

Thankfully a few of our wonderful friends ventured through the doors just as we were due to strike our first chords. We played well to a largely empty venue. I really enjoyed the gig although it was slightly disillusioning that our final run through of Weird Decibels 1 was to a sparse audience given that we have had some great gigs recently. Forward was played for the first time in a while and it was nailed. Could be a regular again!

Pabs sings his heart out
Pabs sings his heart out

A huge thank you to all our friends who supported us through the Weird Decibels 1 era. We have learned a lot; we will be more picky about the venues in future and we’ll probably avoid playing midweek shows. See you for Weird Decibels 2.0 live!!

To CD or not to CD

Morningday is a wee album I made with Kevin Byrne and Jemma Burt. It was recorded when Weird Decibels had some down time. the sessions went well and we recorded an album that I am immensely proud of. It was just under a year of hard work, writing, recording, mixing, mastering and then designing the artwork.

My thoughts turned to its legacy, How do I get this recording to resonate through the world and through peoples musical conscience. I decided to try the on-line route; Spotify and itunes. The CD would come later in a big deluxe package.

Spotifyimage3

Morningday started well; there was the launch party which was fantastic (thanks Mum and Dad), the record was being played on Spotify and there were sales on itunes. So I got prepared to launch the CD packages albeit in a fumbled way. There has been a limited response; so I looked at my own listening habits to see if I could find answers.

I listen to Spotify a lot. Every new song I hear on BBC radio is on Spotify; I listen to the whole album then if I like it I will save it. I add it to my virtual collection and I lazily scroll down my albums. there are fleeting bands to which I have listened once. I haven’t paid for that album so I don’t need to invest time in it to fully understand it. I add and add until I have a huge catalogue of bands that I claim to like. Its worrying because I cannot remember much of what I have appeared to listened to yet when I look through my CDs I can remember a vast majority of the records I listened to and the joy they brought me.

My CD collection is there it exists I can pick the CD and study the art work. However my collection stops around 2012 save for a few records that I simply had to have.

So as I wade through the digital sea, through the masses of talented artists who struggled to get listened to I realise that my £10 a month for Spotify premium isn’t enough. I need to start buying the physical format of music again before it disappears and the artists years of work putting out recordings becomes a fleeting moments of a listeners attention.

As I write this I have listened to CDs; Dinosaur Jr ‘I Bet on Sky’, Sonic Youth ‘ the Eternal’ an The Middle East ‘ I want That You Are Always Happy’

I will buy a couple of CD’s tonight…Via Amazon…there is not one record shop in Falkirk.

Weird Decibels next album WdB 2.0 due late 2015 will be released on CD first with a full deluxe package including the album. the full Oakley sessions, b sides, demos, and a full booklet! Once we sell a few maybe then will it float away in the digital sea!

Pabs

The songs we played live from Weird Decibels 1

On the 6th of November 2014 we play Ivory Blacks in Glasgow. it will be the last gig we play in support of our last album Weird Decibels 1 before we retire that fine record to the retro corner. Our focus will then turn to Weird Decibels 2.0 (could we call it anything else?)

Derek setting up the kit for Tonight Live Not Completely Sold Out
Derek setting up the kit for Tonight Live Not Completely Sold Out

We played a few gigs in support of Weird Decibels 1 so I thought I count up how many times we played each song. Its not an exact science but here goes. Gigs + songs – Beer – set list changes + requests = the song count below.

1. Speak played 8 times

1. Joker played 8 times

3. Wonder played 6 times (listed 7 but swapped for a request)

3. Wait played 6 times

5. Deliverance played 5 times

5. Steel played 5 times

7. Crown played 3 times

7. Power played 3 times

9. Forward played twice

9, Pay played twice

9. Industry played twice

12. Psalm played once

Notable others (from Forthcoming WdB 2,0) Miss Asphyxia 3, Kill It Kill it 2, I Hear The City 2, Little Thoughts Lost 1 and (from One More Solo)High Heels 1

The three songs with videos on YouTube or otherwise known as the ‘singles’ (Speak, Joker and Wonder) have been played (or listed) the most.

942848_10151577466209519_719894918_n

In at joint 3rd is Wait! a throwaway piece of rock that we loved playing but every time we looked up there was muted applause! So we decided to drop it from future sets. While at the bottom Psalm the down tuned 3 solo epic opener is the least played. This is partly due to the down tuning hassles and the limited time we had on stage. We played Psalm at the launch night (back at 20 rocks)  when we had far more time to play. Pity, I would’ve loved to play that more. Forward and Pay never got played much; that happens with certain tracks I guess.

598493_10151772481266740_1524365803_n

Here is the track listing for Ivory Blacks

1. Speak

2. Deliverance

3. Wonder

4. Power

5. Joker

6. Crown

7, Industry

probably high Heels!

wpid-IMG_14851348694004.jpeg

So that gives us Speak 9 (plays), Joker 9, Wonder 7, Wait 6 Deliverance 6, Steel 5, Power 4, Crown 4, Industry 3, Pay 2, Forward 2 and Psalm. Oh not forgetting High Heels!

Pabs