I am a father and husband and love family holidays in the tent visiting Scotland which is perhaps the greatest country in the world. I love music and play in Weird Decibels as well as solo. I love video games but have yet to blog about that.
In the 23 years that we’ve played around Scotland we have met many great bands and friends. Time often sees many bands fade as we carry on towards out next musical adventure. There is an exception; the wonderful Buzzards of Babylon.
It was around our One More Solo tour back in 2005 that we first met some of the Buzzards. Back then they were in a different guise, Kranksolo, this is where we met current BoB members Rab Dempsey (vocals) and Mike Gordon (bass). We had played the Path Tavern, a small venue in Kirkcaldy.
The Buzzards of Balyon arose from the unfortunate end of Kranksolo and released a fantastic EP; this included Monkey Knife Fight which became a solid live favourite.
Probably one of the best album names of the year is Micrometeoriod Modulation. Rab, Stuart Gillies (guitar), Mike, Stephen Kirk MacLeod (drums) and Alec have produced a thumping 48 minutes of rock, blues and a tinge of metal brought together by their long served sound engineer Travis Whalley.
Opener I Am Hell has a growl, Rabs vocals are always strong, he has a voice and range perfectly suited to the downtuned rock that plays with him. The huge riffs have a blend of Queens of The Stone Age but meater, perhaps in the vein of mid-early Metallica.
The guitars drive the music, with the kind nature but imposing stature of Alec Raeside and Stuart Gillies assaulting both speakers.
The guys are having fun, embracing their superb music that so far remains unsigned, is being unsigned such a problem anymore? The title of the tracks give away some of the enjoyment they are having B U aWzrd being an example. Its quick riffs show the dexterity of the band before they launch into meaty chorus chords.
Rabs lyrics have always been well written; ‘Be you a wizard or a Mother of invention’ he roars as the band changes pace throughout the track. The beauty of B U aWzrd is the many magical roads it takes you down.
This is what people miss when they only listen to bands from the mainstream, they miss bands who are prepared to take risks, push their music in a different way, bands that are happy to play songs over 3 minutes long. At over 7 minutes this is spellbinding.
Morning After is next, subtle guitars gently bring in the song, giving the record a chance to breath and cleanse the palette before the crunch kicks back in. I thought Mark Lanegan was singing for a minute, Rabs fantastic controlled vocals showing his lower range; arguably this is where he thrives.
When Rab snarls ‘I lost my way, I lift my head towards the sun’ near the end of Interplanetary Convulsion you can feel aggression resonating from the usually upbeat Mr Dempsey, it’s a fine track that slows down with the mood as it fades.
Bi-Polar Bear is blues at its heaviest, this is confirmed when the mouth organ floats over the monolithic guitars, it’s a nice change of texture for the record. I’m tempted to say that this is a direction that suits the Buzzards, the moody blues really fits with the pitch of the vocals. Perhaps a highlight of the album.
Buzzards Of Babylon are a fine band; we’ve played a few shows with them and love it. Everytime we met its never like strangers. They can drink…only our Greg has matched them.
They have finally graced us with an album and it is worthy of a purchase. Sure you could accuse us of being bias towards our friends but those that know me say I won’t say music is great without meaning it. Its excellent and satisfyingly aggressive enough to have you nodding your head in approval. Buy it, support one of the unearthed gems of the Scottish music scene, the Buzzards are soaring upwards.
Seems strange that after over two decades I can’t recall Weird Decibels playing Dunfermline. That was until I remembered a biker rally we played in Crossgates between Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline, but that’s a story for another day.
We were asked to play Montys a couple of weeks before the gig. The venue has a laid back approach to live music, they like to put on bands every weekend, you turn up and you play. The venue itself is a mecca for those who love their rock music. Posters of rock icons are pinned on the wall and the music heard in the background was a playlist of heavy tunes for the punters.
We were made to feel very welcome but the place was empty. We wondered if this would be the first quiet gig for a while. We hadn’t really pushed this one.
We were on first which was fine, we did originally think we’d be on third so we had a longer set so we had to cut a couple of tracks.
I stepped up with my guitar in hand ready to soundcheck. I approached the Marshall stack and switched on the head. Suddenly I heard a electric crunch and smelt burning. It was not I was hoping for. Gav who was on the sound remained calm, he did a very good job throughout the night. The only problem was that we did not have a spare amp head.
Enter Kirby guitarist of The Other Side came to the rescue. He kindly allowed us to play though his valve amp. This saved the night.
By the time half 8 arrived it was time for us to go onstage. The place was empty bar a few eager music fans how had arrived to watch the live music. They were regulars and explained that Monty’s can be packed one week and empty the next.
Undeterred we carried on and struck the first chords of Feeling, once the music was playing the other bands and other people wandered from downstairs and suddenly we had a small but appreciative crowd watching us.
Take the Blindness
Who you Know
I Hear the City
I really enjoyed this gig, Feeling was a little ropey for me but things tightened up when we played Speak. It was wonderful to play Take the Blindness From Your Eyes live for the first time. Finally free from the restrictions of the studio the song felt great to play. A801 was also played for the first time; I only had a light distortion (I didn’t want to muck about with the settings on Kirby’s amp) and I thought it gave the song another edge. It went down really well.
Medicine is now my live favourite, it’s a great song to play. Quoted was angrier than usual and to end with I Hear the City seemed to work well,
After we finished I caught up with the guys from The Other Side and we shared our joint passion for recording our own music; they were friendly bunch of guys who were helpfully sharing contact details of people to get in touch.
We stayed to drink a few beers, well Derek and I did.Stu wasn’t feeling too hot and Greg was working the next day so he was driving back. We took in the sets of Phoenix Lane and the fantastically entertaining AYE Hobos. On last was The Other Side who played many rock songs and a range of brilliant solos that made me want to listen to Dinosaur Jr all over again. Sadly we had to leave halfway through their set sdo Greg could get home but i liked what I heard.
It was a great evening for us, we really enjoyed a night out in the Dunfermline music scene hopefully we’ll be back in the near future and not leave it quite as long next time.
Stu and Pabs take a look back at our first gig at the Martell Falkirk in 1995. Thanks to Derek for the archive flyers, posters and clippings. Stu for the pictures. Not sure who took them.
It was Thursday 17th August 1995, Bill Clinton was still president of the USA, Take That were in the top five and in the the cinema Waterworld was watched by noone. Another seismic event was about to take to place. Weird were about to play live for the first time.
A few months earlier Greg and Pabs had set their first target, to form a band and play the Martell. They created Weird with Stewart and Derek in the deepest of winter in February 95. A few songs later, probably around 6 or so we were looking for our first gig. That offer came from the late Chris Masson who got us on the bill to support Cage, one of Falkirk’s finest and fiercist bands.
We just had a handful of songs, we hadn’t even graced the studio but we had written some songs that earlier Weird followers would enjoy for years namely: The Rain, Vancouver and Educational Suicide, some of our best known tracks. We felt these songs were strong and it made us confident going into our first gig, well fairly confident!
Back then the Martell was a big deal, it, alongside the Happening Club were the places for local bands to play. Greg and I had went every Thursday night for weeks, months even, to drink beer and listen to Cage. When the call came to play the Martell I was excited, nervous, but really excited. Derek kept a copy of our first flyer. We were third on the bill, we would open up the show for Cage and a band called Twister. A lot of bands in the local scene had ‘er’ at the end of their name.
Our first set list was penned in black ink, what a feeling that was, writing our first set list. Six songs. The Rain, Educational Suicide, Show Your Face Soon, Stay In, Vancouver and Go Away. We never recorded Stay In or Go Away.
We pulled up to the Martell and had to load into the side door straight onto the stage. I walked onto the stage as Jimmy and the sound guys were setting up, I had long hair draped over my face I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was just doing vocals, the freedom! I could just turn up and sing. The classic days.
I remember walking into the venue and hearing Ewan the drummer from headlining band Cage sound check and the hairs were standing on the back of my neck.
Sound checking my guitar felt amazing as It sounded huge through the massive pa system.
I remember hearing the kick drum through the PA for the first time. What a sound. We just used a vocal PA down at our practise room. Derek never used mics on his kit in rehearsal so we had never heard the drums like this before.
Derek was the cocky youngster so full of confidence and even in the early days he used to love winding me up. Greg was laid back as always. Stu if I remember correctly seemed quiet and a bit nervous.
Looking up I saw the lights during soundchek, the blotted out my view of the Martell, at this time it was empty, I remember Stu shredding the guitar to test it, it seemed like a huge sound. This was it, we were going live. I can’t remember what song we soundchecked with but I do remember reading about Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. Even at soundcheck Vedder would give everything to his performance, so I did the same. I put everything into the soundcheck!
We were about to go on, by this time a crowd had gathered, there were a lot of friends from high school. Phil and Juls were there as well (I’m sure Phil is in one of the photos), they only knew Stu at this time but we all became friends over the years. I walked up to the stage ready to play, I was really nervous. It’s always the first line you have to remember. Do that and the rest of the gig is fine. So I walked up ready to play and Derek was nowhere to be seen…
Stu played a riff as the crowd waited. Then Derek runs up after getting changed in the toilets. I was raging. Finally we were ready to play. I just recall the lights, the music took me and I just went crazy. I had seen Chris Masson of Cage do the same a few times on this stage, he put everything into his live shows so I did the same, it was natural. Something comes out when you play live, its like all the anger that builds up just pours out. My hair was everywhere. I was singing my songs to other people now.
I stood on stage blasted out the 1st song the Rain the crowd went mental I thought that’s awesome but my guitar didn’t seem that loud on stage…I then realised the sound engineer hadn’t mic’d up my guitar amp!
First song done and my confidence grew. The crowd cheered, the folk from the high school, were loving having a few beers on a Thursday!
After I moved the microphone in front of my amp it sounded a lot better and I grew in confidence.I was pretty nervous which I always am at gigs but after I nail the 1st song the nerves settle and after rehearsing at the practice room for months the live sound on stage was incredible.
The gig flew past, it was only six songs but it felt like 5 minutes. It was an amazing feeling coming off stage and our friends were congratulating us. We dissolved back into the crowd and enjoyed the rest of the night. Cage were amazing, Light years ahead of us, they had been together for a while and were getting into their stride. Stu
Our 1st gig flew by so quickly. So many people came up to us after in Firkins on the Saturday night saying how good we had been. Such a buzz. We had arrived on the live scene.
Shuffledown is now ingrained into the psyche of the local music scene; regular Shuffle goers will look eagerly for the line up announcements around the Autumn and plan a day of music and drink ahead. Past years have seen successful, subtle additions to the lineup that have helped broaden the range of people who soak in the sights and sounds at the Dobbie hall. Past lineups have included the impressive headliners Broken Records during Shuffledown’s maiden year to the unearthed gem that was Paddy Steer in year 2. There have been successes and surprises every year.
Gifted to the people of Larbert by Major Robert Dobbie, the hall has matured into a grand building that generations of locals have been proud of. It’s become Shuffledown’s home; adding a touch of grandeur to the festival, many of the bands that play are often used to the trappings of more modest venues.
As I reached the doors, ready to enjoy Suffledown’s fourth year I was greeted by a vocal quartet, food stalls and an area for arts and crafts. Not to mention a warm welcome from the many volunteers. I walked into the hall and admired the well decorated stage, I looked for the trademark Shuffledown lamp and it was proudly illuminated to the right of the stage. In addition to the lamp there was a new lighting rig and a large screen to enhance the visual experience.
Two inviting drinks stalls were set up across from the main bar. I decided against the Prosecco, that stuff goes right to my head, it was Birds and Bees for me. The surroundings gave me the impression that Shuffledown is now well established and the leading music festival of the Falkirk area.
At the back of 2 o clock the early comers were greeted by The Sonic Blues, a late but welcome addition to the Shuffledown lineup. In what is to be their last gig for an undefined hiatus, the Blues looked like there were at home on the big stage. The great sound helped the trios bluesy rock transcend over the hall. They played a few tracks of last years album ‘Something Today’ and ‘Purgatory Blues’ was as enjoyable as ever.
A growing crowd gathered for Fairweather and the Elements; arriving back for a second year in a row. Under the impressive lighting and sound the band put on a great show. They closed with the impressive Go Far, the latest single from F.A.T.E.. This was a confident set from the six piece.
London act Davey Horne and his band arrived to a vibrant atmosphere. With threads of the War on Drugs their edgy southern rock had a psychedelic feel. Davey Horne switched between keys and guitar with ease. It was a very enjoyable set and went down very well with the audience. A highlight of the day for me.
Somehow keeping cool in a large jacket the lead singer of Mt. Doubt and the band delivered a set of pop and rock with some urgency. Reminding me of the Sleepy Jackson they put on a good show. I enjoyed the set and as they finished I headed around the festival for a wander.
This year there was more food stalls which was a good move given the growing army of all day drinkers. I had a few Birds and Bees from the Williams Brewery stall and I was even tempted for some Buckie from the main bar. I left it this time. I grabbed a quick coffee and a roll on pulled pork (nice) before heading back in to the venue from the crisp spring evening.
Refreshed and refueled I grabbed another beer and waited for Fuzzystar. The bands bittersweet melodies are well suited to Shuffledown. Sporting one of the most impressive beards in the Edinburgh indie scene, Andy Thomson, Fuzzystars singer, sang low melodies over the impressive solo guitar work from Michael Morrison. Longest Day was a nice indentation amid the flurry of guitars; its subtle handpicked chords and slow build was a smart change. Given my love for Grandaddy and the National, plus the fact that I enjoyed Fuzzystar at the Artisan Tap back in 2017 this band was always going to be one of my highlights of the day and they didn’t disappoint.
Upstairs in the cloud room there was a bit of retro gaming reminiscing going on. Dusty Hayes played an uplifting set to a busy room, he clearly enjoyed the occasion as both artist and audience were punching the air in synchronized delight. I was mesmerised by the videos of Sonic, F Zero and the Ninja Turtle games. It was a neat touch.
I also caught OntheFly. A live drum kit was set up in the corner of the small stage providing analog beats to OntheFly’s digital mastery. It was an excellent set, a moody mix of driving electronica. This was the last act I saw in the cloud room and I’m glad I took the time to head upstairs this year, there was an intimate but great feel about the smaller stage of Shuffledown.
Back downstairs the main stage welcomed Denny’s The Nickajack men, who flung themselves into an energetic set that went down very well with the crowd. Dead Man Fall entertained the crowd with a lively set, I missed much of this part as I soaked in other areas of the festival. The Birds and the Bees ale was still going down a treat and the end of the night was nearing. There was still time for Colonel Mustard to walk onto a colourful stage donned in yellow mustard hues and big hats. A party atmosphere had taken over (as it often does at the end of Shuffledown), the uplifting mood of the music transferred to the crowd.
Shuffledown was over for another year and with all things you look forward to, the festival was over rather too quickly. The artisan feel of the event lends itself to a welcoming day of entertainment and it continues to evolve every year. It’s now an integral part of the Falkirk music scene; given its location and returning crowds there is no reason why Shuffeldown cannot become the leading indoor event of the Forth valley area.
This was an excellent year, continuing a consistent run of successful events. Next year will see its 5th anniversary, it’s now a young and confident festival, long may it continue.
Photographs Neil Henderson, Sweet P, Kevin Byrne and various.
Don’t you just love countdown list? Yeah thought so! We’ve been rating our recordings and now we reach the top five records that we feel represent our best work. This is all to celebrate the forthcoming release of ‘Everyday Heroes’ EP.
So now that the teacups are running dry and the biscuits are nearly eaten we’ve finally agreed what are our favourite recordings are. All albums are on Spotify, just hit the links. Feel free to follow us so you get notified of our new releases.
Our second album. By this time we were enjoying the freedom of college and the fact that we hadn’t started full time jobs. We drank a lot of beer writing this and probably forgot more songs than we recorded. Nine songs survived.
The front cover sums up the album. Drink and Firkins. We were having a riot. The band was young and we had had a successful couple of years thanks to Whapper Stormer and the vibrant local music scene. This album is messy, it was recorded in two different studios and on three different desks. I remember standing in Firkins asking a guy from Central FM what he thought of the new demo which had Culture Creature, Summer High and Today Was Insane (which never made the album) He didn’t think it was as good as the previous tape (The Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon) I was gutted, raging and walked away.
But the assessment was correct, Firkin didn’t hit the heights of Whapper but it is a fun record that captures a great time for the band. We threw discipline and care out the window and had a laugh.
Big highs, a couple of lows, probably an unfocused time for us but from the practise room point of view it was the best time ever.
It was crazy, taking beer glasses and a carry out down to the room on a Wednesday night. Sometimes we’d drink more than rehearse.
Not as good as Whapper but has its moments. Culture Creature is an absolute classic. Loads of songs lost during this boozy period.
Excellent album, long way down is a totally underrated song in my opinion. Wasn’t quite as boozy a time for me as I was the one driving. Some good vids made then though that are fun to look back on.
Greg drove all the time…He’s one of the most patient people I think I’ve met. He put up with our antics for years. We need to get these vids onto YouTube or something.
Stu returns after a break and we write songs for fun and record in Derek’s old flat with our friends ever present cases of beer and Subways.
All of us apart from Greg gave this the same score. One More Solo was plain good old fashioned rock. We were celebrating getting back together and it shows on this record.
The original master was bad though; in fact i don’t think we mastered anything back then. The bass swamped the record and there was these lovely ringing guitars at the end of nearly every song that Derek was a big fan of.
It was a great time for the band, we still believed that we could make a go of our music career ao we gigged this record quite intensely. We met some great friends on our travels. Its a good record and a wee bit or re-mastering has helped to clear it up.
The remastered version is better. Just think we’ve played the songs on this record so often that they lost out a bit to the other albums on my list.
We haven’t played Waiting On the Sound Of Your High Heels that much.
Not! Great album. Love being back in the fold. Hanging out with my best mates and writing recording and gigging. Remastered version a lot better
Our debut was always our favourite recording over the years, until the Decibels arrived!
I love this record. Three songs were recorded at Split Level in Edinburgh: the Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon. In terms of quality they’re above the rest of the record so in that regard it’s a bit uneven. However the songs were some of the best we ever wrote. This album also has my favourite lyrics; my imagination was firing on all cylinders then, perhaps with the exception of Downer.
One of our first photoshoots for our first demo
Drink makes you ‘cuddly’
It was what we team as ‘classic weird’ I would stick to vocals and Stu would take care of all the guitars. The four of us wrote together. I would sing the melody to Stu, it was a time where i could keep melodies in my head for months. Stu would create a riff from it. I was fascinated by that.
You always remember your first!
Although this album was written in the mid 90’s it would be in 2004 that we would record 7 songs to fit in with the three from Split Level. Just For Today was an early example of progress we were making at recording our music.
The classic Weird album. Still sounds amazing. Timeless. It was so easy to write those songs. Happy happy days.
The first professional recording we did at a proper studio by the chain smoking Neil on a reel to reel whilst muttering ‘the rain..in Spain’ to himself over and over. Was an exciting time.
And Neil added the delay effect over my wahwah guitar in the verses then I bought a delay pedal to replicate it live
Haha yeah I forgot about that, then he sang ‘trousers that keep you alive’ and I’m at the back shaking my head because he’s mocking my diction. It was a very exciting time; it felt like we were living the dream.
The second coming. 4 years after Quiet Act, finally back on the gig scene and about to have our most successful phase some 17 years into our career. Weird Decibels 1 was a defining album for us.
There isn’t much between WdB1 and 2. There would’ve been a bigger difference if WdB1’s tracklisting had been better, WdB1 would’ve been a clear number one.
Ahh the WdB1 tracklisting debate. I stuck firm with this one. Psalm was a statement of intent. It was some 4 years after Quiet Act and we were nowhere on the local scene. Psalm had everything, big guitars, epic drums and bass. The intro is on an old acoustic, similar to Battery by Metallica. The acoustic linked Quiet Act with Weird Decibels 1. The song builds to one of our biggest crescendos. Stu played about three solos while I sang my heart out.
I’m worried about the concept of an album these days. I hope there is not a time where bands stop putting out collections of songs. An album is an experience for me, a beginning, a middle and an end. WdB1 had that.
I see the point that the other guys made about not starting with Psalm but I couldn’t see it any other way. The album starts big and ends big with Industry.
One thing I will say about my favourite recording is that the vocals are loud in the mix and a little harsh, if I had the time I’d have a wee go at mixing this album again.
I like the scope of WdB1, Jemma Burt added piano, keys and violin to three or four tracks but it adds so much to the album, it gives it a lot more texture than it normally would have. Derek and I rated this our favourite recording, there are a lot of solos, guitar riffs and vocals on this album.
WdB1 was also a great era for us. We ventured out of the practise room and started to head out to Glasgow playing some cracking gigs around the city. We shot our first music videos which were watched a few times. Until this time we were a largely ignored band so it was a highlight for us.
Wdb1 is a fabulous record. No acoustics just huge epic rock. So many great songs and still play many of them in our live set. I stand by the track selection although we never really play Psalm live. Love all the videos we made for this record which opened up new listeners to the band. I don’t think Steel had aged too well hence why I rated the album my 3rd favourite.
It’s true what Stu says we do lean quite heavily on this album when building sets. We’ll need to write more!
This album had a limited edition release with hand written lyrics around excellent artwork by pabs which I really enjoyed. I also started making t shirts to sell at gigs with this album cover which seemed to be popular. Good songs which were well received when we played them live.
Our latest album is voted our favourite recording. At 33 minutes it’s a short, sharp burst of rock recorded at our biggest location yet, the grand Springfield cottage.
I voted this my 3rd favourite recording, I like the record, its two years old now so i’ve had more time to reflect on it. It’s probably the best sounding record but it was hellish getting there. Recording the drums in Springfield was a good move. It gave the drums the room sound i was looking for. After the drums and bass things went a bit askew.
Whatever technique or mic placement i used on the guitars I could not get a decent tone for the distortion and spent ages during recording and at mix to get it to sound good. I used to use the Rode for the guitars as I liked the bright tone but the industry standard SM57 gives me more control of the sound. With the Rode I was always cutting a lot of frequencies so I guess it took me awhile to get round to using the SM57; I’m stubborn that way I just wanted to try something different.
I always thought numbering the albums (like Led Zeppelin) was a mistake as it felt like we were essentially doing WdB1 again. We scrapped a few songs at the start and hired a cottage to write, This was new for us and it saved the album. It turned out really good
An album full of excellent songs, some stronger than others but very fun to play. I feel we’re pushing ourselves a bit which can only be a good thing for future recordings.
I rated this my top album as there is not a weak track. It’s our best sounding album recording wise. I had an absolute blast recording my rhythm and especially solo parts (with Bo recording)
Pabs and Stu. Victory coffees
the sun shines through the pop sheild
went with the sm57 for stus distortion it could handle the pressure!
Many many pedals
This was used to record both the bass and the drums at the same time.
The reason we picked this place was for this set up
A stunning and breathtaking property
Yeah I remember Greg recording the solos for me, I had had enough. I set up the mics, got the sound then said to Greg can you do it? Im done… Then I went for a walk in the freezing cold. Derek had went home early he was missing his family. So I’m standing at the end of a farm road, fed up, in the distance I hear Greg and Stu finishing the album and I’m thinking is this it? That was then, time has passed. I think we’re gonna do it again.
Once More with Feeling and Medicine kick arse and love playing those songs live. Plus it was the best lodge we have used to record. Very happy memories. A fantastic album and looking forward to you guys hearing our brand new EP coming soon.
Recently, in October 2017 RiFF was born. The first showcase night saw a collective of four bands playing harder edged songs. Throwing hair that (for some) was slightly longer and wilder, to a loud chorus of music that had a bit of attitude. We were trying to show Falkirk that there was a heavier scene waiting to be discovered. That night there were a few nervous glances at the door; would it be a success? That question was answered pretty quickly when punters started to wander into Behind the Wall. There were fans of the bands present but there were others, genuine hard music lovers who had waited years for a scene like this to fire up again. The place was packed and every member of each band that played that night were buzzing. So it was this success that RiFF 2 was aiming to emulate; another night where the legions of rock, punk and metal lovers would swarm to BTW with their regular punters throwing confused glances towards the many tattooed and pierced music fans heading up the stairs for some colourful mayhem. This time Greg and I went to watch, drink beer and listen to our fellow RiFF bands scream, sing and shred. It was like old times for the both of us; 20 years ago during the 90’s in the Martell on a Thursday night we would be doing the same thing. By nine the doors opened and a decent crowd took their places; staring at the stage eagerly awaiting the first of the bands to appear, RiFF does not tell the crowd the running order of the bands. The message here is to stay and watch all the acts, not just your friends and family. Come and discover something new. Greg and I did just that. It was also nice to see many band members from the first RiFF showcase back to support the fledgling cause.
The Drop kicked things off. The trio were the first of three new bands to join the RiFF collective. Driven by a distorted bass, drums and strong vocals; the Drop’s lack of traditional guitars was not a problem for their sound. Their hard driven rock impressed the crowd and the powerful vocals had me thinking that I wanted to listen to Rage Against the Machine all over again.
One band that is on a rocket propelled trajectory is Sianar, currently impressing much of Scotland with their music. Somehow they managed to fit 7 musicians onto the small stage and they played an excellent forty minutes of rock; full of swirling guitar solos and dueling vocals. Kristian, on lead guitar, appeared not to be distracted by impending fatherhood. He had us on stand by to step in for Sianar should his other half give birth on the day of the showcase. It was good to see the band play on home turf.
RiFF veterans Thirteen picked up the third slot of the night and launched into a roaring set of punk. Tune after tune hitting the audience like a prize fighter. They also flung a cover tune that had me chanting along, by this time Greg and I had few pints under our belts and getting into full flow. Thirteen never disappoint: Dolly likes a snarl when he sings, Craig leaps in the air to slam home a chord on the bass and Greg is one of the best drummers in Falkirk at the moment. His energy behind the kit was felt by the audience adding to a rather brilliant performance.
Not to be undone by Mr Breens masterful performance, Brian now shirtless, took the sticks and pounded the kit into submission for Shatterhand; driving the music veteran’s powerful anthems home. It was the first time I’ve seen these guys, it was a commanding performance from the four piece whose experience lends itself to producing a tight unit. Shatterhand have been around long enough to know how to overcome the hurdles that bands face and it was great to see them in fine form at RiFF. The late hour was not on their side, but the hardy souls that stayed to the end were rewarded by a set that had an urgency about it. The audience had little chance to catch their breath as the four piece launched from song to song. They gave everything to the show and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Having been a member of the audience for this RiFF showcase its was a little harder to gauge the success without the hard evidence of counted ticket stubs. But from what I could see there was no denying that once again BTW enjoyed a busy night and there were far more of the RiFF community members supporting each other. At the start there was a swell of people turning up to support RiFF, packing out much of the stage area and it was great to see that most of the audience stayed all night, (a rare occurrence for local gigs); hopefully the venue appreciates this. The RiFF community is alive and well. This gig proved the first showcase wasn’t a fluke, it was a sign that there are music listeners that want harder edged bands playing in Falkirk. Too see them come back for more was fantastic, let’s turn it up and let the rest of the town hear it.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yeah that reminds me of the hours of editing out the buzz whenever he stopped playing the bass.
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.
Yep we would’ve captured Rooz in his full heckling glory!
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.
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.
Great to have these recordings to listen back to, radio spots that only a few people will have heard at the time.
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.
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.
Nothing wrong with bootlegs but there are better versions of the songs on our albums.
Our 5th album Riot Act come in at 8 2nd lowest appearance of an official album. Pabs explains why he voted it down.
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!
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.
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.
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!
The road to the Riot Act sessions could not have been calmer
Night has fallen; Greg reflects. Stu takes pictures
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Which it was!
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.
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.
To be fair I’ve not heard this much, good night though.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Haha yes the phaser all through a couple of songs. What is it with buzzes and phaser pedals on live records Greg?
Years of standing next to noisy lorries I guess. Hearings shot 😂
All you can hear is Dale shouting get more drunk Boris. Brilliant
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.
We put together a 4 track EP as a demo before the launch of our 2004 album One More Solo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes that’s right he did; i just think the whole feel of the original version was better.
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)
A live acoustic album of cover songs that we recorded at the end of the Quiet Act sessions back in 2007.
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.
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.
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.
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
Good wee live acoustic covers album but the best bit is an full band version of Glass People. Instant classic.
Yeah, Glass People saves this record. Brings back good memories though with that big picture window.
I forgot about this version of Glass People! We should have this on another record…
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,
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.
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.
Stu looks dejected as we struggle to finish Cold Home Street
Derek has time for a beer
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.
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.
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!
I managed to find my form when we got back together and them some!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2017 is a year I will quite happily brush under the carpet. I’m thankful for music, Weird Decibels, the fact that we are still recording, writing and playing music around our day jobs and family.
So as the 2017 Curtain starts to fall upon the Cast I thought I’d look back at our year.
Pics. Sweet P Photography. What Eddie Sees. Juls Sampson.
Rock On Tap. Great night for us at the Artisan Tap. we were a wee bit worried about playing a gig so soon after the Christmas wallet apocalypse however our concerns were unfounded as it was a busy night
12th Jan. We release some footage of us playing in our trusty old practise room
Weird Decibels drop a wee hint…
We had a look back at the many years we’ve had in our practise room, this proved to be one of the most popular posts of the year.
Weird Decibels performing at The Dobbie Hall 2017.
Here’s what reviewer, Stuart Ritchie, had to say:
“Weird Decibels are reminiscent of the early punk movement, especially The Clash. They played a bulldozing set of songs filled with no-nonsense Wah-Wah-drenched guitar solos, heavy sounding riffs, and a rampaging juggernaut tempo. ‘In the City’ sounded like a louder heavier ‘Suffragette City’. The singer tried to get the crowd to put the hands in the air but, most were afraid to spill their pints. Overall, a great effort and showing.”