Category Archives: retro corner

Riot Act is 10 (part 1 writing)

Behind the Wall Photographs Neil Henderson

Stream the album for free here

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Stu in full flow 2007 BTW, Pic Neil Henderson

Turning 30 was a bit painful; there is something visceral about leaving your 20’s. You think your youth is gone when in fact it’s still around for another few years or so. Turning 40 teaches you this.

Riot Act was written and recorded as we were all heading to our 30’s (Stu had already reached that milestone!) Greg and I were nearly there and Derek was planning to have the mortgage paid off by the end of his third decade.

In 2007 the music industry was about to go through a seismic change. Spotify would launch the year after, itunes was in full flow and people were downloading music only to find the quality was nowhere near as good as physical formats. Radiohead were letting you pay what you wanted for the brilliant ‘In Rainbows’ and Kings of Leon were just past their peak.  

‘this is the hole dam shooting match

where the victims aim high and the victors aim low

where the self obsessed career animals

who don’t want to know’

Underachiever

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Our band was still called Weird and we had had a great ‘comeback’ with One More Solo in 2004. We had gigged that album profusely and after the dust had settled we returned to our practise room and decided our next turn. Derek suggested we started making money from music and that meant learning covers then playing paid gigs. Grudgingly I agreed, the other guys felt that this was a good move. So we learned a lot of tunes and played a number of paid shows. Slowly our band bank account started to look like it had never done so before…it had a balance.

Writing took a back seat; personally I had run out of ideas I thought I had explored all my experiences and thoughts and my pen ran dry. Influences around us were also running low, the Foo Fighters for example were treading water; the albums they released around this time, One By One and In Your Honor could arguably be examples of this (some of the guys will be shaking their heads at this but I feel the Foo’s didn’t return to form until Wasting Light which is superb). Personally I felt that there was no emerging music and even the local scene was not as strong as it is today although its fair to say I was ignoring that as well.

‘Lets face it she’s not very pretty

And she doesn’t look good on the dancefloor

I make my way home from this paranoid city

Turn on the news watch religion at war’

Sky is Falling’

We would attend practise every Wednesday in the same surroundings, low on influences distracted by learning covers and I guess on a come down from the joyful years of 2004’s ‘One More Solo’. Even the very essence of our rehearsal space was changing as the bulldozers came in and cleared the way for another ASDA. Despite all these factors we soldiered on and wrote Riot Act.

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Oh Greg! how you’ve changed! Pic Neil Henderson

Despite my reluctance to learn covers discovering the structure of the songs we were regularly playing in Behind the Wall and other venues that favoured cover acts, I started to become influenced by the punk and rock we were playing. Many of the songs on the album would end up being balls out uncomplicated punk rock that was easy and fun to play.

Our drinking was nuts during these years in the 00’s we drank a lot of beer. Caught up in the insane alcohol deals of the day; we would consume cases of lager without flinching, often during great times at Derek’s old flat. Indeed our old gang of lads were still together; Byrne, Rooz, Wilson to name a few and of course Dave Broon. Unbeknown to us these were the last few care free years and looking back i’m glad we enjoyed them.

Some facts about 2007

  • Interest rates 5.25%
  • Tony Blair steps down as prime minister and is replaced by Gordon Brown
  • US President was George W. Bush
  • There was the horrific Glasgow Airport terrorist attack
  • Average price of a pint was £2.51
  • Best selling album Back To Black Amy Winehouse
  • Average internet speed 3.3 Mb (three times as fast as ours)
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A few pounds more and a few grey hairs less. Pabs 2007. pic Neil Henderson

Alcohol was very much prevalent in the lyrics I wrote then, that and nightlife in Falkirk. Home Sweet Home is perhaps a reflection that I was tiring of the nights this would be a theme throughout the album. However it was a limited view and I grew to criticise my lyrics over the following years. Quiet Act, Riots successor, dealt with the same subject albeit from a Sunday morning perspective. (more on that next year).

 

‘I beat myself up over again

When i realised what i could’ve been

Holding on to a job that pays

For the  house and the car and the microwave’.

Razorwire

 

Personally there were some difficult times in 2007 but I never really learned how to approach them until many years later. Riot Act was like a party with lots of people having fun apart from the one moody guy in the corner ready to start something.

Writing the album was a pretty straight forward, the riffs really spilled out from the covers we were rehearsing. Then one night we heard the scurrying…the rats…even they got a mention on the record.

As we gathered our roster of finished songs I suggested to the guys a new approach to recording; that we hire a cottage in one of the remotest places in Scotland. We now had the money to pay for it. Riot Act would be the first of our ‘lodge albums’ and what a riot that week would be…

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the first ever lodge we used to record. Cannich, Scotland

Words Pabs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weird Decibels talk Gigs!

By the time you read this we are about to, or will have played Jims Bar at the QMU in Glasgow (june 21st 2014), So below is a recount of some of our gigs, in no particular order we include the finest, the worst and the strangest moments from our time on the stage.

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Greg at the ABC2 2013

 

Classic. 1996 Martell Falkirk Battle of the Bands Quarter Finals. We had just started playing and our heads were full of dreams. Greg, Stu and I had just left school to go to college and Derek, the youngster was still growing cress on the carpet of the common room in Larbert high School. Three teenage kids and a fresh 20-year-old took to the stage to one of our biggest and most eager crowds. The place was packed, i couldn’t see anything from the glare of the lights but every time we finished a song the place erupted. It was the start of our dream.

Weird. 1996 A Field in Crossgates.. Chris from Cage phones us. ‘Hey guys want to stand in for us? Its a biker rally festival in Crossgates’  I thought biker rally = really drunk moshers + our brand of rock + festival = riot of a gig. When we turned up, it was a field full of cow shit. We were directed to the ‘stage’. The power generator was louder than us. The crowd was a single mother bouncing her baby up and down on her knee. The rocking bikers stayed outside playing spin around the stick whilst drinking whiskey. Stu and Derek were happy though, they sat and ate a bag of onion rings and drank  cheep beer…

Great Gig. 2013  Oran Mor, Glasgow.

A pensive Weird Decibels
A pensive Weird Decibels

 

Superb gig in the basement of Oran Mor. We supported Life On Standby who are now doing very well, that night they played a fine set to a growing audience. We went on halfway through the night. It was a great crowd really up for it. Our album Weird Decibels 1 was doing well and we were getting into the swing of playing it live. The sound was simply amazing, one of he best live sounds we have ever had. Annie Walker was kind enough to take some brilliant photos and through this gig we got a slot on the Third Classic ticket radio show run by Tommy Clark. One of those great nights.

 

 

 

 

Bad gig. The Cathouse Glasgow. A pay to play gig. Hate them. These days they still do them but in a more subtle way. We sold a few tickets and paid to play only for the bouncers to refuse entry to most of the people who had travel through to see us. Derek was raging, he can be heard venting his anger on a live recording which appears on our official bootleg. The place was nearly empty, it was a real setback for the band.

Great Gig 2009, The Argyll Falkirk.

Derek setting up the kit for Tonight Live Not Completely Sold Out
Derek setting up the kit for Tonight Live Not Completely Sold Out

 

In the ‘slender’ years between ‘Quiet Act’ and ‘Weird Decibels 1’ we were writing the new album and played a handful of gigs at various venues around our home town of Falkirk. Derek owned the Argyll pub at this time so it was an ideal opportunity for us to organise our own gigs. This meant we could use all our own gear and record our performance. We recorded this gig in question, this would eventually become ‘Tonight! Live! Not Completely Sold Out! A mixture of covers, old songs and four new tracks that would appear on WdB1. It was our faithful crowd who have followed us from day one and it was a great laugh. Keep an eye on Bandcamp, I’ll upload these tracks very soon. https://weirddecibels.bandcamp.com/

 

 

 

 

Weird but brilliant. around early 2000’s My Parents Garden at a BBQ. A gigs a gig! Stu reminded me of this one. My parents held a BBQ every year and asked us to play a wee acoustic gig which we happily agreed. I took down the 4 track and flung a few mics around. The gig started well with cheers and laughs, that is until we played the Ace of Spades on acoustic guitars! The recording was great until my Dad started trying  to break a big block of ice cubes which was picked up on the recording, and yes it was out of time…

Classic Gig. Around 2005. The Path Tavern. Kirkcaldy. The venue may be closed and turned into a restaurant but the memories will remain. We played with Kranksolo, our two bands formed a fine friendship and shared a few gigs. 13 Tombs supported. They were superb, the singer had these massive boots that lit up. He looked like dynamo from Running Man. It was a small but fantastic crowd, they dug our music which at the time was One More Solo. We sold a few albums and we were even asked to sign them! Greg drove us back in the ‘Vulture’ old Vauxhall Carlton automatic. It took all the gear, three drunk band members and a sober bass player.

 

 Bad Gig, But Great experience. Around 2005. The Cavern. Liverpool.

Weird Rock the Cavern, the easy way...
Weird Rock the Cavern, the easy way…

 

Contradiction perhaps but this was one of the most memorable experiences for the band. We even saw the ‘Beatles’. In our desire to expand to other countries, starting with England Greg managed to get us a gig in the world-famous venue the Carvern home of a band called the Beatles. Quite good actually. On the road down Derek nearly broke his hand when Greg decided his stricken limb looked good as a door stop. It was a Back To The Future moment when Kevin Byrne was considered to stand in. The gig itself was empty, everyone was watching the Beatles, we discovered that night that most people listen to music they are familiar with. One the road back I needed to pee really bad as we had been drinking all night. I’m not sure why I’m mentioning this but it is scorched in my memory how long Greg made me wait… Thanks to Neil Henderson and Kevin Byrne who came down and took the photos.

 

Great Gig. 2013 ABC 2 Glasgow.

Rocking the ABC2
Rocking the ABC2

 

2013 was a great year for us live, the ABC 2 was a great gig. the sound the crowd and our performance ensured a great night. It was the first time we actually had a proper merch stand. Yes we have been together nearly 20 years but it takes us time to catch on… It was at this gig we played a brand new song Miss Asphyxia from our future album Weird Decibels 2. It seemed to herald in a new chapter for the band. The fact that it went down well was fantastic. There is a back stage room with a fridge which 5 years ago we would’ve filled with beer, however…it was not to be.

 

 

 

 

We are a small but perfectly formed rock band, there are no major venues with packed crowds. However we love playing live and every Monday when we return to our jobs, surrounded by the sound of keyboards typing furious emails and office workers sniping we can look back on these times with pleasure and indeed look forward. We never know what is around the corner, maybe when we step from backstage one day and see a wee venue packed with our friends and our fans. We play live 22nd August 2014,  13th  Note Glasgow. Make an unforgettable night with us. 

I finish with;

Ten Facts about Weird Decibels live

  1. Waiting On the Sound of Your High Heels Baby from One More Solo is our most played song.
  2. Dave Broon was our manager for a night, at a gig in Edinburgh, he paid us with a beer. Legend.
  3. A couple got ‘frisky’ when we played ‘Glass People’ at McSorley’s in Glasgow.
  4. The venue we have played most is still the Martell, Falkirk.
  5. Our sound checks take 2 minutes. Plug in. Play.
  6. I have broken one stage (the Martell)
  7. Derek winds the band up by getting changed into gig clothes during the walk on music.
  8. Stu averages around 3 devil signs per song, one during solo. God.
  9. Greg doesn’t need a setlist as he does not know the name of our songs.
  10. Phil and Juls Sampson have been to the most Weird Decibel gigs. Legends. In fact all of our hardcore fans are brilliant people.
  11. Wilson, our friend and a fan of the band has a Weird Decibels Tattoo. Nothing to do with gigs. But thought I’d mention it.

Pabs.

Phil, one of our greatest fans and a friend of the band.
Phil, one of our greatest fans and a friend of the band.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One More Solo turns ten. (remaster)

Prelude;

Stu leaves band, Weird become the Seventeenth, 4 years pass, Stu comes back, Weird write kick ass rock album.

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Guitar shines in the light.

2004 Facebook launches , Ireland bans smoking in pubs, Greece win the Euros and Weird make a comeback. It was never going to work…

Facebook that is.

The Background, let’s rock this shit.

When Stu returned to pick up the guitar there were grins all round the room. It had been four years since we had thought Weird had had its day and the bands legacy would be a couple of EPs and a ropey album ‘Cold home Street’. I had already been working with Stu on various projects having met him at Behind The Wall by chance. Amongst our new musical projects was an idea of a Weird ‘best of’ but in acoustic form. We had recorded Glass People first, that would appear on Whapper Stormer. I had mentioned to Greg and Derek that Stu and I were playing again. Strangely we decided against reforming the band and instead approached Kevin Byrne and Chris Burt with a proposal to start a new larger group. Other commitments prevented both Kevin and Chris from attending practise and myself, Derek, Greg and Stu found ourselves back in our old practise room with only a handful of songs from the big group practises. However Stand For Your Rights was written that very night and suddenly the desire to reform and write a new album was back.

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The rock in the rock band was back…

Writing an album the easy way…

We wrote the album quickly. There was no pressure to evolve our sound as we were simply back to enjoy playing music. The songs are generally simple 4 chord progressions that the quo would be proud of. The songs had a great feeling though, from the shouty anger of Easy Way, the smoke hazed Trying To Grab Hold to the darkness of The Ending and its middle 8 that we have yet to better. We all felt part of the writing of the record and the solos were back. Now the challenge was to get the energy of the songs recorded.

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Album prepped and ready to go. Tune up Bo!

One Take Jake.

We recorded, mixed and mastered the entire album ourselves. In 2004 we had very little equipment. I had a Tascam 788. My first digital recorder. A Stagg condenser microphone that was used for everything from the mono overhead drum kit sound to the vocals and guitars. A Shure sm58 was used on the snare and I have no idea what was used on the kick. The drums were recorded in Derek’s biggest bed room in his flat. It had high ceilings and the shape of the room lended itself to excellent acoustics. To this day it is still one of the best rooms I have recorded a kit in. The bass was in the smaller bedroom, guitars in the kitchen where the floor was wooden so a brighter sound for the guitars and a vocal booth in the tiny corridor. Egg cartons were used for acoustics, and as I stood and admired our little booth I had no idea that I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. 

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I’ve nailed this…

The recording went well, the songs were well rehearsed. We recorded much of the album in the flat in around three separate weekends. We drank a lot, ate a new thing called Subways. My favourite was the foot long meatball. (Still is) We had everyone around at some point to sit and drink, smoke, eat and drink. Gav McVicar, Kev Bryne and Dave Broon can be heard cheering as Greg nails a bass line in one take. Such a fun time, it spills onto the record despite the many dark moments that the songs have. Then there was the biblical rain. The heaviest rain I can recall, washing my old Renault that was sat outside. It was flooded. So I had another beer and recorded the rain that can be heard on the fade out at the end of the album.

So we gigged OMS, until our fingers bled.

We have never gigged an album as much as we had OMS. Sometimes playing twice a week which is a lot for us. Even more impressive given that our jobs were already starting to grind us down. We gigged Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Kirkcaldy. Kirkcaldy was simply brilliant. The Path Tavern. We met a band called Kranksolo on our travels, fucking loved that band and they became firm friends. They invited us to play the Path. The Krankies were a riot. One of the support acts had these huge shoes that lit up and a huge spiky hair. They were camp metal. 13 Tombs. Brilliant. We drove around in a big blue automatic Vauxhall called Vulture. The Cavern was good as well. Beatles played there you know.

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Gigs. The Cavern in Liverpool was a highlight.

reception and Legacy.

OMS generally went down well with our faithful. We still play Waiting On The Sound of Your High heels Baby and our clan love it. the Falkirk Herald were kind in their review, the Daily Record went meh and looking back I can see why. One More Solo is one of our best albums, the fun we had during that era will be hard to match. The original recording just needed a bit of mastering.

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OMS circa 2004/5 was a fun time for us.

 

Ten Years On. The remaster.

A lot of remasters are awful cash ins that add nothing to the original recording. It wouldn’t be hard to improve the sound of OMS. The original was mixed and mastered in my living room on a pair of huge Celef speakers designed for hi fi use. I got it all wrong. The mix was buried under a sludge of low and low mid frequencies. Every song faded forever which Derek kindly pointed out on a daily basis for years. He had a very valid point.

Ten years on I put the CD into the D3200

Unfortunately I could not strip the songs back to tracking level as they had not been backed up… So there are limitations to what I could do, most remasters are the same. Get it right at the source as they say. These days I have a wee bit more knowledge, a set of budget monitors and basic sound acoustics in a purpose built studio. When I played the original recording it was glaringly obvious what needed fixing. I applied huge EQ cuts to the lowmid bass frequencies which opened up the mix. The guitars have come through quite well. I’ve added some dynamics to the mix. Easy Way has a gain of 1db at the chorus. The things you learn! Cold Calling has a new mix that I found. Cold Calling has always been poor recording. One of those songs that worked well live but on record it suffers. Fade outs have been cut and edited better. Not a huge difference but an improvement. The remaster will be yours absolutely free via download at our online album hub that is https://weirddecibels.bandcamp.com

How much do I love WordPress on android its a riot…

I hope you enjoy One More Solo, its reached its cheeky tenth birthday. Treat it well or it might rebel on you. Its an angry wee bugger.

Pabs.