Category Archives: weird decibels 21 years

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

 

 

 

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Weird Decibels and the Falkirk Herald

Many thanks to James Trimble, Graeme Smith, Sarah Moyes, Kevin Byrne phtography and all at the Falkirk Herald

It was probably around late 1994 perhaps early 95 when I saw the advert. In plain black and white text it was the description of a practise room in Grangemouth near the docks. There was a phone number. I dialled and spoke to a guy, his voice distant. ‘I saw your ad in the Falkirk Herald mate, about the practise room?’

There was always ads and music guide in the Falkirk Herald; as a fledgling singer I used to study the gig guide and the demo reviews. One day, I thought, Weird will be in the local paper and then after that? The NME. That was when we dreamed of success.

I used to deliver newspapers. The Falkirk Herald was an extra shift. Grudgingly I’d lay down the Megadrive controller on a Thursday afternoon and head out to Charlie Sismans newsagents and pick up my batch of papers to stick through letter boxes with the occasional dog attack tearing up the paper the owner had just paid for.

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Goal 1 get our demo reviewed in the Falkirk Herald. Graeme Smith penned much of the music news during the late 90’s when we first appeared on the scene.

So I always had a connection with our local rag. The days before our first gig I wrestled with the broadsheet hastily flattening the pages to see our band name in print. There it was. Weird. In bold black letters, in print, Goal 1 achieved, now to earn a decent review.

There is a  distracting photo in the slideshow just below, the Martell at just 6 years old celebrating its underage birthday, we were listed on the live night with Nearvana. Every Thursday there was a Martell listing, from Sids Bevy Wheel to Foam nights (not the band..).

The local journalist Graeme Smith seemed to be the dominant force in the local music articles, his writing was sometimes witty, showing a hint exasperation at the various tribute acts and britpop clones floating around every music scene at the time.

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I nervously slipped our chrome 90 tape with our freshly cut demo  (The Rain Vancouver and Chameleon)into a padded envelope to be reviewed by the fearsome Graeme Smith.

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Our first review!!! I could not wait until the Thursday to see this.

The following Thursday I quickly flicked through the vast pages to get to the local music scene column hoping that a review would be there. It was. Our first ever review in print Thankfully the article was positive. Goal 2 achieved.

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Things went quiet after a while as we drifted into even deeper obscurity. We failed to reach many goals after our early successes. Gradually we took a step back from the local scene, every Wednesday we would practise and record for an audience that had gone. Aimless and wandering to an eventual end like so many local bands before us.

A few years passed. We returned to the fury of One More Solo and gigged that album relentlessly. The local scene had changed but the Falkirk Herald was still there, piled in beside the vender, the pages fluttering in the High Street wind.

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We resumed a more restrained relationship with the Herald; there were a few pieces covering the albums that we had recorded at the time. James Trimble now had the reigns of the local music section in the paper. Both One More Solo and Riot Act were covered. By the time we had reached Quiet Act things were, well, quiet.

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This Riot Act feature would be the last for a few years as we stepped further into background of the scene

It was not until Weird Decibels 1 that things changed again. We grabbed our camcorders, drove around Falkirk and shot the Wonder video. It caught the imagination of the town and amazingly (for us) it hit 2000 views. Once again there was some interest and we contacted James at the Herald.

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What followed has been an upsurge of support from James and our local paper. Almost all the videos have had a feature and our new album Weird Decibels 2 is discussed.

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pic Kevin Byrne. James Trimble has written a few pieces about out time together, which is nice!

Of course print is now struggling and this was reflected in our last discussion via email with James; he was understandably frustrated with the state of things. Everyone wants everything for free, music and news included.

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21 years 8 albums in. Much of our story has been written the Falkirk Herald

So as the Falkirk Herald attempts to move to digital hopefully we’ll still get column space albeit pixels instead of print.Who knows what the future of our paper is but when we appear in the centre pages rest assured as I walk down the corridors of work the following Friday someone will say ‘I saw you in the Falkirk Herald yesterday!’