We rate our recordings part 2. 10-6

We rate our recordings from 10 to 6 in part two of our feature. A couple of ‘official’ albums appear in this part, as we counted up our scores we were surprised at some of the results… Our latest recording Everyday Heroes EP is out soon.

10.Live! Tonight! Not Completely Sold Out! (2010, this has not been officially released, a few limited copies are kicking about)

tonightnotsoldout

The tongue in cheek title, based on Nirvana’s film of a similar name Live! Tonight! Not Completely Sold Out! Was our first stab at recording a live album. We arranged a gig at the Argyll bar that was once owned by Derek.

Pabs.

Our first attempt at recording one of our gigs, we had previous recordings from camcorder footage and a couple of recordings from venues like the Cathouse but we’d never attempted to record the full show.

We basically placed mics in front of the kit and the amps and took a feed off the PA, it was a quick setup, we pressed record and just started playing. The one regret is not placing a mic at the back of the room to capture the crowd. When I say crowd there were a few people at the back of the venue, it was busy if I recall, but not packed.

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Two rode nt2a on the amps, a mic above the kit. Basic setup

I was a bit disappointed we played so many covers, the album has a pretty even mix of originals and covers but i would’ve preferred tunes from the albums we had at the time. Interestingly there were early versions of Speak and Forward. So we had a live albums with tracks from an album yet to be released! Saying that we haven’t uploaded LTNCSO so not many people have heard it.

Stu

I agree with Pabs it’s a pity there are lot of covers but it’s a great wee live album.

I remember this gig well as I used my Ibanez double neck the whole time which sound amazing on the recording but was a  complete back breaker. I suffer for my art ha ha.

This recording has a great live feel and sound apart from Bo’s buzzing bass in between tracks hee hee.

Pabs

Yeah that reminds me of the hours of editing out the buzz whenever he stopped playing the bass.

Bo

Buzzzzzzzz

Derek

Great night, great gig which puts it above Live at the North Star, in my opinion. Like Pabs I wish we put a mic at the back of the room.

Pabs

Yep we would’ve captured Rooz in his full heckling glory!

9. Official Bootleg 1 (2005)

A collection of live recordings, radio broadcasts and unreleased songs. Official Bootleg 1 spans from 1995 to 2004 and has a broader range of songs that its predecessor.

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Pabs

This was fun to compile; I dusted down about five or six shoe boxes full of old tapes and CDs. Listening back was quite an adventure. This was back around 2004 / 5 around the release of One More Solo. So we didn’t have the recording experience that we have today.

Bo

Great to have these recordings to listen back to, radio spots that only a few people will have heard at the time.

Pabs

There was nearly a decade’s worth of past recordings including b-sides from the Split Level sessions. I found our first four track demos one of which was Educational Suicide; the first song we ever created.

Some of the recordings were pretty poor, the camcorder footage for the Martell gigs was recorded in Mono and there was no scope for mixing it. However it did capture the atmosphere of those early gigs which was fantastic.

Of course the Official Bootleg 1 was where I was interviewed by Central FM and uttered the ‘it’s just a hobby’ quote for which the guys have never let me forget.

Stu

Love this. So many hidden wee gems. All the radio interviews ‘It’s a hobby’ lol

Original version of Educational and live version of Creep live at the Glasgow Cathouse.

Derek

Nothing wrong with bootlegs but there are better versions of the songs on our albums.

8. Riot Act (2007)

Our 5th album Riot Act come in at 8 2nd lowest appearance of an official album. Pabs explains why he voted it down.

riota ct
That’s real blood. Punching walls not recommended. Probably one of our best covers

Pabs.

I have never connected to Riot Act in a way I have done with the other albums; I even voted Coldhome Street higher than Riot Act. Despite its inferior sound Coldhome meant more to me than this album because I thought it was our last and listened to it many times.

I think its dated pretty badly, partly because of the lyrics. I wasn’t writing particularly imaginative lyrics and got lazy. I lost it here!

Stu

Still love underachiever what a great track and solo. Very punky and influenced by all the cover gigs we were playing at the time.

Classics Razor wire and all work out in the end still sound great and of course the Sky is Falling.Also arguably out best cover artwork for an album.plus we played the Cavern touring this cd.

 

 

Derek

Although my favourite song (that we’ve done) is Sky is Fallen the other songs didn’t age as well, although there are other high spots. I feel the album is inconsistent.

Pabs

Stu is spot on about the cover art, it’s probably our best cover and Derek suffered for his art. He punched the wall to open up a wound. Thats real blood folks!

 

 

Bo

Dave Broon to Stu as he was scraping his knuckles on the wall outside – that’s not how you do it *punches door* that’s how you do it. Poor Stus knuckles were bloodied up but didn’t make the cover. Still one of my favourite albums that we’ve done. Also, it’s not all real blood pabs, pretty sure there’s some ketchup in there as the blood wasn’t showing up on camera enough. Was this the album Stu and I built the ‘vocal booth’ in the hall with eggboxes and cardboard?

Pabs

Yes we built a makeshift vocal booth in the small corridor, it didn’t really work though, we were still learning at this time. I guess we’re always learning about sound production.

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We created a Riot in this scene

7. Quiet Act 

quiet act

It is often seen as the flip side of Riot Act; this was a big change in sound for us (going acoustic) but not necessarily a change in direction.

Bo

Good songs but not quite as good as I feel we have the potential to do on acoustics. We had a fantastic time recording this album in a stunning location though.

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we don’t hire professional studios and I guess our sound isn’t as polished as it could be; but instead of looking at a sound treated wall we look at this…

Pabs

I always knew that Derek would vote this album high as it was his idea to try an album without our trademark distortion. There was a bit of reluctance from the rest of us but we weren’t particularly busy at the time so we decided to experiment.

I really like listening to Quiet Act these days, I prefer it to its sister album Riot Act and with the distortion turned off it allowed the more integrate parts of our music (mainly Stu’s solo parts) to breathe little more.

I also like the recording quality. I was learning new mic placements and mixing techniques. This was a good learning experience for me. It’s quite a well balanced album, maybe missing a nice kick sound but overall its clarity is one of its strengths.

And yes I’m with Greg on the location for this record, it was stunning.

Stu

Get the distortion back on ha ha.

Great wee mellow album. We pushed ourselves with this.There is nowhere to hide in an acoustic setting and we needed to do something different which would mean Weird Decibels 1 could be very loud and heavy.

Pabs

Which it was!

Stu

A lot of fun to record(especially when me and Bo starred drinking cider during Derek’s drum takes)Plus sitting in that living room recording guitar with that stunning view was very inspirational.

6. Live from the North Star (2016)

A live set recorded at the North Star May 2016. This is the highest non-studio album on the list but just misses out on the top five.

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Derek

To be fair I’ve not heard this much, good night though.

Pabs

I recorded. Mixed, mastered and designed the sleeve in order to be ready for Christmas 2016 so I could hand the CDs to the lads…and now I discover Derek’s hardly listened to it!

Stu

Really like this record listened to it twice that Christmas morning! All the good stuff of wdb1 and 2.Cracking extended version of Wait.

We kick serious arse on this recording considering it was quite a loose gig.

 

 

Pabs

I remember this night; I recorded the Sonic Blues and the Rabid Dogs and I had to do their sound. I was knackered by the time we played. For some reason we pointed our lights up towards the ceiling. But it turned out it was right in my fecking eyes and I could’nt see the fret board of my guitar. I dropped a few notes. Our sound was all over the place as we were playing through Rabids amps. I had to chop a few songs from the recording but whats left has turned out alright.

Bo

Always great to hear a live recording, even though I accidently left a phaser setting on with my pedal that I didn’t seem to hear at the time and carries it over a few songs.

Pabs

Haha yes the phaser all through a couple of songs. What is it with buzzes and phaser pedals on live records Greg?

Bo

Years of standing next to noisy lorries I guess. Hearings shot 😂

Stu

All you can hear is Dale shouting get more drunk Boris. Brilliant

Do you want to see what was ranked first? Click

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We rate our recordings part 1. 15-11

We are just about to release our latest recording; Everyday Heroes will be our 16th recording that we released over the last 23 years. While we have never had any success commercially we are proud that we’ve been lucky enough to record many moments from our rock career so far. Check out our bandcamp site for the two singles already released from the EP.

The last two decades have seen us visit studios, dig out four tracks, fling mics around music venues and hire country retreats to capture whatever creations we had come up with.

It’s been an interesting adventure so far with a wide range of results. So the four of us sat back an attempted to put it all together by rating them from our proudest creation to something we’d put down as experience. It was an interesting debate over a cup of tea. How rock and roll are we?

We present you a look at our recordings from 15 to 11. Nearly all can be heard free on bandcamp. Part 2 will be here soon, keep an eye out for it.

15. Cold Calling EP. (2004)

cold-calling-cover

We put together a 4 track EP as a demo before the launch of our 2004 album One More Solo.

Pabs

2004 was an exciting year for the band; we were reforming after a 4 year hiatus and we were frequently recording at Derek’s old flat just outside the centre of Falkirk, I just remember having a great time there, drinking beer, eating Subways and recording all our old albums again. The Cold Calling Ep was released prior to the album One More Solo. It was also a demo of the album and had only track that did not appear on One More Solo which is why I rated this low.

This Is The Last time, written by Sllablo, a side project that Derek and I had worked on was a song of the same rock vein that can be heard on Solo. It’s a raucous number that I really enjoy and hindsight would have probably said put it on the album and take another track off. However I’m not sure what our thinking was at the time.

Cold Calling, Easy Way and Trying To Grab Hold were also included. The EP got a rather average review in the Daily Record which in some ways was fair. Before these recordings were re-mastered the music was muddy in tone but they are fun songs Cold Calling is of its time, influenced by much of the music scene at the time, the clean riffs of Doves and early Coldplay are present. Easy Way has always been a favourite of the band. Trying to Grab hold always transported me back to grabbing a guitar and sitting it a fireplace with beer and rum

The Cold Calling cover is perhaps one of our best, its a bit like a catchphrase with the phone nestled in the freezer.

Derek

Cold Calling is a good EP, it got us back going again so I will always have a soft spot for this record.
Stu

Great cover photo.We used a blue bulb and the photo turned out bright green! Good taster for the full (One More) Solo album.

Bo

Loved the inside cover for this e.p. with the four pics of us even though I was taking it way too serious and ended up looking gormless :D.  Easy way is a great track.

14. Official Bootleg 2 (2009)

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Our second collection of rare recordings and demo tapes that we never intended to put onto our albums but didn’t want to go to waste. It includes live recordings, radio interviews and unreleased tracks.

Pabs

I recall Derek being a bit reluctant for this to be released as it didn’t have the same variety of recordings that the first bootleg had. However I had CDs and tapes lying around the house, and as Im a worrier I thought “what if the tapes or CDs stopped working and we lost the recordings?” So I went ahead and made up the bootleg.

Derek

I don’t think there is nothing wrong with Bootleg 2 in my opinion I just feel that Bootleg 2 has two many versions of songs that are already on our albums, and they are better versions.

Pabs

I do agree with Derek’s comment, however I feel there are many good moments on Bootleg 2, not least Side by Side. How can I not mention the song that my wife and I had for our first dance at our wedding. I was so grateful to the band for helping me make a unique song for our day.

There was also rough 4 track recordings from a family BBQ that we played, they bring a smile, and I really like the first version of Breathing Space. The re-recorded version of Easy Way which was to be released as a single on Bracken Records is interesting, it just didn’t have the feel of the original. A bit like the whole album to be honest.

Stu

Some good stuff on this album. Side by side is a belter of a song. Radio interviews are good listening back to. Not as good as bootleg 1 but great lost versions of songs and ideas that didn’t quite make it onto album’s.

Bo

Love side by side, one of my favourite tracks. I wasn’t in the family barbeque recording as I wasn’t there. Agree with the re-recording of easy way losing something, think Del may have used a double bass pedal on the original recording.

Pabs

Yes that’s right he did; i just think the whole feel of the original version was better.

Stu

The recording of Easy Way I was away on holiday. Straight back from my break I turned up at Deeks flat and knocked out my guitar parts as you guys had done the Rhythm track. This is probably why it had a different feel as we are always together when we record normally  

13. Live at the Lodge (2009) (not currently released)

liveatlodge

A live acoustic album of cover songs that we recorded at the end of the Quiet Act sessions back in 2007.

Pabs.

I could not be bothered recording this; it was the end of the Quiet Act sessions and i was absolutely gutted to be heading home and I was immensely hungover. We had spent the previous day drinking at the Baddachro Inn before Greg and I spent much of the night sitting by a fire in the garden before being freaked out by the bellow of a male stag.

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We’d been in the pub all day. I was in no fit state to record the next day. Pabs

This is my least favourite recording, the Cold Calling EP is bottom of my list only because it’s obsolete but Live at the Lodge never added anything to our roster of music.

Derek

Live at the Lodge was great fun to do but it was really a wee recording for us that takes me back to my favourite lodge.

Pabs

I’m quite surprised that this was Derek’s favourite lodge (that we recorded in), saying that he did have the biggest bedroom, which he always manages to snatch! Favourite recording lodge is a whole new blog, but I loved the last cottage that we used for Weird Decibels 2

Stu

Good wee live acoustic covers album but the best bit is an full band version of Glass People. Instant classic.

Bo

Yeah, Glass People saves this record. Brings back good memories though with that big picture window.

Pabs

I forgot about this version of Glass People! We should have this on another record…

Stu

Agreed. Should go on Bootleg 3!

12. Coldhome Street (2000)

coldhome street
T

Recorded in a mixture of studios and on a 4 track tascam the sound quality of Coldhome Street doesn’t do it justice. The band were also in limbo; still smarting from the Big World scam, we disappeared from the scene, hid in our practise room and recorded. This is the only official album release in our bottom five,

Bo

My least favourite album only due to the sound quality. Some great songs on there such as I Tried to Fly, and Sun Shines Brighter which would have been great with a higher quality recording.

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A basic setup, four track and a mic passed around the room

Derek

I think this is an underrated album that’s often not given the credit due to the recording; it was on a 4 track an we were four experienced guys (one which wasn’t really there). The album has some good songs though.

 

 

 

 

 

Pabs

I’m not sure what Derek means by ‘one which wasn’t really there’ I think he might mean Stu who had lost heart at this point. He wanted to gig and rock out, we were just moping in the studio. Yeah the recording is pretty bad but i still try to work out how i bounced all the drums and bass onto one track then added the guitars and vocals. Not many young musicians would even consider that these days.

Of the four of us i rated Coldhome Street the highest. It was the only full album we had at the time when Stu left and I believed the band was finished. So all I had was a 6 track demo and this album to listen to. I played this a lot and discovered a lot of hidden parts in the songs.

The songs are fun, at times they make me laugh and some of the lyrics I penned. Especially Pearl Necklace!

I remember Stu and I used to reminisce about this album, we listened to it a lot as we started to plan the ‘best of’ acoustic album as we truly thought that there was no chance the band would get back together.

Stu

Used to love listening to this album as it was the only fully recorded album we had at the time. I don’t think it has lasted the test of time compared to our other recordings hence why I rated it so low.

Musically I wasn’t in a happy place during the recording of this album and as Henry Senior rightly points out, I lost it during this period.

Pabs

I wouldn’t say Stu lost it…It creeps up on you, going to the same room, doing the same things over and over. We just got jaded. We learned a lot from this time and we needed the break. We came back to do One More Solo 4 years later and we never looked back. However my Dad does keep reminding Stu that he lost it back then!

Stu

I managed to find my form when we got back together and them some!

11. Weird Decibels 1.5 (2013)

WD 1.5 LT

This turned out to be a stop gap between Weird Decibels 1 and 2. A lot of the tracks were lifted from the podcasts we did at the time. They turned out to be good live acoustic versions of songs that appeared on Weird Decibels 1. Some unreleased tracks on there as well.

Pabs

I enjoy listening to this record, it feels like another bootleg but it was more a compilation of songs that became a kind of Bandcamp exclusive. We never cut a CD or printed off sleeves for WdB 1.5. I really liked the podcasts live versions of songs like Wonder.

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The podcasts were fun and produced some good recordings.

There are a couple of songs from the WdB 1 sessions that we didn’t put on the album. Buddy, Rusted and Bullet. When we started writing WdB1 we never intended to leave songs on the record, however as rehearsals progressed we kind of knew that these songs weren’t going to make it.

Stu

What an amazing guitar solo in Buddy and it never made the album!

3 great songs that never quite made the final cut and some cracking alternative acoustic versions. A great little listen and one for the complete ists.

Bo

Rusted. Great song. That is all.

Part 2

Quiet Act 10 years on

Listen free on Spotify.

Experience can be a wonderful thing you learn that for every failure there can be success, for every disappointment there is joy and for very lull there are peaks. I can say this now, as a singer who has sung verse and chorus for over two decades I now have the advantage of experience; although I no longer have the distant time of youth. Back in 2008 it was a very different story.

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The original Quiet Act did not have the band name on the cover, by this time we were disputing the name Weird.

Around 2006 and 2007 Weird Decibels were very much forgotten around the music scene. We were playing an increasing number of cover sets and slowly edging towards the well paid but soul destroying cover scene, Behind The Wall (which thankfully has recently put on a number of local events for original bands) was, at the time, notoriously reliant on cover bands.

I was a guest of many weddings in those years, I’d be sipping away on some overpriced beer listening to some well played but empty attempts of whatever chart hits happened to be popular at the time. I’d look at the band, some would clearly be enjoying the night, after all getting paid a few hundred quid for playing music, not bad… Others would have that dead look in their eyes as the robotically strummed the guitar that they once had a passion for.

Although I felt we were slipping this way in the mid 00’s we were still writing and recording our own material. Riot Act and Quiet Act were released within a year of each other, partly inspired by Foos Fighters double album In Your Honor. (which I feel was also a band going through the motions, in my opinion the 2000’s were pretty poor for music).

Riot Act had come and gone, we didn’t play many gigs to support our 2007 album. We reflected on our next move and Derek suggested an acoustic album. This would be a huge departure from our usual brand of rock. I felt Stu was a little reluctant to switch off the distortion, I was fairly open to the idea. Surprisingly Greg just went with the flow.

Writing the Quiet Act

It was never documented how we wrote the album but it was a fairly quick process, we had a number of songs written. Playing a full set of acoustic numbers was alien to us, it was known that we’d always have a quieter song on our albums but never a full set. Lyrically Quiet Act delved deeper into songs of alcohol and guilt. Riot Act was the night out, Quiet was the morning after.

 

 

Back then I was in my early 30’s, married and settling into a modest house on the outskirts of Falkirk. The rest of the guys were still living just outside the town centre (Greg, Stu and Derek all lived fairly close to each other although Stu would soon move away around this time). The booze culture was flowing and there were many party nights. Life had taken the expected course, the house, the car and the microwave.

While the lyrics were were still flowing out of the pen the stories were drying up. I still had many things to say through my songs but i’m not sure i wanted to tackle them at that time, so I took the easy way out and mainly reflected on the boozy aftermath of nights out. It wouldn’t be until many years later that I would find a new way to write lyrics.

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No amps this time just go ol’ acoustic guitars

We stuck to our tested formula of writing the music. I would create and idea and the band would develop it. It was not the more collaborative method we use today. So I’d be writing solo albums and music for the band. Naturally spreading I was spreading these ideas a little thin. (As I write this I find myself being rather harsh on Quiet Act, and I was for a while, but listening back its not as bad as it seemed at the time. There appears to more depth to my thinking than I thought.)

With the songs not written I turned my attention to the recording. This is where I started to become more enthusiastic. The year before we had headed out to a remote corner of Scotland to record Riot Act and it was a fantastic experience. The thought of doing it all again was fantastic. I spent hours trawling through a printed catalogue of castles and cottages doing research, trying to find if the property I was looking at would be next to no other being. I toiled for days and then weeks before finally my caught a beautiful small cottage nestled discreetly near the shores loch Gairloch. Sealladh Na Mara, a glimpse of the sea was calling us. We packed the van and headed off.
The Recording

On the 1st of September 2007 we packed all our modest musical belongings into a hire van. We left around half the van for our carry out and food. The excitement was palpable , this was something different for us. We were getting away from the daily loop of work. All the cover gigs had paid off and now we were able to pay for the hire of the cottage and record the album.

It was a long journey, very much similar to the trek we had for Riot Act however this time we were heading further north. This would be our longest recording trek to date.

The single story cottage, ‘sealladh na mara was perfect for us at the time. The living room had a wooden finish with large glass windows that stretched from floor to ceiling that overlooked the sloping garden that disappeared into the trees. Beyond the thick growth was a glimpse of the loch and Gairloch beyond it. It would be in this room that we would record a majority of Quiet Act.

 

 

Using a Tascam 2488 and a selection of cardioid mics including our shiney new rodes (the NT2A) we set up in two rooms. The drums were hustled into the corner of the room, the ceiling was a bit low but the reflective nature of the room lended to a nice open roomy sound. In the kitchen was a makeshift control room with the Tascam 2488 a the centre. A mesh of mic leads from the living room snaked through the serving hatch. Further along the corridor were two drunken musicians Greg and Stu, who during the setup, had been sipping cider in the Autumn sun.

 

 

The recordings went well with each song only taking a couple of takes; Derek grew increasingly frustrated at the antics of Stu and Greg but we soldiered on and capture the drums.

All the other instruments were recorded in the living room, much of them picked up by various paired Rode NTA2 formations. Additional work was done once we had returned home and much of the mixing was completed in Falkirk. Kevin Byrne lended an ear to help finish off the mixing, it was useful having a fresh set of ears.

 

 

10 Years On.

Quiet Act was more of an exercise for me to explore new studio techniques including better use of EQ. I was cutting more frequencies than boosting and this really helped the sound breath. As an album Quiet Act stands on its own right in our collection.

There are a number of tracks I’m really fond of now. Who Are You is not a cover of the Who song, instead its about four guys reaching an end of one chapter in their lives and heading to another. The music fame dream was distant now and we turned to face a normal life in an average Scottish town accepting that we were fairly content with what we had; albeit with a slight taste of regret.

Woman in My Dreams is hardly ever mentioned these days but it was one song that I felt i had mixed well and that maybe i was string to learn how to record and mix. Buy You A Cape and Breathing Space is the angry strike out section of the album, Grand Day Out celebrated many of our days drinking in either Glasgow or Edinburgh (where the song is based). The second half of the album is laden with guilt and feels like a rather sobering Sunday morning.

It is completely different to what we have recorded before, however it refreshed our musical palette and paved the way for Weird Decibels 1 and a whole new era for the band.