Categories
RiFF The Falkirk Music Scene unsigned gems

Falkirk punk rockers release a belter.

Our fellow Riff friends are back with a cracking EP

Thirteen Ego Trap EP artwork

Ego Trap EP by Thirteen https://ukthirteen.bandcamp.com/album/ego-trap

Available on CD, DL and stream

Back in 2017, at the end of September, the nights were growing longer. Nestled in the centre of Falkirk there was a small, brief, but memorable alt. rock/punk scene playing its first showcase in Behind the Wall. It was (and still is) called RIFF. The explosive music night was driven by Dolly, the indefectible frontman of Falkirk punks Thirteen.

At the end of the night, when the satisfied crowd disbanded under the watchful ushering of the bouncers the bands involved had a chance to huddle around a table, count the ticket money and plot the next event.

At that point it felt like the start of something new.

A second successful night followed, then the momentum fell away. Thirteen regrettably imploded, leaving Dolly to pick over the remains of what was a successful era for the band.

If you listen to the 2017 pulsating ‘Spirit of Resistance’ EP you knew that this band could put out a great record. https://ukthirteen.bandcamp.com/album/spirit-of-resistance The track ‘We Will Overcome’ would become the frontman’s mantra as he refused to give up on the music.

Over the months and years that followed Dolly sought and found new personal for the band. Then came the lockdown. This didn’t stop them; instead, they headed to the studio to lay tracks for what would become ‘Ego Trap’.

Press play on the CD, and the guitars leap out, they have familiar tone that had me expecting Axl Rose to start screeching ‘You Could Be Mine’, but Dolly bursts in with his trademark vocals and Thirteen come alive with their own classic, high octane take on punk.

It’s an excellent production from Bryan Ramage, the pace is relentless, the second track, ‘I Am the Fire’ sparks off a flurry of snarls and guitar screeches. ‘Pearls and Piss’, perhaps the highlight, is uplifting. ‘How did to come to this? Drowning in Pearls and piss!” asks Dolly.

‘Trampled Flag’ offers a well-judged change of pace before the EP concludes with the squalling menace of ‘Thirteen’. This is a statement from the band; “I will never tire” asserts Dolly, “We are Thirteen” replies the band.

This is a great record; created and recorded throughout the most challenging of years. What once was the Spirit of Resistance now appearing to be the Spirit of Resilience.

‘Ego Trip’ is Spirited call to arms for all the Punks, Rock and Rollers and we know that they are out there in Falkirk, they’re just waiting for the shout. This could be it.

Pabs

Categories
25 years

Twenty Five Years!

WDB Original 3 track demo photoshoot
One of our first photoshoots for our first demo

On Wednesday the 8th of February 1995 we had our first practise; now as the 8th of February 2020 fast approaches I sit back and can’t quite understand how quickly this time has passed. I often wonder what would’ve happened if certain events hadn’t happened.

Would the band have continued had the first guy that we hired the room from hadn’t been so stoned? We waited for him to lockup but he never appeared so we left the place open. He’d forgotten all about it and let us book the room the next week (still raging at the punks who had bolted the week before…). The practise room became our home for over twenty years.

Say we didn’t get conned off Big World Music. Would we have kept our focus as a young band and break out from the local scene?

What if I hadn’t bumped into Stu in Behind the Wall during his time away from the band?

There are many junctions in our story, I do regret that we haven’t reached a bigger audience and I often cast envious looks at other bands who, in a fraction of the time, have achieved things we still dream of. I regret we haven’t tried a bit harder, pushed the music, practised more, gigged more, the list goes on.

But I wouldn’t change a thing.

Our family and friends have been so supportive over the years, the ability to leave home for a few days and record albums is priceless. The support on gig nights, unflinching. From the first school night forays at the Martell right through to the Glasgow adventures and the recent Falkirk resurgence.

Every time we’ve put out a tape, CD or dropped albums on Spotify the loyalty has been there. The support has been a huge factor in us being around for so long.

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Of course, a band needs to get along if it is to stay intact. I’ve had musical differences with people in the past, music becomes toxic, friendships break, but with these guys that has rarely happened. When we recorded February (back in November 2019) work and family commitments meant we couldn’t go away for too long, but it was a fantastic experience none the less. The few days we had away reminded me of the strong friendships that were forged back at the old practise room twenty-five years ago.

No band can function without music and thankfully we’re still able to write and record records. Sure, we’ve had mixed results but every album we’ve put out has a story behind it.

Which brings me nicely to our ninth, February. An album that practically wrote itself. These days it can take us over a year to write an album. February was going that way until we decided to get an album out for our 25th. The wee bit pressure got the creative juices flowing, by September we had an batch of songs and I couldn’t quite believe that we were booking a new cottage to record our album.

The story of this recording has been told, there is no doubt (and the guys will agree) that this was the most fun we had recording an album. Doing most of it live gave the record an energy that we’ve always struggled to capture. Mixing took just a couple of months (Weird Decibels 2 was about a year…) and the mastering was outsourced to Andy Taylor who did a fine job with the recordings, especially when you consider it took us four days on a £300 14 year old desk.

Thank you for sticking with us, that’s the first twenty-five years in. Who knows what lies ahead? Who knows what dreams we might yet fulfil? We’re still making things work. We’re Not Giving Up.

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Picture Kevin Byrne

Pabs

Categories
recording February

How We Recorded February

Recording of ‘February’ at Craigenrea Cottage. Sat 9th Nov to Thurs 14th Nov

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Looking for the pub in Straiton

Grey clouds hung in the sky over my house as I waited for the guys to arrive and help transport the growing amount of gear we use for recording. In the corner towered a substantial stack of beer. I looked at it, surely I wasn’t going to finish all that.

In the silence of the house my excitement was growing, it had been over four and a half years since the WdB 2 sessions in Kelso. It was a fantastic experience and I had hoped that this would be similar. As I pondered the decision to stay for just five days instead of our usual seven, the doorbell rang. Stewart was on time as usual. As I greeted him Greg rolled into the drive wearing his usual big grin. The packing began.

The mood was jovial, there was a buzz around us as we packed the gear. Derek was still absent, so we had time for a quick coffee. What lay ahead was on our minds, could we really record an album worth of songs in four days?

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Now…How to get in

Derek appeared; we checked the maps. Greg then emerged grinning with three walkie talkies so that we could communicate as we drove. After a comical radio check, we were on the road. I had decided to hitch a lift with Derek.

Falkirk fell into the background; the rain was trying to fall but it failed to dampen the spirits of the band as various bursts of banter flew between the radios. Our three vehicles snaked in a convoy through the M9. It wasn’t long before the towering sights of Glasgow whizzed past. We took the turn for Ayr and gradually civilization fell away as we headed into the country.

Eventually as we made our way through Ayrshire we took a turn onto a small B road that led us to a small village called Straiton. Apparently, there was a pub here, it was just a few miles to the cottage, so we decided on a quick pint as we were running early. However, finding the pub was proving problematic. We asked a local who pointed at a white painted cottage that looked like the rest of the building in the village. Now confused we thanked the lady and headed to the house.

I tried the door, it swung open. For a minute I though I was in someone’s house, a rack of folded umbrellas lay in a hallway, stairs led up to some unseen area however to the left was the welcome site of a small pub, the Black Bull.

A gruff man poured us a few pints of lager. A fire crackled nearby, a small dog, with a fine shaggy coat was clearly enjoying the warmth as the amber light reflected on his fine brown coat. The pub was quaint, it was us and a local that were supping on beer. Refreshed we headed back to the cars (under the limit!). We had to double check the maps, given the remoteness of the cottage it was rather hard to find. After a couple of attempts we found the right road.

As our convoy twisted and turned through the winding narrow single-track road leaves of gold and red fell from the autumnal trees. Above were deep greys, the clouds started to open, and the rain fell.

As we climbed higher into Galloway Forrest Park snow started to fall. The road quickly turned white, I nervously gripped onto the seat as Derek seemed unfazed by the worsening conditions. I however was unfortunate to see the drop that would greet us should we have left the road. However, Derek was in control and the car was capable in the conditions. Greg commented on the radio about the weather, something he is used to through his job.

Just as the snow got worse, we turned a corner and we could see that the road dropped to lower ground. Thankfully here the snow wasn’t falling. After a few more miles of twists and turns Craigenrae was before us, the cottage nestled into the side of a small valley. It stood alone, surrounded my marshy land and just in the distance was a canopy of tall Evergreens. Some had fallen over, a sign of viscious storms that have blown through before.

Our convoy pulled up and we jumped out. The first look at a new cottage is always exciting. Before we opened the door, we grabbed a beer and slammed them together in celebration. Beer fizzed over and spilt on the ground. We greedily gulped our first taste of what would be a few beers.

Derek fetched the keys and attempted to open the door. It was a puzzle, which key was it? We wandered around the property but alas we could not find the door that would unlock! Stu stood by the front door and pointed at the second lock, success! We poured into the cottage and made our way to the living room.

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The idea for this setup came from Sound on Sound. Crazy when you look at it, the overspill etc. But playing live together has worked wonders for the recording.

What greeted us was a large room with high ceilings that was promising for the drum sound. We were taking a different approach to this recording this album and the large room would lend itself to this.

Armed with our cameras we did our tours. There was four bedrooms, two of which were large and spacious. Upstairs was snug with a low ceiling that you had to remember to duck under (possibly a problem for drunken musicians.) It was a nice first impression, a spacious cottage, perhaps a little old fashioned and needed a little upgrade. However, we prefer it this way. We’ve been in modern posh lodges where we were worried about breaking stuff. Not so much here.

With all the equipment, food and drink loaded in. We turned our attention to setting up and getting a decent sound. The big difference this time? We were recording the drums, bass and guitars live and in the same room. A big gamble? Yes, it was.

The drums were placed just off the centre of the room facing down the longest part of the room. I set up the amplifier stands and placed the amps next to the kit, but they faced away and up towards the ceiling. These amp stands were brilliant. They really helped cut out low frequencies you get when you have an amp nearer the floor. Greg had placed castors on his bass amp, this also helped lift it off the ground and greatly reduced the boomy sound we often get. With the amps facing away from the drum the idea was to try and cut spill. There would be mic spill and I would embrace it to give an overall live sound however it was important it wasn’t overbearing.

The drum kit was miced up, a SM57 on the snare, Audix D6 was on the kick with the mic placed about halfway into the bass drum. I added the Stagg condenser to help with the ‘slap’ of the kick. The two Rode NT2-A’s were placed lower to be nearer the kit (cutting bled from the amps but not eliminating it). We placed mics around the toms and fed this into a mixer that we then wired into the Korg D3200 (our multitrack) this helped cut down the number of tracks we were recording (the Korg allows up to 12 tracks recording simultaneously).

On the guitar and bass amps we placed SM57s placed near the centre of the grill, Stu’s mic was angled slightly away to reduce the proximity effect and clear up the sound. The SM57 worked well on Gregs amp. I wanted to DI the bass, but earth problems prevented this. I had a spare mic for guide vocals.

With us all set up we played a few tunes; Derek needed a monitor so I provided him with a small mixer and a set of headphones. The rooms sounded great, it was loud, despite our amps being down fairly low.

After some technical wizardry we managed to get the Liverpool Man city game streaming on the big tv, Derek was delighted.

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Relaxing on the first night

After we were done Derek heat up some pizzas and we sank beers. The first night was a laugh, we listened to some of our forgotten tracks from the WdB2 sessions. We really went for it. Outside the weather was getting worse, the winds howling sleet, snow and rain falling. So, we drank. Greg necked half a bottle of Gin, I finished all my lager, Stu and Derek did a fair bit of damage to their beer stack. Derek started to fall asleep sitting up with his nose dipping into his cider (he swears he was just sniffing the drink) We partied into the early morning then staggered to our beds.

Day two, Recording live.

I was up first and entered to a scene of destruction, Tins everywhere. After a quick tidy up the rest of the guys surfaced and we had some breakfast rolls with coffee. Greg was struggling, he looked around the room then quickly left to go to the toilet. He was looking a little green around the gills…

He felt a bit better, so we got ourselves tuned up and started to record. The first songs went down quite easily. We played live and we all had to make sure that we didn’t make a mistake as it would be heard on the overspill. We got off to a good start, most songs were done in a couple of takes but I did lose it with ‘Be Here’ a song I find tricky to record live. Tensions flared a little but it didn’t last. After a few hours we were halfway through the album!

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Its a take. Note the large glass of water for Greg

Delighted with the progress we stopped just before dinner. I had a bad headache now, the drink from the night before making itself known. Derek had started tucking into his beers in the afternoon, I joined him. Listening back to the recordings was promising. Sure, they were a few little ticks and glitches but nothing that was causing me concern.

After a superb dinner (Chicken dish, Derek had prepared it and it was wonderful) we settled down for more beers. Stu had set up the Sega Saturn, which is now a traditional part of the recording weeks. Greg laid off the alcohol, Stu wasn’t as thirsty as the night before, but Derek and I had a few. It was a quieter night; the second night usually is.

Day three Mad Monday

We had a hearty breakfast and we all felt a bit better than the previous morning, so we set up and recorded the second set of songs. The tunes were fairly straight forward with the exception of ‘The Plan’. I decided to simplify the riff and overdub the more complicated guitar line later. I didn’t want to keep making mistakes. Recording live is quite psychological, you start to tense up and you don’t want to let your bandmates down. We had to take regular breaks with one or two of the songs, this helped reduced the tension that was building. Not between each other but in ourselves. (or maybe just me)

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Level check, we did loose the tesco bag… how unprofessional!

We finished with ‘We’re Not Supposed To’, of all the songs this was the one that we weren’t sold on. We started to play it, but we didn’t feel the same vibe as we had with the others. We recorded a quick version (turns out I had forgotten to record vocals!)

Here we were in the late afternoon; we had all the songs down! It was an incredible feeling. I checked the songs and we fixed all the minor errors that had cropped up. I even started to lay some vocals

Derek cooked another blinder, this time some spaghetti Bolognese that Stu raved about (until the steak pie the night after). We opened the wine…

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We started early everyday!

We watched some of the old band videos (as we do) and the atmosphere went a bit flat. We were all quite tired and low in energy. So we switched off the video and started to play some heavy music through the monitors and we played it loud. Wine flowed, Stu was on fine form and eventually was dancing up and down the kitchen. When I looked to see Stus best moves a pair of legs rose up from behind the kitchen counter, Derek doing a handstand… Derek and I then dived on an unsuspecting Greg only for me to be (somehow) lifted up by Derek and spun around. He does like his wrestling! It was a great laugh, we were up until early morning, Derek and I stayed up and listened to some of our old music. It was a great day.

Day Three

With the main songs all down we turned to vocals and solos. Stu had recorded sketches of all his solos and really helped make recording them easier. I spilt the vocals over two days, some were recorded easier than others.

As I recorded the rest of the guys were trying to set records on Athlete Kings, so between takes all I could hear was the furious button bashing, I think one or two long standing records were broken.

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Look at the concentration!

On the first day of overdubs things generally went well. The songs were now taking shape and we were far more relaxed than we would normally be during a recording week.

Time flew and it wasn’t long that Derek prepared his Steak Pie which was another cracking meal. We knew in advance that Derek was going home the next day however unlike the last time, this was expected, and we had a good night listening back to 80’s rock. It was however not a hectic night as the one before.

Day Four

After a leisurely start to the morning, I headed out for a walk around the cottage grounds. The air was so fresh, crisp touches of winter frosted the ground and there was a gentle mist hugging the trees.

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Get someone decent on the desk…

It wasn’t long before I was back onto vocals, Stu had nailed many of his solos so there was not too much left for him to do. On the other hand, I had, for some reason, left the louder vocals to the last and it was a bit of a struggle to get them done. My voice did hold out though and I managed to get the vocals down. There were some songs that suited the gravelly sound I started to get as the voice burned out.

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Stu had wrote the solos beforehand and it paid off

Derek left (work and family commitments) and then there was three, we continued to work away on the recordings and to our amazement everything was done by the afternoon.

It was my turn to make a meal, so I simply flung a lasagna in the oven and it was done. With us fed and watered we settled down to some Phoenix nights which was classic, then No Country For Old Men, another brilliant film, (there was a whole shelving unit full of DVDs and videos). It was such a chilled-out night. After Stu and Greg retired for the evening, I decided to go for a walk under the star lit sky. It was an amazing night; the bright white moon lit the surrounding of the cottage and everything was still. Thankfully the generator hadn’t kicked in to recharge the cottages battery, every time that went off it made you jump as it shattered the peace and quiet. The hut in which it lay was like something out of a horror movie and it creeped me out…

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It was remote, there was always time to clear your head. The only sound was a small burn trickling past.

With my wine in hand I took a sip and looked up into the night sky, another recording experience was over but I was happy at this point I felt it went really well and it was far more enjoyable.

Mixing

It was great to be back home with the family. Once we were all caught up my thoughts turned to mixing the album. I started work on the mixes soon after I had unpacked all the gear. From November through to the time of writing I mixed for an hour or so a day. We decided against overdubs and layered guitars and that really helped unlock the sound of the record. There are a few little glitches, but it gives the recording a live feel and it has energy. As I write this, I am planning the final touches before sending the tracks off to be mastered by Andy Taylor at Homegrown productions.

February, our new album will be released 2020

Pabs

Categories
Its a Grand Day Out music studios

It (Was) A Grand Day Out.

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

Words Pabs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picking the Songs

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

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

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

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

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

On the Day.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Work starts on the mixes. 

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Old Friends back in the Bar

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

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

 

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

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

The extra studio time comes to the rescue.

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

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

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

The Photoshoot.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pabs

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

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

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Pics Greg McSorley

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Another week’s work done, heading off slightly earlier on a Friday is always a good thing; but this weekend was going to be rather special. Shuffledown was back, and this time the festival was to be split over two days, the Friday and Saturday.  A bold move for the young festival now entering its fifth year.

It was a blustery walk under light grey skies, April coming to an end and the hints of an early summer were already starting to show in various gardens, as we walked down to the train station, once again on our journey to the Dobbie Hall, a fine venue that has become home for the best indoor music festival Falkirk has to offer.

Friday

When we finally arrived at Larbert station and made the brief walk to the venue, it was an unusual experience to be attending Shuffledown on a Friday night, this was the first year that the festival had expended to two dates. I must admit, I wondered how I was going to hold out when I heard that Harviestoun were serving real ales. (their Bitter and Twisted is my tasty favourite.)

We arrived at the doors, it already felt that Shuffledown Friday would have a different feel, absent were the craft stalls and various activities that usually take place inside and around the venue, instead this was a night purely to enjoy the bands and it would prove to be a cracking line up.

Rubian took the stage first, they were a mixture of bright breezy rock with perhaps the occasional hint of sadness highlighted by Cheryl Risk’s impressive range of vocals. They have been one of many bands that regularly play in Falkirk that are enjoying a fairly steep ascendancy in the Scottish scene. With the crowd steadily arriving, a lot of younger faces were making me feel my age, but a good atmosphere was building. Real Life Entertainment stormed the stage with a passionate set, they saluted the crowd with a can of lager and angrily swaggered into their set of slick cut alternative rock. It was enjoyable, and they cleverly varied their pace throughout the brief time they were on stage. Falkirk’s Pleasure Heads have been doing well and the young team down the front of the stage loved them (the auld team watched from up the back). The band, all donned in white tees crafted a brilliant set, early on there was reminders of early Artic Monkeys, with a bit of attitude and sharp guitars. However, the second half of the set was superb, with more emotion, depth and contrast in their music, proving that they have the ability to evolve their sound. Just a few miles from Larbert is Denny, home to Shuffledown veterans the Nickajack men. They played well and are always enjoyable, they are well suited to SD.  The Friday night had worked.

By this time, we were fairly well on and left before we had a chance to see Baby Strange, the last train was coming although I do remember having time for a quick pint and a nip in the Station Hotel. Turns out we missed the train…

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Ghostwriter back on the main stage for 2019

Saturday

When I awoke, the whiskey I swore I would never have, reminded me that respect for Scotland’s wee dram should never be forgotten. So, my fuzzy head put paid to an early return to Shuffledown. Instead we ate a sensible lunch and meandered back to the venue. Unfortunately, we missed a few of the earlier acts. However, for the first time, (ever I think) we would see the full set of the headliner, who this year would be Malcolm Middleton.

It was Saturday afternoon, we were back at the Dobbie hall, my head was a little fragile, so when I could hear the music from the main road, I knew it would be loud. When we opened the door to get into the main hall we were hit by a wall of sound that emanated from a trio, that would be Primes. They were brilliant; tight knit as you’d expect from a three piece, their soulful vocals lifted over the hall. They didn’t let up as they leaped from song to song, I quickly forgot about my sore head. Greg was a big fan. Ghostwriter were back, fresh from the high of getting airplay on BBCs ‘Introducing Scotland’ the band looked confident as they once more took to the stage, it’s a venue they clearly enjoy playing. There is a good dynamic range in their songs, ‘I’m Not Trying To Get To Heaven’ remains a highlight, ‘Trashy Blond’ another. They ended with a brilliant tune (I don’t think its released, Sorrow Machine, I think), building from a slow start to an epic solo filled finished, It was impressive. They do soulful bluesy rock well.

After a brief venture into the fresh April air for some street food (amazing pizza, Irn Bru then a coffee, yep I was in for the long haul) We headed back into the dark of the main hall. Playing accordion backed by some subtle electronic beats, Callum Easter confidently took to the stage alone, a silhouette, in front of sweeping blue lights. He changed the atmosphere, the crowd focused as he played his harmonious offerings. I thoroughly enjoyed Broken Chanter, a music project by David MacGregor backed by his band. With a proud Scottish accent in his vocal delivery akin to the Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit; they had an excellent mix of emotionally lifting songs. They were my festival highlight, playing well constructed songs, this appears to a be a music project in its infancy and I wish him and his team luck. Medicine Men delivered some heavy pulsating tunes with a bit of 80’s electronic synth, their album ‘Into The Light’ is worth a spin and were another great SD discovery; fans of Tame Impala will like these guys (one of the reasons I go every year, find new bands). After a brief break, Bossy Love stepped up; the duo, described by the Guardian ‘like Prince on a trampoline’, commanded the crowd. Singer Amandah has such a presence, an energy that she wanted, and succeeded to share with the crowd.  Finally, we had Malcom Middleton the headline act of Shuffle Down 2019. The last time I saw him live was at the Falkirk town hall supporting Teenage Fanclub. The Dobbie hall got busy, a late surge in punters came into the take a look. It was a great set, with a few lifts from his latest album Bananas, Buzz Lightyear Helmet, (not sure we’ll get better names for a song this year) was a highlight.

Malcolm Middleton finished and left as the applause died down. The lights on the stage fell dark and it was quickly stripped by the busy sound crew, we looked on as we sipped the last of our ales. The crowd slowly left the building, it was the end of another Shuffle Down. ‘Next year?’ a few people could be heard saying as they drunkenly swayed passed, I met some friends who had never been to the festival before, they had thoroughly enjoyed their experience. They were amazed that all these bands play in their town, on their doorstep.

The work that goes into the festival, I would imagine, is substantial. The volunteers who give up their time and the organisers Rikki and Laura who, when family time permits, throw everything into this. The result? A family run, local festival with an atmosphere that brings people together in these times of self-interest. And you can’t forget the money that has been raised for many local charities (this year Maggies) Five years of Shuffledown, what an achievement. This year has not disappointed. In what has become my yearly ritual, I keep my fingers crossed and hope it returns.

Words Pabs

 

 

 

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

Our First gig. Martell. 17th Aug 1995

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

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

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

 

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

Pabs

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

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

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

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

Stu

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

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

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A slightly nervous Stu plays his first live chords

Pabs

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

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

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

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

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

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A young Greg graces the stage

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

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Stu

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

Pabs

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

Stu

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

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A more confident Stu and Greg entertain the crowd

Pabs

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

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

 

Categories
music RiFF The Falkirk Music Scene unsigned gems

RiFF Showcase 2

Recently, in October 2017 RiFF was born. The first showcase night saw a collective of four bands playing harder edged songs. Throwing hair that (for some) was slightly longer and wilder, to a loud chorus of music that had a bit of attitude. We were trying to show Falkirk that there was a heavier scene waiting to be discovered.
That night there were a few nervous glances at the door; would it be a success? That question was answered pretty quickly when punters started to wander into Behind the Wall. There were fans of the bands present but there were others, genuine hard music lovers who had waited years for a scene like this to fire up again. The place was packed and every member of each band that played that night were buzzing.
So it was this success that RiFF 2 was aiming to emulate; another night where the legions of rock, punk and metal lovers would swarm to BTW with their regular punters throwing confused glances towards the many tattooed and pierced music fans heading up the stairs for some colourful mayhem. This time Greg and I went to watch, drink beer and listen to our fellow RiFF bands scream, sing and shred. It was like old times for the both of us; 20 years ago during the 90’s in the Martell on a Thursday night we would be doing the same thing.
By nine the doors opened and a decent crowd took their places; staring at the stage eagerly awaiting the first of the bands to appear, RiFF does not tell the crowd the running order of the bands. The message here is to stay and watch all the acts, not just your friends and family. Come and discover something new. Greg and I did just that. It was also nice to see many band members from the first RiFF showcase back to support the fledgling cause.

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The Drop kick off the Showcase

The Drop kicked things off. The trio were the first of three new bands to join the RiFF collective. Driven by a distorted bass, drums and strong vocals; the Drop’s lack of traditional guitars was not a problem for their sound. Their hard driven rock impressed the crowd and the powerful vocals had me thinking that I wanted to listen to Rage Against the Machine all over again.

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Sianar impress the crowd

One band that is on a rocket propelled trajectory is Sianar, currently impressing much of Scotland with their music. Somehow they managed to fit 7 musicians onto the small stage and they played an excellent forty minutes of rock; full of swirling guitar solos and dueling vocals. Kristian, on lead guitar, appeared not to be distracted by impending fatherhood. He had us on stand by to step in for Sianar should his other half give birth on the day of the showcase. It was good to see the band play on home turf.

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The dynamic trio that is Thirteen

RiFF veterans Thirteen picked up the third slot of the night and launched into a roaring set of punk. Tune after tune hitting the audience like a prize fighter. They also flung a cover tune that had me chanting along, by this time Greg and I had few pints under our belts and getting into full flow. Thirteen never disappoint: Dolly likes a snarl when he sings, Craig leaps in the air to slam home a chord on the bass and Greg is one of the best drummers in Falkirk at the moment. His energy behind the kit was felt by the audience adding to a rather brilliant performance.

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Shatterhand bring it home in style

Not to be undone by Mr Breens masterful performance, Brian now shirtless, took the sticks and pounded the kit into submission for Shatterhand; driving the music veteran’s powerful anthems home. It was the first time I’ve seen these guys, it was a commanding performance from the four piece whose experience lends itself to producing a tight unit. Shatterhand have been around long enough to know how to overcome the hurdles that bands face and it was great to see them in fine form at RiFF.
The late hour was not on their side, but the hardy souls that stayed to the end were rewarded by a set that had an urgency about it. The audience had little chance to catch their breath as the four piece launched from song to song. They gave everything to the show and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Greg and Peter (Blind Daze) just two of the many non-playing RiFF members that showed up to support the collective.

Having been a member of the audience for this RiFF showcase its was a little harder to gauge the success without the hard evidence of counted ticket stubs. But from what I could see there was no denying that once again BTW enjoyed a busy night and there were far more of the RiFF community members supporting each other. At the start there was a swell of people turning up to support RiFF, packing out much of the stage area and it was great to see that most of the audience stayed all night, (a rare occurrence for local gigs); hopefully the venue appreciates this.
The RiFF community is alive and well. This gig proved the first showcase wasn’t a fluke, it was a sign that there are music listeners that want harder edged bands playing in Falkirk. Too see them come back for more was fantastic, let’s turn it up and let the rest of the town hear it.

See you at the next RiFF gig.

Pabs

Categories
Gigs music The Falkirk Music Scene

Gig Diary. Behind the Wall 3rd Nov 2017

Band links SHIVA Bitter Alice

Photographs What Eddie Sees

Promoter Afterglow Music

When my phone pinged for a new message it was nice to see Rikki from Afterglow getting in touch about a gig with new Falkirk rockers Bitter Alice at Behind the Wall. Given that just a couple of weeks had passed since we played the RiFF showcase at the same venue I explained to Rikki that we’d love to play but our audience had just seen us live and our turnout would likely be low. In his ever laid back way he said that was fine and the offer stood; its very rare to get a promoter this understanding these days.  The gig was on!

Bitter Alice have been on a fast rise since their inception this year and they have mustered a handful of their own rock tunes as well as an array of covers. We knew a couple of guys from the band, Ben White on drums has delivered sound at numerous live shows around the area, even manning the Shuffle Down sound desk. So it was great to be added to the bill for their first Falkirk show.

In the couple of weeks we had to practise before the gig the nights were getting darker, we huddle around the old sofas in the room trying to work out a set for the gig. We were looking at old setlists from recent gigs and we noticed there had been a lack of songs from albums outwith Decibels 1 & 2  We took great delight digging out old songs; we picked a couple for Behind the Wall and we can’t wait to revisit more of older albums next year.

The day of the gig quickly arrived, we were quite relaxed in the run up to the show. We would play a relatively short set before enjoying the tunes of Bitter Alice. It was nice to have no pressure on us.

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SHIVA take to the stage. Pic Eddie McEleney

SHIVA were also added to the event; we had a quick chat with the trio before that. Their on stage swagger belies their friendly nature off stage. They have a good presence playing live. Singer/guitarist Aidan Callaghan donned in a retro Man Utd top led SHIVA around a fast set of raucous guitar music. There was a young crowd there to see them taking in every note and clearly enjoying themselves.

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Glad to be back so soon! Pic Eddie McEleney

We arrived on stage with our beer, looking forward to sharing our music with a new audience. We opened with Feeling, one of our favorite live tracks. A short song, just under three minutes live, felt ideal to open the set with. When we strummed the final chord there was a silence in the room. We quickly moved our set on, hoping the audience would warm to our tunes.

Setlist.

  1. Feeling
  2. Speak
  3. Underachiever
  4. Crown
  5. Who You Know
  6. Quoted
  7. Medicine
  8. I Hear the City

Underachiever was great to play again, while not my favourite song it is well suited to a live performance. The crowd really started to get going once we had hammered out Quoted Not Voted, by now the audience was clapping and appreciative of the tunes. I was grateful for that. Medicine seemed to go down well, it’s fast becoming my favorite song and it’s great fun to play live.

As always our set flew by; I Hear The City seemed like an apt end to the set and the audience now seemed to be on our side which was great. It had been a while since we had played to a crowd that we didn’t know and sometimes you have to win them over. After we finished many kind people were quick to praise our set; for any musician that’s always welcome.

After the set we grabbed some of the free beer for the bands, Derek and I grabbed a bit of fresh air at the back of the venue and we caught up with some of the lads from Bitter Alice and the drummer from SHIVA, Michael Donachie. It was a good chat with the young musicians and there was a buzz in the air as Bitter Alice grabbed their gear for setting up on the stage, bass player Dylan Fullarton was hyper and it was a laugh seeing the other lads hollering at him to get ready, he was too busy chatting backstage with the rest of us. Sadly the sound engineer left the venue for a reason unknown to us and I was rather taken aback when I re-entered the venue to see no one at the desk.

Bitter Alice are a five piece, with two guitarists Jack Turner and Joe Turnbull leaving Kieran Hunter to concentrate on vocals. He clearly looked like he was enjoying himself and the adulation from the packed venue. Given the sound engineer had departed there were sound problems, the vocals disappeared for some reason. A volunteer had step in to man the desk, its  difficult task trying to produce sound from someone else’s setup. The sound issue didn’t seem to phase the band though and they rocked through a range of original tracks and covers. They have an edge to their set up, youthful exuberance in a classic five piece rock setting. 

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Bitter Alice looked like they were loving the night. Pic Eddie McEleney

After Bitter Alice finished we grabbed a few more beers and eventually headed  off to our first aftershow party for years. Well I say party, it was just the four of us back at Greg’s new house. It was a nice end to the night, it’s been sometime since we’ve been able to share a beer or two after a gig. We had a listen through to some of our old tunes and even managed to find an interview with Stirling City Radio that had been stored deep in the vaults. That was a laugh. We discussed our plans for the future and looked back at the past. Time flied and it was now three in the morning.

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Pic Eddie McEleney

The next day the sun was out and we grabbed some tea and bacon rolls, It had been a great night and a cracking catch up for the band. Some deer were grazing in the woods at the back of Greg’s house as I sipped on my hot drink. It was another fine gig in the local scene; hopefully 2018 will bring more of the same and perhaps gigs a little further afield…thinking caps on!

Words Pabs

 

Categories
The Falkirk Music Scene

New and Notable records Falkirk (episode 1)

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

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13

A Line Of The Dead On Deadline Day

(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.

Dextro

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In The Crossing

(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.

Ghost Writer

legends ghostwriter

Outskirts Vol. 1 and Legends

(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.

Ghostwriter have a lot of promise.

Pabs

Categories
Gigs music

Rock On Tap

Words Pabs

Photographs Juls Sampson.

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photo juls sampson. Look at those lovely shoes I’m wearing.

Thanks to the crowd, Afterglow and everyone involved in the organisation of One Weekend in Falkirk  

2017 was just a couple of days old when the hype for the first ‘One Weekend In Falkirk’ music event was starting to build. It seemed as if a lot of people were genuinely excited and we were delighted to be part of it.

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another fine flyer from Rikki Toner

The Falkirk Herald got in the act with a full spread article listing all the events; our picture (taken by Kevin Byrne) took centre stage on the page. It was nice to see the local paper helping to raise the awareness of the gig.

One Weekend in Falkirk was hosted by the Write Angle with a little help from several people including Adam Donaldson and Afterglow music. It was five days of music, poetry, open mic and arts. We were asked to be part of the Rock on Tap, the Friday night at the Artisan Tap (Falkirk’s best new pub in years). We were also asked to recommend a band to complete the lineup and we could not look past the wonderful Buzzards of Babylon.

On gig day I was a little more nervous than usual as there seemed to be quite a bit of gravitas with this event. Also it was the start of January and I was worried that wallets would be lights and that would stop people coming out. After a small bowl of pasta I headed out with my wife kindly dropping me off at the venue. (when you get dropped off for a gig your first thought is often ‘beer’)

I was first, gear in hand it was nice to see the punters opening doors when they saw I was laden with an amp and guitar. In other venues you do not get this show of kindness. There was a good vibe around the Tap as people were tucking into their pizzas and burgers which looked damn nice but my stomach was not up to it.

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Pic Pabs Greg, Derek and Stu take in the best street in Falkirk

Given that Artisan Tap had all its tables full of diners the stage was set in the center of the venue; the stage area was small but manageable so all was good. Slowly the bands filtered in, warm handshakes were exchanged between Blind Daze, ourselves and the young duo of Skelfs. When Buzzards arrived it was great to see our friends again and we shared some stories of gigs from the past. These stories often included many an ale and the last time the Buzzards soared over Falkirk they scooped up an almighty amount of beer that only Greg could match however this time it was strictly Irn Bru as some of the gents had commitments the following day including taking the kids to the Marvel stage show!

Soundcheck was fine, quick and straight to the point the mix from the stage sounded great at this point I started to look towards the bar, yearning for a beer but i didn’t want to over do it . Greg in his usual laid back style strolled up and ordered a pint at the back of 7.

The punters finished their meals and most stayed throughout the soundcheck which was a great sign, some of our crowd started to file in and the venue was looking rather busy. Skelfs stepped up first, these guys have only been together a year or so, now on a new lineup they had only played a handful of gigs to date. The played a set of bluesy rock tunes not dissimilar to the White Stripes and they went down well with the crowd.

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Pic Pabs. Skelfs debut gig in Falkirk

The Buzzards of Babylon were next; they marched up to the mics and played a blinder. Monkey Knife Fight remains a favourite and they played a ‘ballad’ in reflection of the venue however it was a heavy brooding number. They also knocked out some blues with Eck showing his skills on the mouth organ although at one point it looked as if he just about run out of oxygen belting out the notes. Fine stuff.

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Pic Pabs Nice tee Rab

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Pic Pabs The masses approve

Our Falkirk peers Blind Daze cranked up the volume to 11 they have a good mix of melodies and pure rock, the place was busier now and the crowd soaked up the tunes. The band really seemed to enjoy the atmosphere.

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Pic Pabs Blind Daze crank it up

Then it was us. We stepped up to a welcome applause and we were determined to blow away the slightly disappointing performance of our last gig. First tune Kill it Kill it was nailed and our confidence grew. As a rule we tend to play an easy track first to set us up.

We belted through the tunes and tonight I felt we were on form, then around halfway through the set, a familiar call came from the crowd. Once again our friend Chris Wilson shouted for High Heels. I asked the rest of the venue and eventually an almighty roar gave us no option but to play Waiting on The Sound of Your High Heels, which is great as I love playing that song!

I loved playing Feeling and Medicine; Curtain Hits The Cast went down well and Industry seems to have growing support as a set finisher which is fine by me!

As we neared the end of the set I could not help but pay tribute to Jim Dunbar who has been providing PA for Falkirk for many years, including our first gig back in 1995. To see him doing the sound for our gig 22 years later is simply amazing.

 

  1. Kill it
  2. It’s Who You Know
  3. I Hear The City
  4. Feeling
  5. Joker
  6. Quoted
  7. Medicine
  8. Wait
  9. Speak
  10. Curtain hits the cast
  11. Deliverance
  12. Industry

 

The set was over too quickly and before I knew it I was standing at the bar necking a few pints of Bitter and Twisted. The atmosphere was still great but by this late hour the crowd was slowly filtering out the door, I had the warm fuzz you get when a gig has went well. Stu was delighted, he tends to get very nervous even after all these years and you could see he was floating on the euphoria of a successful night.

I’m glad that rock music got its place in One Weekend in Falkirk and the organisers should be commended for that. The following night I went along to the Inverno event (more on this later) and from my own experience One Weekend In Falkirk has been great success; it’s been years since I spend a whole weekend both playing and enjoying acts from Falkirk and beyond. The venue, the atmosphere and the music all added to a brilliant experience. I hope this becomes our ‘winter’ event from Falkirk, yet another sign that our music scene is back and in good health.

 

Artisan tap as part of one weekend in Falkirk festival 6th January 2017