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Weird Decibels 20 years

50 Weird Decibels songs from 1995 -2015 as chosen by the band. part 1 50- 41

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.

Sofa Guys. The great early days of the band. The time we wrote all of Whapper Stormer
Sofa Guys. The great early days of the band. The time we wrote all of Whapper Stormer

50. Sofa Girl Whapper Stormer 1995

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.

49.I Tried To Fly Cold Home Street 2000

Red Eye studios. They made us a demo I guess... sound wasn't the best
Red Eye studios. They made us a demo I guess… sound wasn’t the best

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.

48 It’ll All Work Out In The End Riot Act 2007

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.

1000853_631735696851522_520111379_nIts 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.

47 Hope Coldhome Street 2000

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.

46 Sun Shines Brighter Cold Home Street 2000

We're all wired up to the four track ready to record. During this time that is all we did, for some reason we had stopped playing gigs.
We’re all wired up to the four track ready to record. During this time that is all we did, for some reason we had stopped playing gigs.

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.

45 whiskey in my head One More Solo 2004

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One More Solo often regarded as one of our best albums was recorded at Derek’s old flat on an 8 track

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.

44 Pearl Necklace Coldhome Street 2000

Beer at practise. Yes please! By the time we were recording Coldhome street the practise room had a splash of colour...the last time its had a splash of colour i might add
Beer at practise. Yes please! By the time we were recording Coldhome street the practise room had a splash of colour…the last time its had a splash of colour i might add

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.

43 Cold Calling. One More Solo 2004

This is around the time we recorded One More Solo. Loads of beer and subways made me 'cuddly'
This is around the time we recorded One More Solo. Loads of beer and subways made me ‘cuddly’

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. 

42 Method In My Madness Cold Home Street 2000

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.

41 Home town Cold Home Street 2000

Our Greg, the most level and sound guy you could meet. After drinking, he's usually the first to fall asleep
Our Greg, the most level and sound guy you could meet. After drinking, he’s usually the first to fall asleep

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.

Factcorner

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…

Thanks for reading!!

Pabs

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P A B L O ' S M U S I N G S Pabs General music thoughts

Music 2015. The buzzword will be ‘windows’

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.

wpid-a2078779249_2.jpgWeird 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)

Gigs we organise help pay for future recordings. So thanks for coming!!
Gigs we organise help pay for future recordings. So thanks for coming!!

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

Pabs

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.

http://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/

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Weird Decibels 2 Diary

Writing Weird Decibels 2. October 2014

Weird Decibels 2014
Weird Decibels 2014

Its been many months since I scribbled in the Weird Decibels 2 diary; I looked back and it was last year so apologies for that. We’ve been really busy since you and I last talked. So grab a bottle of red and I’ll bring you up to speed.

Back in July 2013 we had a list of around six songs;

1. Standing On a Viewpoint
2. Rain Parade
3. Feet First
4. Miss Asphyxia
5. Small Hands
6. Kill it! Kill it!

The writing session were running like my old Ford Focus (now scraped) there were various reasons why we stopped and started writing. Gigs were a huge drain on our limited time together, Derek hurt his ankle (as you have read in elsewhere in this blog) and we had several work commitments.

Spotifyimage3

Time passed and the songs were slowing so we headed of to Oakley. We hired a small lodge nestled away in a large country estate. We had a wonderful time catching up and drinking beer; our trusted friend Kevin Byrne also turned up. Cracking time. We wrote 6 songs in two days it was a rampage of ideas. I guess the change of scenery really helped the juices flow.

1. I Hear The City
2. Digital Takeover
3. Little Thoughts Lost
4. Curtain Hits The Cast
5. Quoted not Voted
6. Hit Me.

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We returned to our old practice room, played a few more gigs and looked up to the 2009 calender as the months flew past we agreed that it would be nice to have a new album for our 20th anniversary. We hoped that a return to Oakley could be booked but this is looking unlikely (although I want do to it. Badly)

We’ve been writing back in the room over the last months; we have another few tracks and ideas to add to the new album.

1. Smash The Glass
2. Almost Beautiful
3. Station Man
4. Untitled jam

1044976_886862604672162_289650386905668896_nPut the three sessions and we still don’t have a full album. Of all the songs the following are likely to make it (singers opinion)

1. Miss Asphyxia
2. Kill it! Kill it!
3. Curtain Hits The Cast
4. Little Thoughts Lost
5. Almost Beautiful
6. I Hear The City
7. Smash the Glass

8. Quoted not Voted
Many of the early songs have been dropped; they scurried from under the shadow of WdB1 and drifted away towards the bootleg vaults.

10686736_886862641338825_7767581804681481952_nSo we have many songs still to write and we are trying hard. We hope to have them well rehearsed before potentially recording them in the early spring of our 20th year.

All these records will be available to you in some sort of form; a deluxe version of Weird Decibels 2 or a bootleg. All the ideas are worth a listen.

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Pabs General music thoughts

Pabs music musings. I prefer the early stuff?

At rehearsal we recently played through our entire first album Whapper Stormer as part of our preparations for our 20th anniversary celebrations in Feb 2015. It got me thinking about bands, their longevity and the law of diminishing returns. Is early output an artists best?
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When thinking of this subject I thought of some of my favourite artists and some others. Let me begin.

Case 1. Nirvana. 1st album Bleach. Best album In Utero 3rd studio release.
Case 2. The National. 1st album The National. Best album Trouble Will Find Me, their most recent.
Case 3. Oasis. 1st album Definitely Maybe. Best album. Definitely Maybe.
Case 4. Guns n Roses. 1st album Appetite for Destruction. Best album Appetite for Destruction.
Case 5. Radiohead. 1st album Pablo Honey. Best album. Ok Computer.

There is one band on the above list that did not achieve overnight success that the others enjoyed. The National. Slowly they have been building their music, and slowly they have been building their fan base. All the others, bar Nirvana had stratospheric success with early output and have since struggled to match this with later works. Radiohead had huge creative problems after Ok Computer and opted for Kid A which was great but not in the same league as its predecessor. They hit a high with In Rainbows, their peak lies with their difficult third though. Oasis produced one of the greatest debuts of all time then rarely recorded anything of merit thereafter. Guns n Roses had an agonising death after the wonderful Appetite.

So what has this to do with a small band like Weird Decibels I hear you scream at your tablet/laptop/mobile phone/PC and maybe, just maybe surface…

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Pabs tries a new approach to song writing.

I prefer their earlier stuff. This is an expression I had fretted over for years. When we had written Whapper Stormer we were a fresh faced young rock band with ideas pouring out of our finger tips. Whapper had found a small audience of people who really enjoyed it, including a radio DJ who loved The Rain and Vancouver. A year later we had recorded some of our follow up album, the slightly lazy drunken romp that is Firkin Outburst. We handed this DJ our new demo and in the very pub the album is name after I asked him what he thought. His answer? Well I think you know by now….
I stormed out the pub in anger, seething our new songs had not received the praise that our debut collection had mustered.
In the following years we wrote songs of varying quality, another 5 albums would be produced. The other guys would ask me what my favourite album was. Without fail I’d say Whapper Stormer, for the lyrics, the music and the youthful exuberance. Then from 2008 we started to write Weird Decibels 1.

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Our best album to date? Time will tell...:-)

Derek is quoted saying we had to do Quiet Act (our first fully acoustic album) to write Weird Decibels 1. He’s right. We had a renewed enthusiasm for writing. So many things came together. Our music, my lyrics and the gear we had to record it. A year ago I knew we had written one of our greatest albums. For months I was not sure if it was better than Whapper, a year on and several listens? Its my favourite.

So what Is the point here? I hear you ask.

We are a small band, very small. We have our little patch on the huge quilt of music. We have no pressure to make a living out of music, we can write what we want when we want. We have been together so long it was likely we would hit another creative peak.

Any band that is allowed to breath, grow within itself without the pressure of producing an even better follow up to the last will always prosper. In this new age of self released music, small artists will produce music the way they want to smaller but more enthusiastic fans. I hope these bands will glow for many years instead of burning out and fading away…

Pabs.