We’ve just ‘dropped’ a track; right now people all over the world can listen to our brand new song ‘Take the Blindness From Your Eyes’. This is a far cry from our first ever recorded release. A three track demo tape recorded and released in 1996 on cassette tape. I remember to this day when we drove home from the studio putting the tape into the car stereo and being blown away at hearing our first record.
The Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon were recorded at Split level studios at Ingliston, Edinburgh, it was a great experience for a young band. The reel to reel tape spun at the back of the mixing room as we laid down our the tracks that we thought would break us into the music scene.
The tracks were all mixed down to a DAT tape master and we nervously took this small cassette (which we couldn’t play on normal cassette players) to a duplication service called Chow Productions. While they could print out several copies of the tape artwork and print on the cassette they couldn’t duplicate the music from the master; so they printed off a batch of blank cassettes with our artwork. We had to get the DAT onto a CD and manually recorded the three songs onto the printed cassettes. This was done by a specialist who was able to convert the master DAT to a CD.
Our first demos would be packed in padded envelopes with a typewritten letter explaining who we were (an early version of a bio I guess). There were computers around in 1996, it’s just we didn’t have any. I got some addresses for record companies out of the NME and Melody Maker listings and sent off the package envelopes with the demo tape and hoped for the best.
CDRs became mainstream around the late 90’s early 00’s. The studios we were now working with handed us a shiny disc with our new demos. The world of home studios and doing this for ourselves was still a couple of years away. We would get these CDs duplicated then, in a similar way to the tapes, we would package them in a padded envelope and send it off to record company addresses that we found in NME and Melody Maker however this time we had a PC that we could print of letters with pictures.
As the 2000s surged into middle age we now had our own studio gear and were recording our own demos and albums. The first self recording was Cold Home Street which we burned to CDR. After this we upgraded to digital multi track but CDR was still the format to send stuff to the ever silent record companies.
By the time we were recording One More Solo the internet was screeching (kids won’t get this ) into existence and loading up at around 500k, MP3’s were creeping in and the ipod was taking off. Bebo arrived and we were now sharing our music in a more direct route to our followers. Back then it was customary to let listeners hear 30 second previews of the track and they would buy the full MP3 in a frenzy of rapid Weird Decibels anticipation. They didn’t. However some people were still buying music but there was no doubt that the free tier was on the way and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, pay what you want, strategy was an interesting experiment. To be fair bittorrent, the pirate bay and napster had already set (arguably illegally, but record companies were still in the stone age) new ground rules and while they were now being dismantled by the ever eager record companies (who were still not calling us) the music distribution models had been changed. Many listeners were no longer paying for music.
Riot Act and Quiet Act were never sent to record companies, they were uploaded to the internet however CDs were still very much important to print as we had a fanbase that wanted them, we still have some if your interested. Shop Bandcamp
After a lengthy pause between Quiet Act and Weird Decibels 1 the music industry was changing rapidly. Spotify had arrived 2008 to try and muscle in on iTunes. It did in spectacular style. We were slow to adapt.
Weird Decibels 1 was released in 2011, demo tapes were now a long way off however we were still printing limited batch CDs. We tried to make WdB1 more attractive by offering a tiered approach to our music. You could listen free on Bandcamp, buy the normal CD or order the limited edition CD with added an artwork booklet, which we sold out of.
We also had to consider a growing number of formats including WAV, FLAC and ACC. Streaming was now a growing force; downloads still made us money though. We finally made the jump to streaming via a digital distributor. We could now effectively be our own record company.
Roll forward to 2016 and Weird Decibels was printed on CD and sold less than WdB1 however most of our top stream tracks are from WdB2 . Now we could see who was listening to our music, a slight nod of pride arose when we saw significant activity in South America and other far off lands.
Of course we were still behind the times, many artists were now ‘dropping’ tracks, no hype no fanfare, just uploading songs for people to listen to. Vinyl had also made a massive comeback. This appears to be out of our reach at present. The mastering techniques involved and the cost of printing are out of reach. Hopefully this will change.
So here we are now, we’ve dropped a track but now it’s getting harder to reach audiences without paying for promoted posts given that we’re not paid in the first place! Facebook isn’t helping, people are fed up with it, so we need to find a new way to reach an audience. Until we figure that out feel free to enjoy our new song.
Just a wee note, when we sell a CD at a gig it’s a huge thing these days. The money made from that single purchase can takes us months to raise on streaming services, So if you like a local act buy a CD!
Dear fellow bands please let us know what your first demo was!
Weird Decibels would like to share the music of our fellow Falkirk acts. Here are some of the records that Pabs has bought, listened to and enjoyed lately. There are a lot of great acts and records in Falkirk just now.
All downloads listened to in full WAV format at 44Hz (or higher) using the wonderful program Foobar 2000. Downloads and CDs paid for through Bandcamp. There are also a selction of CD’s in Falkirk shop Noise Noise Noise.
(recommended listening on WAV downloaded from Bandcamp)
Recorded at a pace in typical punk fashion between August and September 2015 13’s album A Line Of The Dead On Deadline Day is classic punk driven by a tight drum sound recorded in a fairly small room that gives the kit a close up feel; there is FX added to the snare on some tracks. The sound reminds me of the late 80’s early 90’s punk/ grunge scene. The drums are knitted with bass, and in most tracks there is one guitar that delivers the riff. Most modern bands double up, so this record feels live, raw and wonderfully personal.
The drums were recorded at the bunker in Bonnybridge, with the guitars recorded at Dollys; (house i’m assuming) this album has energy and a real underground feel . Dolly is the dominant lyric writer, with a snarl to his vocal delivery there is a political air to his musings.
The beauty of this record is its underground feel, its rawness and its pure punk ethos.
(recommended listening on physical format, Vinyl, (CD, which I have), included is rather nice artwork)
Ewan MacKenzie grew up in the Falkirk area with the same dreams as the rest of us. A musician who would hope to get some recognition for his work. We haven’t quite got there yet but Ewan appears to have made some headway into realising his vision.
He started his musical career as the prolific drummer of Cage, one of Falkirk’s greatest bands. Cage’s life was short; but it burned bright. Post Cage Ewan went on to perform on a number of projects. Recently he drummed for Pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs pigs, a band that is doing rather well. For whatever reason he recently left them in May 2017 and it appears that his focus has turned to Dextro.
In the Crossing is a wonderful, moody and atmospheric piece of electronica. Its production and scope stands at height with mainstream acts which could suggest that Ewan will realise bigger things. Its timing and structure is wonderful, rich textures sweep across the listeners headspace and of course there is the assurance of Ewan’s drumming. The track Clearing digs deep into your emotions, its a beautiful four minutes.
Take this record in, breath it, listen when the sun is setting, you’ll understand what I mean. This guy is from your town, take pride in that.
(recommended listening WAV downloads from Bandcamp)
Iain King, singer and guitarist of Ghost Writer towers over most people he meets. I met him briefly backstage at Shuffledown 2017 and he seems like a nice fella, however there appears to be a side to him that allows him to create the edgy compositions of Ghost Writer. They have two EP’s now. Their first Outskirts Vol 1 is a raucous affair with For Hire (Summer Never Ends) having a riff that has that ability to dig into your ear. Mags Dignan’s vocal are worth a mention, her tone is a good contrast to Kings but there is no doubt she could deliver a song on her own. Last track Way I’m Wired is an example of a band quite happy to take risks, with a distant guitar, backed by fuzzy keys and an exposed vocal. Very nice.
Their follow up Legends is a more measured and professional sounding affair. Recorded at Chem 19 studios Ghostwriter have rolled a dice, paying money to produce an EP that they hope will lift them above their peers.
Its an ambitious EP that throws guitars licks from ear to ear. The last track ‘I’m Not Trying To Get to Heaven’ is a highlight, the EP tries to avoid the formulaic approach of other bands, sidestepping verse chorus verse structures. Have a wee listen to Outskirts, it’s a fine vocal performance from King drifting from baritone to the upper mids with ease.
What a year its been for both Weird Decibels and Pabs solo music. Many highs and to be honest a few lows but a great year.
As the bells sound for the new year and 2014 turned to 2015 I remind myself that in February it will be 20 years since we first stepped into our Grangemouth practise room. Simply unbelievable.
The band head out to Linlithgow to choose a lodge in which to record the new album. We chose Kelso simply for the massive room that would allow for a great drum sound. What an inspired choice it was to be.
Tommy gives us a wee play on the Third Class Ticket ahead of our show at the Buff Club; he has supported us all year and his show goes from strength to strength.
We play the Buff Club in Glasgow. This was one of the strangest gigs we played! Look at the stage! We enjoyed it although it wasn’t our best performance.
8th February we turn 20 years old. We forget that this is an achievement; I guess as we’re all good friends it seems normal that we play music together.
we get a nice article in the Falkirk Herald to celebrate our time together. James Trimble has done us proud over the years.
We release the single version of Easy Way; never heard before until now. This was the version we sent to Bracken records which would never be released. Look out for more rare tracks in 2016 and beyond. There are loads!
28th February to 6th of March
The reason we picked this place was for this set up
A stunning and breathtaking property
This was used to record both the bass and the drums at the same time.
We record some of Weird Decibels 2 over a week in Kelso. Here is the story part onetwo and three. This was one of the best weeks in the bands history.
We continue to record parts for Weird decibels 2. Mixing starts; this turned out to be a long drawn put process despite our attempts to avoid this. Pabs went back onto shifts which helped but eventually he went back to day shift and juggling mixing, family life and work became difficult.
1st November shooting starts for the new video for Kill it Kill It released next year. Thanks to Kevin Byrne, Ruari Pearson and Chris Wilson.
2nd November our new range of tees are launched!
7th November we reveal our favourite song that we have recorded. A surprise result!
7th of November we play a fantastic gig at North Star with Buzzards of Babylon to celebrate 20 years together.
13th November Weird Decibels, like all fellow bands and musicians, are shocked and saddened by the awful events in Paris, including the massacre at the Bataclan where the Eagles of Death Metal were playing.
18th November Weird Decibels and Pabs solo work are nominated for best song, acoustic (pabs) and best rock act alongside many other talented Falkirk hopefuls for the first AMiF awards. Still time to vote!!!!!
18th November Pabs and Stu lay some new alternative takes for Weird Decibels 2.
‘we tried to get it out for the 20th anniversary gig and it became a rush. I wasn’t paying attention to the sound and was determined to get it released.
Derek had listened to the masters on his earphones and voiced his concerns, I lost it! I was fed up, I wasn’t spending time with the family, work was hectic and I was coming home to mix. I nearly canned the whole lot. I walked away from the album and the band.
Stu came up to visit and we had a coffee and a blether. I returned after three weeks and felt great. I could hear all the problems with the sound and EQ’d them out. Now the album has the clarity it was missing. ‘ Pabs.
Pabs takes a three week break from mixing; comes back fresh and sorts out the frequency problems that had been causing issues. Album now sounds epic.
5th December Our first album Whapper Stormer appears on all digital platforms including Spotify.
Pabs voted it in 18th place out of 20, Stu N/E (didn’t vote for this) Greg 9th Derek 7th
A real favourite with Greg and Derek, Trying To Grab Hold is one of the most laid back tracks we ever put down. Reminiscing is something I find myself doing on a regular basis; the early days with the band were a riot and sometimes I wish we could turn back the clock and change some of the decisions we made.
The second verse; ‘summer breeze whispering we were laughing, watching the red sky fade to black, then we would gather, around a fire and talk about this and that’. Im convinced that I’m recalling the time that Greg, Derek And I went to T in the Park at Strathclyde in the mid 90’s We had camped in a site away from the festival and there was a group of revellers around a fire passing around a guitar singing various well known songs.
I sat, drunkenly swaying, one eyebrow raised, awaiting my turn while taking in the folky atmosphere. When the guitar reached my eager hands I started belting out a song we have long forgotten called Brilliant at the top of my wayword voice. A silence descended over the rest of the circle
In my self absorbed gleeful bliss my eagerness grew; I was about to hit the second verse when the guitar owner promptly asks for his guitar and storms off! The three of us laughed our hearts out that night.
Like I say it was good times and Trying To Grab Hold is looking back at these days that seemed a bit less complicated.
This was another song recorded at Derek’s flat, at the end of the track you can hear me leave the vocal booth made of egg cartons. You can hear Derek explaining to Gav McVicar that we were always looking to try new ideas. I kept that in to give us a sense of those recording sessions.
Yet another split opinion between the band. Early favourite Vancouver was rated highly by myself and Stu. Vancouver is somewhat surprisingly is pegged down at 9.
One of the first three songs we created; Vancouver is about Kurt and Courtney, the John and Yoko of my generation. I remember being obsessed with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. Like millions of others I watched his helpless dive into a heroin abyss.
It’s strange starting a band only to hear your favourite artists moan about how much they hate the fame and fortune they have found. I guess we’ll never understand what it is like to see the music world from these lofty heights.
For the lyrics of Vancouver I imagined this world; placing myself in the shoes of Cobain and others. The song is called Vancouver because it was an easy place with which to rhyme with other cities like Hanover which I could rhyme with hangover. Then it was easy to link it in with ‘the Camera the microphone it’s blown your cover’.
I love these lyrics, some of my best, even after all these years I still have a fondness for them; I just don’t write like that any more. It was another melody that I had in my head. I would sing it and Stu would play the tune.
The line ‘you try to make yourself look bad, but you only look better.’ was an observation made about artists those days. They would descend into deeper trouble and yet still manage to look cooler in the eyes of their young impressionable audiences.
Vancouver was recorded at Split Level studios, this was our first proper studio sessions and one of our best. Neil the engineer did a really good job with the production. It was brilliant walking past the massive desk into the vocal booth. I felt like we had arrived!
Vancouver was a live favourite in the early days; it was always well received at gigs. It was a setlist regular for the first few years before we laid it to rest; I do recall us getting a bit tired playing it which in hindsight is no longer a concern I have; If we are lucky enough to have someone love our songs then I’ll play them . A truly wonderful Weird Decibels song.
‘I love the rain cause it’s got loads of wah wah and a huge end and it’s a classic.Takes me right back to the martell gigs.’ Stu
First there is the splash of the cymbals, then Stu & Greg launch into the riff before I sing the word ‘The Rain’. Once again we have a band divider. Another surprise as the Rain, an early favourite for top track drips in at 8. Recorded in at the same sessions as Vancouver, the Rain is one of the most refreshingly original songs we have ever created.
The lyrics were written during the massive rainstorms of 94 when the Dawson mission near the Carron Works was flooded. A religious building at the mercy of the heavens (well the river Carron).
In 95 I was only 18 and I guess that I leaving high school to go out into the mercy of the big bad world was worrying me so I went for another two years to Falkirk College. It’s a huge change especially when, like me, you don’t have a plan for the future.
Back then I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of my lack of direction and how it would effect my future. This explains the chorus ‘Stored in houses known as clouds, leaves the clouds and hits the ground.’
Throughout the verses are lines that have little relation to each other that, ‘the rain’. I’ve always liked walking in the rain and I remember the velux window in the ceiling of my room in my old house. When the rain fell it was a beautiful sound.
‘the rain, a beautiful sound on the window pain, a musician who has no composition’.
As Greg and Derek maintain a nice groove; Stu lets a nice lead flow over the lyrics. Neil at Split Level added a little FX onto the guitar which gave the guitars a liquid feel.
There is a pause in the song for a middle 8. Then it builds to the double distorted guitars and loud vocals.
Educational Suicide, Vancouver and the Rain became the original three we wrote at our first practises. They were played relentlessly during the early years and gained attention from Central FM who were excellent at supporting local acts back then.
Eventually as we tried to move away from the early dominance of Whapper Stromer we would stop playing them. A classic Weird Decibels track. Makes you wonder what came on top!
The finale of Whapper Stormer Glass People is one of our longest songs; originally a full band track, the album version features Stu and I on acoustic guitars for the one and only time in the history of our 7 albums (and our upcoming 8th).
Glass People was written in my head over many Saturday nights at Pennies, the run down alternative disco that was hidden away down the old Coasters ice rink. We had wonderful times in there. Every weekend we would head down and join our music community. All the songs of the times would play and strong friendships were forged.
No matter where I went I always found that there were people I could ‘see through’; there was a big act hiding the real person under the surface, hence Glass People.
‘It was a rainy night,for the night I was going to witness
people who are desperate, to escape all that lies before them,
all are congregated, maybe not at church but a place we can worship
our freedom and our choice, the only play where I can let go for recreation
but I noticed , I noticed something spectacular.
For the few hours that Pennies was open every weekend we did feel like we could be ourselves. Most of us didn’t really embrace the night clubs in Falkirk, it just wasn’t our scene.
Glass People was the first guitar riff that I had written for the band. The chord progression, Dm, open F, C to G was easy to play!.
At the time of Stu’s hiatus we bumped into each other in Behind the Wall. After a few pints we reluctantly accepted that the band may never get back together so we decided to start working on a ‘best of’ acoustic album. The first track we recorded was Glass People. During the wintery recording session it snowed, we strolled through the falling flakes to the off licence to collect a carry out. We returned to the studio and cracked open a fresh beer. Stu then laid the most incredible acoustic solo for the end of the song and the album.
Luck had it the band got back together; we gathered all the recordings, old and new and tracklisted Whapper. When we all sat and listened to the acoustic version of Glass People we all looked at each other and agreed. It had to stay on the record.
The band version of glass people can be heard on our bootleg and there is another version floating around somewhere.
Scored highly by Derek and myself the incredible Now I Can See His Eye breaks in at 6. This, often ignored, track of Whapper is another of the more imaginative songs we have written. I would be lying if Now I Can See His Eye wasn’t written without any substances… Singing about yellow brick roads, eyes in the ceiling and the rather obvious lyrics ‘ the sky the sky , it’s just a trip a little day out’,
Greg and I fell into a good group of friends who wandered slightly off the straight and narrow. You do experiment with life when you are young and I look back fondly at the parties we used to have, but we could’ve easily slipped into another way of life.
Now I can See His Eye subconsciously speaks of this fear of following the wrong person into a chaotic lifestyle without much hope for a future. It also speaks of the desire to be successful with the band.’Now I can see the crowds and my friends stand beside me’.
Scored highly by Derek and propped up by myself and Greg, The Ending breaks into the top 5 tracks we have done. To be honest the verse and choruses of the Ending are fairly standard arrangements
I remember getting the idea for the lyrics when I visited Edinburgh museum; looking down from the high balcony to the floor below I thought of the lyrics. ’ I’m tempted by the rush of the ground as the season flow I will never now how many people I’d have hurt.’ Strange times…
It’s the ending of the song that has always been a pleasure to play. The chord change after the build. E C A, then it drops to G. When we first played it I had one of those moments where I’d look around the room and see everyone grinning (the last time was when we wrote the end of Medicine for the new album).
So the Ending has one of our best endings!
4. Easy Way. One More Solo. 2004 Greg’s favourite track.
Pabs 4th, Stu NE, Greg 1st Derek NE
‘I love (the) Easy Way as it’s a great energetic, heavy song which drives all the way through. Great fun to play.’ Greg
Another top 5 track from One More Solo; loved by myself and even more so by Greg. Easy Way is a thunderous track with two versions. The album take above and the re-recorded single here. One of the best lines I have written is ‘I can see my future, I see it everyday!’ A lot of One More Solo speaks of being stuck in a rut.
We were approached by a small record company called Bracken records, this was to be the first record company interested in our material. We were asked to think about re-recording the song. So we duly tried to recapture the original One More Solo performance but it didn’t quite hit the raw aggression of the original. We didn’t hear from Bracken records again (not sure if they are still on the go); eventually an ‘unsigned’ band learned to live with the knockbacks as there are always high points around the corner; perhaps this is one of the reasons we have lasted 20 years.
The original is a powerful take; the sound isn’t the greatest but underneath the murky frequencies there is a frantic few minutes of rock. I really go for it on the vocals at the last chorus: ‘I tried ! I tried the easy way!’
A remaster has been attempted on One More Solo, but it had varying results on the album. Some of the songs turned out well. Easy Way was certainly one of those moment where we were all glad the band had got back together.
The first open string picked chords on the slightly out of tune acoustic, followed by Stu gently picking a couple of muted notes before Derek and Greg ease their way into the intro. Culture Creature is based on the darker side of the drug culture that hovered around our community. It’s surprising that one of our darkest songs has made its way to the dizzy heights of 3. (given that Stu, Greg and Derek are constantly telling me to cheer the f*** up!)
‘We wanted jobs, we wanted to escape, but we ended up like cars with no brakes’
We were all leaving school, some with hopes, aspirations and career plans others with an uncertain future. Culture Creature was strange phrase I used to try and describe people who were drawn into the late 90’s booze. music and drug scene. This transition from childhood to adulthood is such a difficult time for young people, as it was for us, not everyone made it. One of the perversions of life
It ends with the line
‘I’m the one blame, do I see my reflection?’
I’m sure I’m finally blaming myself for not trying harder during my education when I finally realise how important it was as I walked out the school gates for the last time. I almost felt like turning around and promising the teachers that I’d given a hard time I’d try harder! ( I wasn’t that bad to be honest)
Culture Creature was recorded during the 2nd session of songs at Split Level. As previously mentioned; Neil wasn’t quite on the ball this time, the sound is slightly thin. I can remember everyone being drained during the recording of this song. The vocals took a few takes; we played it over a few times and the song’s mood brought everyone down!
I left the vocal booth to see John Baines, our guest at the recording, looking totally despondent on the couch!
Despite the slightly wayward sound and the subject material Culture Creature has stood the test of time. It’s a haunting piece, beautifully played by Stu. It’s a reminder of what could’ve been.
At the end of writing Weird Decibels 1 we were fairly confident we had a strong set of songs for our album. Stu was playing around with the guitar as we prepared to rehearse. He played this really cool looping riff. I asked him to keep playing it; I simply held a E and the rest of the band joined in.
We kept playing the song and I started every line with ‘I wonder’ as I tried to find a melody. The line stuck and I fleshed out the lyrics. When we finished the basic track, Jemma Burt stepped in with the violin, it was a really nice touch that added to the mood of the song.
‘The bridge on which we stand has crumbled and untied, we can either run to our sides or repair it over time’.
I guess I’m thinking of relationships with friends and family, as we all get busier and more distracted by life we must try harder to stay in touch. This seems a bizarre thing to write in the age of social media and instant communication. In many ways this technology makes this worse.
Wonder is now one of our best known tracks with thousands of views on Youtube. The video was shot around our old haunts of Falkirk: Pennies, the doorway of the old Clydesdale bank (where we used to sit after the night out had come to an end) and Firkins a pub that used to be a meeting place for all the fans of alternative music.
The scrolling landscapes (influenced by the start of the film Lost in Translation) and drive by shots capture the mood of the song; a wintery grayscale hue over the places where we spent our youth. It’s a video full of memories; and famous sights of Falkirk which seemed to strike a chord with fellow Bairns.
Wonder found its way on many of our sets after the launch of Weird Decibels 1; it remains a favourite of our regular listeners. Its funny how at the end of writing sessions these songs can come along…
Track 2 from our last album Weird Decibels 1 gathers the most points from our voting and is crowned our top track.
Written around late 2008 and early 2009 Speak has significant meaning. The riff, picked around a G bar chord, was around for a while and the song had been building into an upbeat rock number. It starts with the toms pounding through the intro, the riff, then the whole band launches a sonic assault. It was one of the first songs we had written for the then untitled Weird Decibels 1.
Songwriting came to be in my late teens, I grew up surrounded my the music that my father played and would always hear my mother singing away whilst making some delicious pancakes. Lyrics were my way of communicating. I’ve written many many songs, a lot bad, some ok and a few that I am proud of. Speak falls into the latter.
The sudden passing of our much loved friend Dave Broon brought my thoughts into sharp perspective. I no longer wanted to write about beery nights in Falkirk; now I wanted to make sense of my world and the lives that we lead.
I was told you work, In mysterious ways I learned you were liberal, with your selection
I’ve been gifted a life, with wonderful people Why must you start, to take them from me?
So speak to me
Let me hear what you say
Speak to me
You built this world, in all it’s glory You gave us greed, to strip it all away
But I hope you’re there, taking care Offering refuge, for our weary souls
So speak to me Let me hear what you say
Speak to me let me hear what you say!
Speak was always going to be a single and like Wonder before it a video was released, set in our practise room that we’ve used for the past 20 years it’s a mix of live action and stop animation. It was a well received video.
This song has started many setlists; it is a very hard track to leave out, its fast pace and aggression help liven up our sets.
Like the majority of Weird Decibels 1 Speak was recorded at the 4th lodge we hired in Ettrickbridge. The drums were recorded in the practise room prior to us doing the guitars at the lodge. Speak was one of the few songs to feature doubled up vocals to enhance the chorus and it is something we use a lot more now.
Speak may not be the favorite track of anyone from the band, we all rated around the upper middle of our top 20, but the difference this time is that we all voted for it and has ended up as our number 1 song.
It’s not a complicated number by any means. It’s just balls out rock, a bit like AC/DC, which happened to be Dave’s favorite band. I wonder if the big man would agree with our top track!
Some facts about the top 50
The Top Ten had 2 tracks from Weird Decibels 1 the top two tracks! Whapper Stormer had 4 in the bottom 5, One More Solo had 3 and Firkin Outburst had 1 top ten track.
In the whole of the top 50 the breakdown from each album was
Whapper Stormer 9 out of 10 (possible) tracks
Weird Decibels 1 9 out of 12 tracks
One More Solo 8 out of 11 tracks
Riot Act 8 out of 12 tracks
Cold Home Street 8 of 13 tracks
Firkin Out Burst 5 out of 9 tracks
and Quiet Act 3 out of 11 tracks
I asked each band member to list their top 20 tracks the points were 20pts for 1st then 19 for 2nd and so on. This was all added up then compiled into a top 50.
Well if you have read this far then I must thank you! I hope you enjoyed this article.
Do you agree with the top 50 then? leave a comment or two below
Moody teenagers write heavy song; result? Downer. This guitar laden beast stalks near the end of Whapper Stromer waiting for the ear shattering guitar ring; it makes you flinch.
Lyrically it’s not as charismatic as the rest of Whapper, if I remember correctly Stu wrote the riff to this before any vocal melody was in place. As a band we are firm friends but musically we’ve always been a strange combination. Downer is a good point at which to explain.
In 1995 Greg and I were into similar music; although Greg would wander off into the darker reaches of grunge and rock. Later he’d fling in some trance and industrial. We both liked the seattle scene (Nirvana etc.) but I would find myself going to lighter more acoustic music before eventually getting into alternative.
Derek had a lot in common with Greg and I but he liked to lean towards classic acts such as the Beatles and more so Bowie. Of us all it’s fair to say Derek never liked ‘shouty’ metal acts.
Back in the 90’s the three Larbert High students had similar tastes to enthuse upon our new guitarist, the mysterious, unknown Stewart McCairney. As we rolled up outside of our new recruit’s house, the door opened.
As the dry ice cleared, the pyros flared, out stepped the dude, I could tell straight away this guy wasn’t into grunge and certainly wasn’t into Britpop! His hand shot into the air and devil horns were held aloft. This guy wanted to rock.
In the early days I believed we wouldn’t work; but we did. Stu, despite his desire to write heavy music, happily played beautiful melodies over the quieter songs. Eventually he grabbed his chance with Downer and we wrote one of our heaviest songs to date.
As I snarl ‘naughty Mary’ through a distorted mic; I knew we were heading for a big build. I nearly made it! I guess my voice isn’t suited to the heavier echelons of music but I gave it a good shot!
John Baines joined the rest of the band as we crowded around a mic and roared the final lines of the song which we recorded in Dreks flat. A magical time.
Like I say we can flit from heavy to light in a heartbeat; this could be the reason why we have never found a massive audience. I guess listeners like consistency. Who knows. Anyway, i’ve always admired our ability to write a wide variety of tunes; it doesn’t always work but we give it a try.
Dirty Stream is another survivor from the drunken Firkin Outburst sessions. It’s a romantic song about who will be first in a relationship to take the plunge and fall in love. Lines like ‘stones thrown, at a glass ceiling, which one of us gets cut the most’ and ‘ A walk across a frozen lake, just don’t run if you panic’ perhaps point to my thoughts on taking risks and thinking about the worst case scenario.
I really like this song; the chorus ‘we’re gonna have to quench our thirst, by drinking water from a dirty stream’ makes this composition a lyrical highlight of my 20 or so years of writing (in my opinion of course!).
The thing I love about Weird Decibels 1 was our desire to move away from ‘power chords’ that had served us so well then arguably,eventually hindered us. Joker is centred around the guitar riff at the start. Greg stamps on his distorted bass before Stu and Derek break the door down with the rhythm.
The verses avoid chords as well; based around the D chord the riff is a little picked melody that has all the hallmarks of Nirvana.
The lyrics were written at the time of the summer riots in 2011. It felt like the whole country was going to explode. I guess this was our way of writing a protest at our corrupt politicians. ‘what are you hiding from me, I’m the electorate when can i see?’ and ‘money burns floating down, to lie against a riot shield, once held by a broken policeman, fed up defending politician’.
I found the riots disturbing; the wanton violence against innocent peoples property and small businesses give these disturbances a more sinister feel. Was this a reflection of the anger young people felt against their government?
I’ve never embraced politics in our music. I’ve never really embraced political bands. I prefer to hear peoples stories from their lives, but as you get older you begin to understand that politics do affect our day to day lives and therefore become part of your music.
Joker is a band and listener favourite; it was my attempt at making sense of it all.
From British politics to something closer to home, we were are back in the Falkirk night life for the Sound of the Night. I expected Derek to score this highly but it turns out Greg expressed his love for this slow burner.
It starts with a dreamy guitar sequence that we got all wrong when we recorded it. I had to spend days at the mixing desk trying to sort it out,
Sound of the Night is one of those tracks that sounds great live but didn’t translate as strongly on record. I talk of my desire to escape the noise of urban life and my frustrations with modern living.
Not the most in depth story but a nice tune nonetheless.
Probably one of the most fun songs to play. Simple chords, simple arrangement and I get a rest from most of the vocals. Stu and Derek stepped up to sing the verses; this allows me to jump around at gigs whilst battering hell out of my old guitar.
Deliverance makes an appearance near the end of Weird Decibels 1 it questions religion ‘send it to the mountain, send it to the sky, you’re refused deliverance, don’t ask god why’. It’s pretty much a straight forward howl to the skies and an absolute riot to play at gigs 15. Underachiever. Riot Act. 2007
Around the mid 00’s I was taking stock of a lot of things both at a musical level and with my job. (I still do). Underachiever is my envy getting the better of me. You reach an age where people start to overtake you in life and you eventually tie yourself up in knots and
forget the most important things you have. Family and friends.
This tune split the band down the middle; Greg and Stu scored it quite high; Derek and I excluded it from our list.
I think it’s dated, it shows my self pitying mood at the time. That’s the problem when you write songs, sometimes they remind you that your head was in the wrong place.
I remember playing this at the Cavern in Liverpool. It was the only song that made the manager leave his office to come and see us. He doubled the size of the crowd!
At 14 we have the first song voted as a favourite. Just For Today. I love it.
It bursts in with Stu, Greg and Derek playing the rolling riff straight into the first verse. I used to start by whistling the melody but it was dropped as every time I attempted to whistle the intro we’d start laughing. I could never do it!
It’s one of those ‘calm in the storm’ moments. Surrounded by the desperate drug woes of Chameleon (the only Whapper track not to make this list) and the edgy trippy paranoia of Now I Can See His Eye. Just For Today is a dreamy description of a day where everything seems right. It is an unusually upbeat song from me; I was probably under the influence of something ‘I saw the clouds in the dark and I began to stare’.
I remember the night wrote I this; I was heading home from a party looking up at the night sky. The moon lit up the clouds as I tried to keep myself warm for the walk home. Back then we walked home from parties, nights out, gigs and the pub. It was often at these times we would have our best laughs.
The vocals change at the end; Stu doesn’t use distortion on this track, instead we have a jam at the end of the song. That’s what I love about this; it feels live and spontaneous. You can hear the drums and bass changing their dynamics to suit the upbeat mood.
It’s not something we do a lot these days. When you are solely a vocalist you tend to be a bit more imaginative with your voice. Since I have played guitars and sang I haven’t used this freestyle as much.
The line ‘I didn’t care what my appearance was like, maybe I looked a mess’ summed up my feelings back then. With badly fitting clothes and long unruly hair I missed the point at which grunge had left and ‘Britpop’ had arrived.
I’m also offering help to someone; I can’t remember who but the one thing I do recall is that during those Firkin and Pennies days we all looked out for each other.
At just under 4 minutes Just For Today is an example some of our best work; it is the soundtrack to the end of the night, when our young drunk souls would go home and hope that when we stumble into our houses we wouldn’t wake up the parents! 13. Psalm. Weird Decibels 1 2012.
Only Stu and I voted for this and we scored it fairly high for a reason. The arching solos that almost burst out of the speakers.
The track listing of Weird Decibels 1 has divided us. In these modern times of short attention spans, instant music and streaming, people don’t tend to listen to albums. The general rule is put your best track first.
I wanted WdB1 to be an album and I could think of no other epic opening than Psalm. It is Weird Decibels in one package. Heavy guitars, melody, a thread of acoustic rhythm , imaginative drums, growling bass and soaring solos. Sure there are better songs on WdB1 but none are as ambitious as this.
Greg drops tuning for this and we play it in E, unfortunately the down tuned bass is one reason we never play it live. It’s a heavy laden guitar wall of noise, and there is an angry vocal spitting distaste for the class system. ‘Some will be lucky, for others will pave, the path for their children.’
My son had just been born when I wrote this; all your thoughts change. From the delight of life to the unfairness of it. Psalm reflects this in some ways.
Psalm works its way to one of our best endings. frequent collaborator Jemma Burt comes in with some beautiful keys that help change the tone of the song. I sing ‘I lost my way.I lost my way when you asked me to pray’. as Stu starts to build his epic three part solo. I rank up the vox and together as vocalist and lead guitars we meet up at the height of the crescendo before the songs settled into its subtle conclusion.
The old guitar you hear at the intro and end was lying around in Kirsty’s mums place; we were staying there as we waited for our new house to be built. The intro of Metallica’s Battery was a heavy influence here.
Psalm was the opening track to our first album in 4 years; the 6 minute statement of intent. Weird Decibels were back after the barren years of the acts.
Barren years of the acts? I can picture Derek shaking his head as he reads this. After One More Solo we were into an uneasy spell of cover songs; I would often voice my distaste for learning them. We played fewer gigs (although to be fair they were enjoyable) and when we did play live we didn’t play much of our own stuff. We didn’t really embrace the internet like we do today and we rarely stepped out of Falkirk. However there were highlights.
Track 3 on Riot Act Sky Is Falling is another tale of a night out in Falkirk. It opens with ‘Let’s face it she’s not very pretty and she doesn’t look good on the dance floor, I come home from this paranoid city, turn on the news watch religion at war’. The moody apocalyptic theme of the Sky Is Falling is one of the high points. We haven’t played this live for years.
It reflects the unrest around the planet during those times; there is a bit of comedy in the chorus ‘jesus is coming, look busy, your god is calling’. Im sure I got that lyric from one of those mugs that says ‘look busy the boss is coming’.
There is a helpless resignation in the lyrics that contradict the uplifting music; It’s has a really nice ending.
Just missing out on out on our top ten is the first ever song we wrote; it’s not surprising it still has a place in our hearts.
Greg and I wrote this before the band was even formed. Stu and Derek finished the embryonic creation. Strongly influenced by Nirvana, the classic verse chorus verse arrangement is very prevalent here.
I wrote the lyrics in the middle of an IT class at school which goes some way to explain my lack of academic success. Educational Suicide is a wordy shout at the ‘system’ and class.
Smells Like Teen Spirit has a brilliant call to the dance floor; when you hear Cobain hitting those chords you know you need to get up there. I wanted something similar for our song. So when you press play on the Whapper Stormer disc you are immediately met with Stu’s ringing guitar.
Its simple structure allowed us to write the song in our first practice. It settled the nerves and meant that or the majority of the next 20 years we would be playing music together. Educational Suicide is the most important song we have ever written, but not the best. That’s coming…
Friends corner. The photographers.
Many people have taken photographs of the band over the years. Kevin Byrne has been napping portraits for many years. A good friend of the band he has taken many of sleeve artwork photosgraphs, including his work in Riot Act and One More Solo. He also took the recent press portrait that was used in the Falkirk Herald. A very talented and knowledgeable photographer. See his work here
Neil Henderson took photographs during the early years, we met Neil, like many of our friends, at Firkins. He took the Martell shot that is used in Coldhome Street and the live portraits that are used in Weird Decibels 1. Neil went on to photograph many acts throughout the country including Attica Rage.
Lets not forget regular gig snappers Juls and Phil who have taken numerous pictures that have given us many great memories and more recently Eindp Scotland, his pictures of us ended up printed in the Stirling Observer.
Welcome back dear reader! I hope you are so hyped that you tossed and turned as you failed to sleep; wondering what is the best Weird Decibels song voted by the band. Today we ease your suspense…as we countdown 30 to 21… Not long now!
Guy jumps off a cliff, suddenly wings grow from his back and he flies back to safety. This image would resurface as the cover of my solo album Fortune Favours The Brave. It was always a strange idea I had of people coming back from the brink; it’s more a song of hope than anything.
Long Way Down was recorded years after it was written; it was one of many songs we had written in 1997-98 for our second set of songs that we had to relearn and record. We laid the tracks in Derek’s flat during one of our many recording weekends. Most of the acoustics guitars would be laid at my old Steak Pie Studio. This tracks was put onto the Tascam 2488 at the time our best portable studio yet. Our sound was definitely starting to improve at this point.
The most requested and most played song at our live shows. It is also our favourite title. Waiting on The Sound Of Your High Heels (Baby). A balls out stab at some AC/DC; it’s about getting ready to go on a night out with your lady. Simple as that. It has become a celebratory song that gives us joy to play.
From the simple rock arrangement, to the straightforward lyrics then to the guitar harmony High Heels has stuck with us as many songs have been forgotten.
It’s the opener from One More Solo, the first song people heard when we reformed in 2004 and it set the tone for the album that we still admire today. The sound may not be perfect, a little bass heavy perhaps, but like most of OMS the feeling was there. A band happy to be together again.
So why so low in the list? Maybe we all thought each other would vote for it?
The finale of Weird Decibels nearly failed to make the album. It was one of the last songs we wrote for WdB1 and had not been rehearsed as much as the others.
We enjoyed the song, it was a little different to our normal numbers so we were keen to get it on the album. Problems arose when we came from the chorus back into the bridge; the timing wasn’t quite right on the recording so I programmed some beats to knit the song together.
It’s a rather disturbing song with bold images. ‘you get inside my head, you dig it with a spoon’,’lay it on the bed and rummage through’. Industry is inspired by Alice in Chains; it’s dark brooding mood builds towards a mainc grunge like solo before the end explodes into a wall of guitars (which were intentionally mixed too high).
The often used reverse fx on the guitar was used at the end; it fits the eerie feel of the song. Industry is rarely played live; although it does make the odd set from time to time. I’ll never forget the time a student from England asked to use the song for the soundtrack to her presentation. The images were disturbing…
If you listen to the Foo Fighters ‘All My Life’ you will hear where we got the idea for Home Sweet Home; the opening track to Riot Act. I often feel that One by One was some of the Foos weaker output and sometimes I feel this influence creeped onto Riot Act. We didn’t quite nail this album.
Home Sweet Home is another tale of drunken nights out in Falkirk; largely uninspiring lyrics that float upon a nice piece of music from us. The lyrics do hint at getting tired of the rain soaked Saturday nights in Falkirk ‘Punch drunk, given up, rainfall on leather jacket’.. I talk of aggression; ‘cigarette hung from mouth, you’ve a question will you ask it’; but both the acts (Riot and Quiet) suffer from a narrow narrative, however at the time they were fun albums to record and play.
Forward opens the second side of WdB1 with a long intro that builds nicely into the first verse. I always liked the riff for this song; very Therapy?. It was one of the first songs written for the WdB1 sessions and can be heard on Live Tonight Not Completely Sold Out (unreleased album from 2010). It is also one of the rare songs where I play a solo which helps build towards the end of the song.
The lyrics of forward take second place to the music but the song is about being left behind in life and the feelings of being lost.
Forward is still a favourite of ours to play live (especially me) as it has a good range of dynamics.
One of the strongest songs on Quiet Act, Breathing Space is one of those songs that would be interesting to hear in our normal distorted guise. I like the lyrics in this song, like Forward, (both songs were written around the same time) Breathing Space again talks of feeling left behind ‘And i’m trying, i’m trying to keep up’.
The lyrics also speak of a need to get away from the busy central belt and into the remoteness of our wonderful country. This thought was probably influenced by the lodges we were using to record. They were such peaceful and tranquil places. The lodges idea came from my mother who hired a lodge for her birthday. It was in Mallaig; one still day we drove to Arisaig. I switched off the engine and walked towards the shore. Once the clicking of the cooling engine faded all I could hear was ringing in my ears as the vast landscape in front of me was silent. Breathing space.
This aggressive song bursts into the middle of Riot Act. Another tale of drinking and potential violence in Falkirk. I know exactly the pub I was thinking of when I wrote this. We played a number of gigs there when we were heavily into playing cover songs.
Although the lyrics have dated they are entertaining ‘You, you want a fight, well I say alright, cos you wear a bad tracksuit’.
Stu took his small Peavey practise amp up to the recording session (i can’t remember why) and I thought i’d be a good idea to use it for the little riff we use before we go into the last chorus. It worked a treat. Weekend was one of the best sounding songs on Riot Act, it’s tight and it flows well.
At 23, only the second lift from Whapper Stormer, is Show Your Face Soon. It is a lively teenage dream of finding the perfect girl; knowing that she’s out there somewhere (eventually I married her!).
Stu penned a beautiful rolling guitar riff over my melody; it was such a productive way of writing when we formed the band, Sometimes I wish we could write like that again but all my melody now starts from the guitar.
The use of wah was well measured in this track; it suits the mood of the songs well. Greg and Derek have funky rhythm that adds to the optimism of this track. We used to write up to 5 verses; intertwined with chorus and vocal melodies. I have a particular fondness for this song. I remember when our good friend Rooz DJ’d at Dancing In The Dark. Show Your Face came on over the PA; it was delightful because if any Weird song was to be played it’d be The Rain or Vancouver. A delightful band effort.
A simple balls out rock number Riot Act is us simply having fun. It’s actually not a bad wee riff but the drums suffer from the room in which they were recorded. Riot Act was recorded in the first lodge we hired to make albums. We placed the drums in a small room with a low ceiling; basically doing everything you shouldn’t.
Derek really thumps the skins in this song so you can hear the dead sound of the room. That aside this was one of the laziest songs I had written. ‘You never tell me where you’re going, you leave me hanging at every junction’, basically me moaning about people forgetting to signal at roundabouts. Clearly I had writer’s block at this time….
Writers block is horrible but the one thing you learn about writing songs over a number of years is that it passes. Lyrics are a great way to communicate and when you lose the ability to do that it’s frustrating.
I found some form when writing Weird Decibels 1; Power was one of the songs I enjoyed penning. It was written at a time when I was trying to sell our family home; however our house was deemed worthless as the surveyor had found Knotweed in the field of the landowner adjacent to us.
At that point I felt helpless to move my family all due to a landowner allowing this destructive weed grow in his land.
It’s a quieter song than most of the tracks on WdB1 however its angry; especially the last chorus. Our friend Jemma helped out with violins; it was exciting to hear new instruments on our records.
Our recordings would not be complete without a friend popping in to say hello and offer support. DJ says hello!
We approach the top 20 of the bands favourite tracks; already gone is High Heels what popular tracks will stumble as we make our way to the top ten? Next up 20-11
The first pick from our acoustic album Quiet Act, Grand Day Out describes a day out in Edinburgh drinking with close friends. Indeed much of this album’s lyrics were about drinking; 6 albums in it was becoming clear that my song writing was getting lazy.
Grand Day Out is a warm upbeat song that builds to the sing along finale. At the time I was pleased with the sound. We were learning more about recording and thinking more about where the drums should be recorded; this album has an airy feel, more open thanks to the acoustic guitars and more subtle drums. Much like the album, Grand Day Out doesn’t change our musical landscape but it is good fun. It was recorded at a beautiful lodge in Gairloch near Baddachro. We had a grand day out at the Baddachro Inn. Pure heaven.
Another take from Quiet Act; this time a pretty obvious love letter! At its heart it is a simple two chord song summed up in the title. I really liked the way we recorded this song, it felt like we were making progress. Stu plays an effective guitar pick over the rhythm, we doubled his part and you can hear the slight differences in his takes panned left and right. It gives the track a kind of ‘sparkle’ which suits the lyrics well. The track ambles along nicely with Greg’s acoustic bass and Derek’s gentle drums giving it flow. Certainly one of our best sounding songs
Like Grand Day Out before it and most of Quiet Act, Woman in my Dreams is simple in its nature although I do feel the lyrics were stronger in this track than most of the album. Not everyone who listens to the band liked this direction… it would not be long before we switched the distortion back on.
Distorted guitars? Check. Screaming vocals? Check. Clearly this wasn’t from Quiet Act; One More Solo’s final third kicks off with this belter. It bursts in with a solid rhythm before we stop for some toms and guitar build before the song launches into an exasperated look at the formula of adult life, the lack of sleep and fear of getting left behind. ‘Night and day, it just seems the same to me’.
Fighting rolls along before the satisfying screams at the end; my voice barely held out for those as you can hear it burn out towards the end, hence the big FX.
We still play Fighting With Forever at practise but it hasn’t made our set lists for years.
Crazy head was originally on my solo album ‘A Twist and a Turn’; it had found its way onto this album as have one or two tracks over the years. The rattle at the start of the track is my broken acoustic guitar! We did mention the budget for this album, didn’t we?
This is a bitter tale of broken romance and blaming someone’s past for their actions. It is not a song we have played for years and it is very much of its time.
From Firkin Ourburst one of the songs that survived the alcohol laden writing sessions that had an impact on our second album. We were flying high after Whapper Stormer, our first gigs had been a success, we had recorded our first demos and our friendships were growing. There was a Haddows off license across the road from the practise room. We frequented this place every week.
Often we would head home so drunk we wouldn’t be able to remember the songs we had written; All Good Things was one of the 9 that made the album (we recorded 10, Today Was Insane did not make the record).
This track was recorded on our 8 track years after we had written it, again at Derek’s flat during our mad recording weekends.
It has the acoustic/ heavy mix sound that we adopted after Whapper when I was playing more guitar but had yet to purchase an electric.
Lyrically simple there is no complexity to the song, it’s a good riff and has a slightly different feel to our usual tracks.
‘Summerhigh, a good day to die’ a lyric straight from Star Trek and the Klingons! This upbeat tune was one of three recorded at our second visit to Random Rhythms, a great wee studio hidden in the outskirts of Edinburgh near the airport. The first sessions, for Whapper, were excellent however this time the recordings did not reach the previous heights. The sound engineer seemed to have lost interest this time around.
Summerhigh sounds slightly thin but the performance was good that day, particularly from Derek who really enjoyed recording in that studio. I sing of getting older (despite being in my early 20’s…) and starting to realise that I had to take some responsibilities; however there was still time for days in the sun.
There is a good live version on our first bootleg, Central FM were very supportive of the local scene during the late 90’s, they had recorded the gig which was part of an all day festival. This Martell performance reflects much of the swagger we had then.
Sometimes you get a little fed up of the town in which you live; then you go for a stroll look over the forth valley and think, it’s not so bad. Love Hate Thing describes those feelings when out at night. Much of Riot Act is based around nights out in Falkirk (or the aftermath)
Nestled near the end of the album Love Hate Thing starts to wind things down with its moderate pace; at nearly five minutes long it includes a build and a solo. Riot Act is a mixture of fast 2 minute rock and this more measured number.
Given the throwaway nature of Coldhome street it would be surprising if there was not a live jam on the album. That’s what Beauty Queen, the last track on Coldhome, was. The track was recorded in a small studio just outside the centre of Stirling. I believe we recorded the drums prior to Greg, Stu and I jamming the guitars in the studio. Much of the solo work and possibly the vocals are improvised.
We mixed it on the same day, the engineer seemed to struggle a little and asked if we would mix the track. It’s quite a poor mix; the drums lack the impact needed for a live jam but it is a fun song with some daft lyrics. ‘oh my beauty Queen she loves technology, My beauty queen wants part in a home made movie!’
We all have a soft spot for Beauty Queen; perhaps because it was the song that was never finished. To my knowledge Beauty Queen has never been played live
Another album ender comes in at 32. A long slow burner of a rock track Stand For Your Rights is the first song we wrote when Stu re-joined the band after his brief hiatus. Big choruses , dueling solos and a big ending this was our first hint at writing about politics. I’ve always liked the line ‘if you stand for your rights you’ll die young but you’ll die healthy’ it’s a bittersweet statement.
Recorded onto the 8 track along with the rest of One More Solo it was fairly straightforward to record despite the number of different sections of the song. While we were laying tracks at Derek’s flat there was a biblical rainfall shower outside. I grabbed a mic, careful not to get it wet I recorded to the sound of the rain. It was so heavy it ended up sounding like static. My shitty Renault 19 was flooded where it was parked, pity it didn’t float away. I added a little bit of keyboard to give One More Solo the closure it deserved.
At number 31 the first track from Weird Decibels 1, a high point in our history, the album was a return to more meaningful lyrics and carefully considered arrangements (well most of it!). Crown is one of the many ‘character’ songs. I was fed up writing about getting drunk at weekends, to be honest I had little to write about so i made up characters. Recorded in Ettrick Bridge (nice pub here as well) we were on a working farm in the middle of the borders. Stunning.
Crown was the murderer, the guy who snapped. He had committed a horrific crime but still attended his mundane office work as normal. ‘Perfect smile it makes me sick, he shakes my bleached hand, i wonder what makes him tick’. I enjoyed writing about the meeting between the murderer and his perfectly groomed boss.
Crown also asks what happens in our town and cities that we don’t know about as people go about their own business.The vocals during the crescendo are ‘borrowed from a certain Mr Vedder and the song Jeremy. A similar story!
This concludes part 2. nearing the mid table now. next part has a rather big surprise for regular WdB gig goers…
The countdown to our 20th anniversary gig at North Star is on. So the four of us got together and compiled a countdown of our favourite 50 songs that we have written and recorded. We start of with 50 to 41 keep an eye on the blog over the next few weeks as we reach our favourite song.
A fan favourite Sofa Girl has resonated for years with the people who have followed us from the first album. It is a simple tale of a teenage boy who is not sure if he is in love with an awkward girl who is shunned at school by her peers.
It describes lazy teenage evenings spend on battered couches watching movies on satellite TV. Fairly innocent, it is a song that kicks out at the expected plan that life seems to take. ‘Get a car, TV, Satellite, Get a Life!’
Sofa Girl was played intensively by the band in the early Martell years. Track 5 at 3:38 it is punky in its nature, almost a throw away moment amid the more focused lyrics of Whapper Stormer. It struck a chord, John Baines was keen to supply backing vocals for the recording.
I can’t remember how we wrote this, often, in the early days I’d sing a melody to Stu and he’d put a guitar line to it but something tells me Stu already had something in mind and I sang on top of the guitar riff.
It was recorded at Derek’s old flat on a digital 8 track during our mad recording weekends, more on that later.
Driven by the simple C chord guitar riff I Tried to Fly saw Weird take a more ‘radio friendly’ approach to our music. I started playing electric guitar around this point; sometimes when you’re starting out ideas are easier to come by and at this time I was writing a lot of guitar riffs which would explain why Cold Home Street ended up with more of an ‘indie’ feel.
I Tried To Fly was one of three songs recorded at Red Eye studios, a rough recording to be fair. Thin in its sound, it lacked punch but the song transcended through. The song asks for patience as I explain ‘I’m not a perfect man’ .and that ‘I’m doing the best I can’; lyrically weak, I Tried to Fly is carried by the music which, while not ground breaking rolls along quite nicely.
It what is quiet a punky album It’ll All Work Out in the End is the longest track at 5:44. Starting with the resident Cuckoo this as recorded at the first of our ‘lodge’ recordings I struggled to sing this song; the guys went to a pub in Cannich and I was left in the lodge on my own in a remote valley with only my thoughts. It was a difficult time for me, people close to me were very ill so this vocal performance is particularly charged.
Its a song about a friend who was having a difficult time; this was my way of trying to reach out. It builds towards a nice crescendo; all the band except Greg sang and Stu plays a subtle riff over the top.
We have probably played this live once or twice but it never appears on set lists these days. We played this song live for central FM and can be heard on a bootleg. I guess it all works out in the end.
The second track recorded at Red Eye suffers from the same thin sound as tried to fly but Hope is a more upbeat rock song. Influenced by the ‘lad’ culture of the time Hope speaks of drinking which would haunt a lot of my lyrics for many albums. This song is fun. I recall us sitting in the mixing room of the studio begging the ‘engineer’ to pan the stereo mix. He submitted and the mix is, while slightly unbalanced. More acceptable than what was first presented.
This is the song a which Stu fainted trying to match the prowess of his singer… Greg, Derek and I were in the control room hearing Stu’s remarkable vocal performance. As he reached the long high note everything suddenly went quiet. A bemused sound engineer rose from his seat to look through the window only to see Stu face down on the couch with the music still blaring through his phones.
After the initial alarm Stu got up and brushed himself down and like a pro finished the record.
Its widely regarded that Coldhome street is our poorest record however a number of tracks from that album appear on this list! Its badly recorded; which could be hiding genuine good songs. Sun Shines Brighter was another track recorded at Red Eye in Clyde side. Its nasally sound can be quite off-putting but underneath the harsh intro guitar we wrote a fairly bitter sweet pop song.
The cheery riff that opens up is followed by a double verse’ things get a little moodier with the chorus. Sun Shines Brighter does have weather related cliché lyrics. Its a warm song that sticks to a safe formula; it comes and goes with little fuss.
Definitely one of our more upbeat songs from a generally upbeat album.
Sitting in the middle of One More Solo, Whiskey, as we refer to it, is a bluesy rock number. The lyrics centre around emotions and feelings; laced with drink. This was a common theme for many years with my song writing. The song is carried along with jangly guitars before, in common Weird Decibels practise to ascends into a Zeppelin Esq ending with Stu pouring a solo over the end.
It sounds live on record and we played it a lot during the time of One More Solo but unlike Easy Way and High Heels. Whiskey found itself being left in the bottle more often than not.
The greatest lyrics about male insecurity I have ever written. I must’ve been in a funny mood that day; I still have a chuckle at the lyrics. Very tongue in cheek, dirty and rude but an absolute hoot. Not a bad wee tune as well but the lyrics make it. I guess at this time I did not care if I offended anyone; certainly no-one has complained.
I guess the lack of trust in relationships played a part here and my own insecurities. Being a songwriter you can vent your frustration by writing about them! We never really played this live and it has now been filed away with much of Coldhome Street awaiting a re-master or re-recording.
Recorded on the Tascam 4 track this is another lift from Coldhome street.
Originally performed by the Seventeenth, Cold Calling was to be one of the last songs we would do before the band fell apart. Kevin Byrne was on drums and Jon Shaw played guitar. I had written the music and lyrics so I was able to transfer it to Weird Decibels who were reformed and looking for songs.
Cold calling has a haunting riff that I have always regarded as one of my best. It was borrowed from a solo song I had writing. You can hear it on ‘No Past No Future’ the opening track from the Armour is Broken. I believe there is also a riff from The Mallig EP another solo record.
Put together the riff worked. Its an insecure love song; bands like the Doves and Coldplay were at their peak at the time and I was influenced by them.
Cold Calling received a luke warm review in the daily record demo section. On reflection the song and performance let the song down. It is still played down at the practise room and a live version can be heard on Tonight, Live Not Completely Sold Out!. Played live I still get a buzz from this song that is lacking on record.
The Coldhome tracks just keep coming! I personally love this song; it was an early example of me getting to grips with the guitar and starting explore further up the fret board. Stu and I have separate solos towards the end; there would only be one winner of course. The song takes a wonderful little menacing turn at the end.
The lyrics tell of madness and sadness. Perhaps these were easy words to rhyme; but I do speak of thoughts and feeling once again. My writing would rarely reach further than my own thoughts which limited the subjects I was signing about.
Recorded on a Tascam 4 track Hometown bursts in ‘Do you love your hometown’. Another lift from Cold Home Street there is actually a good song buried under the murky recording. Its a simple guitar riff, I was only starting to take up rhythm duties for the band.
This was one of many songs we recorded in our practise room. At this time we were no longer playing gigs; we would simply arrived every Wednesday and record onto the tape. Unfortunately for some reason the manic end is cut off just as Derek gets in the full swing of things with a tribal chant. The rest of the ending is pasted at the end of the album! Derek has never forgiven me for this.
6 tracks are from our 3rd album Coldhome Street
2 are from One More Solo the 4th album
1 is from our first Whapper
and the other is from Riot Act our 5th.
This concludes part on of our countdown. In the next past of our top 50, 40- 31 we have a greater of contrast of light and heavy…
As the lead singer of a rock band you’d think I would recommend screaming Grohl type artists but you’d be wrong. Anyway now and again I simply dive into the internet and browse for music to see what happens.
First up is Tom Day from Melbourne Australia with Peaks. Lovely sonic landscape that almost has me lying on a sandy beach down under instead of contemplating switching on the central heating in the middle of a Scottish June…
Any band that calls their latest EP ‘Once More With Feeling’ is going to get my attention ( we have a song with the same name on our new album) Canadians Ought track ‘Pills’ is a slow burning moody rock out track that builds to a lovely crescendo at around 4:15 mins. The vox are slightly low in the mix but it adds to the singers almost despondent mood;if you click onto the ep link New Calm pt 2 barges in Tim Darcy sings freestyle as the guitars swirl around him.
new Calm pt 3 is chaotic in its start; nice to hear a band that is preprepared to play what they like. At 13k likes in Facebook clearly people agree! Touring Europe.
Waiting, the last track on the EP has shades of the brilliant bands Ride and Bell XI. A cracking track. For me the best and the song that made me hit ‘follow’.
Another artist from Australia these guys like the doom guitars and they are high in the mix. A bit of Alice In Chains in here.The heavy laden guitars are often interlaced with dreamy fx laden vocals. Like a heavy version of Pond I guess. Built On Guilt is fantastic.
And there we are; a night of surfing through Bandcamp, a lot of sludge in there it has to be said but i liked these artists. If you find a gem please share their music.
Not the Microsoft kind although that is due as well. Windows is the term for the difference in time between physical media releases and them appearing on streaming services. (just in case you didn’t know)
It presents a wee dilemma to our band; we have a small but perfectly formed (and extremely loyal) following and we must make sure they are looked after. Which presents a challenge as we need to pay for the album (albeit we keep the costs low)
Weird Decibels 1 was paid for mostly by ticket sales (for gigs we organised), private function gigs (covers..) and then finally CD sales. Streaming did not contribute much at all (in fact by the time we paid set up fees we lost money this way)
So this has got me (over) thinking. How do we develop a ‘release strategy’; sorry I sound like a bit of dick but hey got to get with the times.
Weird Decibels 1 was the first album we released on both the internet and CD. Previously we simply handed out CD’s like everyone else from that era (90′, 00’s).
WdB1 landed on Bandcamp first; a lot of people listened on that platform but we got no download sales. Due to a delay the CD was released a month later; it sold better than our previous albums probably because our listener base is orientated to a physical release (a kind way of saying we’re getting older!). Spotify and the rest followed and the payback was minimal.
The next HMR release (my solo album) Paul Henry Smith – Morningday aired on Spotify, iTunes and other digital services first. Listening rates were good and there was even a few downloads but again not enough to cover set-up costs. The CD sold a few copies but well down on WdB1 (I won’t take that personally!!). Did people settle to listening to the album on the stream?
Then along came Taylor Swift; not to our gigs or anything like that, no she pulled all her music from Spotify because it paid her (and her record company) a pittance per stream. This got the whole industry talking about release ‘windows’; basically your favourite artist (Swift is a long way from that) releases a CD or vinyl and then weeks later it will appear on streaming services. Great…
I love Spotify; I get my Uncut magazine and I listen to the radio; I will hunt for the album on Spotify. If I love it I will order the CD. Now if ‘windows’ are to take effect I’m screwed.
The conflict? Spotify unfairly cuts the band and I from the financial stream. I wish they would pay more.
I love being on the service; many of our friends have ventured to other lands and yet they can still enjoy our albums and even share them with new audiences. I believe, and I speak for myself, that it’s a price worth paying.
However we need to think of our next album and as you can tell by this blog entry my thoughts are going round in circles. I hate the idea of ‘windows’ I love music embracing new technology (hi def streaming etc); I love that fact I can listen to any album when ever I want and I pay for this service every month, not only that, I love CD’s dropping through the letter box!! (sorry record stores, although saying that I bought a few CD’s out of FOPP the other week)
I pay through my teeth for music, CD’s, Spotify premium and gigs and yet my record collection is all over the place because the industry has no clear vision. My CD collection slowed over the last couple of years. My iTunes collection; the hours spent ripping CD’s etc’ has stopped (waste of time and money downloading to be honest) and now Spotify could end up become a music library like Netflix is to movies (ie no new releases)
Well my head is bursting now; basically the music industry is going to have to find its feet. Those who love music will always pay; it just seems we have to change our plans for everyone else.
Anyway back to the band’s next release. We’re thinking about a ‘window’!!! ( 4 weeks tops! Buy our CD please!!)
Or maybe we won’t… Maybe we should just be happy that in this day of music overload you still have the time to listen to our music.
Love to you all
Happy listening whatever and wherever that may be
Here is a fantastic music industry blog that tries to find the answers that I have clearly failed to find.