making the tenth writing

Writing the Tenth part 1

Writing the tenth album part 1: Are we really going to do this?

Towards the end of 2021, as the winter hinted at its arrival, we were sporadically meeting for practise. We’d belt out some set lists that we had each written, Stu went for some of the solo laden songs, Derek dug out a range of rarely played tunes from over the years, and Greg went for the early stuff.

Stu tunes up the guitar

It was fun, but we wanted to move on. Lockdown was still with us, there was little chance of playing live, and to be honest it hasn’t been on the horizon for various reasons.

One night, as we shivered in the cold night, enjoying fresh air and a break from the masks we started to have a chat about new recordings. Many ideas zipped around our heads, genres eps, balls out rock, another live acoustic album? Nah, another studio album first. ‘What about a double album then?’

And that got me thinking, could we write an album of piledrivers laden with guitars and an album of subtle acoustic thinkers. I started writing (pic of guitar and lyric book) and there was time as we were mostly confirmed to the house and hours of Netflix.

The tunes came think and fast, everything gets recorded to the phone using RecForge. Every little idea, every lick. What was missing was lyrics, hit a wee wall there.

After a few weeks though the songs were developed to a basic level, and just at the turn of the year I let the guys hear them at a rare practise. The response was lukewarm at best.

I’m guessing the mood had changed a little, especially from Stu who wanted something a little ‘darker’. The ideas were ‘too happy’ according to my lifelong guitar partner.

I wasn’t defeated though, I made a few changes and stored some of ‘happier’ tunes for another day.

Time flew by, winter arrived and departed as quickly and the world around us was changing once more, the war in Ukraine played on my mind, (and a guilty realisation that wars are taking place across the world, when it gets closer to home you start to wake up to this fact.)

What was playing out on out screens started to creep into my, lyrics and the ideas I had developed. We finally arranged a date to have a writing session. And it would be in Derek’s Slange bar.

Greg gets ready to Bass it. Lyrics book open for tunes

April 1st 2022 Unnamed tenth album, writing begins.

I had about 7 or 8 songs, with printed lyrics, progressions, probably the most prepared I had been before writing with the guys. So, I was quietly confident.

Even in our mid 40s there was still excitement when Derek pulled up to collect the gear and myself, it had been weeks since I had seen him, but we just take off from where we left. We picked up Stu, he strode towards the car looking ready for a gig.

The bar is a cracking wee room with a tap, no half measures here. I started to set up, there was a buzz in the air. Greg arrived, the pints poured, and Derek, like our kids when we take them on a long drive was asking ‘are you not set up yet?’.

Once we had set up the Korg D3200 I opened the folder of lyrics and played these songs.

Set list

1. My Internal Wasted Mind

2. Fire in the Garden

3. Science Will Save Me

4. Bad Things Happen When You’re Bored

5. If Heaven Exists, It’s In Little Bits

6. I Try to Be Strong

We weren’t finished there.

7. Derek’s Piano riff

8. Gregs bass riff

9. Dereks guitar riff

All songs were recorded live, in stripped back acoustic form, and after not playing for so long there was an energy that we hadn’t had in a while. I Used the trusted Blumlien technique to capture the room while adding DI for the body of the guitar sound. Later Derek would add some keys.

We hadn’t had this much fun in ages. Perhaps since the ‘Haddows’ days of Firkin Outburst only this time we had recordings to remember the songs!

The Korg D32 back in action

All the basic ideas I had went well, writing lyrics beforehand helped the structure, the guys helped bring dynamics and even changing the tempo of one or two tracks really brought out the songs. If Heaven Exist was practically transformed by the change of pace; the lower tempo allowed the lyrics to breath.

Dusk started to settle around us, the warm glow of the lights in the bar was perhaps a side effect of the ale, regardless the atmosphere was great as we shifted towards Greg and Derek’s ideas.

They came out with some really nice riffs and for the first time in an age we started to jam, one off moments caught in the recording. Greg adding some lyrics to the mix.

The first writing session was a success, sure the weeks that followed it was really hard for us to get together, but with the recording down we can develop them on our own and bring it together when we meet again.

Another couple of sessions like this and we’ll be off on another recording adventure…


retro corner riot act writing

Riot Act is 10 (part 1 writing)

Behind the Wall Photographs Neil Henderson

Stream the album for free here

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’



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.

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)

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’.



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…

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

Words Pabs.












the making of weird decibels 2 writing

Writing Weird Decibels 2

Pictures by Mr Kevin Byrne

Writing Weird Decibels 1 All Over Again

We started creating Weird Decibels 2 in  March 2013 you can read about the first session here. We got many things right when creating our new album but one of the few mistakes we made was the title, Weird Decibels 2. The name put an expectation on us to write an album every bit as good as its predecessor. So when the pen hit paper and the guitars were strummed we were unaware that we were writing the same album all over again.

The three songs from this session were Left/Right ( a father son politically themed song), Rain Parade and Feet First my description at the time?

‘They are quite dynamic, influences so far point to The Pixies, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. We’re not going quietly!’

Despite our early enthusiastic approach none of these songs would ever be recorded.

In April 2013 we had another update (read here) and at this point I start to voice concerns about our new songs, in particular Feet First which I thought was ‘too commercial’. A creeping doubt was emerging that we were not writing particularly strong songs, sure we enjoyed them but they didn’t have the ‘look around the room and grin’ feel that we have when we stumbled upon a great idea.

The Stalker Song’ made an appearance here, written about a young man who falls for a woman he sees on the bus. This song would be quickly apprehended and sent down the lost ideas vault.

Here is a wee description I noted at the time.

‘So here we have a guy who gets the same bus every day and at the next stop is a girl who gets her bus everyday. He falls in love with her, he feels like he has known her all his life. He’s a loner doing the same thing day in day out. She simply fills her commute with the usual check on her smartphone. One day he follows her home. I’m not sure where to go from here, my character isn’t a violent guy, just lonely but he has really strong feelings for this girl he doesn’t know’

Stu and Derek show beer and guns.

Jemma Burt and Craig Elder were approached to appear on the album but for various reasons this wouldn’t happen. I guess this was a mixture of time and the desire for the four of us the be the nucleus of our 20th anniversary album.

Derek added his insight to the writing of the album you can read that here. He also shares his concerns about the changes that needed to be made but there is no hiding his delight at starting a new album

As the summer of 2013 moved in and the sun hung in the sky (highly unlikely) we wrote more songs.

Another song, inspired by Alice In Chains, called ‘Miss Asphyxia’ had been floating around for weeks and is first listed during this practise.

‘Small Hands’ would appear in June, by July I was really excited by it. I has asked the guys if they had received my email of a new idea in a 3 / 4 timing, Stu was the only one who listened to it. I carried on regardless and played a hyper riff that I had named ‘Kill it! Kill it! A few minutes later it was our latest song. I described it as my new hope for Weird Decibels 2, we all looked around the room and grinned.

By September 2013 writing was becoming stagnant, however Stu had a new riff that we were attempting to put some music to. At this point it remained untitled. We also agreed on no deadline for the album, perhaps aware we were nowhere near to recording it.

As the masks and costumes of Halloween were don October was the month we made a big decision. We ditched nearly all the songs from the first 6 months and we agreed that the practice room was no longer a place of creativity. it was a dark moment as we sat in silence on the old couches, cold creeping back into the year.

The Marvels

We had decided to keep just Miss Asphyxia and Kill It! Kill it!. Now that we were back to just two songs I had doubts another album would ever happen. So we sat and looked at each other and said. ‘Lets book a wee lodge, take some guitars, a shit load of beer and see what happens’.

Oakley Writing Sessions

Just 20 minutes from our home town is a beautiful little cluster of cottages nestled within the grounds of a stately home. This grand building stands in Oakley a small settlement just outside Dunfermline. So with heavy hearts we headed to Fife.

The lodge was wonderful; with an open plan living room and a fridge nearby it allowed the band to sit in ample space facing each other with our guitars ready to see what tunes we could write. (Blog)

Derek had brought the keyboard as he was keen to try something other than the drums. He had suggested we head up to the lodge without any ideas, basically a blank page.

Beers keep out the cold

Well I tried to do that! However I had a couple of ideas floating around my head; I wanted us to hit the ground running and build on any momentum.

We arrived the Friday night and I set up the desk and loosely placed a few mics around the room and set up the Blumlien microphone technique to capture the room sound.

With the headphones places I could hear that we had a nice sound so we grabbed a beer and launched ourselves into writing; well I say launch. We had a beer or two and talked about television and monty python quotes.

Friday 31st January 2014

Little Thoughts Lost which we wrote with some keys over the top. the song on the recording hasn’t change much. I Hear the City was also born on that crisp night, slightly faster in tempo back then other than this it hasn’t changed too much. Derek had suggested ending on a G but Stu said this was too happy!

By now we were for more positive about writing our new album and after a few Tsingtao’s we had another go at City this time more in line with the album tempo and it turned out pretty well.

Towards the night we engaged in some more joyful band banter then  wrote another song called Hit me. A depressing little number that did not really make it past Oakley.

After a round of applause for Stu’s beard and a word from his sponsor we scooped a few more beers.

Saturday the 1st of Feb 2014

Four cracking cooked breakfasts wolfed down and coffee slurped we were ready to get the writing caps on again. Kevin Byrne was on his way, camera and mandolin in hand we chapped on the door and was welcomed into the warmth of the lodge as the fire crackled in the middle of the room.

Quoted Not Voted  arose from the fumes of alcohol on Saturday afternoon, this is the weaker version which lacks any significant verse vocals this was the 4th song we had written,

Digital takeover, one of those nice riffs we could never finish was attempted on this day. Curtain hits the cast offered a little humour as I tried to play the intro riff (which we’d later drop) several times much the amusement of my fellow musicians.

Oakley: I Hear The City, Digital Takeover, Little Thoughts Lost, Curtain Hits the Cast, Quoted Not Voted, Hit Me. 

Heights Session  Saturday 22nd November 2014

setting up the heights sessions. pics Greg McSorley

Heights: Smash the Glass, Almost Beautiful, Car Crash, Once More With Feeling, Away Home.

A few months of practice passed and we polished off the work from Oakley. We had a desire to go back to another lodge, possible the same locale but time, money and real life would get in the way.

Undeterred we decided that a Saturday up at my place with the studio set-up would be a suitable option.

That morning we attended the funeral of our friend Chris Mason; a huge influence on the band. Afterwards there was a sombre mood to the writing. We turned the LED lights blue in respect of the colour of lights Chris had on his Christmas tree which he never took down!

Derek on the keys

Later, while Stu was watching his beloved Alloa getting thumped by the mighty Bairns (Falkirk FC), we set up and cracked open our first beers.

Again I had a couple of ideas floating around my head. Both The Dancer and Almost Beautiful were sketched by the time Stu arrived. Now that we were all together the songs would be finished. The Dancer sounds intense during these sessions and we lost this feeling for a while; luckily we got it back for the final album version.

Away Home was a long song, it didn’t make the final cut. Its another brooding song with a slightly different structure to the fast punchy pace of Weird Decibels 2.Perhaps this would’ve survived during a different time in our writing career.

Car Crash was another nice sounding song. Sadly it didn’t stick, it had a Americana feel which I guess we are not ready for. The version recorded has a nice mouth organ piece over the top of the guitars.

Stu arrives to write!

Deeper into the night Stu and Greg launched into a jam, it was a heavy riff and I struggled to get a melody for it, I sang in a different style and sounded alien on the take. Indeed it would be many months before I cracked it. That song would become Once More With Feeling.

The Shore on My Soul and It’s Who You Know, final writing. January 2015. 

As usual I fretted about the lack of songs for the album and I played the guitar for days recording every single idea I had. I brought two ideas down to the room. One song took an age to write another happened instantly.

What started off as Shore on My Soul would eventually end up being Medicine. It developed over a number of months; the ending just grew into a jam and remains one of the best endings we have carved out of our sonic landscape.

It’s Who You Know had the grins from the start. We built this song on a wee into riff and i was amazed that we could still write songs like this quickly. I really felt that this was the last song we would write for the Weird Decibels 2 sessions. We were happy with what we had; a couple of years hard work, a few false starts but now finally we had an album to record.

music solo writing

I can explain everything…



Thinking about this for the cover
Thinking about this for the cover

As I reach the twentieth anniversary of first stepping up to the microphone to be lead singer of Weird Decibels I look back on the past two decades with a sense of achievement that the four of us have written and recorded seven albums with another one on the way. I feel lucky to be able to write songs (a few great, some good some bad and some awful) it is something I take for granted and I cannot understand when people say they cannot write songs. Then I remind myself that I cannot do the things others take for granted. Derek thinks the drums are easy… Stu pulls a solo out of the hat and the Bass I recorded for the album Morningday made me appreciate just how good Greg is at his chosen music discipline. Anyway the bottom line is I have to write songs all the time, for I fear if I stop I will lose the only skill I have. This brings me to the ‘solo career’, my mistress in the Weird Decibels marriage.

You may wonder why I express guilt at creating music without the band. There are a number of reasons. The main one is I’m not creating music with the guys, something I swore I’d do so long as they let me. The second is some of my best work (you may disagree) has been on my own where it should be with the guys and sometimes I think I spread myself too thin. There is only so many albums you can write and they should always be the best that you can create.  So I’ll take you on a wee tour to see how the solo albums fit in.

Solo albums are a lonely experience. Lewis keeps me company
Solo albums are a lonely experience. Lewis keeps me company

The first was ‘Gods In The Kitchen’ a rather rough acoustic album recorded 1997 on a four track, this would be just around 1997’s Weird’s  ‘Firkin Outburst’,  at this point the band was beginning to lose its way (although its a good record). Next was 1998’s ‘Monkeys On A Stage’ another sketchy acoustic album. 1999 saw ‘A Twist and a Turn’. Three albums in quick succession. At this time Weird were about to end their first era and release ‘Cold Home Street’ in 2000. 2002 saw ‘The Armour is Broken’ the first solo album (and perhaps last) that I was insanely proud of. Around this time I was in the Seventeenth were our writing was frustratingly sporadic. The writing slowed.

However 2004 saw the return of industrious writing and the second coming of Weird and ‘One More Solo’ around this time Derek and I recorded Sllablo’s 9 hours. My fourth solo lp ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’ arrived 2005 as Weird leaned towards covers to pay for the ‘lodge’ albums Riot/Quiet Act which would arrive 2007 and 2008 respectively. This phase was lean lyrically, songs of drink, ennui and Eurovision… Things went quiet for Weird after the ‘Acts’ so 2009 saw the release of ‘Creeping Ash’ my 6th solo acoustic album. After this record I swore never to write another acoustic album again.

2012 saw three years of focused writing to create Weird Decibels 1. I could not believe it had been a four-year gap between Quiet Act and WdB1 It is however arguably our best record. I had sickened myself of the acoustic guitar and had been listening to a lot of early Metallica and Megadeath so lyrically it was a lot stronger than previous albums. This brings us to 2013. We had started writing Weird Decibels 2, Derek sustained an injury and I had writers block, The band now had down time and I had to find a way to write songs again. In December 2013 I sat staring out the garden thinking that I was finished writing songs. So I played the guitar and listened to RM Hubbert until my fingers blistered. I record it all into a Nexus 7 and Morningday started to take shape. A full five years since my last solo record.

Kevin Bryne on drums and Jemma Bur Piano/Violin have helped shape Morningday
Kevin Bryne on drums and Jemma Burt Piano/Violin have helped shape Morningday

Morningday is still unfinished and I have the usual concerns of how it will turn out. It’s more than a solo album Kevin Bryne (drums) and Jemma Burt (piano and violin) are very much involved. Its strange having a full band sound without Weird Decibels. Morningday started out acoustic but it grew into something different and refreshing. All my energy has went into it which is where the guilt comes in. However I conquered the writing block. I feel recharged and ready to put everything into Weird Decibels 2 which will be the 17th studio album of which I’m a part of. Chuffed with that!


music Pabs General music thoughts writing

Pabs Music Musings 3. The Blackpool Soundtrack

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.

Coffee ready, feet up
Coffee ready, feet up

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.

The Wonder Blackpool Illunimations

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.

Inside the pleasure beach
Inside the pleasure beach a pigeon takes flight

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!

The Broken but still standing North Pier
The Broken but still standing North Pier

If you are a writer please tell me how do you get inspired?


music Weird Decibels 2 Diary writing

Writing September, October 2013

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!)

1. Miss Asphyxia

2. I Hope it Rains On Your Parade

3. Standing on a Viewpoint.

4.  Kill it! Kill it!

5. Small Hands

6. (Untitled)

7. Feet First

more news soon! Pabs



Writing August 2013


Kill it! Kill it!

I guess it started in my bored heart
Turned my blood darker than black
At first I loved the feelings I had
Got in my head, I screamed ‘take it back!’


Kill it! Kill it!
Stamp it down
Before it grows
And eats all around

Binds my wrists onto the bed
Feel the beast sit upon my chest
I hear my life calling out my name
Try to reach her finger tips again and again

Stamp it down!
Before it grows
Stamp it down
Before it grows!

Some early lyrics from our latest song. We haven’t recorded it yet so there was a bit of a panic when we tried to recall how we played it last week. I had used my tablet to record a rough sketch when we first created the song but it was a mash of digital distortion. It was such a rush writing this track. It is based on a rolling riff I had fluked  on the guitar, Stu took the riff and built the verse and chorus riffs around it. Its a two minute rock rampage! We’ll need to sit down and write song longer epics otherwise dB2 is going to be around 30 minutes long!


music writing

Writing Weird Decibels 1 Part 3 The Sprint to the Finish

As told by Pabs

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…

Derek, Greg and Stu lark around in the room during final writing sessions.
Derek, Greg and Stu lark around in the room during final writing sessions.

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#
Upon—my—knees again
Hands—clasped—and tied (simple song eh?)

We were recording practices by this time, trying to get the best set up for the drums as we would record the kit in this very room
We were recording practices by this time, trying to get the best set up for the drums as we would record the kit in this very room

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 struggled to get the thing to work that night, only to find a cable was not plugged in...
I struggled to get the thing to work that night, only to find a cable was not plugged in…

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.