A week or so ago I hit a link to this band on Bandcamp. They are instrumentalists, no singing, instead they opt for carefully measured, brilliantly played rock. The bass drives it, allowing the guitars to tell the story through picked licks and full on distorted assaults. The drums pound relentlessly adding to the atmospheric mood of the music
David, José, Andrei and Anibal are modest in their description of the band, ‘just a fukk yes instrumental band’ this band is perfect for listening towards the end of the night as midnight becomes morning.
Start with their studio album the self titled 9M Lied,tracks Night Rider, the brilliantly named Dolphins v Penguins, Devon and Mosquito Tiger are all highlights. The studio album has a fantastic roomy drum sound, the snare snaps brilliantly in the middle of the mix. The guitars sound ranges from spacious to right in your ear rawness.
Summer Song steals it though, as I listen I can imagine myself driving along a Spanish motorway, the stillness of the night passing quickly by.
If you love the studio album try the bootleg. A live recording you can hear the crowd in a bar eagerly applauding the band. The first track is slightly out of tune but the albums recovers and you are rewarded with a great performance.
I really like this band and wish them the best for their musical future.
Look out for my next unsigned wonder, its amazing how much talent there is out there, recording and releasing their own material.
I forgot my headphones for my tablet. Two days in Blackpool without my music.
So I boiled the kettle and emptied two Colombian coffee sachets into my mug. Poured the boiling water straight. Black coffee done cheap. Looked out the sand smudged window of our room out to the sea and the emptiness beyond.
My music was the waves crashing furiously against the promenade. I looked out and thought about our new album. What do I write about where do i go from here? Where do my fellow musicians get their inspiration from? Two huge influences of mine, Matt Berninger (The National) seems to capture his lyrics perfectly, slightly off centre but enough meaning for you to relate and Jason Lytle (Grandaddy) writes of technology, robots that almost have feelings.
We head out the arcades. The slot machines flashing, bells sounding, coins spilling into metal trays. Reminds me of the arcade scene in Lost In Translation (greatest movie soundtrack ever). I look at the people wandering around, the fellow tourists, the locals staring into the machines, automatically hitting gamble as they clutch a plastic cup of coins. A young boy wanders around with a cowboy hat full of coins asking punters for change. Cheeky wee bugger. It’s here I think of characters again, the different life’s, all colliding in a sea of flashing lights and confusing bleeps. We head out onto the prom.
Here the stalls are still open, bored attendants hoping for a sale, some make a half-hearted pitch, two for a pound and all that. A tram rolls past, a modern machine not like the old romantic rollers from the past. Blackpool has aged but still has a bit of magic, a bit like an old 80’s light entertainer strutting their stuff on I’m a Celeb. I start to get ideas for lyrics, as my boy grabs my hand desperate for another shot on the racing car.
The next day after a full English breakfast we head further along the front towards the pleasure beach. I walk to a security gate and the burly guard asks me If I have a ticket. I meekly say no, he points me to the ticket booth. I was going to protest that when I were a lad you could walk in free. Inside the park I am £34 lighter but still giddy with excitement. My childhood taps my shoulder as I hear the siren of the ghost train, the clacking of the roller coasters and the laughing clown. Again lyrics flood my head, the yearning to return to simpler times can be disturbing.
I’m keen to show my lad round the shows but he falls asleep…So I run to the Pepsi Max roller coaster. As I stand in the queue I look at the faces of boredom as we are about to ride upon one of the tallest, fastest coaster in Europe, according to the voice over. Later I grab my wife and we run onto the ghost train and I try to make her jump every time we turn into a dark corner.
Sometimes you need a change of scene to write the next act, I often wonder how other writers pen their lyrics. I hope as the sun sets on our break I’ll go home and create some more characters that will come alive in our new songs. See you again Blackpool!
If you are a writer please tell me how do you get inspired?
Bootlegs, B-Sides, Deluxe albums with previously unreleased songs I love them. You find tracks that your favourite band disregarded into the vault and wonder before slowly understanding why they didn’t make the cut. These tracks are the geeky guys that sit at the back of the class, the awkward souls who mean well but ultimately will be shunned by their peers.
We left three tracks on the cutting floor. They didn’t fit in with the alpha males of the Weird Decibels 1 class. A year later, blinded from twelve months of darkness The Lost Tracks emerged blinking from the CD cupboard into the light.
A simple riff, a simple song
baby baby baby guess I’m out of diesel
we gotta find a place to rest and settle
spent our days just running around
anchor searched for bed but never been found
nobody knows when the bullet is coming
baby baby baby gotta understand my needs
you know its not money you know its not greed
couldn’t find a job in our birth town
don’t like the heat, wasn’t hanging around
baby got a place in a roadside hotel
we’ll bide here till all is well
baby baby baby we gotta pay the bill
but darling my credit is running low.
Nobody knows when the bullet is coming.
A young couple decide to leave town, the guy is fearful of many things, debt, death and if his woman is going to leave him. It reminds me of the Kings of Leon of whom I’m slightly bored. The track doesn’t leave third gear but I love the openness of the sound. Stu’s guitar at the end, the live feeling. I put up a half hearted fight to have this included on WdB1 as it offered a different tone, however it was not to be.
Buddy can be heard on Weird Decibels 1, wait a couple of minutes after Industry fades and a secret acoustic version of this song plays. It was around 1am in the lodge I was full of whiskey and recorded vocals for Drunk Buddy, you can even hear the ice rattling in my glass. The lost version is the full band. I am a huge fan of the National so I guess I tried to marry their influence into our music which was never going to work. We never nailed Buddy despite playing it for months and it shows on the recording. I love the lyrics, a guy having sex with a married woman, he watches the riots (written around the time of the English disturbances) then heads out to a club where a younger woman shuns him at this point he reflects on his own life.
we were lovers, we were a dirty weekend
As I watched the riots below you phoned your husband
you talked of our dreams, you talked out of hand
as I lit a cigarette and got dressed
what you want is different to what I want
what you want is not the same
we were f**k buddies, I saw surprise on your face
I didn’t look back as I left
there was ash in the air, but the rain was sweet
I watched a woman flick back her hair
as she was dancing, I see the youth in her face
but she has no plans, no plans for me
I have everything I want, everything I need
but nothing satisfies me
A real band divider this one, Greg, Derek they love it, Stu and I are not so sure. Rusted is a style of song we have written many times its classic Weird if you like. Of all the songs I took back to the mixing desk this was perhaps the poorest recording. a lot of editing was needed and the song lost its original feel. Wait! Don’t leave it yet! For the radio edit I cut my guitars which were awful, so Stu shines through and saves the recording. Greg and Derek hold a good rhythm as well, its a good song, it would’ve fitted well on our earlier albums. Included in the Lost Tracks is the full version of the song it will allow you to discover if i’m talking s***e or not. A slightly mixed up political some about lack of ambition and a kick out at our generation being called Thatchers children. During the writing of Rusted I came out with a middle 8 riff that didn’t fit, it was used as the intro riff for Psalm!! Every cloud!
Oh I only wanted to get by
not tread on toes
not fussed for flying
oh the guilt I feel
for not achieving
for not trying
oh the greed of this generation will starve its children
oh the greed of the corporation will starve our children
Oh we are conditioned
to want everything
and pay for nothing
Oh they call us thatchers children
I’m not a child
of that rusted old woman
I hope you enjoy The Lost Tracks, no band sets out to make bad music. Sometimes all the ingredients needed to make an album track don’t blend. So look after these wee souls, they are shy and a bit lost but with a touch of love they will find a place in your playlist.
Creatively it has been a difficult couple of months. September Stu, Greg and Derek all had holidays in far away lands. So not much got done. I used September to nail the mixes of The Lost Tracks, three songs we did not use on Weird Decibels 1. More on those in another post.
As we enter October we have had a look back on the writing of Decibels 2, we have a few that will go all the way. Some are going to fall by the way side. It happens, however this time we are recording everything so there will be plenty for future bootlegs!
Stu came out with a cracking riff at the end of rehearsal two weeks ago. I had nothing to offer the song, it was late and I had lost the creative spark. However a week later I had taken the riff and found fresh impetus. There is no title as yet for the new creation but fingers crossed it will survive our ever increasing scrutiny. We have decided not to set any dates for the recording of the album however we will have to draw a line eventually as lyrically its important to get songs from the same era. (songwriters will know what I mean!)
Its Friday rush hour. I’m desperate to pick up Stu and get out the town. the city lights of Glasgow are calling. The ABC awaits. As I look in the rearview mirror Falkirk fades away. Nothing draws me to our local music scene now.
I pick up Stu, there is almost a quiet excitement as he loads his trusted Gibson into the boot of the car. We set off, chatting about the night to come and the future of the band. The new album, the new tunes and gigs. We want to play live, this sort of excitement can’t be matched.
The roads to the city are fine and we arrive promptly at the venue. Stu and I park up, Derek has a face that could make a pitbull back down, Greg is laid back and chilled out. Usual. The reason for Derek’s ire? We’ve been placed second on the running order of five bands. Thankfully after a bit of Del boy negotiation we’re placed third on the bill. Our faithful fans won’t miss us after all.
We stepped back stage to see End Transmission. It was good to see the girls again, great to see them playing these types of gigs. They had the hair straighteners out and more beer than us. They sounded good, nailed a good set it was a pity to see them on first though. Second on was a really pleasant chap and his guitar with no backing band. Takes guts to do that. Unfortunately I can’t recall his name.
Derek kicked things off with the pounding toms of Speak, Its the best way to start a gig, gets me hyper. I pick the first notes, sing the first line and it all flows. We have a few dancers, I love that. I just makes me want go full pelt into the songs. Every note screamed, every lick nailed. In a second Speak is over and Greg is carving out the intro of Joker. Great start for us. the crowd is brilliant. Some of the folks know the tunes now and its great to hear people yell as the song starts. What a buzz. Wonder gives us a breather, we say hello to the utterly wonderful people who pay and travel to see us. Every moment of our performance is for them. Our next song is Miss Asphyxia, brand new. We get another great reception. A hint of the next album before we go back to our current set. Power is the quietest moment of the night. Gives our set a wee dynamic, breaks things up a bit. Steel is next, it all goes well. its a tricky song for me to play live but I get through it. Industry finally gets its live debut. An extended version of this song for our friend Phil. Its a great end to the set. We pack up as Don’t Look Down enter the stage. I have a quick look back to the stage as we had behind the scenes. Top gig.
Don’t Look Down rock the roof off, Enemies of The State also had a very accomplished sound. I was working the next day so It wasn’t so bad hanging around listened to two decent bands.
Last orders we’re called and the crowd drift away. Another cracking night for our band. As midnight approaches I drive along the deserted road back to Falkirk I hope we have many more nights just like this.
‘Where the f**k are you!!!!’ Text screams Derek as I aimlessly wander about the house packing gear, oblivious to the frantic tee shirt printing at Greg’s. Eventually the lads pull up outside the house, I grab my guitar, amp and suitcase bag (every gig I play it looks like I’ve been thrown out the house! This was comically pointed out to me by Rab of Kranksolo when we played Dundee together years ago.)
Derek did a fine job packing the car and we drove to Glasgow slightly apprehensive at what lay ahead. Another gig playing in front of our few hardy fans, we feared the hall would be empty, coloured lights shining on a barren dance floor.
The sound check took a while, we kinda sat around saying polite hello’s to the other bands. Sound checks are always a drag. So we went for a pint in Ashton lane around the corner. The four of us stood around a table sipping beer pondering the future of the band. There seemed to be a sense of negativity I guess. Are we getting too old? Are we fed up chasing the impossible dream? We finished our ales and headed back to the venue, the wonderful Oran Mor. Pub gigs are fine but this stage has something more.
We started our sound check, Derek hit the kick drum, the deep bass echoing around the room sent shivers down my spine. You get a far better sound in these places. Greg plugged in, Stu clicked in the lead and I turned up the volume of the Marshall. Lisa the promoter was buzzing around ‘you guys gonna be long ?’she asked.’ We’re running behind’ I smiled. Five minutes we’ll be done. We played Deliverance, Speak and we could hear everything, we were done.
Time to eat. We headed out into the streets of Glasgow, a city with some of the finest restaurants. We went to Spar. I had a cheese and onion sandwich, a twix (they’re definitively getting smaller) washed down with an Irn Bru. I turned to Brian(Derek’s bro) as we sheltered under a bus stop from the driving May rain and said ‘We’ve arrived.’
First up were End Transmission A cracking bunch Full of enthusiasm, setting out on the gig trail. They’ve only been together for a matter of months but already honing their sound. Cleverly adopting cover songs to find their feet they played some original numbers as well. I hope they do well. They interacted so well with the growing crowd.
We were up. By this time our faithful had arrived and there were many more strange faces. The place wasn’t packed but it had a buzz. The crowd walked onto the floor standing in front of us, waiting for the first chords. For a small band like us it was great to see.
The set felt great the crowd were brilliant as well and the band grew in confidence. Power was added and for me was one of my highlights. Stu has stared doing a vocal harmony with me which sounded ace. It seemed like minutes passed when we were playing Joker and my voice burned out at the last note! I lose it at gigs, guess its my way of dealing with pent-up frustration. (better than fighting!). I felt elated at the end, I knew we had played a fine gig. One to remember.
After our set I settle down to a few lager’s. The third band was The Revolt who have an excellent vibe, cleverly adding brass to their sound. A completely different contrast to the other bands on the night but I enjoyed listening to them.
Headline act Life On Standby handled the top slot with ease. The crowd swelled by the time they were on stage. A very tight set. Their guitarist rocked out all night, very energetic. I really enjoyed their gig.
The night came to a close. We had met Annie Walker who took many photographs of all the acts, which are of a very high standard. Tommy Clark was in the crowd. He transmits his own radio station Third Class Ticket. which hopefully we’ll be on soon. Our doubts, our negative feelings about playing live were gone. The band is recharged, in the last couple of months we’ve played Box and Oran Mor both brilliant nights I don’t want them to end anytime soon.
As the crowd filtered away to the subway the trains, the cars and eventually to home I looked at our friends and family who had traveled a fair distance to see us. It’s not always easy to write down or say how grateful you are to these people who stick by us at every gig and every album we release. Sometimes you discover that the English language has yet to find a word to describe the depth of gratitude I have to the Weird Decibel fans.
2011 Spring is in the air, a sense of optimism lingers in our practice room. We’ve written ten songs, we could do with more and I’ve started researching possible lodge locations for recording, something of a deadline approaches…
We’d been writing on and off for the best part of three years. Eventually you have to call it a day, an album must be born. We wanted more songs, more choice and more diversity in the works we already had. It was with great fortune that we hit a creative surge. Deliverance Power, Steel, Psalm and Wonder all final session songs, all made the final cut one of which became a single.
Deliverance is a song of such enjoyable simpleness based around an A and G. The lyrics tell of a souls rejection from heaven despite his suffering.
Send it to the mountain send it to the sky (this melody is sung by Derek and Stu, its one of those melodies that just comes to us songwriters, I’ve no idea where the inspiration came from)
you’re refused deliverance don’t ask god why x2
Send it to the mountain send it to the sky
you’re refused deliverance don’t ask god why x2
I’ve—torn—and opened skin
E G E A#
Hands—clasped—and tied (simple song eh?)
Deliverance really helped bring the album writing home as once again it proved simple songs work, we don’t need to labour over writing. Hopefully we’ll take this lesson over to Weird Decibels 2.
Power is the quietest song off the rowdy dB1, clean guitars, A Foo Fighters ‘Big Me’ moment. The lyrics are closer to personal experience than most of the album. It was at a time of uncertainty for me and my wee family. We were trying to sell our house which was too small now that my Wife and I were new and proud parents. We got the news that our house had a major problem growing out the back (Knotweed) and we may be unable to sell. The feeling of helplessness and frustration that the landowner next to us had allowed this destructive weed to grow was unpalatable . It got me thinking about Power and how a minority of people can have such an effect on the majority This was one of the few songs practically written by myself. These days we’re writing as a band and we’re better for it. Power worked though!
Steel is a blood and guts stab at depicting knife crime in Scotland. It is a crime that has haunted our fine nation for generations. Set in Falkirk (which to my knowledge doesn’t have a major knife problem) it tells the story of a family man randomly stabbed on his way home. The verse riff was an idea from myself and Stu stapled on the chorus wonderfully. Derek splashing symbols add the much needed metallic sound, Greg’s bass gives the song a menacing undertone and Jemma brilliantly added Piano over the last verse and the finale. We borrow the Pixies quiet/loud dynamic here Nirvana fans! It was a very difficult song to get right.
Now we were entering the final month of writing, the lodge was booked for November and the long (wet) nights of the summer reminded us that our album was nearing the winter of its creative life. Psalm… where did this epic song come from?
I love Battery, it is a fantastic example of a band at its creative peak. We were ‘borrowing’ ideas hence the start of Psalm, I even dug out an old guitar to try and replicate the acoustic sound at the start of Battery. The riff at the start of Psalm was actually taken from the middle section of Rusted. It worked well on its own as an intro. Stu once again nails the chorus. The verse guitars are a mixture of Stu’s classic guitar and my alternative Nirvana tinged riff. Greg tunes down for Psalm and I take delight in pretending to start the song while he frantically drops an octave only for me to start something else! The end of the song is where I knew that as a band we have never been more cohesive. Stu linked 3 solo’s, I hit a nice vocal, Greg, Derek keep it flowing and Jemma made this track with the church organ. A very apt sound for the lyrical content. Privilege its winners and losers are the subject of my wrath here. I guess seeing Cameron and co tell lie everyday that they want to ‘share the pain’ as they sit on millions does that to you!
Wonder is last, i’m not sure if it was written last, but it was amazing that at the end of writing WdB1 we were given a song that has become my favourite song that we have put to hard disk. Stu played this repeating riff over and over, it reminded me of Smashing Pumpkins 1979. Derek jammed along with a flowing beat, I started singing, just mumbling words trying to find a melody. Sometimes words just pop in my head. So I’d sing ‘I wonder why’, then I’d insert a random line, but I kept singing ‘I wonder why’. The melody was there, the chorus were not. I loved Nirvana’s Lithium, the chorus ‘Yeah yeah yeeahhh’ so hey if Kurt can do it so can I!
I wonder why many things, fall they way they do
I wonder why we conform and struggle to see things through.
The earth on which we stand is covered in Autumn leaf
The signs of winter touch our soul as we feel bereaved
I wonder why we cannot see the people closest to us
I wonder why we still stand there refusing to admit our loss
The bridge on which we stand has crumbled and untied
We can either run to our sides or repair it over time
I wonder why you built a palace, lined it with golden chairs
I wonder why you sit alone and deny your getting scared
The silence of a room littered with photographs
Of people that you still love, but people of your past.
I consider these lyrics to be among the best I have ever written. Wonder went on to become the first single lift off WdB1, we made a video for it.
15 songs done and dusted. We would record them all and how we recorded them will be depicted next. All the Laughs, Smiles, Sighs, and nearly Tears.
On the 12th of January 2009 Dave Broon our great friend and avid listener of our music sadly leaves this world in the most tragic of circumstances. The band is stunned, everything changes, our outlook to life and our music. Suddenly everyone takes stock of where they are, what we are doing with our fleeting time on this world. We needed to make a new album.
Quiet Act was fine. We enjoyed writing and making an acoustic record that we had to get out of our system. Now our thoughts turned to a new album, possibly something heavier, back to our roots would be the easiest cliché to fling in here.
The first song was Speak an angsty fist shake at God in whatever form he (or she) may be. I guess as years pass by you say goodbye to more and more people who have filled your life (happily I would learn later, you say hello to new people as well!). Sometimes they way our loved ones leave this world is unjust. In Speak I ask God why this is so.
I was told you work, In mysterious ways
I learned you were liberal, with your selection
I’ve been gifted a life, with wonderful people
Why must you start, to take them from me?
So speak to me
Let me hear what you say
Speak to me
You built this world, in all it’s glory
You gave us greed, to strip it all away ( Worldly themes are spread throughout Weird Decibels 1 and Speak touches on this.)
But I hope you’re there, taking care
Offering refuge, for our weary souls (I believe there is a greater power behind our existence, just not sure who or what that may be)
Speak started life as the simple picked riff from G, I can’t remember how I discovered it, often its strumming the guitar in front of the TV. Anyway I played it for weeks. Stu took the simple riff and added the rest. I was worried by the standard Em G A progression, but the pause after every riff made it work. The verses were based around the initial G riff, I found another picked progression and Stu layers a riff over the top. The verses avoid the pitfall of bar chord riffs that had served us well for many years. It was time to develop our playing. Stu hammered out the chords for the middle 8 and the solo speaks volumes of his form throughout this album. Derek’s tribal beat is now the signature of this song and Greg plays a neat Bass cycle high up the fret board throughout the verse which fits the mood perfectly. It was an easy song to write, it kick started what would be a long development cycle however we had a creative surge mid 09 to mid 2010. I also remember Wilson being a rare guest in our practice room he gave Speak the thumbs up. Phew.
Speak was part of a trio of songs. Speak, Forward and Pay.
I can’t remember what came after Speak but I’m going to put half my chips on Forward
Perhaps one of the last songs I had written about myself, eventually I would turn to writing stories about characters I had made up or politics, I guess this is a sign of getting older.
We have to get in the car and leave now
Dusk is falling and we’re getting left behind (throughout the last few years I have had a fear of being left behind)
The ghosts of our past are going to rob us blind (I have a bad habit of looking to the past)
I cannot pay if you do not show the way
Moving forward can’t see where we’re going
A hand you never see or want to feel now
Pushing you on the back you’d think its real (life turns, eventually you do all the things life expects you to do)
Moving forward can’t see where we’re going
Another guitar riff that had been given to me by either a fluke or constantly playing around with the guitar, the intro. Much of Weird Decibels 1 is a guitar lick that is built upon by the band. This is the first record for many years that I have not turned up to practice with complete songs for the band to either say yay or nay. The first since Whapper Stormer. The long intro goes against all the rules of modern music, (Fast. Punchy. Straight to the Point or Skip)… Forward takes its time. The song progresses to a middle 8 where Stu and I play solos. I struggled for a long long time to nail this. Derek flexes his drum fill muscles and Greg nails another solid bass line. Both knit all this album together in a wonderful way. Makes me want to buy them a beer.
The idea of a rolling riff right through the song was nicked of a Munich band called The Colour Haze, below is a link to the song I love and that gave me the idea for Pay.
If we take this now
will we pay for it later ( often wonder if our early excesses in our youth will come back to haunt us…)
If we take this now
Is it the start of the summer
If I grab your smile
can I save it for later
for every easy straight
there is a difficult corner (another reflection on the ups and downs of life, everything is great when all is well!!)
-but what the hell lets just go for it-
if we take this now
will we pay for it later
the nights are short
and the days are getting longer (I’ll always play this song on summer solstice, love the long nights)
-so what the hell lets just go for it-
At one practice I had the whole band outside listening to this record on my car. Half an hour later Pay was born. Stu and I spent some time trying to nail a riff that would work. Eventually I slipped back to rhythm and Stu just effortlessly poured this beautiful riff all over the track. Derek subtly builds the drums to a perfect beat and Greg’s bass binds it all together with a blend of high and low notes. This was another example of us changing our writing, using our influences to within an inch of plagiarism.
Next blog will tell all about the next phase of writing WdB1 including two of the songs we omitted from the album…