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Lockdown Uncategorized

Weird Times

The Covid Lockdown: Weird Times

I often shake my head in disbelief when I comprehend the times that we life in now. Things will get back to normal they say, not so sure about that. Anyway, closer to home I had started to think about the band.

Before this all kicked off (trying not to be flippant at how serious Covid 19 is) we weren’t practising too much. Greg and Tina had given the world the most beautiful baby boy, his name is Ben, he is a wee gem. That rightly curtailed our practices for a while. After that though, I must be honest, it was easier to not practise, a habit we seemed to be getting into.

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Then, like most of the population, we were forced to be apart. We had a brand-new album to promote and twenty-five years to celebrate. All this was insignificant in the unseen menace of the corona virus. We cancelled practise and, on the text thread, I think I said, ‘see you in the summer’, that might he a wee bit optimistic now.

We had to adapt. Like many bands have, we now do everything online.

For some reason, at the start of the lock-down, I remember thinking I was lucky enough to have a garden, but it wasn’t enough. I was growing anxious. The state was telling me I couldn’t do things and my world started to close in. The usual shit started to happen, the shortness of breath and my horizon went a bit slanted. I put it down to the drink, that probably didn’t help, but yeah, I get anxious and yes, I hide it.

I hide it well.

The solution? I had to keep busy, picking up the guitar was a good idea. I flicked through the songs that the band have written and, to be fair, there are a few. I had to practise everyday to re-learn the songs. This gave me focus and it felt good. Then I recorded the first session; I didn’t care how it went down. I hoped it would pass some time for people.

Then ‘I’ll Always be Here’ happened. It was always going to be a single, but now the lyrics seen so relevant, so much that I started to wonder if I was self-isolating before all this shit happened. Maybe just in my head… Anyway, the band couldn’t shoot a video, so we had to catch a theme and it was the video calls that everyone was forced to do in order to keep contact with loved ones.

I recorded bits of footage in the studio, but Derek took it to another level. He got the kids involved; I was nearly in tears when I saw what he had filmed, I was so happy. Then Greg sent footage of him playing the bass with Ben and I swear I did weep.

I asked Lewis if he wanted to be in a music video, he said, in kinda pre teenage way, ‘yeah’ but once he got into the studio, he was in his element. My heart danced at his footage.

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I put all the clips together, now I was really missing my friends and my family. We all are. But we hoped by doing this video we would give folks a wee bit hope, that this will end, and we will meet up again. (some won’t, and this breaks my heart.) It was well received, and we were happy about that. Fecking miss the guys.

I started to rehearse a new set of songs for our second LiveCast, I knew Stu would be in the hoose (how did I know that?!) so I asked him if he’d like to get involved (I would love all the band to be involved but I haven’t worked this out yet) to my delight Stu said yes. It took hours to line up all the clips, any recommendations for decent video editing software are welcome.

I had been worried about one of my best mates, I was concerned that he was finding the lock-down difficult. I was so happy when he got involved. He sent MP3’s back to me with his guitar parts and I manged to put most of it onto our live performance. It felt like we were jamming again. Seeing him on the screen with the guitar was very comforting, the dude hasn’t lost it.

The second LiveCast went out and it is doing well, I’m happy folks are enjoying it and that it is passing their time. Now here is the weird thing, I’ve felt more connected to the band than I have done in the past few months. Its funny how these things work out.

We will continue to record mini gigs and as Stu suggested we may put a CD album of the sessions (hell why not). As I write this, I’ve had a few beers (hey, don’t judge, I’m on a weeks holiday) and I know I’m going to sleep (later). Last night I didn’t, I was sober. I lay in bed looking at the ceiling, fighting with my thoughts…one of which was a game of tig. Wondering when the virus was going to tag me and how it would affect my family, my wife who was sleeping peacefully beside me and my son sleeping in the next room. How do I protect my family? Something we are all asking.

We’ve put out a lot of stuff over the years and we have written lots of stories. If this helps pass some time, then that’s great, have a wee look around the site.

I recently saw a picture where Chuck Norris was drinking Covid out of a carton. The man is nails. I would normally say we should be more like more like Chuck Norris, but nah that’s not a good idea. Stay in yer hoose, stay safe and help the NHS.

Before you head off, I would like to give a big shout out to the staff of the SPS. The forgotten service.

Pabs

 

Categories
Its a Grand Day Out music studios

It (Was) A Grand Day Out.

Pabs looks back at how we created and recorded our unplugged album Its A Grand Day Out. Available to buy and download stream from Bandcamp. Alternatively you can stream on all digital platforms including Spotify.

Words Pabs

Photographs Kevin Byrne (cover art, station hotel, Larbert station), various (studio)GDODigDistro

Nearly two years ago I celebrated my 40th birthday, my how time flies. Amid the generous presents there was a gift voucher for some studio time at a place in Edinburgh. It was a great idea for a present but it got me wondering what could be achieved in 6 hours. I’m terrible for procrastination and didn’t book the studio for months. Time was passing and the voucher was due to expire. So I got thinking again.

An album would take weeks, and EP probably a weekend, certainly more than the six hours on offer. So I thought about a live studio performance, recorded professionally. It would be a great opportunity to capture our live sound. I contacted the studio from where the voucher originated and enquired if they would be able to facilitate the band playing live. They couldn’t. They did offer to move us to another studio outside Edinburgh but I didn’t feel this was an option. I suggested a refund for the voucher but the studio wouldn’t budge. I then suggested we strip back to an acoustic album. They agreed it could be done so the band started to prepare.

A couple of weeks before we were due to record the studio contacted me to say they were pulling the plug. Thankfully, perhaps in mind they were letting us down, they offered a full refund it was a turn of luck that I was waiting for.

So with the money safely back in the bank I wanted to fulfill the gift that was given to me and started to look around at studios. After a few emails I to some engineers I decided to go local and contacted Andy Taylor at Homegrown Productions in Larbert. He was happy to do the project but i’m not sure he was aware of how many tracks we were planning…

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I visited the studio and met with Andy, a friendly chap who was happy to advise about the project. He was a little surprised when I suggested that we would be recording 15 tracks, I think he was expecting us to do a lot less. He offered some good suggestions, like different sticks for the drums and one really important point was practise, practise, practise.

The feel of the studio is great, hidden away on a working farm just outside Larbert, you would miss it if you weren’t looking. Its well decked out, a comfortable control room, a live room and an additional area for guitar work (we wouldn’t need this). There was a mixture of analog and digital equipment. I guess I have missed the experience of recording in a professional studio and letting someone else do the work. We agreed a booking, now it was up to us to get the heads down.

Picking the Songs

We got together and had a look through the albums to see what would work with the distortion switched off. There were a few obvious choices and some surprising picks as well.

Songs like ‘Vancouver’, ‘The Rain’, ‘Just For Today’, ‘Culture Creature’ and more recent tracks like ‘I Hear the City’, ‘Wonder’ and ‘Curtain Hits the Cast’ were picked. One thing that was quite obvious for the band was the high number of Whapper Stormer songs that were filling the set. So we looked again and found some of our forgotten favourites. ‘Flame’ has always been one of those songs we regretted not getting properly recorded. It was never mixed as we ran out of studio time. We put the track on Coldhome Street and that was never officially released (although if you are curious it is on our Bandcamp page). When we played at practise it sounded really good, it hadn’t aged much, although the lyrics were written by a heartbroken 21 year old and not the hand of someone of nearly 42 years so that was quite a strange experience stepping back into my old awkward shoes.

‘Side by Side’ was another song we hadn’t officially released (again you can find it on Bootleg 2 on Bandcamp). It was nice to play this track again. ‘Cold Calling’ was a little rusty but once Stu and I synced in it worked really well. Then Derek suggested ‘Industry’.

One of our more heavier numbers I didn’t think It would work but it did. The mood was still there, the intensity of the track was still evident. Now we were growing in confidence and curiosity, we tried ‘Educational Suicide’ but that didn’t work, we briefly tried ‘Three Days Ago’, again that didn’t fit in too well.

We were settling on songs but one was missing, a song that defined the early 2010’s for us, ‘Wonder’. It sounded good on the podcast version and went well when we practised it so it was in. Towards the end of our sessions the Rain was dropped, one of our best known songs from the early years. I was disappointed but the rest of the guys didn’t think it was going to fit with this volume of songs.

On the Day.

There is no denying that it was exciting to be going back into the studio after all these years. As much as I love DIY recording it was nice to think that someone else would be at the helm. We turned up to the small studio on a fairly overcast day broken by the cold winter sun. A sharp breeze passed the imposing wind farm nearby, the large white colossi steadily turning. Stu parked rather oddly and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Then Derek with his large SUV rolled onto the edge of Andy’s lawn. Car parking is not our strong points.

 

We entered into the control room, the desk was fired up and ready to go. We headed into the live room and started to set up. There was a jovial atmosphere, it was great to hear band banter flowing again, we don’t do this enough, I thought.

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I look on as Andy sets up. It was strange to let someone else do all the work!

Andy entered the room after briefing introduction he got to work on setting up the sound. This was when I began to wonder if  we were stretching the session too far. However it didn’t take us long to set up, after a few soundchecks we were good to go.

Playing through the first songs was straightforward, we had tea and coffee so it was all going well until the first mistake. Nerves started to creep into us all and we had to retake a couple of songs. We soldiered on, time was now an issue, we were aware of it and I think it was affecting our performance. There was one song, ‘Sky is Falling’ I think, where I completely forgot the vocal melody despite playing it for weeks on end. Our minds were just going blank as we reached into the 4th hour of our session. But we got there, a little bruised and battered, 15 songs recorded live. Now for the quick mix, could we really finish this album in 2 more hours?

This was where I was trying not to impose on Andy, I forgot we had just over an hour to mix 15 songs. Now I realised how lofty my expectations had been. I guess because I’ve recorded the band so many times that I thought it was possible. I suggested some mix changes during the first song, put the vocals up, nah drop them again, essentially I was now doing what I do in the home studio, spending an age mixing, however time was something we did not have.

So I reluctantly stepped back and opened my first beer and let Andy do his thing. 20 minutes past our time we had a CDR with the raw mixes. I had mixed feelings now.

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Work starts on the mixes. 

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Old Friends back in the Bar

After a healthy wee cheese and ham roll from the shop next to the pub I was ready for a fair few pints and some catching up with the band. We dropped all the gear off at Derek’s and headed around to the Station hotel for a couple. Our good friend Byrne turned up for a blether. We didn’t stay long however, we headed back to Derek’s, the guys were eager to hear the CD. I just wanted a beer.

After a few laughs and drinks by the fire we spun the CD. Already I was picking at it, what was I really expecting to achieve in 6 hours? 15 songs? An album completed? It sounded pretty good but not finished. It sounded thin, lacking in presence, my high hopes for this album were fading, but the guys around me were loving it, I didn’t have the heart to tell them at that time I wasn’t happy.

 

I spiralled into a bit of a downer for a few weeks after it. It was a long winter for me, I just wanted to shut myself off from everyone. I logged off the internet for nearly 3 months and didn’t go near the acoustic album. I still wasn’t enjoying the record, but the performances were good. Perhaps revisiting the mix would work. We still had some money left from the gift voucher and the guys were happy to put some extra cash into the record.

Some weeks later I returned to the album and started to take notes. I asked the rest of the guys to give me their opinion of the songs. They were generally good, one or two tracks were in danger of not making the final cut. I contacted Andy to explore further mixing.

The extra studio time comes to the rescue.

Springtime had sprung, green was returning to the trees and the last of a fairly mild Scottish winter was fading. Optimism was back in my thoughts, I had booked in another 4 hours of mixing and would be attending the studio with Andy during the May weekend. The mixes went really well, he had already started to work on the songs by the time I arrived at the studio. The tracks needed subtle tonal changes, in addition, turning up Stu’s solos and integrate guitar parts worked wonders for the feel of the album. It was now vibrant and full of personality. It was good too have input into the mixes. Andy is so laid back, he listens to all suggestions and will gently disagree if you suggest something that won’t work.

As this was a live session all 15 songs responded well to the tonal and fader adjustments so it turned out mixed a lot quicker than anticipated. There was also a desire not to lose the live feel of the record.

Mastering was booked next. I decided to step back for this. It was a subtle master, with Andy leaving a significant amount of dynamic range. Hearing the single (the Ending and Trying to Grab Hold) it makes sense, there is a good dynamic range in the streaming sound.

The Photoshoot.

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Pic Kevin Byrne. WdB with some of our lifelong friends. 

Kevin Byrne is a great friend, always happy to help the band and he, like many of our friends, has been there from the start (in 95!). He takes a guid photo. We needed a theme for the album, ‘Its a Grand Day Out’ so we decided to head to the pub, the Station hotel, which, as its name suggests is next to Larbert train station. The idea was to invite our lifelong friends and have Kevin shoot pictures as we got drunk. It worked quite well, there was a brilliant portrait taken of us before we left the pub.

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Kevin with Greg. Kevin has taken many great photographs for us. 

As we passed the station I suggested we take some shots on the platform, after all most days out start and end at a train station. These shots were superb and one made it to the cover of the album. The guys suggested releasing a couple of singles, so I looked through the photographs that Kevin had taken but none seemed to fit. Kevin stepped up and took some stunning shoots. My favourite being the speeding train blurring past the static platform, we used that for the Ending.

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Pic Kevin Byrne. Brilliant picture of the station hotel where we had a few drinks after the recording session. 

After the original photoshoot had taken place we headed back to Dereks and drank into the night. Surrounded by friends, listening to vinyl and building beer towers. It felt like the old days that we used to have. We celebrated into the morning hours, after two years of highs and lows we finally had the album we wanted.

Pabs

Coming soon, the track listing and the story behind the songs.

Click here to buy the album. All monies goes towards future recordings.

Categories
music the seventeenth

The Seventeenth

Pabs recalls the story of the Seventeenth 2000-04. With help from Jon Shaw, Derek Menmuir, Greg McSorley and Kevin Byrne. As we gather old scrap books and recordings we will edit this document as memories come back to  us. 

While we often celebrate that the band has managed to stay together for over two decades there was a spell where the band took a hiatus; at the time however I thought Weird was finished. Around mid 2000 an increasingly frustrated Stu announced that he was leaving the band to try something new. I guess we all suspected that it was coming. From our relatively bright start we had withdrawn from the scene and spent months simply putting songs down onto the four track and doing nothing with them. These rough demos would eventually become Coldhome Street.

When Stu announced his departure Greg, Derek and myself sat in Derek’s flat wondering where to go next. I was adamant that we could continue as a three piece just like my sonic heroes Nirvana had done. I was now more confident with the guitar and had a number of ideas floating around my head.

Greg was happy to carry on regardless of the set up.

Derek disagreed; he felt that finding a replacement guitarist would be the best bet and he knew someone that could fill the vacant post. This musician would be Jon Shaw an accomplished bass player to trade but a dab hand on the guitar.

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Jon Shaw, an accomplished guitarist. Pic Kevin Byrne

I submitted and agreed that we should meet Jon and it would not be long before we were having our first practise in the very room that Weird had used. I found Jon to be a likeable chap; tall and unimposing he was approachable and open to ideas we had. He had many ideas of his own and a wealth of musical knowledge. I could tell he had a vision for how our sound should develop. He was not afraid to speak his mind, nor was I, this worked for a while but it would eventually lead to friction.

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A pensive Greg ponders life? Pic Kevin Byrne

Things started well. Jon had a big influence on our sound, we went from rock to a more alternative sound. He has a very open, flowing, bluesy style that provided a nice texture to complement my more basic rhythm. I toned down the aggressive Weird vocals for something that was more familiar to my solo music.

In the four years we stayed together we wrote 3 eps, a total of ten songs that we released ourselves. I recorded our records and this did cause Jon a lot of frustration. He was keen to get involved however as Greg and Derek would testify I took control of everything. The records had some great songs but the sound was uneven; I was developing recording skills on a small Tascam 788 and I had a lot to learn (I still do). I did however put my own money and time into the recordings, it could be a thankless task at times.

The democratic approach we took to songwriting for Weird was still in place for the Seventeenth, I would arrive with an idea or lyrics, Jon would also have ideas, Derek and Greg would contribute at times as well. It’s fair to say that I liked to have control of the writing process as well, still in my early 20’s, I would be jealous if anyone had an idea that was better than mine and this sometimes created a tension.

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Our first ep released in the early 2000s

EP1 had four songs. Alternative Disco, All the Girls Know (Jon plays a great solo on this track), Pop is Killing Me and You Set Fire which has a nice repeated solo towards the end. The early days were fun, and this showed on some of the first songs with the exception of the sombre All the Girls Know.  A lot of these riffs were hanging around from Weird so writing the first EP was pretty straightforward. This did flow over to EP2, arguably the creative peak of the band.

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2003 saw the release of the Unit Manger ep

With bright red lipstick, a broad set of eyelashes and a hidden set of sharp claws the unit manager was an interesting character. This particular chap had targets to meet and would go to any lengths in which to meet them. Greg’s looping bass riff opens Unit Manager and Jon’s clean guitar is kept subtle as I create the monster through my lyrics. Staying in this Town was taken off my solo album, the Armour is Broken.

Eight Inches closed EP2 with a sombre look at crumbling relationships. Big changes had happened in my life around the early 00’s, a new job and a new relationship so at the time of writing these songs I was in good place, I guess I had the past to deal with before I could truly move on. Of course the Unit Manager would be one of the early cast members of my characters that I’ve created to write songs. He remains a wicked favourite to this day.

I remember Jon asked someone to listen to the music and offer some advice; it was pretty brutal, with my diction getting the most criticism. I had no idea who this guy was, Jon placed a lot of weight on his opinion. This annoyed me and when we went to write the third EP things were getting difficult.

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Jon in Derek’s flat beside the small 8 track Tascam 788. We recorded all the eps on this.

We recorded all the EPs in Derek’s flat, these were great times. There was a lot of drink in the red bull fridge and friends would come and go as we put the songs down onto the Tascam 788. It was a pretty painless process although Jon wanted to attempt a remix of the songs. He plugged it into his computer and my Tascam crashed. Naturally I flipped but it restarted. I remember Jon and I disagreeing with how the record was sounding but both of us were inexperienced at that time. Jon did like to wind me up, I can remember one afternoon once a session had finished taking the gear back to my old car. There he is, big grin on his face, playing catch with the Tascam 788. Throwing it up, not far, and catching it. It was a small desk, light and portable but at the time it was all I had so that didn’t go down well.

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The third and final ep released early 2004

Writing the third EP was difficult, Jon and I argued constantly. Derek had also said that he was leaving for the states for 6 months, he was looking to be away longer, so this had implications for the band. He was there for the writing of the last tracks though.

It was yet another Wednesday night where Jon and I would disagree and argue about the writing of the songs. This was something I was not used to with Weird. The songs were taking ages to write, ideas would be dismissed, riffs would be discarded. Things got so bad that Derek and Greg left the room and stood outside, they were now considering quitting the band.

Despite the difficulties the recording of the third EP went fairly well although it would take a long time to put the record together. Derek had recorded the original takes for the drums but for reasons I can’t recall we drafted in our friend Kevin Byrne. Greg secured us the Three Kings for recording the drums and bass.

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Recording at the Three Kings

Hindsight 2002 was experimental in its sound, influenced by the Radiohead craze of the time (although Grandaddy would be a bigger deal for me). I used delay pedals and distorted the sound by changing the settings on the pedal as I recorded. The Hindsight computer is another character that appears and I guess this fictional machine was someone I created to take the blame for my mistakes.

Pigs at The Gate is one of Jon’s crowning moments with the Seventeenth although the following track Get Home Someday came a close second, Greg’s swaying, flowing bass line is superb on this track. I vaguely recall Jon pouring scorn on the production of this EP, particularity Hindsight 2002. In terms of songwriting and composition I feel we were starting to find our stride as a band. I can hear all the mistakes but I think this is part of the music’s charm. This was the first record that Derek hadn’t been a part of; things were all getting a bit surreal.

The demos and lost tracks

Greg worked at Sky and knew and guy who knew a guy who was a DJ and remixed tracks. He took our songs and attempted to remix them. Eight inches was the only tune for which Jacob and Mendez could work with and it turned out fairly well. Very sombre in its mood which fitted with the Seventeenth; I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this when I first heard it, it was strange to hear our work interpreted in a different way.

There were other songs that we started to work on including ‘Still in the same place that I left you’ but this never took off. Derek had an idea ‘I Talk to You’ but on the recording of this song it appears that Jon and I were not taking this seriously and rather rudely recorded stupid backing vocals as he tried to demo it; this wasn’t a nice way to treat an understandably nervous friend trying to share an idea.

We also managed to capture a live recording of some songs in the practise room. We sounded jovial as we played through: ‘Wishing My Life Away’, ‘Right Back to the Start Again’, ‘Unit Manager’ and ‘Pigs at the Gate’. It’s a rough recording but it sounds like a band having fun.   

The Seventeenth Live

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Derek has a laugh at behind the drum kit, Behind the Wall

We played a few gigs over our four years together. Behind The wall saw us play a stripped down set of our own tunes and some covers. We hit the late nights at Whistle Binkies; we played a couple of gigs there and Derek was in the audience just a weekend after he had returned from the USA. He was watching Kevin play and couldn’t resist asking if he could step up to the stage and drum on a couple of songs at the end of the set. Our highlights was perhaps the battle of the bands at Rock Gardens (now Max’s bar) we had a couple of frantic gigs at that venue. I remember back stage was downstairs and somehow we made it through the first round I can’t recall winning that night but it was a good experience nonetheless.

Our last gig would be at Barfly in Glasgow; we played to just a handful of people that night, including a certain Mr McCairney, by the time we were packing up the headline act were filling the place. The Seventeenth tried to get gigs and we tried to bring a crowd. We had a small following but the momentum never really got going.

The breakup.

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Jon and Pabs. pic Kevin Byrne

Now this is one of my biggest regrets; not being clear with Jon. By chance I had met Stu at Behind the Wall, we spent the whole night reminiscing about the old times so we had an idea to record all our best songs for an acoustic album, a sort of ‘best of’ Weird. It was now nearing the end of 2003, at the time Jon and I had problems trying to write music and we struggled to get on in the practise room. Many of our battles were fought in front of a beleaguered Derek and Greg. Writing was laboured and we could not produce music.

Another nail in the Seventeenth coffin was Slablo (more on this later), a project created by Derek and I. Over 9 hours we wrote and recorded a whole album. Now it’s not a classic but it showed that songs (some of them decent) could be written without the epic struggles that the Seventeenth were experiencing. With our old friend and guitarist back on the scene and the evidence that we could write songs we came to a decision over a pint in the Graeme Hotel that the Seventeenth was not working, Jon was not at this meeting.

We contacted Jon and we all arranged a pint in the Wheatsheaf to discuss the future of the band. Over a few ales we talked about the difficulties that we had and I explained that the band had come to an end in a roundabout sort of way. It was a difficult thing for me to say and I did not handle it well. As we all parted ways at the Wheatsheaf I thought that was the Seventeenth finished. I was now turning my attention to what lay beyond.

However Jon turned up at our next practise and it was clear that I had not been entirely honest with him; there was some sort of misunderstanding. Jon loaded his amp into the practice room and started to set up. I looked at the rest of the guys, they headed outside and it was up to me to ask Jon to let Stu set up instead. That was horrible and no way to treat the guy. Jon sat and watched us jam, it was really awkward and a terrible way for us to part.

Jon and I regrettably lost touch, away from the Seventeenth we had a passion for music and spent a few good nights drinking beer, listening to music and going to gigs, he is a decent bloke. As for the Seventeenth I look back (now) at those years with fondness. We recorded an album’s worth of decent tunes. The sound was uneven; however there were some great moments and I’m still moved by the music.

I want the Seventeenth to have a legacy, as a band we have been forgotten and that is regrettable. We had some good times and thankfully we recorded the few songs we created. It was great to meet and see Jon play alongside us at the 13th Note in 2015. Back on the bass it was clear that this is his weapon of choice as he played superbly. When we caught up it was a pleasant meeting and a good night for all.

Legacy

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Listen to all the recordings here

The Seventeenth is the forgotten but significant chapter in the history of Weird Decibels. We often share the fact that Weird Decibels have been around since 1995 and we are proud of that. However we haven’t acknowledged that in the four years that Stu was away, Jon and Kevin were in the band and they helped to keep it all together. The Seventeenth was a huge learning curve, I learned a lot about dynamics of being in a band and trying to make things work when you have musical differences.

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As I researched our history I looked through the old recording photographs and the sleeves of the eps, there are some great memories of the antics we used to get up to. Some of this spills onto the recordings, particularly the demos where you can hear us having fun, that’s what being in a band should be.

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Jon and Greg relax with a beer

Then there was the music, we wrote some great tunes. Unit Manager, Eight Inches and All the Girls Know saw us come together with force and forge some great songs. 

It was just under four years that we were together and we recorded three Ep’s and played a handful of good gigs. Without the Seventeenth, Greg, Derek and I might have lost touch, lifelong friendships might have been lost and many future albums and gigs might never have happened. So I’ll always be grateful that Jon, Kevin, Derek, Greg and I kept the music playing when we could’ve easily given up.

Words Pabs

Additional editing Jon Shaw

 

Categories
1999 studios

Studios In Which We Have Recorded part 3. Red Eye Studios (1999)

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We are heading into our first professional studio in nearly 20 years in January 2019 so we are looking back at our previous experiences before we went DIY.

The end of the 90’s was a strange time for four musicians who loved their rock. Grunge was long gone, rock was out of fashion (again) and Britpop was now a bloated mess of champagne and coke. Everyone apart from the general public were panicking about the millennium bug.

The band was drifting, by now we were treading water, turning up every Wednesday to play some tunes then we would head home for another week. We were no longer playing gigs or making any attempt to promote the band. We were writing songs though, a lot of songs, now we were away from the ‘classic’ Weird setup, I was full time on rhythm guitars.

After the slightly disappointing second return to Split Level we decided to look for a new studio to record some new tracks. I can’t even remember how we booked the place.

Located in Clydebank, just a short walk from the river is Red Eye Studios, an unassuming single story brick building which seem tacked on the old Clydebank Cooperative. Like many studios it’s not obvious that a fully functioning music studio is set up inside.

Greg drove the first day, I had my license by this time but Greg always seemed to find himself behind the wheel in the early days. We arrived at the studio, rather excited to what lay ahead and this time we were prepared. Derek and I would return for a second day of mixing. So here we look back at our session in this studio.  

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Stu looks dejected in the practise room as we struggle to finish Cold Home Street.

Pabs

I thought the studio didn’t look like much when we arrived but this is normal, its whats inside that counts. I couldn’t wait to see inside. I was now getting an increasing enthusiasm for sound engineering. We walked in and there was a long corridor, the guy met us and took us into the control room. We were met by a large control desk and a window that looked into the live room. It was a fairly big room, I think we did all the drums in there, in fact everything. There was no vocal booth or anything like that.

We picked three songs to record. ‘I Tried to Fly’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Sun Shines Brighter’. They were probably our most ‘pop’ sounding songs, quite far removed from the heavier rock we had done previously. They were fairly easy arrangements and pretty straight forward to record. Even when I recorded the vocals I didn’t go for the louder vocals, my style was changing, looking back it kind of lacked the passion that I usually have

I always thought the guitars sounded a wee bit tinny, a bit thin, but we didn’t really cause a fuss, I was starting to wonder if we’d be able to record our own music. On reflection I think my setup didn’t help either.

By the end of the day the only thing left to record was the backing vocals, Stu headed through and started singing the backing vocals to Hope, is quite a high key. There is a bit at the end, ‘la la la la laaaaa’ or something as we head towards the finale of the song. The music was blaring and I looked up, Stu was in the room singing his heart out. I looked back at the desk listening to the rough mix when suddenly the singing stopped. I looked back up and Stu was gone! We all rushed out of the control room, into the live area and there was Stu face planted into the sofa with the music blaring through the ear phones. He’d passed out, it was for a couple of seconds and then he was back up, if a little stunned.  

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I looked up and Stu was nowhere to be seen!

Stu

I remember Bo driving me home after I passed out, my heart was still racing and he drove like a racing driver!

Greg

Ah the days when I had a (relatively) fast car..

Pabs

Greg’s love of cars and big exhausts goes back a long way.

Greg

For Redeye we recorded it all one day but only Pabs and Deek went back for the mixing and mastering. I seem to remember Pabs getting excited about a snare ring?

Derek

For some reason Pabs and myself went back through, just the two of us to finish the mix, was it the Monday? I remember listening to it in Pabs old Toyota on the way home marvelling at the reverb on his vocal at the end of Sun Shines Brighter like we just invented vocal reverb!!

Pabs

I remember the mixing of ‘I Tried to Fly’ the engineer had everything panned centre apart from the toms of the drums, so they really stuck out. The bass had a nice tone, the guitars tone was not too bad although having them all panned centre meant the tracks lacked stereo width. So when it came to Hope I asked the guy to pan the guitars, it did make a difference. I found it strange that I had to ask for this, it was another step to the bands eventual hiatus, we were just letting things pass over our head. I think these songs would have sounded brilliant had we not settled for these mixes. Maybe the sound engineer thought we just wanted a demo, I’m not sure. Maybe the guy was just starting out, you have to remember this was twenty years ago.

We didn’t go back to Red Eye studios, the songs were used on the album ‘Coldhome Street’ an album that arguably proved to be our weakest. This wasn’t the studios fault, we had kind of lost out way at this point, this is the only album that we haven’t released on digital distribution but it can be found on Bandcamp.

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I’ve always had a soft spot for Coldhome Street, despite its sound. Pabs

Red Eye looks like it is still going strong today, judging by the photos it looks well kitted out with rehearsal rooms and the studio is well connected with the local scene. We still had lots of ideas that we wanted to put down for our third album so it was back to the yellow pages to see if we could find another studio. One caught my eye in Stirling.

Categories
Gigs

Gig Diary 22nd September 2018

Kirkcaldy, Windsor Hotel,  22nd September 2018

Photographs: Scottswansondesign

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When our long-time friends the Buzzards of Babylon invited us to play at the launch of their new album we cleared the diary and jumped at the chance. We’d be back at the Windsor hotel, the first time we played there was back in 2005, the Buzzards were of course Kranksolo back then.

Sure we were admittedly a little huffy at going on first, no band really wants to open the night; you fear playing in front of the sound engineer and maybe a couple of bar staff, I mean who goes to gigs to see the first band right? However it made sense, we weren’t bringing a crowd with us and we would be able to sink ale after ale as we listened to the metal riffing of Fife’s finest.

Of course we had grand plans when the gig was booked, lets book a hotel, we dreamed, get drunk and have a party! Then I decided to enter a half marathon on the Sunday, looks like I’d be the designated driver then. Greg’s face lit up… I knew that at some point he would go into ‘wee dick’mode. Now this is not a slight on the man, this is a self-confessed state that Greg gets into when he’s had an ale or two. He gets a little annoying but in a bloody funny way. More on that later…

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The day arrived far quicker than we knew and it was great to be playing a gig, it’s been strangely quiet year for us, holidays, work life you know the drill. So it was good to be on the road heading over to the Kingdom back to an old haunt to play some tunes.

We arrived in good time at the Windsor, I couldn’t really remember it as much as the Path Tavern down the road (we played there a couple of memorable nights) however when we got into the function room it came back to us. The stage had moved to a better more loftier position and there was now a dedicated sound desk at which Travis Whalley  (He is the respected sound engineer who produced Micrometeoroid Modulation, Buzzards latest magnificent album) was attentively caressing a tablet that was mixing the stage sound (technology these days…) so he was able to walk around as he made fine adjustments to the mix. After a quick greeting we set to a soundcheck with Travis and we were ready to go.

By the time we took to the stage, a small but appreciative crowd had gathered to watch our set.

  1. Take the Blindness from Your Eyes
  2. Once more with Feeling
  3. It’s Who You Know
  4. Kill it Kill it
  5. Speak
  6. Quoted, Not Voted
  7. Medicine
  8. Industry

My plan had been to try and conserve some energy for the pending half marathon, but that plan went out the window as soon as we started playing. I had no idea how much i had missed playing live and it was great to be back on the stage.

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New song Take the Blindness from Your Eyes was an unusual opener for us, we tend to go for easier songs to settle the nerves however we managed to nail this one. The set went well, Speak went a bit wayward when we decided to miss out a couple of bars, no one noticed, including Derek!

I always love playing Quoted, every time I sing it the lyrics always fit in with the latest political shambles, Medicine is now a live staple, it’s such a great tune to play and we finished with old regular Industry. We were tempted with Fathers Verse from the new EP but we hadn’t played it for a while so we went with WdB1’s finisher.

The audience was great, numbers were up a little so it was nice to reach new ears. After we were done the lads made a beeline for the bar and I settled for my Irn Bru. As I supped the soft drink I thoroughly enjoyed the 80’s metal dynamics of Volcano X, they looked like the were having a bawl on the stage and it spread to those who were watching. The vocalist Johnny Steel had a wide vocal range, from deep growls to soaring falsettos. The reminded me of the fun and high energy heard on Helloweens early (and best) albums. Smokestacks followed with a high energy set with some superb guitar work.

 

Buzzards stepped up a little later than planned, we stayed for the majority of their set (early rise for the big run on the Sunday was now on my mind). Eck suddenly appeared on stage with the first of his masks, he looked the part! No idea how he managed to play the guitar. The band sounded really tight, the new songs from Micrometroid Modulation were solid. Stuart was on form as he crafted his solo work. I had caught up with Rab and Mike earlier in the night and in a similar way to us the Buzzards are happy to keep writing and playing while juggling jobs and families. Fingers crossed this adventure will last for a while yet.

Sadly we had to bail just before the end of their set. Derek and Greg were now giggling and laughing on their way to the car, Greg darted back to the venue for some reason, Stu was sticking up for me telling the guys to get in the car. It was becoming more like a family day out! I started to chuckled as all the nonsense was going on in the background. Greg had previously attempted to pack the gear in the care, that was a disaster…

We set off and Greg went into his Wee Dick mode, being as annoying as he possibly could, it was a laugh. As we left Kirkcaldy we put on Micrometroid Modulation the CD player, tunes blaring, Greg and Derek laughing it wasn’t helping the tinnitus!

As we reached the highway Greg asked if he could vape in the car, before it could answer Stu asserted, nope! Laughter ensued as Greg was shot down, however he had hatched a cunning plan.

I need to pee, was the words that came from the bass player’s mouth. So we pulled over and let Greg out. It was the longest pee ever.. We waited…under the flashing orange of the parking indicators I could see that Greg’s cunning plan was at work! He was vaping! We started to pull away, Greg caught up and laughed as he bundled into the car and we headed back to the shores of Fallkirkshire with Buzzards blasting out of the stereo.

Another good night was had, we should do it more often, except next time I ain’t driving!

(Oh I managed 1:42:38 in the Scottish half marathon)

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Categories
Gigs

Gig Diary. Montys Bar Dunfermline 22/06/2018

Monty’s Dunfermline 22/06/2018

Pictures Kirby (Weird Decibels playing) Pabs

 

Seems strange that after over two decades I can’t recall Weird Decibels playing Dunfermline. That was until I remembered a biker rally we played in Crossgates between Cowdenbeath and Dunfermline, but that’s a story for another day.

We were asked to play Montys a couple of weeks before the gig. The venue has a laid back approach to live music, they like to put on bands every weekend, you turn up and you play. The venue itself is a mecca for those who love their rock music. Posters of rock icons are pinned on the wall and the music heard in the background was a playlist of heavy tunes for the punters.

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Derek and Greg working put how to pin up the banner

We were made to feel very welcome but the place was empty. We wondered if this would be the first quiet gig for a while. We hadn’t really pushed this one.

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We were on first which was fine, we did originally think we’d be on third so we had a longer set so we had to cut a couple of tracks.

I stepped up with my guitar in hand ready to soundcheck. I approached the Marshall stack and switched on the head. Suddenly I heard a electric crunch and smelt burning. It was not I was hoping for. Gav who was on the sound remained calm, he did a very good job throughout the night. The only problem was that we did not have a spare amp head.

Enter Kirby guitarist of The Other Side came to the rescue. He kindly allowed us to play though his valve amp. This saved the night.

By the time half 8 arrived it was time for us to go onstage. The place was empty bar a few eager music fans how had arrived to watch the live music. They were regulars and explained that Monty’s can be packed one week and empty the next.

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Undeterred we carried on and struck the first chords of Feeling, once the music was playing the other bands and other people wandered from downstairs and suddenly we had a small but appreciative crowd watching us.

 

  1. Feeling
  2. Speak
  3. Take the Blindness
  4. Who you Know
  5. A801
  6. Medicine
  7. Quoted
  8. I Hear the City

I really enjoyed this gig, Feeling was a little ropey for me but things tightened up when we played Speak. It was wonderful to play Take the Blindness From Your Eyes live for the first time. Finally free from the restrictions of the studio the song felt great to play. A801 was also played for the first time; I only had a light distortion (I didn’t want to muck about with the settings on Kirby’s amp) and I thought it gave the song another edge. It went down really well.

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Medicine is now my live favourite, it’s a great song to play. Quoted was angrier than usual and to end with I Hear the City seemed to work well,

After we finished I caught up with the guys from The Other Side and we shared our joint passion for recording our own music; they were friendly bunch of guys who were helpfully sharing contact details of people to get in touch.

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Turned out to be a good night!

We stayed to drink a few beers, well Derek and I did.Stu wasn’t feeling too hot and Greg was working the next day so he was driving back. We took in the sets of Phoenix Lane and the fantastically entertaining AYE Hobos. On last was The Other Side who played many rock songs and a range of brilliant solos that made me want to listen to Dinosaur Jr all over again. Sadly we had to leave halfway through their set sdo Greg could get home but i liked what I heard.

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The Other Side rock Montys

It was a great evening for us, we really enjoyed a night out in the Dunfermline music scene hopefully we’ll be back in the near future and not leave it quite as long next time.

Pabs

Categories
1995 falkirk music venues Gigs music retro corner The Falkirk Music Scene

Our First gig. Martell. 17th Aug 1995

Stu and Pabs take a look back at our first gig at the Martell Falkirk in 1995. Thanks to Derek for the archive flyers, posters and clippings. Stu for the pictures. Not sure who took them.

It was Thursday 17th August 1995, Bill Clinton was still president of the USA, Take That were in the top five and in the the cinema Waterworld was watched by noone. Another seismic event was about to take to place. Weird were about to play live for the first time.

A few months earlier Greg and Pabs had set their first target, to form a band and play the Martell. They created Weird with Stewart and Derek in the deepest of winter in February 95. A few songs later, probably around 6 or so we were looking for our first gig. That offer came from the late Chris Masson who got us on the bill to support Cage, one of Falkirk’s finest and fiercist bands.

 

We just had a handful of songs, we hadn’t even graced the studio but we had written some songs that earlier Weird followers would enjoy for years namely: The Rain, Vancouver and Educational Suicide, some of our best known tracks. We felt these songs were strong and it made us confident going into our first gig, well fairly confident!

Pabs

Back then the Martell was a big deal, it, alongside the Happening Club were the places for local bands to play. Greg and I had went every Thursday night for weeks, months even, to drink beer and listen to Cage. When the call came to play the Martell I was excited, nervous, but really excited. Derek kept a copy of our first flyer. We were third on the bill, we would open up the show for Cage and a band called Twister. A lot of bands in the local scene had ‘er’ at the end of their name.

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Our first set list was penned in black ink, what a feeling that was, writing our first set list. Six songs. The Rain, Educational Suicide, Show Your Face Soon, Stay In, Vancouver and Go Away. We never recorded Stay In or Go Away.

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We still use the flower logo to this day, The Rain occasionally appears in set lists 23 years on

We pulled up to the Martell and had to load into the side door straight onto the stage. I walked onto the stage as Jimmy and the sound guys were setting up, I had long hair draped over my face I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was just doing vocals, the freedom! I could just turn up and sing. The classic days.

Stu

I remember walking into the venue and hearing Ewan the drummer from headlining band Cage sound check and the hairs were standing on the back of my neck.

Sound checking my guitar felt amazing as It sounded huge through the massive pa system.

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A slightly nervous Stu plays his first live chords

Pabs

I remember hearing the kick drum through the PA for the first time. What a sound. We just used a vocal PA down at our practise room. Derek never used mics on his kit in rehearsal so we had never heard the drums like this before.

Derek was the cocky youngster so full of confidence and even in the early days he used to love winding me up. Greg was laid back as always. Stu if I remember correctly seemed quiet and a bit nervous.

Looking up I saw the lights during soundchek, the blotted out my view of the Martell, at this time it was empty, I remember Stu shredding the guitar to test it, it seemed like a huge sound. This was it, we were going live. I can’t remember what song we soundchecked with but I do remember reading about Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. Even at soundcheck Vedder would give everything to his performance, so I did the same. I put everything into the soundcheck!

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Stu (l) donning the summer rock look, Pabs (c) with vedder hair and Derek (r) takes care of the drums

We were about to go on, by this time a  crowd had gathered, there were a lot of friends from high school. Phil and Juls were there as well (I’m sure Phil is in one of the photos), they only knew Stu at this time but we all became friends over the years. I walked up to the stage ready to play, I was really nervous. It’s always the first line you have to remember. Do that and the rest of the gig is fine. So I walked up ready to play and Derek was nowhere to be seen…

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A young Greg graces the stage

Stu played a riff as the crowd waited. Then Derek runs up after getting changed in the toilets. I was raging. Finally we were ready to play. I just recall the lights, the music took me and I just went crazy. I had seen Chris Masson of Cage do the same a few times on this stage, he put everything into his live shows so I did the same, it was natural. Something comes out when you play live, its like all the anger that builds up just pours out. My hair was everywhere. I was singing my songs to other people now.

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Stu

I stood on stage blasted out the 1st song the Rain the crowd went mental I thought that’s awesome but my guitar didn’t seem that loud on stage…I then realised the sound engineer hadn’t mic’d up my guitar amp!

Pabs

First song done and my confidence grew. The crowd cheered, the folk from the high school, were loving having a few beers on a Thursday!

Stu

After I moved the microphone in front of my amp it sounded a lot better and I grew in confidence.I was pretty nervous which I always am at gigs but after I nail the 1st song the nerves settle and after rehearsing at the practice room for months the live sound on stage was incredible.

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A more confident Stu and Greg entertain the crowd

Pabs

The gig flew past, it was only six songs but it felt like 5 minutes. It was an amazing feeling coming off stage and our friends were congratulating us. We dissolved back into the crowd and enjoyed the rest of the night. Cage were amazing, Light years ahead of us, they had been together for a while and were getting into their stride.
Stu

Our 1st gig flew by so quickly. So many people came up to us after in Firkins on the Saturday night saying how good we had been. Such a buzz. We had arrived on the live scene.

 

Categories
Hamemade Records music

We rate our recordings part 3. 5-1

Part 3

Photographs Neil Henderson, Sweet P, Kevin Byrne and various.

Don’t you just love countdown list? Yeah thought so! We’ve been rating our recordings and now we reach the top five records that we feel represent our best work. This is all to celebrate the forthcoming release of ‘Everyday Heroes’ EP.

So now that the teacups are running dry and the biscuits are nearly eaten we’ve finally agreed what are our favourite recordings are.  All albums are on Spotify, just hit the links. Feel free to follow us so you get notified of our new releases.

5. Firkin Outburst (1998)

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Drinks on the cover and drinks in the album. This is a wee table in the quiet corner of Firkins

Our second album. By this time we were enjoying the freedom of college and the fact that we hadn’t started full time jobs. We drank a lot of beer writing this and probably forgot more songs than we recorded. Nine songs survived.

Pabs

The front cover sums up the album. Drink and Firkins. We were having a riot. The band was young and we had had a successful couple of years thanks to Whapper Stormer and the vibrant local music scene. This album is messy, it was recorded in two different studios and on three different desks. I remember standing in Firkins asking a guy from Central FM what he thought of the new demo which had Culture Creature, Summer High and Today Was Insane (which never made the album) He didn’t think it was as good as the previous tape (The Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon) I was gutted, raging and walked away.

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During the Firkins sessions we liked a booze in the practise room, apart from Greg who always drove. We owe you Greg!

But the assessment was correct, Firkin didn’t hit the heights of Whapper but it is a fun record that captures a great time for the band. We threw discipline and care out the window and had a laugh. 

Derek

Big highs, a couple of lows, probably an unfocused time for us but from the practise room point of view it was the best time ever.

Pabs

It was crazy, taking beer glasses and a carry out down to the room on a Wednesday night. Sometimes we’d drink more than rehearse.

Stu

Not as good as Whapper but has its moments. Culture Creature is an absolute classic. Loads of songs lost during this boozy period.

Bo

Excellent album, long way down is a totally underrated song in my opinion. Wasn’t quite as boozy a time for me as I was the one driving. Some good vids made then though that are fun to look back on.

Pabs

Greg drove all the time…He’s one of the most patient people I think I’ve met. He put up with our antics for years. We need to get these vids onto YouTube or something.

4. One More Solo (2004)

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Stu returns after a break and we write songs for fun and record in Derek’s old flat with our friends ever present cases of beer and Subways.

Pabs

All of us apart from Greg gave this the same score. One More Solo was plain good old fashioned rock. We were celebrating getting back together and it shows on this record.

The original master was bad though; in fact i don’t think we mastered anything back then. The bass swamped the record and there was these lovely ringing guitars at the end of nearly every song that Derek was a big fan of.

It was a great time for the band, we still believed that we could make a go of our music career ao we gigged this record quite intensely. We met some great friends on our travels. Its a good record and a wee bit or re-mastering has helped to clear it up.

 

 

Bo

The remastered version is better. Just think we’ve played the songs on this record so often that they lost out a bit to the other albums on my list.

Pabs

We haven’t played Waiting On the Sound Of Your High Heels that much.

Stu

Not! Great album. Love being back in the fold. Hanging out with my best mates and writing recording and gigging. Remastered version a lot better

3. Whapper Stormer (1995)

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Star Wars has always been a big influence on Weird Decibels

Our debut was always our favourite recording over the years, until the Decibels arrived!

Pabs

I love this record. Three songs were recorded at Split Level in Edinburgh: the Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon. In terms of quality they’re above the rest of the record so in that regard it’s a bit uneven. However the songs were some of the best we ever wrote. This album also has my favourite lyrics; my imagination was firing on all cylinders then, perhaps with the exception of Downer.

 

 

It was what we team as ‘classic weird’ I would stick to vocals and Stu would take care of all the guitars. The four of us wrote together. I would sing the melody to Stu, it was a time where i could keep melodies in my head for months. Stu would create a riff from it. I was fascinated by that.

Derek

You always remember your first!

Pabs

Although this album was written in the mid 90’s it would be in 2004 that we would record 7 songs to fit in with the three from Split Level. Just For Today was an early example of progress we were making at recording our music.

Stu

The classic Weird album. Still sounds amazing. Timeless. It was so easy to write those songs. Happy happy days.

Bo

The first professional recording we did at a proper studio by the chain smoking Neil on a reel to reel whilst muttering ‘the rain..in Spain’ to himself over and over. Was an exciting time.

Stu

And Neil added the delay effect over my wahwah guitar in the verses then I bought a delay pedal to replicate it live

Pabs.

Haha yeah I forgot about that, then he sang ‘trousers that keep you alive’ and I’m at the back shaking my head because he’s mocking my diction. It was a very exciting time; it felt like we were living the dream.

2. Weird Decibels 1 (2012)

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One of our best and it was a great era for the band

The second coming. 4 years after Quiet Act, finally back on the gig scene and about to have our most successful phase some 17 years into our career. Weird Decibels 1 was a defining album for us.

Derek

There isn’t much between WdB1 and 2. There would’ve been a bigger difference if WdB1’s tracklisting had been better, WdB1 would’ve been a clear number one.

 

 

Pabs

Ahh the WdB1 tracklisting debate. I stuck firm with this one. Psalm was a statement of intent. It was some 4 years after Quiet Act and we were nowhere on the local scene. Psalm had everything, big guitars, epic drums and bass. The intro is on an old acoustic, similar to Battery by Metallica. The acoustic linked Quiet Act with Weird Decibels 1. The song builds to one of our biggest crescendos. Stu played about three solos while I sang my heart out.

I’m worried about the concept of an album these days. I hope there is not a time where bands stop putting out collections of songs. An album is an experience for me, a beginning, a middle and an end. WdB1 had that.

I see the point that the other guys made about not starting with Psalm but I couldn’t see it any other way. The album starts big and ends big with Industry.

One thing I will say about my favourite recording is that the vocals are loud in the mix and a little harsh, if I had the time I’d have a wee go at mixing this album again.

I like the scope of WdB1, Jemma Burt added piano, keys and violin to three or four tracks but it adds so much to the album, it gives it a lot more texture than it normally would have. Derek and I rated this our favourite recording, there are a lot of solos, guitar riffs and vocals on this album.

WdB1 was also a great era for us. We ventured out of the practise room and started to head out to Glasgow playing some cracking gigs around the city. We shot our first music videos which were watched a few times. Until this time we were a largely ignored band so it was a highlight for us.

Stu

Wdb1 is a fabulous record. No acoustics just huge epic rock. So many great songs and still play many of them in our live set. I stand by the track selection although we never really play Psalm live. Love all the videos we made for this record which opened up new listeners to the band. I don’t think Steel had aged too well hence why I rated the album my 3rd favourite.

 

 

Pabs

It’s true what Stu says we do lean quite heavily on this album when building sets. We’ll need to write more!

Bo

This album had a limited edition release with hand written lyrics around excellent artwork by pabs which I really enjoyed. I also started making t shirts to sell at gigs with this album cover which seemed to be popular. Good songs which were well received when we played them live.

Pabs

Yep we put a lot into that record.

1.Weird Decibels 2 (2016)

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Our favourite recording. A lot of things came together, the songs, the location of the recording. it just worked.

Our latest album is voted our favourite recording. At 33 minutes it’s a short, sharp burst of rock recorded at our biggest location yet, the grand Springfield cottage.

Pabs

I voted this my 3rd favourite recording, I like the record, its two years old now so i’ve had more time to reflect on it. It’s probably the best sounding record but it was hellish getting there. Recording the drums in Springfield was a good move. It gave the drums the room sound i was looking for. After the drums and bass things went a bit askew.

Whatever technique or mic placement i used on the guitars I could not get a decent tone for the distortion and spent ages during recording and at mix to get it to sound good. I used to use the Rode for the guitars as I liked the bright tone but the industry standard SM57 gives me more control of the sound. With the Rode I was always cutting a lot of frequencies so I guess it took me awhile to get round to using the SM57; I’m stubborn that way I just wanted to try something different.

I always thought numbering the albums (like Led Zeppelin) was a mistake as it felt like we were essentially doing WdB1 again. We scrapped a few songs at the start and hired a cottage to write, This was new for us and it saved the album. It turned out really good

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We went away to write WdB2 and it saved the record. Pic Kevin Byrne
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The highlight of promoting WdB2 was Shuffle Down. Pic Sweet P

Bo

An album full of excellent songs, some stronger than others but very fun to play. I feel we’re pushing ourselves a bit which can only be a good thing for future recordings.

Stu

I rated this my top album as there is not a weak track. It’s our best sounding album recording wise. I had an absolute blast recording my rhythm and especially solo parts (with Bo recording)

 

 

Pabs

Yeah I remember Greg recording the solos for me, I had had enough. I set up the mics, got the sound then said to Greg can you do it? Im done… Then I went for a walk in the freezing cold. Derek had went home early he was missing his family. So I’m standing at the end of a farm road, fed up, in the distance I hear Greg and Stu finishing the album and I’m thinking is this it? That was then, time has passed. I think we’re gonna do it again.

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I was standing here thinking we wouldn’t ever do this again. Pabs

Stu

Once More with Feeling and Medicine kick arse and love playing those songs live. Plus it was the best lodge we have used to record. Very happy memories. A fantastic album and looking forward to you guys hearing our brand new EP coming soon.

Words Weird Decibels

Edited by Pabs

Categories
Gigs music riot act

We rate our recordings part 2. 10-6

We rate our recordings from 10 to 6 in part two of our feature. A couple of ‘official’ albums appear in this part, as we counted up our scores we were surprised at some of the results… Our latest recording Everyday Heroes EP is out soon.

10.Live! Tonight! Not Completely Sold Out! (2010, this has not been officially released, a few limited copies are kicking about)

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The tongue in cheek title, based on Nirvana’s film of a similar name Live! Tonight! Not Completely Sold Out! Was our first stab at recording a live album. We arranged a gig at the Argyll bar that was once owned by Derek.

Pabs.

Our first attempt at recording one of our gigs, we had previous recordings from camcorder footage and a couple of recordings from venues like the Cathouse but we’d never attempted to record the full show.

We basically placed mics in front of the kit and the amps and took a feed off the PA, it was a quick setup, we pressed record and just started playing. The one regret is not placing a mic at the back of the room to capture the crowd. When I say crowd there were a few people at the back of the venue, it was busy if I recall, but not packed.

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Two rode nt2a on the amps, a mic above the kit. Basic setup

I was a bit disappointed we played so many covers, the album has a pretty even mix of originals and covers but i would’ve preferred tunes from the albums we had at the time. Interestingly there were early versions of Speak and Forward. So we had a live albums with tracks from an album yet to be released! Saying that we haven’t uploaded LTNCSO so not many people have heard it.

Stu

I agree with Pabs it’s a pity there are lot of covers but it’s a great wee live album.

I remember this gig well as I used my Ibanez double neck the whole time which sound amazing on the recording but was a  complete back breaker. I suffer for my art ha ha.

This recording has a great live feel and sound apart from Bo’s buzzing bass in between tracks hee hee.

Pabs

Yeah that reminds me of the hours of editing out the buzz whenever he stopped playing the bass.

Bo

Buzzzzzzzz

Derek

Great night, great gig which puts it above Live at the North Star, in my opinion. Like Pabs I wish we put a mic at the back of the room.

Pabs

Yep we would’ve captured Rooz in his full heckling glory!

9. Official Bootleg 1 (2005)

A collection of live recordings, radio broadcasts and unreleased songs. Official Bootleg 1 spans from 1995 to 2004 and has a broader range of songs that its predecessor.

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Pabs

This was fun to compile; I dusted down about five or six shoe boxes full of old tapes and CDs. Listening back was quite an adventure. This was back around 2004 / 5 around the release of One More Solo. So we didn’t have the recording experience that we have today.

Bo

Great to have these recordings to listen back to, radio spots that only a few people will have heard at the time.

Pabs

There was nearly a decade’s worth of past recordings including b-sides from the Split Level sessions. I found our first four track demos one of which was Educational Suicide; the first song we ever created.

Some of the recordings were pretty poor, the camcorder footage for the Martell gigs was recorded in Mono and there was no scope for mixing it. However it did capture the atmosphere of those early gigs which was fantastic.

Of course the Official Bootleg 1 was where I was interviewed by Central FM and uttered the ‘it’s just a hobby’ quote for which the guys have never let me forget.

Stu

Love this. So many hidden wee gems. All the radio interviews ‘It’s a hobby’ lol

Original version of Educational and live version of Creep live at the Glasgow Cathouse.

Derek

Nothing wrong with bootlegs but there are better versions of the songs on our albums.

8. Riot Act (2007)

Our 5th album Riot Act come in at 8 2nd lowest appearance of an official album. Pabs explains why he voted it down.

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That’s real blood. Punching walls not recommended. Probably one of our best covers

Pabs.

I have never connected to Riot Act in a way I have done with the other albums; I even voted Coldhome Street higher than Riot Act. Despite its inferior sound Coldhome meant more to me than this album because I thought it was our last and listened to it many times.

I think its dated pretty badly, partly because of the lyrics. I wasn’t writing particularly imaginative lyrics and got lazy. I lost it here!

Stu

Still love underachiever what a great track and solo. Very punky and influenced by all the cover gigs we were playing at the time.

Classics Razor wire and all work out in the end still sound great and of course the Sky is Falling.Also arguably out best cover artwork for an album.plus we played the Cavern touring this cd.

 

 

Derek

Although my favourite song (that we’ve done) is Sky is Fallen the other songs didn’t age as well, although there are other high spots. I feel the album is inconsistent.

Pabs

Stu is spot on about the cover art, it’s probably our best cover and Derek suffered for his art. He punched the wall to open up a wound. Thats real blood folks!

 

 

Bo

Dave Broon to Stu as he was scraping his knuckles on the wall outside – that’s not how you do it *punches door* that’s how you do it. Poor Stus knuckles were bloodied up but didn’t make the cover. Still one of my favourite albums that we’ve done. Also, it’s not all real blood pabs, pretty sure there’s some ketchup in there as the blood wasn’t showing up on camera enough. Was this the album Stu and I built the ‘vocal booth’ in the hall with eggboxes and cardboard?

Pabs

Yes we built a makeshift vocal booth in the small corridor, it didn’t really work though, we were still learning at this time. I guess we’re always learning about sound production.

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We created a Riot in this scene

7. Quiet Act 

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It is often seen as the flip side of Riot Act; this was a big change in sound for us (going acoustic) but not necessarily a change in direction.

Bo

Good songs but not quite as good as I feel we have the potential to do on acoustics. We had a fantastic time recording this album in a stunning location though.

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we don’t hire professional studios and I guess our sound isn’t as polished as it could be; but instead of looking at a sound treated wall we look at this…

Pabs

I always knew that Derek would vote this album high as it was his idea to try an album without our trademark distortion. There was a bit of reluctance from the rest of us but we weren’t particularly busy at the time so we decided to experiment.

I really like listening to Quiet Act these days, I prefer it to its sister album Riot Act and with the distortion turned off it allowed the more integrate parts of our music (mainly Stu’s solo parts) to breathe little more.

I also like the recording quality. I was learning new mic placements and mixing techniques. This was a good learning experience for me. It’s quite a well balanced album, maybe missing a nice kick sound but overall its clarity is one of its strengths.

And yes I’m with Greg on the location for this record, it was stunning.

Stu

Get the distortion back on ha ha.

Great wee mellow album. We pushed ourselves with this.There is nowhere to hide in an acoustic setting and we needed to do something different which would mean Weird Decibels 1 could be very loud and heavy.

Pabs

Which it was!

Stu

A lot of fun to record(especially when me and Bo starred drinking cider during Derek’s drum takes)Plus sitting in that living room recording guitar with that stunning view was very inspirational.

6. Live from the North Star (2016)

A live set recorded at the North Star May 2016. This is the highest non-studio album on the list but just misses out on the top five.

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Derek

To be fair I’ve not heard this much, good night though.

Pabs

I recorded. Mixed, mastered and designed the sleeve in order to be ready for Christmas 2016 so I could hand the CDs to the lads…and now I discover Derek’s hardly listened to it!

Stu

Really like this record listened to it twice that Christmas morning! All the good stuff of wdb1 and 2.Cracking extended version of Wait.

We kick serious arse on this recording considering it was quite a loose gig.

 

 

Pabs

I remember this night; I recorded the Sonic Blues and the Rabid Dogs and I had to do their sound. I was knackered by the time we played. For some reason we pointed our lights up towards the ceiling. But it turned out it was right in my fecking eyes and I could’nt see the fret board of my guitar. I dropped a few notes. Our sound was all over the place as we were playing through Rabids amps. I had to chop a few songs from the recording but whats left has turned out alright.

Bo

Always great to hear a live recording, even though I accidently left a phaser setting on with my pedal that I didn’t seem to hear at the time and carries it over a few songs.

Pabs

Haha yes the phaser all through a couple of songs. What is it with buzzes and phaser pedals on live records Greg?

Bo

Years of standing next to noisy lorries I guess. Hearings shot 😂

Stu

All you can hear is Dale shouting get more drunk Boris. Brilliant

Do you want to see what was ranked first? Click

Categories
2017 Gigs Hamemade Records music review of the year RiFF shuffle down The Falkirk Music Scene

Weird Decibels 2017

2017 is a year I will quite happily brush under the carpet. I’m thankful for music, Weird Decibels, the fact that we are still recording, writing and playing music around our day jobs and family.

So as the 2017 Curtain starts to fall upon the Cast I thought I’d look back at our year.

Pics. Sweet P Photography. What Eddie Sees. Juls Sampson.

January

 

Rock On Tap. Great night for us at the Artisan Tap. we were a wee bit worried about playing a gig so soon after the Christmas wallet apocalypse however our concerns were unfounded as it was a busy night

12th Jan. We release some footage of us playing in our trusty old practise room

February

Weird Decibels drop a wee hint…

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March

We had a look back at the many years we’ve had in our practise room, this proved to be one of the most popular posts of the year.

May 20th Weird Decibels debut at the Shuffle Down festival

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Sweet P Photography

Weird Decibels performing at The Dobbie Hall 2017.

Here’s what reviewer, Stuart Ritchie, had to say:

“Weird Decibels are reminiscent of the early punk movement, especially The Clash. They played a bulldozing set of songs filled with no-nonsense Wah-Wah-drenched guitar solos, heavy sounding riffs, and a rampaging juggernaut tempo. ‘In the City’ sounded like a louder heavier ‘Suffragette City’. The singer tried to get the crowd to put the hands in the air but, most were afraid to spill their pints. Overall, a great effort and showing.”

June

 

We celebrate the anniversary of Riot Act.

July

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‘Live at the North Star’ lp is finally released after a limited CD run from 2016

August

Weird Decibels proudly join the RiFF (Rock in F****** Falkirk) community; a harder edged music collective.

29th August, we were trying to keep our new EP secret but Stu couldn’t help himself when he proudly stated that we recorded ‘huge’ guitars.

29th September Weird Decibels are the first band to play live for the RiFF collective in what was one of the most successful hard rock gig in Falkirk for years.

 

 

3rd November We’re delighted to be guests of Bitter Alice debut headline show in Falkirk

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Pic Eddie McEleney

8th December 151217

10th December Riot Act launches on digital platforms

13th December recording continues on new EP

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15th December 2017 (151217)  Brand new track Take the Blindness From Your Eyes is ‘dropped’. See what we did there?

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Take the Blindness From Your Eyes is the first song we have ever ‘dropped’. Its a new approach to releasing music for us. We tend to write and release albums every few years.

 

21st December We’re nominated for best Metal/Rock/Punk act for the second year in a row. Thank you!

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