Category Archives: falkirk music venues

Our First gig. Martell. 17th Aug 1995

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!

Pabs

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.

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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.

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We still use the flower logo to this day, The Rain occasionally appears in set lists 23 years on

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.

Stu

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.

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A slightly nervous Stu plays his first live chords

Pabs

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!

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Stu (l) donning the summer rock look, Pabs (c) with vedder hair and Derek (r) takes care of the drums

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…

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A young Greg graces the stage

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.

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Stu

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!

Pabs

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!

Stu

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.

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A more confident Stu and Greg entertain the crowd

Pabs

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.

 

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Our year 2016

Words Pabs

Photos. Kevin Byrne Photography, Eindp Photography, Purple Dot Photography Juls Samson.

While the world around us was erupting in unexpected vote results, civil unrest and the Great British Bake off scandal; some of our music legends decided enough was enough and packed their bags for heaven. We released our 8th album Weird Decibels 2, we embraced the local scene and won our first award, although we didn’t play live as much as I would’ve liked. 2017 will be fun. (its got to be!!)

So we wish our listeners, friends and family a healthy new year. Here is our 2016.

January

10th. The master (of Weird Decibels 2) is finished but Pabs went and re-mastered…

13th. January, front cover of Weird Decibels 2 is leaked!

February

17th. Firkin Outburst our second album written years ago in 1998,  is shared across the world including Spotify

27th. We told the story of how we made weird decibels 2 including our temporary studio in the Springfield cottage down in the Scottish borders.

March

4th. Kill it! Kill it! Video is unleashed. Cracking piece of work from Kevin Byrne and a great performance from the indefectible Ruari Pearson.

10th. We are featured artist on the Third Class Ticket. Tommy done us proud with this show. Sadly due to an increasing workload Tommy later closed the Third Class Ticket.

We had a good spread about the album in the Falkirk Herald big thanks to James Trimble and co for the article. 

11th Weird Decibels 2 is released on all digital platforms and a thing called a CD

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29th Great review of the album in the Moshville Times. Thank you!

moshville times review

April

May

8th. Live tracks from the rehearsal room are released and filmed from our practise room that we’ve called home for two decades. Find the videos on our YouTube channel

18th. Another great review from Kenny Bates and Gregor Flynn at Stirling DIY press collective

27th May we rock out with The Sonic Blues and Rabid Dogs at the North Star. This is the story

 

June

20th. We head off for a lovely family day gig at Whitecraigs. Here are our thoughts.

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pic purple dot photography

July

August

20th. Pabs returns to the studio for some solo work. Slow Motion Action Punch

28th. Pabs teams up with Neil Logan and they release two songs hear them here

September

4th. Pabs starts a wee look back at Falkirk venues which proves popular with the community. The Martell and Firkins both feature with more to follow in 2017

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a younger Stu playing the Martell

16th We pay homage to the photographers who have kindly taken snaps of us over the years.

26th. Pabs and Stu release a single Passers By from their EP Hero or a Villain

October

14th Stu and Pabs release their debut EP Hero or a Villain

17th We head through to Stirling City Radio for a live acoustic session. Read about it here

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November

24th. Coldest rehearsal for years but something great happened; you’ll find out next year

December

One More Solo appears on digital platforms commuters everywhere listening to the sound of high heels as they walk to work.

We win our first award! AMiF Falkirk’s Best rock/metal/punk act 2016. Humbled to say the least and you should check out our follow nominees 13, The Animal Mothers, Media Whores and Blind Daze.

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A great moment for us, thank you for voting

26th Stu, Derek and Greg didn’t notice the ‘No Parking’ folder which had been on the drive since early November…in this folder there was a live album…

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Falkirk Live Venues Past and Present. part 2 Firkins

Pabs looks at another iconic venue of Falkirk

Thanks to falkirkmusicscene Eddie McKenzie and David M Lowe. The historic content of this blog is sourced from this wonderful site

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On the corner of Vicar Street.

Where Melville Street and Vicar Street meet there is a corner and in this corner there is a bar called Freebird. Once it was called Burns Bar then Firkins which was our era. This pub would become one of Falkirk’s most loved music venues, not only for live bands but for those who liked to pump pound coins into, what was, the best jukebox in town. Many local musicians would converge on this corner of Falkirk and became a focal point for the formation of bands.

According to the wonderful but underused Falkirkmusicscene website The Burns bar was a venue for folk acts in the 70’s and 80’s. Davy Waugh started to promote blue bands before the Happening Club seeds were sown in 1987. The Burns bar changed names to Firkins in 1988. I was only 11 years of age when this re-branding took place, I would frequent the establishment some 8 years later and it would have a massive influence on my music and that of the band.

According to the falkirkmusicscene site (it will be a crime if this is lost) there were occasional bands played between 1997 and 2005, Punk bands like our friends Rabid Dogs would become the mainstay of the venue in future years.

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I tried! I Tried the Easy Way!

It was in 2004 that we played a gig at our favourite pub (later we would play alongside Kranksolo). We were playing our comeback album One More Solo live. Our friend Kevin Byrne opened up for us with some acoustic songs. After he finished we headed to the make shift stage. We were cramped into the corner of the venue, tripping over each other. The place was hot and sweaty, with only the house lights on, there was no place to hide. The background was the large corner windows so passers by could catch a glimpse of us rocking out the Easy Way.

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Kevin belts out a few tunes

Firkins was an amazing place to drink in the late 90’s and early 00’s. On Weekdays when I should’ve been at college, I would blether with the late Chris Masson of the band Cage. As the week wore on Fridays would be a whole night playing tunes on the jukebox and Saturdays would be a meet and greet warm up before most of us would head down to Pennies (more on this venue at a later date).

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Guess the tee shirt caption

The pub would be packed, not something that has been seen for years. People would sit on the floor, you knew everyone and you felt at ease. This was a crowd of people who repelled the dance scene of Falkirk. I was also Virtua Tennis champ, the arcade which starred Tim Henman and Tommy Haas (who I picked), this helped forge friendships.

One night in I headed into Firkins alone, I headed towards my usual spot on the bar to order a Calders 70. I was always confident that I would meet someone I knew. However a beautiful woman caught the corner of my eye. Her elegance made her stand out amid the hustle of the pub. This woman would eventually become my wife.

Slowly the crowds moved on and the pub lost its feel. Firkins became a shell of what it once was.I’d revisit occasionally just for was last taste of the old atmosphere but it was gone. Then the old corner window from which you would watch the traffic go past, got smashed boarded up and never replaced.

Firkins closed and was reopened as Freebird.

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Drinks on the cover and drinks in the album. This is a wee table in the quiet corner of Firkins. Firkin Outburst plays here

 

 

 

Falkirks live venues past and present. part 1. the Martell

The Martell (now the Warehouse)

You never forget your first time, the anticipation, the hope that everything works, getting the mood right and of course making sure the drummer comes out of the toilet before we start. Yes i’m talking about our first gig back in the summer of 1995. We had a setlist of around 6 songs (it’s all we had) and we had a stage. It was a Thursday night, it was the Martell.

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Our Wonder video has Stu playing outside the iconic venue.

Just off Grahams road near the canal sat the Martell. It was hidden from the road by a furniture store. Once you walked past the lastest sofa sale signs you would arrive at the big sign lit up with the Martell font. You can hear the music as you approached the small unassuming front door and when you entered the music hit you. To the left was the till that took the ticket money. Then you would enter the front room, tables often bustling with punters and directly in front the long bar would stretch back to the pool tables.

A small CRT monitor would flicker as the tills rang though the drink sales. Gold Bier £1. This was the mid 90’s and many of the local kids were heading to this venue to see 4 bands on a Thursday for a fiver. Our friends Cage, rock gods  Monitor Lizard, the wonderful Foam and various other local acts played through Jimmy’s PA system. It was loud and some of us had school in the morning…

The stage was on the far right of the room, it was separated from the audience by a small brick wall for which many stunts and guitar poses would be struck. Up in the booth was the DJ, big Sid and his clap monitor for measuring the Battle of the Bands victors. (yes that was how it was decided…)

Watching bands at the Martell was brilliant; it was a small but loyal community that attended every week. From watching the bands to shooting pool you would find you started to know people’s names and hang out talking about the bands of that era, Oasis, Nirvana, Blur and various other acts. Some nights were packed, others not so and occasionally the place would be dead apart from the hardcore frequenters.

Our First Gig.

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Smokey. loud, young and proud to playing the local music scene

At around 19 years of age I had a mop of long brown hair and a stooped gait. Stu was in full Metallica mode, Greg also donned with long hair often tied up so he could show of his rose tinted shades and Derek the cheeky youngster who infuriatingly got changed a minute before we took the stage. I swear he enjoyed seeing my exasperation as he ran past me towards the drum kit smiling.

The first time we played the Martell was amazing. The lights blinded you, we were probably ropey but we played some of the best songs we had written. The Rain and Vancouver to name two, followers from the start will know these songs well.

The high school crowd that has followed Derek loved it and we were finally part of the Falkirk music scene. What followed was amazing. The battle of the bands.

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Advert for the battle of the bands. £1000 in those days would get you a decent stint in a studio. Our gig with Nervana and local lengends Cage advertised. Miss Wet T shirt perhaps showed the other side of the Martell…

Our first attempt at the battle of the bands would see our largest crowds swell the Martell to bursting. To date it is the biggest audience we have played original songs to. It was the quarter finals. Thanks to the clap monitor being pounded by the crowd we sailed through to the semis and the dreams of winning started to become a reality. The semi final was another packed gig but it was not to be, we lost and did not make the final.

We played a number of gigs at the Martell during the late 90’s it was like our Cavern, it’s where we cut our live teeth. Gigs ranged from supporting our friends Cage and Turtlehead to opening for cover bands like Nearvana. Eventually another battle of the bands took place and sadly we were not as successful.

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Stu on the bigger stage that was opened up at the rear of the venue. It would prove hard for us to fill.

The venue opened up a bigger hall at the back where the snooker tables used to be. It felt different and for us it was too much to fill with our small but loyal fanbase. Highlights started to thin out and the Martell’s appeal was starting the wear thin. Eventually we knew all the bar staff, had lock ins with George the bar manager and played live recorded shows with Central FM (hard to believe a local station used to record live local bands). The alcohol flowed, the gigs came and went. One night when I crashed beer all over the counter I knew it was getting out of hand.

We left the Martell for a while, the Thursday nights were no longer a regular occurrence.

In the 2000’s (do we have a decent name for this decade yet?) we were approached to play and we obliged but the magic was gone or perhaps Falkirk had moved from our brand of rock. The Martell, the birth of our gigging experience and the hub of the Falkirk Music scene for so many years had unwound. As we finished our last set at the Martell there was no ceremony, just an air of disappointment. We thought perhaps the next time we play will be better but there would be no next time for us the Martell.

Life went by as it does, new venues opened and I would head down Grahams road sometimes going home in a taxi after a night out up in the heart of Falkirk. For years the neon sign of the Martell would glow statically in the night. You would hear about the Martells reputation for club music and the place became alien to me. Eventually it changed hands, now it’s named the Warehouse and encouragingly the venue puts on bands albeit tribute acts and mid size touring bands. There has been little mention of local artists playing there.

The Martell was one of the best venues we ever had in Falkirk. It worked for years, bringing together like minded people who wanted to listen to or play in bands around Falkirk. Together we created memories that will never leave us. Indeed some of the people who lit up the Martell stage are sadly no longer with us which makes the memories of this iconic local venue all the more important.