Tag Archives: alternative rock

Falkirk Music 2016

 

Pictures Kevin Byrne Photography and Eindp Photography 

Its well documented on this site that I’ve been in Weird Decibels for over 20 years playing in the local scene and sometimes beyond. For a majority of those years I’d admit that I was quite insular and interested in promoting only our band. However time and attitudes have changed and I have found myself taking in more and more of the local music scene around me. I’m not out at every gig or bought every CD (although I’m drawn to downloading from Bandcamp!) from our town, I don’t have the time (and money!) but when I can take the sounds in I enjoy being a part of it  So here is my brief look back at the local music and events I have personally enjoyed (and been a part of) in 2016.  Pabs

Bands/ Artists.

Ghost Writer. I saw these guys at Behind the Wall and the Trinity Church, they have a dynamic sound and really bring something different to the scene. They have been busy recording and released a few singles this year. They’re worth checking out.

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Bootsie Blue. These guys bagged best new comer in this years AMiF awards this young three piece lit up Behind the Wall a few times this year, I saw them in June but they also played as part of the Falkirk Live festival. Looking forward to hearing what they lay down in the studio.

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The Sonic Blues. The Breens (and Douglas Campbell) have had a busy year in the town, they played alongside us in May at North Star and several other gigs. They have regularly been sharing their music to the Falkirk masses via Facebook. I admire their DIY ethic to recording (its what I do)

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Robbie Lesiuk. There is a big acoustic movement in town at the moment and Robbie is very much at the forefront of this. An accomplished live performer, I caught him at the Trinity and Coffee on Wooer where he supported Stirling act Lefthand.

Blind Daze. Its good to see more rock bands appearing on the scene (Falkirk badly needs more rock bands), these guys are playing with us Jan 6th 2017 and have been busy this year.

Albums

I’m still an album guy and there were a few that I discovered from our Falkirk acts this year.

Dextro. In The Crossing. Discovered this sublime electronica while listening to all the acts nominated for the brilliant AMiF awards. This is a well crafted piece of work that flows from track to track. Hunt this down.

13 A Line of The Dead on Deadline Day. Great, raw garage sound, really like this album from punk rockers 13 they’ve played a few times in 2016 and I’ve not been to one of their gigs yet. Need to sort this 2017.

The Animal Mothers. The Incredibly Strange Animal Mothers Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed Up Zombies. Great album full of attitude and fuzz, i’ll be keeping an eye on this band and hopefully I’ll catch then at a Falkirk gig

Live Events

I have a soft spot for Shuffle Down 2016 and it was great to see the festival return this year. The lineup was more varied and better for it. Still grin when I remember how good (and bizarre) the Paddy Steer set was. Great to see SD is back 2017

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Weird Decibels/Rabid Dogs/ The Sonic Blues. Finally we got to play with Rabid Dogs at the North Star and it was a great night you can read about it in the link above. We’re hoping to hook up again in 2017, sound bunch of lads.

The Loft Sessions. Very enjoyable and it’s good to see that BTW have adapted the ale house to have more of a music venue feel, especially when they get rid of the benches. I really hope this continues and it gets busier. There were a couple of times it was busy and a couple when it was quiet.

Fairweather and the Elements Falkirk Trinity Church. A heavenly evening was had by the impressive crowd that attended, read about it here This was another watermark for the scene, new venue, great acts and a great atmosphere.

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Falkirk music business.

Big shout out to Noise Noise Noise a wee music merch shop tucked away in the Avenue on the High Street of Falkirk. Craig is also stocking a number of albums from local acts; he even sets up stall at local gigs which is an inspired idea.

Revolution Music. Just down the street from Noise Noise Noise is Revolution Music, I know you can get strings and stuff cheaper online etc but it is nice to hand over cash to a fellow human now and again. Falkirk has had a long tradition of music instrument shops this is the only one (to my knowledge) still standing.

Honourable mentions

2016 saw an upsurge in Falkirk acts releasing music videos; however a fantastic playlist has been created by Stuart Gray (Children of Leir fame) he has painstakingly scoured the internet for videos past and present and brought them all together in one place. I heard Belt songs for the first time since I heard their tape in high school (that as a while ago) Hit this link and give yourself a couple of hours to discover some great stuff.

Adam Donaldson took the time to compile a playlist of local acts on Spotify and it is a superb way to hear them all in one place (if you use Spotify)

AMiF. The constant local music news updates, spreading the word and of course the AMiF awards has really helped engage the people of Falkirk with the scene and raised awareness among artists. Big congratulations to Fly Jackson on winning album of the year, Nickajack Men on winning song of the year and Sarah Em who won video of the year. The full listing of winners and nominees can be found on the AMiF page (link above). Check them all out, including best rock act of 2016 😉

Falkirk Music Scene 2016

So this was a quick glance from my personal perspective of the Falkirk scene this year but I can guarantee that there is so much more in our town.

The Falkirk scene is in good health but it is still not held in the same light as Fife or even Stirling  I have really enjoyed giving a wee bit back to the scene and hope that all Falkirk artists support each other. If this happens I reckon it’ll get busier and more people will sit up and notice. Download from Bandcamp, go to a gig, write a blog, spread the word, anything to help Falkirk music grow, after all it’s your scene.

Pabs

 

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Our Influences. Alice In Chains, Greg

Greg

“First heard Alice in Chains through my pal Phil Harley, former lead guitarist of Falkirk band Cage. He introduced me to a lot of bands but AIC really appealed to me. The heavy guitars, fantastic melodies and just amazing songs continue to appeal to me. I have their logo tattooed on me haha. Mike Inez is a tremendous bass player, using effects in his riffs which I’ve recently been experimenting with in my own writing. Still perfecting that though. I’m not sure if they changed the scene or industry but they certainly helped to make the 90s grunge scene as fantastic as it was and continues to be. Ah the 90s..”

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The summers of your adulthood always seem to be memories of sun filled days and hazy nights. The days spent listening to the new emerging grunge scene with Greg were no different. We were probably just about to leave high school and there were many afternoons spent diving on his unsuspecting parents couches singing Nirvana songs and we’d shake our brains to the fast hyper beats of Therapy but Alice in Chains were different.There was probably a time where Greg and I shared a smoke over the song ‘Rooster’.

The deep sludge sound of Chains was hypnotising and it was the album’s Dirt and Jar of Flies released 92 and 94 respectively that stuck with us. Dirt just pounds you for an hour, epic tune after epic tune. The track ‘Dam that River’ doesn’t just show that AIC can create massive riffs but on lead with Jerry Cantrell dueling for the limelight with the gnarly vocals of the tragic Layne Staley who through his chronic drug use, died like many other troubled musicians, a young man aged just 34.

Greg would be drawn to the bass, and Mike Inez subtly underpinning the dynamic guitars would influence our very own bass player to drive our music.

Down in a Hole changes the mood of this album with its acoustic tones and many of our influences are heavy rock bands that have more thoughtful moments and this can be heard on many of our own albums.

1996’s MTV unplugged would be one of Stacey’s last shows with the band, this epic acoustic album, with stripped down versions of their songs showed their remarkable musicianship.

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AIC still produce brilliant record to this date the Devil Put Dinosaurs Here showed that despite the many setbacks AIC still rose above their peers. Their longevity, their adaptability and their ability to write dynamic songs in about the darkest of matters is incredible. As we advance in years it’s nice to see our musical heroes continue to release high quality albums and it makes us believe that you don’t have to be young to write your best music.

Weird Decibels in session at Stirling City Radio (the story)

Huge thanks to Stirling City Radio, Stephen Franklyn and Jim Kettles

words Pabs

Social media can be great at times and in terms of raising awareness of the local scene it can work (although I find it increasingly frustrating and the ‘boost’ button is always just a click away asking you for money). So when Stirling City Radio appeared on my news feed I was interested to see what this new internet radio station had to offer. Intrigued, I had a look at the schedule and I was delighted to see that the station, that has been broadcasting on the internet since August 2016, had various shows to cater for all genres. This included rock and live performances from local acts so I sent them a message.

A nice guy called James returned my inquisitive email, he was more than happy to organise a slot on a Monday evening with Stephen Franklyn, a presenter who has an easy approach to playing rock and pop, in addition he hosts live local acts.

Once I got the guys to commit to a night James sent back some instructions, basically head to Stirling arcade and record some acoustic songs and talk about our musical journey so far.

Greg opted to sit this one out, his new house needed a bit of work and this included fitting shelves. More on that later…Derek, Stu and Myself rehearsed a couple of the quieter songs from Weird Decibels 2, we arranged a time to meet and the plan was set.

The train rolled through Polmont and I hopped on, Stu joined me later in Camelon with Derek running a half hour behind us. Stu and I walked onto the Stirling Platform and headed up to the arcade just up the hill from the station. As we approached we could hear tunes drifting out from the main entrance. We walked into the empty corridor of the arcade and headed to the centre where there is a cafe and the radio station itself. There, in the studio booth for all to see, was Stephen Franklyn broadcasting live. Our time to play was 7pm so we had 25 minutes to set up.

After a warm handshake Stephen explained what we needed to set up. It didn’t take us long, as Stu picked up his guitar to soundcheck Derek walked through the door with his beat box that was borrowed from our friend Kevin Byrne.

After some Aretha Franklin we were ready to go live on air, the clock hit 7 Stephen welcomed us to the airwaves. My 5 year old son Lewis was listening and I was told he went crazy at this point! We had a brief welcome and chat with Stephen about the band before we launched into Curtain Hits The Cast.

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Lewis listens to Daddy on the radio.

Thankfully it’s a fairly easy song to play as, surprisingly, the nerves had kicked in. I’m not sure how many people were listening but Stu, Derek and I wanted to get this right. It went well and Stephen asked us more questions about the band. We discussed how we write songs and Derek stated that I have an idea which is developed by the band, I said it was  more a collaborative approach whereas Stu, bold as brass asserted, Pabs comes out with a riff and I make it better! It was a great moment.

After Stephen played It’s Who You Know from the album we moved onto Almost Beautiful. We explained that Greg couldn’t attend the show as he was hanging shelves so we dedicated the song to him and renamed it ‘Almost Level’. It was a stuttery start from me, it’s a tricky wee riff when the nerves kick in but I recovered and it seemed to go down well. Cue another brief chat with Stephen before he closed with a play of Medicine, again from the album.

We had a chat with Jim Kettles who broadcasts on the station, he does rock show just after Stephen and he played It’s Who You Know later in the night which was a nice touch. Then we signed the pillar which was adorned with names of local acts who have played previously. We stood on a table to reach the top of the pillar; all was going well until Stu stood upon the frame, it slid from under him but luckily his reflexes are still razor sharp and he landed like Batman, on his feet.

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This is the view as Stu fell back to earth but like a pro he landed on his feet

We said our goodbyes and headed out of the door back into the arcade as the radios tunes floated across the empty concourse. I was tempted to have a pint but Derek sensibly said he needed to get back for the kids.

Stirling City Radio is a wonderful station set up to serve the local community, it is a fair distance away from the bland automated ‘local’ stations we have on traditional frequency. The station gives local artists the chance to play to a broader audience, the music it plays is varied to try and  capture the ears of the Forth valley. Central FM used to do this before it was turned onto a bland franchise. Now motivated people like Stephen and Jim are staring up their own platforms (Tommy Clark’s Third Class Ticket is also a prime example) and the local music scene can only benefit. Tune in here and find out for yourself.

Pabs

 

Our Influences. Nirvana, Derek

 

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Bleach! In Utero! Bleach! In Utero! Bleach! In Utero! etc etc

 

Our dear drummer takes Pabs through the first of his favourite artists in our current series of band influences. Seattle’s Nirvana

It was probably the mid 2000’s when we were re-recording some of our early albums and Derek and I got into a healthy debate about Nirvana. Bleach is best he said. I spat out my Carlsberg and protested, how can Bleach be the best. Surely it’s the raw power of the Steve Albini produced Cobain curtain call that is In Utero? No he said, it’s Bleach.

In later years Derek would confess an admiration for Dave Grohl who as we know has stepped from behind the kit to become perhaps more commercially successful with the Foo Fighters. It was clear that Nirvana would have a huge influence on him, his drumming and indeed the band. Derek explains how Nirvana has influenced him.

When did you first discover them?

“I first heard of them (Nirvana) when Scott (a good friend of Derek and the band) of all people, pointed me in the direction of a tape entitled Bleach. I put it on but at first listen I didn’t really get it, I was 11 and I wasn’t quite into music yet although I was listening to Queen and a bit of Guns n Roses. Then, like so many of my generation, I heard ‘that’ song – Teen Spirit and my mind was blown. The rest is history.”

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Nevermind is a classic.

In the early 90’s as our young minds were soaking up our first musical tastes Nirvana did indeed explode onto the scene with Smells Like Teen Spirit. It would have a huge bearing on our first album Whapper Stormer. Educational Suicide, the opening track, was directly influenced by Teen Spirit. Educational was the first of many many songs we would write. On the same album the song ‘Vancouver’ addressed the tragic events that led to Cobain’s self inflicted demise.

Why do you like them Nirvana?

“Probably the same reason most of us like Nirvana, the utter shambolic brilliance of their music. Scratchy vocals, massive riffs and pounding, pounding drums, how can you not like them? Their almost anarchic attitude was exactly the way to get to a young teenager, who in times of angst, could literally let his his hair down and blow off some steam. Nirvana was the perfect soundtrack for that.”

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I wish i had the guts (and money) to smash guitars, but i get attached to them! Pabs

 

It was true that the punky anarchic attitude of Cobain and co directed our behaviour. Our early practise room videos show a total disregard for our futures. It would be mid week and we would be drinking to excess, generally giving a middle finger to the working life ahead. While our peers were revising for sixth year exams we would be planning our next gig, our studying would suffer and at times so did the music. We got really drunk at practise, we traded insults, dived off sofas (yeah I know anarchic) and hung around Earlsgate garage causing low level mayhem.

How do Nirvana influence you or the band and are they still a favourite today?

“Very much still a favourite today, they shaped my music taste from the word go. I wish we could have got another album out of them, but I don’t think we would have got much more than that even if Kurt was still with us. I would say they massively influenced the band, especially in the early days. For at least 3/4 of us they might not have been our favourite band but they were definitely in the top 10. Probably the reason some of us picked up an instrument. Definitely the reason I picked up a set of sticks. So blame them!

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Nirvana in 1993 (from left): Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl.

Even our latest album has threads of Nirvana. Quoted not Voted is perhaps an example of recording what you want to the harddrive and it paid off. Most modern rock bands still go for the large sounding chorus a technique that Nirvana helped make mainstream. My style of guitar playing is heavily influenced by Cobain.

How have Nirvana changed the music scene or the industry itself?

Difficult one to answer for me, I don’t really take much notice of the scene. I don’t listen to music radio at all and I don’t get too many gigs. As Pabs will tell you I live in the past a bit with music. I don’t download and I don’t stream. So for me to comment on how these, or any bands have changed the scene or the industry would be a bit like me trying to design the instrumentation for an a biomass upgrade of a power station…….wait a minute!

With regards to the structure of today’s music industry you could argue Nirvana don’t have much of an influence as they were at their powers during the CD boom of the 90’s however their song structure can be heard everywhere and they opened the door for a huge alternative rock scene.

There probably would’ve been no Weird Decibels without Nirvana.

Kurt Cobain File Photos
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)