‘Educational suicide? So what does that mean? You’ve not got a clue’, a drunken local once said that to me passing in the street. He had been at the Martell and he must’ve seen us playing; he was scruffy with a wide swagger, long dirty blond hair draped down the side of his face. I was a kid. I didn’t know how to answer his assertion that I didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I got me thinking. What is Educational Suicide? I guess its the act of killing ourselves within our capitalistic environment; the more money we make the more we enjoy life and all its vices. I would never go on to make a lot of money and I learned you didn’t have to be rich to commit ‘Educational Suicide’ I guess the dirty blond had a point.
From a guitarists point of view- 1st track we ever worked on. I’d never met Pablo or Deek before, I had met Greg briefly at Falkirk College. I’m a metal head guitarist and I knew these guys liked their grunge so I had brushed up on a few covers, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots etc. Greg’s dad was picking everyone up and taking us to the practice room; I was last to arrive due to dodgy directions.
I was the bairn of the band; I didn’t know any of the guys and I was only turning 16 (years old) the next day. I knew who Paul was; I had been good friends with his younger brother Kev most of my life, but my only interaction with Paul had been his refusal to let me enter his ‘gang’ when I was about 10.
I remember being in the back of Paul’s dad’s car; a Fiat Uno I think. We were driving round the streets of Grangemouth looking for a flat in Paris Street that some guys who had a practice room lived in. They had get the keys. This took ages and I could sense frustration in the would be singer; so I sat back and shut up.
Pabs and I had been going to the Martell every Thursday night for ages to watch the live music. It was getting progressively worse as the weeks drew on so we decided we could do better and wanted to start a band.
We got to the room, set up and waited on the rest of the guys showing up. Like stu I was expecting to attempt a rough run through of ‘Very Ape’ or ‘Dumb’ from ‘In Utero’. Again like Stu I was very surprised, in a good way, with what actually happened.
Pabs had this riff in his head for Educational so we met at my sister’s flat (for some reason I forget) and on my bass we wrote the bass line together. It really gave us a huge buzz and we couldn’t wait to get together with Stu and Deek to attempt to write the full song. I remember keeping saying to Deek to speed up, and him looking back apologetically; determinedly getting into the rythmn which of course he managed no problem at all.
Pablo says, I’ve wrote a song called Educational Suicide, so he starts singing the melody. I think Greg may have had a bass line so I jammed the riff.
Moments later we had song. Then the guitar solo came out; lightening fingers shredding up and down the fret board. I remember we had all big grins on our faces.(we still get that when we come out with a killer song for wdb2 ‘shore of my soul’ ending for example)
As would become the way we wrote pretty much all of Whapper Stormer, Paul started singing this set of lyrics he had written to a melody he had in his head, this was pre guitar Paul. Greg had a bass riff that Stu took and turned into this amazing crunchy riff. I was 15, surrounded by these guys that could actually play. If I didnt feel out of my depth then, I did when Stu hammered out this solo that I only just managed to hang on to my sticks through. We spent the rest of the night playing our new song; starting to write another song which would turn out to be Vancouver (for another time) and getting to know each other.
Weird had arrived. I love playing this song live. We played it a lot. I remember watching a gig at the Martell and the band on stage starting incorporating bits of educational into their own song which was a fitting tribute(either that or they were taking the piss!)
Pablo captured a bit of magic with his lyrics and the rest of us transformed it into Weird folklore!
Pabs explains the lyrics
I asked myself the meaning of life
but there was not much that I could say
we all live on the edge of a knife
its hard to do it but you gotta stay
At 17 I had hardly lived but the lines above reflect my thoughts on this time on my life. One of my biggest problems was my lack of goals. I had no set targets apart from the dream of making a living out of being a singer of an alternative rock band. If you look inside the sleeve of Nirvana’s ‘ In Utero’ you will see an overhead shot of Cobain and Novoselic on stage. That was the encapsulation of my dream; playing small cramped venues. I stared at that picture for hours.
birth welcomes you to the system
we all live on a conveyor belt
we wanted god but we just missed
it so easy to make us tilt……
This is one of the first songs I had written; I had typed it out on an old BBC computer in IT class. Some of the lyrics show my immaturity; talking of birth and systems and the lack of a God were very grand themes for my young self; they were handled rather clumsily
what’s on your mind
your days are mild
I’m on your side
This is the ‘generation x’ chorus; the nod to the grunge era that had just passed. I think the line ‘your days are mild’ hint to a frustration within myself. I saw a lot of people looking depressed and sad without much to be unhappy about. To a certain extent I caught the bug. It was fashionable. There were others in our social group that had real issues that we as peers didn’t know how to handle. Its true though; I was always on your side.
its different when you’re standing outside
you get up and start running around
different and outside are the two key words here. I was a typical misfit at school; long hair, awkward and misunderstood. I did not take my education seriously and my grades suffered, I was one of the few sixth year pupils not to get the blue blazer of the prefects. It was then I realised that I was on the edge of failure. A system that promotes the able and isolates the others is flawed.
we’ve all got something burning inside
but we never let our feet touch the ground
At 17 I was passionate and sometimes volatile. I had a deep rage that thankfully has subsided and it appears that I was aware of the hectic pace of life. Even back in the 90’s
I say you’re rich I say you’re dead
room with a view but you cant get out
This is my fear of being left behind and hoping others fail. Its also my jealousy and frustration at both my educational failure and my inability to carve out a successful life. To an extent I have solved that, I am comfortable, happily married with a wonderful son but I would still like a room with a view…
I think I’ll try the other way instead
if you need help well why don’t you shout….
‘I think I’ll try the other way instead’ is a stupid; attention seeking line. Shouting for help is a common theme on Whapper Stormer. I got lots of help I just didn’t know how to utilise it.
Educational Suicide is a song of its time. I was a fledging writer and this is not a song I would write now. It does hold a place close to my heart. Not everyone can say there younger self is speaking to them!!
Oh I still see Dirty Blond walking around town. Same swagger.
Written by Weird Decibels