Category Archives: our music videos

Our Practise Room

The Speak music video shot in the practise room

Link to three live performances in our practise space

It was 1995 and there was a small advert in the music section of the Falkirk Herald; a practice room for hire, kit supplied and there was a phone number supplied.

Greg and I had just put the finishing touches to our new, as yet, unnamed band and we needed a place to play loud. I phoned the number printed and was met with a friendly chap who spoke in a low smoky husk. He explained that the room was near Grangemouth docks, a basement round the back of the bingo hall next to some wasteland. He added we’d be able to play as loud as we wanted. I booked a slot. It was to be a Wednesday night.

February 8th approached and we had bagged a lift off my Dad. Here was four young lads without much in the way of gear and band experience nervously wondering what was to happen next. I jumped out of the car in excitement to collect the keys. I frantically knocked on the door of the address that I was to pick up the keys. In the winter darkness the door creaked open and an elderly man, clearly dragged from his bed, mumbled that I was at the wrong door.

Later we finally found the dude he explained, under a haze of green smoke, the rules. We agreed a time for him to close the room and all was good. He dropped the keys into my hand and I raced back to the idling fiat Uno my Dad drove at the time.

After a great practise and three new songs we heard Greg’s dad Arthur pull up outside. He had kindly offered to take us all home. The hour came for the dude to meet us however there was noone to be seen. 15 minutes later Arthur was no longer waiting and we were to get going. We had to leave the room and all the gear unlocked.

The next week I nervously phoned the dude and for some strange reason he explained the location and rules of the room as if I had never used it and we had spoken for the first time. Then he explained that some arseholes booked last week left the room unlocked. He was so stoned that night he forgot we were even there. Had he remembered that fact we wouldn’t still be in that very room today.

In 1995 Grangemouth was a different place. We were in a basement, above us were various business that have come and gone over the years. There was noone around in this slightly dodgy location it was just a mass of overgrown trees swaying in the breeze from the forth river. The sky was (and still is) often lit orange by the flares of the refinery.

The basement is the size of a fairly large living room with a smaller passageway that leads around the back. There was never a toilet, just a sink. Heating was supplied via a gas heater that we used to huddle around in the coldest nights. We’d pay towards the gas as well as the rent and it was Greg’s job to get it lit.

In the early days there were white washed brick walls that gave it a clean look. There was a couch to dive onto and mirrors to check that the rock poses were all good; it was bright and spacious and a cool place for young musicians to create music. There were a number of bands booked in the room at that time.

In the late 90’s we used to cross the road to Haddows to buy carry outs prior to practising. Greg was now a driver and the rest of us saw this as an excuse to drink a number of midweek beers. It got ridiculous, I used to take down a pint class and sink a few calders creams. The three of us would be plastered and Greg would drive us home via the BP garage at Earls gate where we would buy food and Derek would take on any eating challenge presented to him. This included fitting a whole packet of cheese bites into his mouth.

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Haddows and drink; we had a lot.

The owners eventually ditched the room and we were forced to find a new rehearsal place which turned out to be in Bonnybridge. This lasted for a few months but as soon as we heard our old room was back up under new ownership we went start right back

Practise became a drunken stupor, we had lost focus and we stopped playing gigs so Wednesday nights were the only time we’d play music particularly around 1999 2000. The room was repainted by its new owners Frazer Law (Beany) and Russell Dickson in more a psychedelic palette and the drums were placed on a riser. We started taking a four track down and recorded a full album that would become Cold Home Street.

With the band stalling, Stu left for a few years and we became the Seventeenth. The room was now rented from a flower shop owner and we found the space was filling up with pots and flower beds (but sadly with no flowers). The room was split with a third used for storage for the florist. This was unfortunate as the place lost its feel for a while. However we still huddled around the same old gas fire in the heart of winter.

Time passed and in 2004 Weird reformed, the dividing wall fell much to our delight and the room was whole again however things were changing outside.

The bulldozers rolled in and swept aside the wild trees then an ASDA sign appeared. Our wee secret corner would soon be changed beyond recognition. A building merchant moved in upstairs and a fast food outlet next door to that. Then came the rats.

One cold wintry evening as Greg tried to start the gas fire I asked him to stop, the rest of the guys fell silent as I listened. Then from the pipes came the scurrying. The rats were here and getting bolder by the day. The room started to feel dirty and rundown.

Thankfully the rats were dealt with and Beany made an almighty attempt to clean the room to its past glory, however he was scuppered by the strange appearance of couches. Several monolithic chairs started to appear and we were battling for space with the furniture. Some of it was Greg’s and he promised to get rid of it (tomorrow, promise). Then the couches got mouldy, still he promised to get rid of it (tomorrow, always tomorrow).  Months passed and the mould grew greater; my love for the room was wilting. Finally one Wednesday when i was expecting to open the door to its usual musk I was delighted to see the seats were gone. Once more the room was spacious albeit a little grubby.

Today we still use the room most weeks and at occasionally we use it for recording. We do have to wait for the boy racers to drive out of the ASDA car park with their exhaust blaring. Haddows is gone, now it’s a sober trip to ASDA for water and sweets. Alcohol is gone, replaced by Tea and coffee supplied from flasks that I bring down during the winter months. A Chinese moves in upstairs every few months and one of the delivery drivers spends his life in his car with the engine running all night for some heat or to charge his phone as he attempts to combat the boredom of waiting for the next Chicken Chow Mein.

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We’ve adapted. When we get bored of writing songs in the room we hire a cottage to refresh the creative minds however even to this day we are still inspired by our rehearsal space to create new songs. We’ve now used the practise room for 22 years. Recently we moved things around the room and the sound feels refreshed; when I strike the first chords on the guitar and look around the room at the other guys I can’t picture us being anywhere else. Fingers crossed we can stay a while longer as we’ve had many many happy times in that wee basement. We even shot a music video in the room and several songs. Check them out at the top of this post.

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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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Making of ‘Its Who You Know’ video

Its Who You Know the Video

Its Who You Know
Its Who You Know

Our latest video for our brand new single ‘Its Who You Know’ is now on YouTube. This is how it happened.

view the video here

As we finished the writing of Weird Decibels 2 we had a look at our set and decided that we did not have enough songs for the new album (out at the end of this year). So we wrote Its Who You Know, it quickly established itself as the first single.

Its Who You Know has been used many times in songs by other artists but it was apt for where my head was at the time. The 2015 general election was approaching; when I see many politicians I see people who have got their positions simply through their class and connections. I felt angered that people making the decision that effect my life and that of my family were made by those who were not there on merit (I must add that there are many who have worked hard to get where they are).

Indeed many walks of life are influenced by the people at the top favouring friends, family and people they know. Its human nature to surround yourself with people you feel comfortable with and are unlikely to challenge you. The music industry is a another example of ‘Its Who You Know’.

As my father often said when I was young. ‘its not what you know, its who you know’; he stills believes that to this day. However I believe you can make a difference to your life by working hard and never giving up but it is nice to know people with a little ‘pull’. Anyway this is what the song is about.

The Idea.

At 3 minutes the song is not long but it is an age in a music video. The idea was to have an interview with a pre-determined candidate guaranteed the job and the band being the hopeful applicants who did not stand a chance despite their qualities.

The successful applicant would walk through a door to find the band playing, a symbol of going it alone and doing things for ourselves without the help of other influences. The idea was a simple, realistic and a budget friendly plot.

The Shooting.

Kevin Byrne kindly stepped up to the lens and shot the video, he controlled the lighting and directed many of the scenes. His influence was crucial to the final outcome of the video. James Cattanach kindly let us have free roam of the Three Kings and we set up in various rooms to create the interview room, the waiting area and the stage.

Kevin grew slightly concerned about the time we had to shoot the film however once we were set up things quickly took shape.

The Cast

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Chris Wilson: Chris played a cocky applicant who was guaranteed the job. He played his character with a swagger and style; look at the scene where he passes the band knowing he has the job. When he opens the door to see the band play is reaction is priceless.

Chris Burt: Brother of Jemma who appears on Weird Decibels 1 plays the interviewer who grills his victims and draws out nervous ticks and weaknesses of the applicant. A dismissive employer who enjoys wearing a ‘sacking tie’.

Dale Ashworth: Plays another cocky and smug interviewer who plays off his colleague to mock the hapless interviewees. Both members of the board are dismissive of all the applicants until Chris Wilson’s character appears and they shake hands. (which had the director and cast scratching their heads trying to work out the handshake in reverse order)

The Scenes

there were to be three scenes, the waiting room, the interview and the band playing at the end. The first scene had to show that Chris knew the members of the board. The interview displayed the hopeless interviews and the final scene is the band playing the song. We had great difficulty shooting the interview due to uncontrollable laughter! During the waiting rooms scenes I headed out the wrong door and the band followed!

Its Who You Know!
Its Who You Know!

Editing

Greg, Derek and Stu did most of the editing with input from Kevin. The first edit of the film was not far from what you see in the final version. I had the idea to put ‘Tarantino’ titles before every scene to help define the story. We had real difficulty getting the timing right, we play our songs far faster live than the recordings. Greg had to use the force to get some of the playing in sync with the music.

The Release

Its How You Know is the first of three single from our forthcoming album Weird Decibels 2.0. the single has been well received and its nice to know that after two week its hit over 300 views. Thanks for the support!

Speak, how we made the video.

Speak, the video

Picking the song.

Weird Decibels 1 has many good songs (in our humble opinion of course) but Wonder, Joker and Speak have always felt like singles. We had an idea for Wonder fairly early on so that video came first. Joker has had several ideas that we either too ambitious for a zero budget or the logistics of getting the right people together didn’t happen. It will though. Speak kinda hung around waiting for an idea. Derek rightly pointed out that we needed to get a new video out and he suggested our faithful practise room owned by the most understanding of landlords Fraser Law aka Beany. We get a free reign of the room so its been our home for nearly 20 years. Derek suggested we shoot a simple video there, and get it uploaded quick, however the idea started to develop.

 

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The room is brilliantly ramshackle, it’s a homely basement with an underground feel. A perfect setting for an underground band shooting a budget film!

Influences and the ideas

The White Stripes, The Hardest Button to Button
A wonderful video.

After the drums intro Speak breaks into a guitar riff with individual notes. I remembered the White Stripes video The Hardest Button to Button, I thought some pictures on the video would be cool, a picture for each note. Below is a still from that wonderful video.

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It worked really well, firstly with the guitar picks, then leads and pedals. Look for the picture of Pabs turning up his amp after Stu. That NEVER happens.

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Pic above. One of the many stills used for each note of Pabs guitar riff.

For the verses we decided to mix things up, Stu singing, Derek on lead guitar, Greg on drums and myself (Pabs) on bass. For those who know the band there would’ve been a few head scratching moments for those that didn’t, well everything would be normal until the chorus. Myself back on vocals, Stu on lead, Greg on bass and Derek on drums. A simple goofy idea.

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Our next influence?

Nirvana. Smells Like Teen Spirit.

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Nirvana is in everything we do

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Yep straight from the Smells Like Teen Spirit vault. The middle 8 sees me screaming into the camera Kurt Cobain style, another mod to our musical youth.

The second verse was a complete surprise for the band. Greg took the outtakes and inserted them into film. Inspired. It gives the video a human edge and is rather funny when Greg fails in his drum stick whirl.

The solo is a classic Stu gig pose that we finally have on film. Stu and I stopped short of doing the back to back pose normally pulled at gigs. I had my moment now it was the turn of the guitar hero.

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For the ending we returned to the still pics for every note. This time we had the band sitting on the old practise room couch. It was a nod to the back cover of Whapper Stormer, our first album. We had no one to take a band pic so we took a photo of the couch then using Photoshop we placed the band into the picture. This idea worked well for the end of the video.

How We Shot The Video

We simply used HD camcorders and Derek’s posh camera. The moving scenes were simple to shoot. The photographs were more challenging as we did not want the light to change too much, so we grabbed some sheets and covered the lights until Derek was happy, and continued to hold the until our arms ached with lactic acid.

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The pic above sees Stu goofing around, the shadow on the right is one of the covers slipping down. No expense spared!

We shot the video in black and white to go with the same colour theme of the album, however Joker, the next video may get the full colour treatment. Who knows!

Editing

We thought this would be so easy to edit and upload but it turned out to be a nightmare in comparison to Wonder. The high def photographs sapped the RAM out of Greg’s poor old PC. Some more RAM a new video editing package and a new OS later and Greg’s hard work paid off.

The Reaction

So far so good! For a small band with around 30 hardcore followers its great knowing that hundreds of people are watching our videos. It is a new audience for us and we are reaching new corners of the globe. So thanks for watching!

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The Speak video in all its glory.