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Weird Decibels 20 years

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

The countdown to our 20th anniversary gig at North Star is on. So the four of us got together and compiled a countdown of our favourite 50 songs that we have written and recorded. We start of with 50 to 41 keep an eye on the blog over the next few weeks as we reach our favourite song.

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

50. Sofa Girl Whapper Stormer 1995

A fan favourite Sofa Girl has resonated for years with the people who have followed us from the first album. It is a simple tale of a teenage boy who is not sure if he is in love with an awkward girl who is shunned at school by her peers.

It describes lazy teenage evenings spend on battered couches watching movies on satellite TV. Fairly innocent, it is a song that kicks out at the expected plan that life seems to take. ‘Get a car, TV, Satellite, Get a Life!’

Sofa Girl was played intensively by the band in the early Martell years. Track 5 at 3:38 it is punky in its nature, almost a throw away moment amid the more focused lyrics of Whapper Stormer. It struck a chord, John Baines was keen to supply backing vocals for the recording.

I can’t remember how we wrote this, often, in the early days I’d sing a melody to Stu and he’d put a guitar line to it but something tells me Stu already had something in mind and I sang on top of the guitar riff.

It was recorded at Derek’s old flat on a digital 8 track during our mad recording weekends, more on that later.

49.I Tried To Fly Cold Home Street 2000

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

Driven by the simple C chord guitar riff I Tried to Fly saw Weird take a more ‘radio friendly’ approach to our music. I started playing electric guitar around this point; sometimes when you’re starting out ideas are easier to come by and at this time I was writing a lot of guitar riffs which would explain why Cold Home Street ended up with more of an ‘indie’ feel.

I Tried To Fly was one of three songs recorded at Red Eye studios, a rough recording to be fair. Thin in its sound, it lacked punch but the song transcended through. The song asks for patience as I explain ‘I’m not a perfect man’ .and that ‘I’m doing the best I can’; lyrically weak, I Tried to Fly is carried by the music which, while not ground breaking rolls along quite nicely.

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

It what is quiet a punky album It’ll All Work Out in the End is the longest track at 5:44. Starting with the resident Cuckoo this as recorded at the first of our ‘lodge’ recordings I struggled to sing this song; the guys went to a pub in Cannich and I was left in the lodge on my own in a remote valley with only my thoughts. It was a difficult time for me, people close to me were very ill so this vocal performance is particularly charged.

1000853_631735696851522_520111379_nIts a song about a friend who was having a difficult time; this was my way of trying to reach out. It builds towards a nice crescendo; all the band except Greg sang and Stu plays a subtle riff over the top.

We have probably played this live once or twice but it never appears on set lists these days. We played this song live for central FM and can be heard on a bootleg. I guess it all works out in the end.

47 Hope Coldhome Street 2000

The second track recorded at Red Eye suffers from the same thin sound as tried to fly but Hope is a more upbeat rock song. Influenced by the ‘lad’ culture of the time Hope speaks of drinking which would haunt a lot of my lyrics for many albums. This song is fun. I recall us sitting in the mixing room of the studio begging the ‘engineer’ to pan the stereo mix. He submitted and the mix is, while slightly unbalanced. More acceptable than what was first presented.

This is the song a which Stu fainted trying to match the prowess of his singer… Greg, Derek and I were in the control room hearing Stu’s remarkable vocal performance. As he reached the long high note everything suddenly went quiet. A bemused sound engineer rose from his seat to look through the window only to see Stu face down on the couch with the music still blaring through his phones.

After the initial alarm Stu got up and brushed himself down and like a pro finished the record.

46 Sun Shines Brighter Cold Home Street 2000

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

Its widely regarded that Coldhome street is our poorest record however a number of tracks from that album appear on this list! Its badly recorded; which could be hiding genuine good songs. Sun Shines Brighter was another track recorded at Red Eye in Clyde side. Its nasally sound can be quite off-putting but underneath the harsh intro guitar we wrote a fairly bitter sweet pop song.

The cheery riff that opens up is followed by a double verse’ things get a little moodier with the chorus. Sun Shines Brighter does have weather related cliché lyrics. Its a warm song that sticks to a safe formula; it comes and goes with little fuss.

Definitely one of our more upbeat songs from a generally upbeat album.

45 whiskey in my head One More Solo 2004

SCAN0041 - Copy
One More Solo often regarded as one of our best albums was recorded at Derek’s old flat on an 8 track

Sitting in the middle of One More Solo, Whiskey, as we refer to it, is a bluesy rock number. The lyrics centre around emotions and feelings; laced with drink. This was a common theme for many years with my song writing. The song is carried along with jangly guitars before, in common Weird Decibels practise to ascends into a Zeppelin Esq ending with Stu pouring a solo over the end.

It sounds live on record and we played it a lot during the time of One More Solo but unlike Easy Way and High Heels. Whiskey found itself being left in the bottle more often than not.

44 Pearl Necklace Coldhome Street 2000

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

The greatest lyrics about male insecurity I have ever written. I must’ve been in a funny mood that day; I still have a chuckle at the lyrics. Very tongue in cheek, dirty and rude but an absolute hoot. Not a bad wee tune as well but the lyrics make it. I guess at this time I did not care if I offended anyone; certainly no-one has complained.

I guess the lack of trust in relationships played a part here and my own insecurities. Being a songwriter you can vent your frustration by writing about them! We never really played this live and it has now been filed away with much of Coldhome Street awaiting a re-master or re-recording.

Recorded on the Tascam 4 track this is another lift from Coldhome street.

43 Cold Calling. One More Solo 2004

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

Originally performed by the Seventeenth, Cold Calling was to be one of the last songs we would do before the band fell apart. Kevin Byrne was on drums and Jon Shaw played guitar. I had written the music and lyrics so I was able to transfer it to Weird Decibels who were reformed and looking for songs.

Cold calling has a haunting riff that I have always regarded as one of my best. It was borrowed from a solo song I had writing. You can hear it on ‘No Past No Future’ the opening track from the Armour is Broken. I believe there is also a riff from The Mallig EP another solo record.

Put together the riff worked. Its an insecure love song; bands like the Doves and Coldplay were at their peak at the time and I was influenced by them.

Cold Calling received a luke warm review in the daily record demo section. On reflection the song and performance let the song down. It is still played down at the practise room and a live version can be heard on Tonight, Live Not Completely Sold Out!. Played live I still get a buzz from this song that is lacking on record. 

42 Method In My Madness Cold Home Street 2000

The Coldhome tracks just keep coming! I personally love this song; it was an early example of me getting to grips with the guitar and starting explore further up the fret board. Stu and I have separate solos towards the end; there would only be one winner of course. The song takes a wonderful little menacing turn at the end.

The lyrics tell of madness and sadness. Perhaps these were easy words to rhyme; but I do speak of thoughts and feeling once again. My writing would rarely reach further than my own thoughts which limited the subjects I was signing about.

41 Home town Cold Home Street 2000

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

Recorded on a Tascam 4 track Hometown bursts in ‘Do you love your hometown’. Another lift from Cold Home Street there is actually a good song buried under the murky recording. Its a simple guitar riff, I was only starting to take up rhythm duties for the band.

This was one of many songs we recorded in our practise room. At this time we were no longer playing gigs; we would simply arrived every Wednesday and record onto the tape. Unfortunately for some reason the manic end is cut off just as Derek gets in the full swing of things with a tribal chant. The rest of the ending is pasted at the end of the album! Derek has never forgiven me for this.

Factcorner

6 tracks are from our 3rd album Coldhome Street

2 are from One More Solo the 4th album

1 is from our first Whapper

and the other is from Riot Act our 5th.

This concludes part on of our countdown. In the next past of our top 50, 40- 31 we have a greater of contrast of light and heavy…

Thanks for reading!!

Pabs

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

Music 2015. The buzzword will be ‘windows’

Not the Microsoft kind although that is due as well. Windows is the term for the difference in time between physical media releases and them appearing on streaming services. (just in case you didn’t know)

It presents a wee dilemma to our band; we have a small but perfectly formed (and extremely loyal) following and we must make sure they are looked after. Which presents a challenge as we need to pay for the album (albeit we keep the costs low)

Weird Decibels 1 was paid for mostly by ticket sales (for gigs we organised), private function gigs (covers..) and then finally CD sales. Streaming did not contribute much at all (in fact by the time we paid set up fees we lost money this way)

So this has got me (over) thinking. How do we develop a ‘release strategy’; sorry I sound like a bit of dick but hey got to get with the times.

wpid-a2078779249_2.jpgWeird Decibels 1   was the first album we released on both the internet and CD. Previously we simply handed out CD’s like everyone else from that era (90′, 00’s).

WdB1 landed on Bandcamp first; a lot of people listened on that platform but we got no download sales. Due to a delay the CD was released a month later; it sold better than our previous albums probably because our listener base is orientated to a physical release (a kind way of saying we’re getting older!). Spotify and the rest followed and the payback was minimal.

The next HMR release (my solo album) Paul Henry Smith – Morningday aired on Spotify, iTunes and other digital services first. Listening rates were good and there was even a few downloads but again not enough to cover set-up costs. The CD sold a few copies but well down on WdB1 (I won’t take that personally!!). Did people settle to listening to the album on the stream?

Then along came Taylor Swift; not to our gigs or anything like that, no she pulled all her music from Spotify because it paid her (and her record company) a pittance per stream. This got the whole industry talking about release ‘windows’; basically your favourite artist (Swift is a long way from that) releases a CD or vinyl and then weeks later it will appear on streaming services. Great…

I love Spotify; I get my Uncut magazine and I listen to the radio; I will hunt for the album on Spotify. If I love it I will order the CD. Now if ‘windows’ are to take effect I’m screwed.

The conflict? Spotify unfairly cuts the band and I from the financial stream. I wish they would pay more.

I love being on the service; many of our friends have ventured to other lands and yet they can still enjoy our albums and even share them with new audiences. I believe, and I speak for myself, that it’s a price worth paying.

However we need to think of our next album and as you can tell by this blog entry my thoughts are going round in circles. I hate the idea of ‘windows’ I love music embracing new technology (hi def streaming etc); I love that fact I can listen to any album when ever I want and I pay for this service every month, not only that, I love CD’s dropping through the letter box!! (sorry record stores, although saying that I bought a few CD’s out of FOPP the other week)

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

I pay through my teeth for music, CD’s, Spotify premium and gigs and yet my record collection is all over the place because the industry has no clear vision. My CD collection slowed over the last couple of years. My iTunes collection; the hours spent ripping CD’s etc’ has stopped (waste of time and money downloading to be honest) and now Spotify could end up become a music library like Netflix is to movies (ie no new releases)

Well my head is bursting now; basically the music industry is going to have to find its feet. Those who love music will always pay; it just seems we have to change our plans for everyone else.

Anyway back to the band’s next release. We’re thinking about a ‘window’!!! ( 4 weeks tops! Buy our CD please!!)

Or maybe we won’t… Maybe we should just be happy that in this day of music overload you still have the time to listen to our music.

Love to you all

Pabs

Happy listening whatever and wherever that may be

Here is a fantastic music industry blog that tries to find the answers that I have clearly failed to find.

http://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/

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J O U R N A L music review of the year

Weird Decibels our 2014.

Weird Decibels review of the year 2014

January

The year started with a mixture of optimism and permission; we had started writing weird decibels 2 and it wasn’t really taking off so we had to find some inspiration from somewhere. We booked ourselves a wee lodge in Oakley for the end of the month.

Before we were due to set off we had the small matter of releasing a new music video. Speak was the song we opted for.

http://youtu.be/bhh3IeKejGM

We stayed true to the black and white theme of Weird Decibels 1. It was shot down at the practise room with a mixture of stills and live footage. The idea was to have a bit of fun with each of us switching musical positions. The video did quite well; sitting at over 1000 views and that isn’t taking into account the Blank TV stats. A good start!.

The Falkirk Herald kindly ran a story about the video. Nice folk.

http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/what-s-on/weird-combine-sound-and-vision-once-again-1-3271181

Moshville times wrote a nice piece for us as part of their ‘Band of the Day’; my favourite quote would be ‘not exactly radio friendly (!)’ and ‘ an overall undercurrent of folk’ this led us to utter a new genre Folking Metal!

http://www.moshville.co.uk/botd/2014/01/new-band-of-the-day-weird-decibels/

Spotifyimage3as January came to a close we headed off to Oakley with the acoustic guitars and a shit load of beer. We wrote 6 songs. ‘I Hear The City’, Little Thoughts Lost’, ‘Digital Takeover’, Curtain Hits the Cast’, ‘Quoted Not Voted’ and ‘Hit Me’ the latter had everyone reaching for their beers a little quicker. ‘Its a song about depression’ quipped Stu. We never played it again.

February

This took us neatly into February and Tommy Clark of the Third Class Ticket Show continued to do us proud by playing us on his show; ‘Speak’ getting the slot.

Click ‘like’ here

https://www.facebook.com/TheThirdClassTicket

March

We were looking forward to playing Stereo but the gig was cancelled. I was gutted at this news; A because I love playing live and B because its a cracking venue.

We also uploaded the remasters of One More Solo to limited success!! I’m not sure if its worth doing the other albums; the overpowering bass of the original master was swamping the album. I like the new master though.

Hear for yourself.

http://weirddecibels.bandcamp.com/album/one-more-solo-remastered

April

April was quiet for us. I was busy working on Morningday; an album I recorded with Kevin Byrne and Jemma Burt.

May

Derek and Ann tied the knot. Its good to have a least one celebrity wedding a year.

World cup fever was building, we continued to practise the new songs another quiet month.

June

We had a gig at Pivo Pivo to look forward to. We were sitting in the practise room mulling over the limited response to the gig (we would learn that gigs are best played on a Friday or Saturday); we got a phone call from PM promotions who had helped us have some cracking gigs in 2013 (Oran Mor, ABC 2). It was to be at the QMU; an old stomping ground for us. The big stage right? We asked the promoter.

Ah no its Jims Bar.

Mmm it still looked ok so we went for it given that Saturday gigs tend to be better. First gig of 2014 booked… in June… Anyway it was to be part of the ‘West End Festival’.

June would also see us attempt our own event. We booked a gig at the brilliant 13th Note with young rockers Ciceros secret, Miss the Occupier and The Dark Arts. Things were picking up!

10401915_10152485640034519_7255418438963022257_nThe 21st of June would see us play Jim’s Bar. I filmed the approach to the gig hoping to start a documentary for the band. It was a clammy summers day, the football was on and the venue was like a an oven. Not the greatest gig; our patience with PM promotions was staring to run low.

https://weirddecibels.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/pabs-gig-diary-jims-bar-qmu-live/

July

The film I made for the Jim’s Bar gig was quickly shoehorned into a video for Joker’ we hadn’t had a presence on YouTube for a while and this was a chance to get back on.

Not our greatest video by any stretch but it was a bit of fun. Views? 120 on our page around 600 on Blank TV. Very disappointing given the success of the other videos. A fickle world indeed!

Go on click the link and make it 121 views.

http://youtu.be/5GAXNtruyqA

August

I was with Lewis sipping a coffee at the Helix when the phone rang. James Trimble from the Falkirk Herald looking for an interview! So look out for our article in the next couple of weeks! Thanks James. This was a Facebook post I wrote the day James Trimble phoned my mobile as I sipped a coffee. You should have seen the looks of the other costumers as I was talking about writing albums and playing gigs!

http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/what-s-on/falkirk-s-kelpies-are-rocking-horses-in-music-video-1-3501992

It was a very good article from James Trimble.

The heat the rock it was all there
The heat the rock it was all there

To top off this fantastic month we played our gig at the 13th Note. One of the best we played and we met some good friends old and new that night. I also highly recommend the Notes veggie burgers!!

https://weirddecibels.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/gig-diary-22nd-august-13th-note-glasgow/

Oh before I finish August we had promised for weeks to do the ‘ice bucket challenge; the Facebook craze that had went mega viral, listen close and you will hear Stu scream like a big girl!

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=868665706491852&set=vb.128933433798420&type=2&theater

September

We booked another gig; this time at Ivory Blacks. It looked very promising; although it was on a school night…

September was a quiet month of writing and recording practise sessions. We actually started writing in the old room again and the results were pretty good.

October

We launched our very own website this month in a hope not to rely too much on Facebook. Its hard to say where this is going to go. My how did we get to attached to Facebook. Disturbing…

anyway here it is.

http://www.weirddecibels.com/

The website will probably evolve to become more of a tribute to our 20 years together. Watch this space.

We started drinking tea and coffee at practise; yes you read that right.

November

Stu rocks the ivory
Stu rocks the ivory

We hyped the Ivory Black gig as a send off to Weird Decibels 1. A very disappointing gig and a rather sad end to the live life of Weird Decibels 1. Maybe we’ll do another show and send it off in style.

As I write about the highs and lows of unsigned music life there are certain things that quickly pull you back into perspective

Our good friend and fellow musician Chris Masson passed away at the age of 37. Too young. Too soon.

https://weirddecibels.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/chris-masson-1977-2014/

On the 22nd of November the guys brought their gear around to my place and we set up the studio. We wrote another batch of cracking songs for Weird Decibels 2. This will be the way we write in the future given the success of the session.

https://soundcloud.com/weirdmusiconline/the-canine-with-no-teeth

December

Weird Decibels 2014
Weird Decibels 2014

The band has wrapped up early this year, work and the festive season have taken their toll on our practise sessions.

All is good, we have a batch of songs ready to be rehearsed and eventually recorded next year

2014 has been a mixed bag. Some highs some lows; I feel we lost a wee bit of momentum this year due to different circumstances and perhaps poor choices.

2015 is our 20th anniversary. A new album is due, new videos, gigs, podcast and hopefully a film. So a lot to look forward to,

Massive thanks to the unflinching support of our family and friends

The unsigned musicians work is never done!

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

To CD or not to CD

Morningday is a wee album I made with Kevin Byrne and Jemma Burt. It was recorded when Weird Decibels had some down time. the sessions went well and we recorded an album that I am immensely proud of. It was just under a year of hard work, writing, recording, mixing, mastering and then designing the artwork.

My thoughts turned to its legacy, How do I get this recording to resonate through the world and through peoples musical conscience. I decided to try the on-line route; Spotify and itunes. The CD would come later in a big deluxe package.

Spotifyimage3

Morningday started well; there was the launch party which was fantastic (thanks Mum and Dad), the record was being played on Spotify and there were sales on itunes. So I got prepared to launch the CD packages albeit in a fumbled way. There has been a limited response; so I looked at my own listening habits to see if I could find answers.

I listen to Spotify a lot. Every new song I hear on BBC radio is on Spotify; I listen to the whole album then if I like it I will save it. I add it to my virtual collection and I lazily scroll down my albums. there are fleeting bands to which I have listened once. I haven’t paid for that album so I don’t need to invest time in it to fully understand it. I add and add until I have a huge catalogue of bands that I claim to like. Its worrying because I cannot remember much of what I have appeared to listened to yet when I look through my CDs I can remember a vast majority of the records I listened to and the joy they brought me.

My CD collection is there it exists I can pick the CD and study the art work. However my collection stops around 2012 save for a few records that I simply had to have.

So as I wade through the digital sea, through the masses of talented artists who struggled to get listened to I realise that my £10 a month for Spotify premium isn’t enough. I need to start buying the physical format of music again before it disappears and the artists years of work putting out recordings becomes a fleeting moments of a listeners attention.

As I write this I have listened to CDs; Dinosaur Jr ‘I Bet on Sky’, Sonic Youth ‘ the Eternal’ an The Middle East ‘ I want That You Are Always Happy’

I will buy a couple of CD’s tonight…Via Amazon…there is not one record shop in Falkirk.

Weird Decibels next album WdB 2.0 due late 2015 will be released on CD first with a full deluxe package including the album. the full Oakley sessions, b sides, demos, and a full booklet! Once we sell a few maybe then will it float away in the digital sea!

Pabs