Tag Archives: falkirk. music

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

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We rate our recordings part 2. 10-6

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

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

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

Pabs.

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

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

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

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

Stu

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

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

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

Pabs

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

Bo

Buzzzzzzzz

Derek

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

Pabs

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

9. Official Bootleg 1 (2005)

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

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Pabs

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

Bo

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

Pabs

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

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

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

Stu

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

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

Derek

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

8. Riot Act (2007)

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

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

Pabs.

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

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

Stu

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

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

 

 

Derek

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

Pabs

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

 

 

Bo

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

Pabs

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

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We created a Riot in this scene

7. Quiet Act 

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

Bo

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

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

Pabs

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

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

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

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

Stu

Get the distortion back on ha ha.

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

Pabs

Which it was!

Stu

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

6. Live from the North Star (2016)

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

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Derek

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

Pabs

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

Stu

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

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

 

 

Pabs

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

Bo

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

Pabs

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

Bo

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

Stu

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

Do you want to see what was ranked first? Click

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

 

WTF is RiFF?

 

riff logo

WTF is RIFF?

Harder edged music from the Falkirk area. The music that often gets ignored, hard punk, rock and metal and the three main genres that RIFF shares but there are many more that need exposure to the local scene. RiFF bands aim to support each other by attending shows, sharing and buying music.

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13 have played all over the UK. They are look forward to helping the Falkirk scene PHOTO David Bradford

Why Would I Be part of RiFF

If you play in a band it can be the most rewarding experience you will have and it can also be the most frustrating. You want to grow an audience, so you start to play shows. When you are in a small band and you play live, you will spend much of the night wondering who will come through the door. Some nights will be busy others not so.

RiFF is a music community. All we ask is that you attend a local gig that is not your own. Not just RiFF bands playing, but any local music event that you find interesting. You don’t get a badge for attending loads of local events but you meet like minded people and many new opportunities open up.

So keep an eye on the RiFF Facebook page, like and follow the bands and if a RiFF band is playing try and get along to the show. You don’t need to go to every single one but if musicians supported musicians just a wee bit more then our scene would grow and more outside parties would become interested. Look at the success of the Fife music scene for example.  

Additionally if you become part of the community and you set up a Falkirk gig the RiFF community will do their best to support a fellow RiFFers gig. (we’re not promoters. Occasionally we will organise a Showcase and the costs are met by the RiFF bands taking part.)

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The Nebulosity. PHOTO Eindp photography

What bands are in RiFF (so far)

We have a number of bands that consider themselves part of the RiFF community. Punks 13, heavy rockers Blind Daze, the outer worldly Nebulosity and of course us (Weird Decibels). There will be more bands joining the community, there is no obligation to play gigs etc, just share your music, share others music and promote the scene. We welcome bands from not only Falkirk but elsewhere are well. RiFF has music, will travel.

Blind Daze photo Eindp Scotland
Blind Daze in full RiFF mode. PHOTO Eindp

What’s the Future of RiFF Then?

Time will tell! Riff needs people to be a success! The Showcase is the start and there may be more. The bands involved will play more gigs, the RiFF community will support them. Look out for a RiFF YouTube channel with music videos, future blogs, possibly Podcasts and of course keep an eye on RiFF bands releasing new music.

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Playing live is what this is all about! PHOTO What Eddie Sees

Ok, i’m sold, where do i sign!

Put that pen away my friend and hit the links.

Facebook Twitter drop us a message. You can email us at RIFFalkirk@gmail.com

If you play in a band, support other bands, create a scene.

 

Louder Than Bairns

Withered Hand paid a visit to Falkirk. 18th May 2017

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The Wine Library has been an establishment of many guises; from the working man’s haunt of the Argyll to the Irish themed Finn McCools then turning full circle back around to the traditional feel of renamed Argyll. Then came 20 Rocks (where we launched Weird Decibels 1) before it briefly became a cocktail bar and now here we have somewhat surprising wine bar in the heartland of Falkirk, The Wine Library.

Admittedly it looked good, although quiet, there was an undiscovered vault of wines and a limited range of beer for plain old rockers like myself. Upstairs, where the event was taking place, was nicely filling up with attentive listeners.

Untitled celebrates the words and art of Falkirk’s finest poets and wordsmiths and they had organised a night of poetry and music titled Louder Than Bairns. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had booked Withered Hand and a rare gig from Sweethearts of The Prison Rodeo.

The sun shone through the blood red blinds and the stage looked like the final scene of a Blade movie with an additional disco ball spinning on the ceiling for Wesley Snipes to slay some vampires under, however tonight’s fare would be more down to earth.

Up stepped a slightly nervous poet by the name of Carolyn Paterson. She spoke of her fear of the current state of the USA and shared then shared her routes of her Polish heritage. John Kennedy mixed raw personal experiences with humour and delivered impassioned poetry.

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo David King managed to have a wee chat before their set and explained that he is working on new songs but the process of recording a new album has been a bit fragmented (i know the feeling); however for tonight’s show they visited much their most recent album, Pigs In the Bull Ring (humans like beasts) and they threw in some older numbers. Adam Stafford also took the time to make a guest appearance. There are several changes to the versatile lineup and the gig was solid; Robbie Lesiuk looked confident and at ease on the guitar using a mixture of loops and floating riffs with the kind of dexterity that is heard on his solo work.

Withered Hand was superb, delivering a good mixture of stories from his travels to the songs he has written over the years including King Of Hollywood from his last album New Gods. He is well known in the Scottish music scene and it was great to see him deliver a fine solo set in Falkirk.

A fantastic achievement for Untitled.

One More Solo

To celebrate the re-release of One  More Solo on all digital platforms including Spotify we have a look back the album.

This story can be found on this Bandcamp page but i thought I’d update it for the blog

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i can see my future i see it EVERYDAY!

I loved my time in the Seventeenth, I can say that now as it’s been over 12 years since the band split. However at that time it was a different story. The Seventeenth were going nowhere, songs were hard to come by, Jon and I weren’t getting on musically and Stu was back on the scene.

There was also the small tale of a tiny HMR (Hame Made Records is our hobbyist record label) band called Sllablo. This was a collaboration between myself and Derek at a time when the Seventeenth were struggling to write songs. Born from frustration, we wrote and recorded a rather fun lo fi album in 9 hrs. Now you are quite within your rights to ask what the hell this has to do with Weird. Put simply, Sllablo proved that Derek and I could still hammer out simple tunes. It was to be the catalyst for the (regretful) end of the Seventeenth and for the second era of Weird.

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we played a lot of gigs in support of OMS

We had no plans to reform Weird; we wanted to start a new band. Myself , Stu, Derek and Greg were all present and correct for our first rehearsal with new musical buddies Chris (Taz) Burt (brother of Jemma who appears on several HMR records) and ex Foam god Kevin Byrne (again another HMR regular).

The six of us booked a slot in Hallglen community centre and wrote a couple of songs ( the Weird versions appear on the extremely rare  Official Bootleg 1).

We decided to move our rehearsals back to our old practise room. Other commitments kept Taz and Byrne away from practise so we, the original four from Weird, found ourselves back in the room. We wrote a song called Stand For Your Rights and I’m going to use that tired old cliché, it rocked.

We were back together after a 4 year break. I could not believe the hunger we had rediscovered. One More Solo wrote itself, it was too damn easy; it was to be one of the finest era’s of the band. We recorded the album on a digital 8 Track a Tascam 788 at Derek’s flat. We build a basic vocal booth out of egg cartons. It was a time of beautiful recorded naivety.

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Kevin Byrne takes one of his many pictures to feature in the Falkirk Herald with this article about OMS

One More Solo has many songs we still play live today, Waiting on The Sound Of Your High Heels is a live favourite, Cold Calling, Whiskey In My Head and band favourite The Ending always find a way to get on the set list. Fighting With Forever and Hanging By A Thread show our harder edge with the flip side Trying To Grab Hold redefining the term laid back.

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the only release from OMS

We gigged this record a lot, driving around Scotland in my old automatic Vauxhall Carlton that we called ‘The Vulture’. We could fit the whole band in this wonderful car. We met many bands some who became our friends. Kranksolo, Roller and Popup to name a few. We travelled to the world famous Cavern club in Liverpool to play.

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Weird Decibels live at the Cavern

It was the track Easy Way that had us flirting with record label success, This angry kick against modern life struck a chord with a small indie label called Bracken Records (now called Fruit De Mer Records).

In my humble self serving opinion One More Solo is a wonderful record set in a brilliant time. The end of our youth if you like. A time when you could play a gig whenever you wanted, now we have to get babysitters or shift swaps! Listen to the end of Bit Part Optimist Greg has just nailed his bass part in one take, listen to the drunken lads clap, whoop and laugh at the end. This was what it was like at the time. A big party.

Now, I can see my future, I see it everyday

2016

Since this piece was written OMS had a bit of a makeover. The original album was muddy in tone so I attempted to clean it up to some limited success. I found some old CDRs with alternative mixes that worked well. Dereks hated the long fades and to be honest it did show a lack of restraint and discipline; the ‘remaster’ now sounds a bit tighter.

We played a few shows in 2016 and still people (Wilson mainly!) shout for High Heels and for some reason we don’t play it (this will change). I listen back fondly on tracks like the Ending and Tried to Grab Hold two reflective moments on the record. The rest of the disc is balls out rock apart from the alternative mix of cold calling which has a dreamy echo flooded fade out.

Weird Decibels has barely transcended further than our beloved friend and family; One More Solo was no exception. It was a fun album and we made some friends along the way. The fact that our wonderful listeners think this is one of our best sits fine with me. Now that it is on all the digital platforms hopefully this little rock record will find a new audience and join Wilson in shouts for High Heels!

 

Fairweather & The Elements live at Falkirk Trinity Church

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Credits

The Audience

The Artists

Rikki Tonner Afterglow MUSIC

The Photograhers (there were many)

And Kevin Byrne for the photographs used in this blog entry

 

Thankfully the last time I was at church was for a happy occasion, i’m now at that funny age between christenings, marriages and deaths. I’ve never wandered along at 11am on a Sunday morning in a freshly pressed suit to attend service. My beliefs are another matter altogether.

I do believe the Falkirk Music scene has taken yet another turn in the right direction. This gig, four artists performing live in the Falkirk Trinity Church, a lovely ethereal building in the sadly unhealthy heart of Falkirk’s high street. (all things mend given time)

In my couple of decades frequenting and playing in various Falkirk venues the Trinity Church was refreshingly different from the usual stages within our town. I wandered up through the churchyard hearing the early Friday night revellers in the distance, clearly celebrating that another working week was at an end. An autumnal wind had chilled the air as I adjusted the collar of my coat and headed to the front door, there I met headliner Ross Fairweather who looked quite relaxed. He offered me a warm handshake as he headed out the door into the night.

I met with my good friend Kevin Byrne, one of Falkirk’s leading photographers he was asked to take shots of the pending event. We headed to the ‘bar’, a room set aside within the church for the supply of drinks by kind people who made us welcome and assertively reminded us not to take our alcoholic beverages into the main body of the church.

After a short blether (and plans for our next album) we headed into the main room to be greeted by the subtle but grand sanctuary, we took our seat. The air had a slightly musty tinge and hymn books were nestled neatly under every seat.  The arena was an oval shaped room with high ceilings and the wooden pulpit was surrounded by the backline and instruments. The long white pipes of the organ dominated the back of the wall.Two large screens were on standby these would be used to project various visuals during the performances. It was a nice setting for the night that was about to unfold.

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Robbie Lesiuk took to the stage and a small but appreciative crowd of early attenders listened attentively to his set. Using a loop pedal and some electronic beats to accompany his skilful guitar playing he played a very accomplished set, I found it very enjoyable. The silence during his set was impressive. I can’t remember enjoying this at a Falkirk gig before (artists love it when the audience listen and don’t talk all the way through sets. Slightly pretentious? I guess but we spend hours, blood, sweat and tears writing songs).

 

On conclusion of his set I nipped off for some wine and before I had time to speak about the grape type with Kevin we were back though to see Ghost Writer. I’ve seen these guys at Behind the Wall during the loft sessions so I was looking forward to this.

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Iain King has grown in stature, he has been busy not only with this band but with Fairweather and the Elements he is a very accomplished guitar player. Scott McGregor donned in white was clearly enjoying the occasion. At the moment Ghost Writer are one of the best bands from the Falkirk scene. Their songs are well crafted and rise above many of their peers. The song I’m Not Trying To Get To Heaven ended their set in style and was apt for the surroundings.

 

Third act Fly Jackson were very good. mixing guitars, brass keys, drums, bass and vocals to produce grand tunes that the drew perhaps the biggest audience of the night.

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The stage screens went black and a clever video of Fairweather and Elements walking towards the church, through the doors and then rather cleverly, the band appeared to take their places on the stage. The visuals would continue throughout the set with a mixture of wonderful art animation and sites of old Falkirk. A slight tinge of sadness overcame me looking at how grand our town once seemed, with bustling marketplaces and shops.

Ross and co played a fine set, if there was anyone who deserved a night like this then it’s Ross. He has grafted on the local circuit and his work appears to have paid off as this was a well attended show.

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Deborah Lang has powerful vocals and this was the right venue; the large room would allow her range to be appreciated. I was glad to see the band at the Trinity Church, her vocals seem to thrive beyond the confines of the studio and this is the beauty of live music.

After the final song the hour was late and the punters quickly drifted off to various locations in the town. It was a great night of music in a brilliant setting. The people of the church opened their doors to the Falkirk scene. The church is about community,  I saw many familiar faces from the Falkirk music scene. I hope we are cementing our own community to take us forward. We need to nourish our own scene, it has to grow if we are ever to have a chance to get one of our more talented artists to cut through the ever thickening digital mass of bands that swamp the industry. Hopefully with a little bit of divine intervention another Falkirk band will eventually rise above the flock.

Pabs

 

Weird Decibels live at North Star 27th May 2016

Credits

The Crowd: Thank you for attending a local gig and supporting the artists. Thank you for staying right to the end.

The Sonic Blues, Rabid Dog: Thank you for playing along side us

Rory (Eindp Photography): For taking photographs for this and many, many local gigs

Juls Sampson (photography and pictures used for this blog): Our friend has shot many pics over the years

Kevin Byrne: for keeping an eye on the desk as we played

North Star staff: for keeping us fed and watered with a smile and allowing us to use the venue.

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Setlist

  1. It’s who you know
  2. Speak
  3. I hear the city
  4. Forward
  5. Curtain hits the cast
  6. Quoted
  7. Molly lips
  8. Miss a
  9. The dancer
  10. Once more with feeling
  11. Joker
  12. Wait (request)
  13. Deliverance
  14. Medicine
  15. Kill it
  16. Industry
  17. Whole lotta rosie (request)

 

A couple of days before we were due to play, Clubby vocalist with Rabid Dog, texted to say that the North Star soundman couldn’t make the gig due to work commitments.

These things can’t be avoided but I was frustrated as I wanted to record the show. This would put a different spin on things. There were options, to use the house PA but I didn’t know its layout. To be honest it’s a vocal pa and it wouldn’t have been hard to use. Our pa had more versatility to send feeds to the multitrack so I opted for that.

 

It had (shamefully) been a couple of years since I operated it so that added to the stress. I had to relearn the desk within a couple of days. A few turbulent hours pushing buttons and moving faders I had managed to get to grips with the machine.

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Looking back I understand now that doing the sound, recording the gig and playing at the same show is perhaps a step too far. This aside it was a great night.

 

Once I unloaded the vast amount of gear (probably too much) into the buzzing North Star I got to work setting up the sound, the time was half 6. Unbelievably it was now 8 o’clock and The Sonic Blues were due on in 30 minutes.

 

I ditched all ideas of checking mic placements for the recording. It was more important to get a decent live sound. That went fairly well, and for the recording I literally flung mics in front of the amps and the drum kit.

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The Sonic Blues were up first and played another great set of bluesy rock songs and covers. Greg (guitars vocals) Allan (Bass) and Douglas (drums) are a sound bunch of lads and they are very keen. Their performance went well with the crowd and they set up the night in fine fashion

 

Clubby and the gang stepped up next; their ultra loyal fanbase was pleased to see them back on stage for the first time in a while. Andy had a cracking guitar sound, he has two amps hooked up and a wave of chords hit the eager audience. Andy on bass and Alan on the drums provide a solid backbone for Clubby to sing their set of punk covers. They played very well.

 

The gremlins came to visit us, it’s been a while, you can go many gigs without incident before the little creatures visit. Usually in the form of technical glitches and set up problems.

 

Just as we were getting ready to go on stage the power cut to both the PA and the desk. Scratching my head I looked back to the plug at the rear of the venue. Two chaps had seated themselves the unit in front of the socket and had unwittingly cut the power to the show. (not your fault gents)

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Once I got the PA back on and the desk reloaded we were ready to play, only Stu couldn’t get the guitar amp on. (using someone else amp is fine but every guitarist will tell you having your own backline has its advantages). Once that problem was fixed we were ready.

 

We launched into the first song and the first time I went to hit a chord the lights were right in my eye. Whoops! A bum note right at the first song ain’t good.

 

To nail the opening track is essential; if you miss it it can unsettle you for the rest of the set. To a certain extent it did; although I have to concede I had been concentrating all night on the sound and with this loss of focus came a pretty standard performance from myself. So i’m a bit gutted about that. Stu, Greg and Derek all played well and helped keep the gig on track
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Things did improve. As the night wore on we regained our composure (and confidence) and belted out tunes from both the decibels albums. I was too eager to play Quoted and nearly skipped Curtain hits the Cast! Quoted was manic as usual, Wait was requested and that gelled well with Deliverance and by the time we hit Industry I was scraping the guitar off a nearby pillar without much regard for my instrument.

 

As we reached the end of the night we reached our zenith and I was pleased it had ended on a high. If we can’t nail the songs we give it all to the performance and personally it was the most exhausting I have delivered for a long time. Our friends requested While Lotta Rosie, who could we be to resist! A little rusty would be an understatement but we had a whole lotta fun playing it!

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So as our song Quoted and the politicians it depicts often say lessons have been learned. If i’m playing, I just want to play. I’ve I’m doing the sound, i just want to do the sound. This was the first time I had manned a desk at a gig and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience perhaps this could be an avenue for the future.

 

All round it was a great hot loud sweaty night, with a little rawness and a whole lot of heart which is what music at its purest form should be.

 

Writing Weird Decibels 2

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Pictures by Mr Kevin Byrne

Writing Weird Decibels 1 All Over Again

We started creating Weird Decibels 2 in  March 2013 you can read about the first session here. We got many things right when creating our new album but one of the few mistakes we made was the title, Weird Decibels 2. The name put an expectation on us to write an album every bit as good as its predecessor. So when the pen hit paper and the guitars were strummed we were unaware that we were writing the same album all over again.

The three songs from this session were Left/Right ( a father son politically themed song), Rain Parade and Feet First my description at the time?

‘They are quite dynamic, influences so far point to The Pixies, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. We’re not going quietly!’

Despite our early enthusiastic approach none of these songs would ever be recorded.

In April 2013 we had another update (read here) and at this point I start to voice concerns about our new songs, in particular Feet First which I thought was ‘too commercial’. A creeping doubt was emerging that we were not writing particularly strong songs, sure we enjoyed them but they didn’t have the ‘look around the room and grin’ feel that we have when we stumbled upon a great idea.

The Stalker Song’ made an appearance here, written about a young man who falls for a woman he sees on the bus. This song would be quickly apprehended and sent down the lost ideas vault.

Here is a wee description I noted at the time.

‘So here we have a guy who gets the same bus every day and at the next stop is a girl who gets her bus everyday. He falls in love with her, he feels like he has known her all his life. He’s a loner doing the same thing day in day out. She simply fills her commute with the usual check on her smartphone. One day he follows her home. I’m not sure where to go from here, my character isn’t a violent guy, just lonely but he has really strong feelings for this girl he doesn’t know’

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Stu and Derek show beer and guns.

Jemma Burt and Craig Elder were approached to appear on the album but for various reasons this wouldn’t happen. I guess this was a mixture of time and the desire for the four of us the be the nucleus of our 20th anniversary album.

Derek added his insight to the writing of the album you can read that here. He also shares his concerns about the changes that needed to be made but there is no hiding his delight at starting a new album

As the summer of 2013 moved in and the sun hung in the sky (highly unlikely) we wrote more songs.

Another song, inspired by Alice In Chains, called ‘Miss Asphyxia’ had been floating around for weeks and is first listed during this practise.

‘Small Hands’ would appear in June, by July I was really excited by it. I has asked the guys if they had received my email of a new idea in a 3 / 4 timing, Stu was the only one who listened to it. I carried on regardless and played a hyper riff that I had named ‘Kill it! Kill it! A few minutes later it was our latest song. I described it as my new hope for Weird Decibels 2, we all looked around the room and grinned.

By September 2013 writing was becoming stagnant, however Stu had a new riff that we were attempting to put some music to. At this point it remained untitled. We also agreed on no deadline for the album, perhaps aware we were nowhere near to recording it.

As the masks and costumes of Halloween were don October was the month we made a big decision. We ditched nearly all the songs from the first 6 months and we agreed that the practice room was no longer a place of creativity. it was a dark moment as we sat in silence on the old couches, cold creeping back into the year.

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The Marvels

We had decided to keep just Miss Asphyxia and Kill It! Kill it!. Now that we were back to just two songs I had doubts another album would ever happen. So we sat and looked at each other and said. ‘Lets book a wee lodge, take some guitars, a shit load of beer and see what happens’.

Oakley Writing Sessions

Just 20 minutes from our home town is a beautiful little cluster of cottages nestled within the grounds of a stately home. This grand building stands in Oakley a small settlement just outside Dunfermline. So with heavy hearts we headed to Fife.

The lodge was wonderful; with an open plan living room and a fridge nearby it allowed the band to sit in ample space facing each other with our guitars ready to see what tunes we could write. (Blog)

Derek had brought the keyboard as he was keen to try something other than the drums. He had suggested we head up to the lodge without any ideas, basically a blank page.

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Beers keep out the cold

Well I tried to do that! However I had a couple of ideas floating around my head; I wanted us to hit the ground running and build on any momentum.

We arrived the Friday night and I set up the desk and loosely placed a few mics around the room and set up the Blumlien microphone technique to capture the room sound.

With the headphones places I could hear that we had a nice sound so we grabbed a beer and launched ourselves into writing; well I say launch. We had a beer or two and talked about television and monty python quotes.

Friday 31st January 2014

Little Thoughts Lost which we wrote with some keys over the top. the song on the recording hasn’t change much. I Hear the City was also born on that crisp night, slightly faster in tempo back then other than this it hasn’t changed too much. Derek had suggested ending on a G but Stu said this was too happy!

By now we were for more positive about writing our new album and after a few Tsingtao’s we had another go at City this time more in line with the album tempo and it turned out pretty well.

Towards the night we engaged in some more joyful band banter then  wrote another song called Hit me. A depressing little number that did not really make it past Oakley.

After a round of applause for Stu’s beard and a word from his sponsor we scooped a few more beers.

Saturday the 1st of Feb 2014

Four cracking cooked breakfasts wolfed down and coffee slurped we were ready to get the writing caps on again. Kevin Byrne was on his way, camera and mandolin in hand we chapped on the door and was welcomed into the warmth of the lodge as the fire crackled in the middle of the room.

Quoted Not Voted  arose from the fumes of alcohol on Saturday afternoon, this is the weaker version which lacks any significant verse vocals this was the 4th song we had written,

Digital takeover, one of those nice riffs we could never finish was attempted on this day. Curtain hits the cast offered a little humour as I tried to play the intro riff (which we’d later drop) several times much the amusement of my fellow musicians.

Oakley: I Hear The City, Digital Takeover, Little Thoughts Lost, Curtain Hits the Cast, Quoted Not Voted, Hit Me. 

Heights Session  Saturday 22nd November 2014

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setting up the heights sessions. pics Greg McSorley

Heights: Smash the Glass, Almost Beautiful, Car Crash, Once More With Feeling, Away Home.

A few months of practice passed and we polished off the work from Oakley. We had a desire to go back to another lodge, possible the same locale but time, money and real life would get in the way.

Undeterred we decided that a Saturday up at my place with the studio set-up would be a suitable option.

That morning we attended the funeral of our friend Chris Mason; a huge influence on the band. Afterwards there was a sombre mood to the writing. We turned the LED lights blue in respect of the colour of lights Chris had on his Christmas tree which he never took down!

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Derek on the keys

Later, while Stu was watching his beloved Alloa getting thumped by the mighty Bairns (Falkirk FC), we set up and cracked open our first beers.

Again I had a couple of ideas floating around my head. Both The Dancer and Almost Beautiful were sketched by the time Stu arrived. Now that we were all together the songs would be finished. The Dancer sounds intense during these sessions and we lost this feeling for a while; luckily we got it back for the final album version.

Away Home was a long song, it didn’t make the final cut. Its another brooding song with a slightly different structure to the fast punchy pace of Weird Decibels 2.Perhaps this would’ve survived during a different time in our writing career.

Car Crash was another nice sounding song. Sadly it didn’t stick, it had a Americana feel which I guess we are not ready for. The version recorded has a nice mouth organ piece over the top of the guitars.

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Stu arrives to write!

Deeper into the night Stu and Greg launched into a jam, it was a heavy riff and I struggled to get a melody for it, I sang in a different style and sounded alien on the take. Indeed it would be many months before I cracked it. That song would become Once More With Feeling.

The Shore on My Soul and It’s Who You Know, final writing. January 2015. 

As usual I fretted about the lack of songs for the album and I played the guitar for days recording every single idea I had. I brought two ideas down to the room. One song took an age to write another happened instantly.

What started off as Shore on My Soul would eventually end up being Medicine. It developed over a number of months; the ending just grew into a jam and remains one of the best endings we have carved out of our sonic landscape.

It’s Who You Know had the grins from the start. We built this song on a wee into riff and i was amazed that we could still write songs like this quickly. I really felt that this was the last song we would write for the Weird Decibels 2 sessions. We were happy with what we had; a couple of years hard work, a few false starts but now finally we had an album to record.

review of our year 2015

(featured image by Kevin Byrne)

Pabs looks back on 2015

What a year its been for both Weird Decibels and Pabs solo music. Many highs and to be honest a few lows but a great year.

January.

As the bells sound for the new year and 2014 turned to 2015 I remind myself that in February it will be 20 years since we first stepped into our Grangemouth practise room. Simply unbelievable.

2nd January

10891648_947995368558885_7424031052007615815_n The band head out to Linlithgow to choose a lodge in which to record the new album. We chose Kelso simply for the massive room that would allow for a great drum sound. What an inspired choice it was to be.

26th January

Tommy gives us a wee play on the Third Class Ticket ahead of our show at the Buff Club; he has supported us all year and his show goes from strength to strength.

31st January

10308122_967071426651279_2127647646909692300_nWe play the Buff Club in Glasgow. This was one of the strangest gigs we played! Look at the stage! We enjoyed it although it wasn’t our best performance.

February

8th February we turn 20 years old. We forget that this is an achievement; I guess as we’re all good friends it seems normal that we play music together.

19th February

we get a nice article in the Falkirk Herald to celebrate our time together. James Trimble has done us proud over the years.

21st February

We release the single version of Easy Way; never heard before until now. This was the version we sent to Bracken records which would never be released. Look out for more rare tracks in 2016 and beyond. There are loads!

28th February to 6th of March

We record some of Weird Decibels 2 over a week in Kelso. Here is the story part one two and three. This was one of the best weeks in the bands history.

March

March 6th

Pabs plays the Tolbooth in Stirling. A fantastic night for our singer who was lucky enough to be supported by friends and family as the headline act didn’t bring many people!

April

our modest desk

We continue to record parts for Weird decibels 2. Mixing starts; this turned out to be a long drawn put process despite our attempts to avoid this. Pabs went back onto shifts which helped but eventually he went back to day shift and juggling mixing, family life and work became difficult.

May

10th May we shoot the video for Its Who You Know at the Three Kings Kevin Byrne, Chris Wilson, Chris Burt and dale Ashworth all did us proud in this video which is nearing 500 views.

 

28th May Tommy Clark is first to air the new single on the Third Class Ticket.

29th May. Our new single its Who You Know released to the world. It went down very well; its since been remixed and will sound even better on the album.

 June

11095684_1039585756066512_5892143361267208515_n6th June we discuss the possibility of a deluxe version of Weird Decibels 2, over a few beers naturally… We had written so many ideas and recorded many practises as we wrote the album.

July

22nd July Stirling DIY Collective do a nice piece on the single. The Stirling scene turned out to be brilliant for Weird Decibels and Pabs this year. Big thanks to all at Stirling DIY collective and Kenny Bates.

August

August 18th and we set ourselves a deadline for releasing the new album. It would be missed. I will now be out 2016.

August 29th we play a superb gig at the Record Factory

September

Heavy mixing and mastering session begin to take their toll…

October

3rd October Pabs plays the Stirling Tolbooth 

10th October we release part 1 of our top 50 songs feature.

16th October part 2!

17th we play a great gig at Oxjam Stirling. 

23rd October we get a wee mention in the Stirling Observer.

25th October part 3 of our top 50 countdown is uploaded.

27th October Deadline for Weird Decibels 2 missed.

 

31st October part 4

November

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Lets raawwwk. pic Byrne

 

1st November shooting starts for the new video for Kill it Kill It released next year. Thanks to Kevin Byrne, Ruari Pearson and Chris Wilson.

2nd November our new range of tees are launched!

7th November we reveal our favourite song that we have recorded. A surprise result!

7th of November we play a fantastic gig at North Star with Buzzards of Babylon to celebrate 20 years together.

13th November Weird Decibels, like all fellow bands and musicians, are shocked and saddened by the awful events in Paris, including the massacre at the Bataclan where the Eagles of Death Metal were playing.

18th November Weird Decibels and Pabs solo work are nominated for best song, acoustic (pabs) and best rock act alongside many other talented Falkirk hopefuls for the first AMiF awards. Still time to vote!!!!!

18th November Pabs and Stu lay some new alternative takes for Weird Decibels 2.

December

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The famous cover now all over the world!

‘we tried to get it out for the 20th anniversary gig and it became a rush. I wasn’t paying attention to the sound and was determined to get it released. 

Derek had listened to the masters on his earphones and voiced his concerns, I lost it! I was fed up, I wasn’t spending time with the family, work was hectic and I was coming home to mix. I nearly canned the whole lot. I walked away from the album and the band.

Stu came up to visit and we had a coffee and a blether. I returned after three weeks and felt great. I could hear all the problems with the sound and EQ’d them out. Now the album has the clarity it was missing. ‘ Pabs.

Pabs takes a three week break from mixing; comes back fresh and sorts out the frequency problems that had been causing issues. Album now sounds epic.

5th December Our first album Whapper Stormer appears on all digital platforms including Spotify.