We’re all going to remember this year because we didn’t expect it to be this way. The start of a new decade, a new year, always brings a sense of hope and optimism. We raised a glass with our loved ones at the start of 2020. Cheers! We shouted, smiled and waited for our hopes to unfold.
Hogmanay, I have always loved it. These days we sit in the house, watch at the crap on TV and sometimes chuckle at Only an Excuse. As 2019 ticked over to 2020 I hugged the family, and we had a wee night of festivities. At the back of my mind was a feeling of excitement.
Weird Decibels had a new album due out in a matter of weeks, we’d release our 9th album on our 25th anniversary. A jolt of pride sparked in my heart; I was still making music with my best mates. Maybe, I thought, we’d get back on the gigs, play a few this year. Yes, 2020 was going to be a good year for the band.
We released our new single Not Giving Up. I’m sure this was one of those songs we wrote near the end of our February writing sessions. The response was just incredible.
We put the video out, a collage of video clips from out recording session in Craigenrae. It proved that as we head through our 40s we are not growing up…The video was very popular, however to see it become our most streamed song of all time (on Spotify) was incredible. I couldn’t wait for the streaming payments to ping on my notifications.
Well, the phone did ping! We received enough money from our streams to buy two pints. However, the fact that people were listening meant I really didn’t care if Spotify et al. paid us or not (not being the default)
We were back at practise! Greg, now a proud father, beamed as he strapped on the bass. We got straight to work, relearning the songs for the new album. At break we started to make plans for gigs. It was exciting.
February arrived on the 21st of…February and we had a brilliant small gathering of friends at my parents wee bar. A small fire crackled as we all caught up. Dad put the CD on the big Hi Fi, it was a sweet moment. A couple of us made mention of the news coming from China, the virus that had spread to Europe. We shrugged and cracked open another beer.
March 23rd We’re all told to stay at home
March 26th UK goes into lockdown.
I remember sitting in the house, our son was going though his lessons. He did really well. I stepped out into the garden. We are under a flight path; the roar of jet engines was a sound we had gotten used to. The silence was just incredible, in some ways unnerving.
This was getting real.
At some point during the lockdown, I picked up the guitar and started playing, I played for hours, most days. Weird Decibels tunes, solo tunes and covers. I even started writing. I hadn’t heard from the guys much. We were all trying to process our own thoughts.
I decided to build a wee set of songs that I would film then share online.
I could’ve streamed a live show, but the sound would’ve been that tinny, thin sound that you get from mobile phones. Instead, I recorded and mixed the live performance. I lifted a few songs off February, flung in a Nirvana cover and played what is perhaps one of my favourite WdB songs A801.
The LiveCast went down fairly well. The band got in touch, pleased that we had found a way to reach out to our listeners.
I text Stu to see if he would help with the second LiveCast I had planned
LiveCast 2 went out to the world, if play counts are your thing then you could say it was going in the right way. Modest numbers but I guess I’ve given up with all that counting nonsense (who am I kidding! Subscribe! Follow pleeease! ). Stu somehow managed to play live solos over my records, the tricky part was syncing them. That took an age. But it was great to see Stu through the lockdown in this weird kinda way.
Now my confidence was growing, and I wondered how to get Greg and Derek involved.
April 16th I’ll Always Be Here
Our second single from February needed a music video. but with the nation on full lockdown i was wondering how we would do this. Based on the LiveCasts I suggested that we film parts of the single to male a video. Derek went further and it was genius. He got his kids involved, playing drums and guitar! it was brilliant and it struck and emotional chord. I got my boy involved and Greg did the same. It was a celebration of friends and family, the antidote we needed for our heavy hearts as the days apart grew longer.
May 15th LiveCast 3
Greg stepped up and we finally got some bass onto the live recordings. Unfortunately recording into a phone is not best for catching lower tones however a bit of magic EQing in the studio helped a bit. For some reason I looked thoroughly fed up on this live show. The lockdown was starting to bite, I probably had had a few beers and nursing a headache.
Then trying to sync a bass and solo guitar onto my recording was tricky but we got there and people really started to get into the casts, some of the support we got was brilliant.
Tommy Clark and Weird Decibels chat over Zoom.
If you are a regular reader of this page, then you will know that our friend Tommy has been a supporter of the band since the Weird Decibels 1 days. He has done so much for the local community and beyond. His radio shows have grown, and he is now heard on a number of stations.
When he agreed to have us on his ‘Next Up With Tommy Clark’ we were delighted. It was a great laugh and he played three songs from February.
May 15th LiveCast 4 A New Hope
It was probably boredom that set in, I started naming the LiveCasts with puns of Star Wars. This recording was probably my favourite, as we were all in this one. Derek had arrived on keyboards. A nightmare to edit all the parts but Greg did wonders with the video editing.
We even managed to fling in a track from the long-lost recordings of Sllablo
On May 24th the Vibration Festival held a live stream of clips of local artists. Hats off to them and I hope they are back in 2021. We appeared amid the numerous local bands. It was a good watch.
We stream LiveCast 5 and this was one of our most popular. In addition to more Weird Decibels songs, we played a few covers and a Smith & McCairney track.
LiveCast 6 and by now my heart was no longer in it. It was a good recording, Stu, Greg and I had a lot of fun with this one but it felt that it had run its course and there were a number of reasons.
I was missing playing live with the guys and it was getting repetitive. It was time to call a halt on this series. I started to plan a new series of LiveCasts that would be the full band in the rehearsal room.
Restrictions were finally easing, soon we would be back in our room playing live
This happened through the summer. We rehearsed our new album. Sure, we wore masks at practise and kept our distance, but it was great to be back making noise.
One night, as we stood in the yard having a break we even started to think about writing again. Everything started to fall in place as the autumn colours appeared on the trees
Then came the return of the restrictions
We fell silent again. I know some bands were still rehearsing through the new ‘teir’ restrictions, but we decided against it. Since then, we have not been in the same room together.
Then around October there was a video call. Derek wanted to make music videos! We all agreed! When we hung up after a slightly awkward video chat (I’m not good with video chats) I picked up my guitar and started to write some music.
Let’s leave it there.
See you 2021.