Tag Archives: grunge

Shuffle Down 2017

credits

the crowd

sweet p photography (featured image)

Gregor Boyd photography

what eddie sees photography

afterglow events

ben white sound

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we’re on the bill! A great line up. Artwork Afterglow Events

 

 

Shuffle Down had a different feel about it this year as we were playing! Read more about that experience in our latest gig diary.

As I arrived at the Dobbie hall some two hours before the doors opened there was a surprising calm in the air. The various volunteers and stalls were quietly setting up their various stations, there was an air of anticipation, would it be as busy this year?

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Capturing the live sound for so many different bands with so many different instruments is a skill mastered by Ben. Pic What Eddie Sees

Shuttling back and forth from the stage was Ben White who once again had the duties of mixing and amplifying a number of different bands with a wide range of instruments; he did a superb job. Anyone who has ever provided the sound for a gig will understand how difficult this is to do for two or three bands never mind a festival roster! So hats off to Ben and his team they did very well providing a nice meaty kick sound that cut through the full range of frequencies that are needed for a balanced sound. Everything from the guitars to the bass sounded well knitted. I would argue that this year was the best sound, a couple of technical glitches aside (which you have to expect), it was clear the sound crew have got to grips with the acoustics the hall

In the background Jim Dunbar was once again overseeing the task, A stalwart of the local scene for many years. During soundcheck he reflected on his many years hauling speakers to various venues and hinted that it may be time to put his feet up.

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Jim Dunbar was doing our sound when we first started playing live. Local legend.

He did the sound back in at our first gigs at the Martell some 22 years ago, now here we were in the Dobbie hall about to embark on another Shuffle Down and all the challenges that come with putting on a show that gives local bands an opportunity to reach a bigger audience on a grand stage.

Once the soundcheck was completed the lights slowly came on, the true beauty of the stage was revealed. Shuffle Down always has the personal touch of the loyal volunteers and of course Rikki and Laura Tonner. This year was no different with a waterfall of lights hugging the back of the stage and the ever present Afterglow Lamp, stage right, proudly illuminated..

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Beauty and the fest, The Everglow lamp. Pic Gregor Boyd

The heavens opened outside, biblical rain fell as the last of the early bands arrived to drop off gear backstage and exchange handshakes. There was a good air between the artists, mutual respect and a common desire to entertain the crowds that were on their way. The doors opened and the rain started to ease, a good number of punters drifted into the scent of coffee from The Common Grind and a whiff of ale from the Tryst Brewery.

Up first was Kieran Fisher playing an acoustic set of originals and covers; his gravely voice reminded me of Kelly Jones I thought this was a lazy comparison until he nailed the Stereophonics. Kieran looked confident up in the big stage which is a hard thing to pull off given that you’re up there on your own. Continuing the acoustic theme was Robbie Lesiuk, when he took the stage the hall was starting to fill with punters. The noise of the crowd chatter grew as people greeted each other the atmosphere was starting to build; there was now a buzz about the place. Robbie played well, his subtle use of loops is always good to listen to and Fault Lines always gets stuck in your head

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A charismatic front man who had the crowds full attention. Pic Gregor Boyd

I was surprised to see Have Mercy Las Vegas on early but it really did help get the feet stomping. Their charismatic front man had the audience stamping and clapping and for the first time I felt genuinely nervous that our rock set would plummet to the earth like a dropped pint of real Tryst ale. Then up stepped Pronto Mama, whose dynamic sound no doubt tested the sound engineering skills of Ben but I felt that the mix held well. Their set was a good blend of synth, brass and guitars. I really enjoyed their show. There was an intense feel to it.

We were up next and you can read all about that in our gig diary.

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Rock comes to Shuffle. Pic Gregor Boyd

We played a half hour show which felt like 5 minutes. As we stepped back stage and took a few photos and admittedly did a couple of high fives the Lonely Tourist stepped up to the mic. The stage curtains were drawn so he had a more intimate platform for which to share his tunes. I caught a couple and I really enjoyed his music; I love the full band sound on his record and I hope he ventures up here with the band in the future.

I headed out the the stalls to grab a fine burger and the sun peaked out from behind the dark May clouds, they broke and scatters of blue sky could finally be seen. Finally I could relax and enjoy some Dobbie Shuffle from the Tryst stall (can I by bottles of this somewhere?! It’s sweet!). The alcohol hit me pretty quick!

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Ghosts on the stage. Pic Gregor Boyd

I was really looking forward to Ghostwriter who I believe are one of the best bands to have emerged from the scene recently. For Hire (Summer never ends) was a great opener and that guitar riff is one of the most infectious I’ve heard for a while. Technical issues distracted singer Iain King and it caused him frustration. To be honest I felt his anger added a little edge to the performance which I enjoyed; however it proved to be too distracting for him and sadly their set finished early.

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There was an edge to Fly Jackson at Shuffle, my fav show of theirs to date. Pic Gregor Boyd

Fly Jackson ambled up to the stage they seem to take these events in their stride, I saw them at the Trinity Church gig and enjoyed them but I preferred this performance. It was a very focused set by the band and the sound had a fine clarity to it. They have some great songs on their roster.

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Iain King found his composure and joined Fairweather and the Elements for their set. Ross and co headlined a great night at the Trinity church, this performance seemed to have more energy, perhaps driven by the occasion, vocalist Deborah Lang was clearly enjoying herself as she danced about the stage. By now it was clear that the electric atmosphere of Shuffle Down was influencing the artists; the performances seemed more energetic and the crowd were loving it. This is why we need this event.

I felt myself glued to the main stage, the atmosphere, the bands and the beer. In previous Shuffle Downs I found myself wandering upstairs to see some fine acts but this year I couldn’t leave the big room as it was proving too enjoyable. It helped that the bands were really quick to switch over. The hall seemed to be as busy as previous years, those watching the acts seemed to enjoy the various genres and warmly applauded all that played.

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Highlight? Yes. One of many. Pic Gregor Boyd

Miracle Glass Company were superb, I was transfixed by the drumming of Andy Duncan, he was keeping these Ringo Starr esq beats going at a pace while aptly performing his singing duties. There was good pacing to their set, Trouble is a great song.

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Transfixed we were, 57 rock. Pic Gregor Boyd

Then came a surprise. 57, a hard rocking duo from South Korea, took me by surprise.The crowd loved them. I liked the set it was impressive and it was a huge sound for just two people. I had no idea that this was coming.

By this time I was a little tipsy and thinking of work the next day (started in the afternoon folks) so my wife and I headed off into the night. The sounds slowly faded as we walked away from  the Dobbie hall.

Perhaps I’m biased as we played Shuffle Down this year but I felt that this was the most enjoyable year so far. The first year had big acts, the 2nd found its groove but this year felt different. It felt like a big party, a gathering of people who love music and will come to Shuffle Down regardless of who is on the bill and every band benefited from an audience that was open to hearing something new and it was fantastic to witness this.

Was Shuffle Down 2017 a success?  If success was a large group of happy people enjoying a wide range of music, surrounded by friends drinking local beer, eating local food and listening to local acts then yes it was a huge success.

I will probably attend another overpriced festival sponsored by Tennents at some point but I doubt that will enjoy it as much as I did Shuffle Down 2017.

So as the bands packed up and the Afterglow lamp was switched off, I do hope that next year it will illuminate the Dobbie hall once more. The Falkirk music scene would miss what is now becoming the most important date on our local live calendar.

words Pabs

 

 

 

Our Practise Room

The Speak music video shot in the practise room

Link to three live performances in our practise space

It was 1995 and there was a small advert in the music section of the Falkirk Herald; a practice room for hire, kit supplied and there was a phone number supplied.

Greg and I had just put the finishing touches to our new, as yet, unnamed band and we needed a place to play loud. I phoned the number printed and was met with a friendly chap who spoke in a low smoky husk. He explained that the room was near Grangemouth docks, a basement round the back of the bingo hall next to some wasteland. He added we’d be able to play as loud as we wanted. I booked a slot. It was to be a Wednesday night.

February 8th approached and we had bagged a lift off my Dad. Here was four young lads without much in the way of gear and band experience nervously wondering what was to happen next. I jumped out of the car in excitement to collect the keys. I frantically knocked on the door of the address that I was to pick up the keys. In the winter darkness the door creaked open and an elderly man, clearly dragged from his bed, mumbled that I was at the wrong door.

Later we finally found the dude he explained, under a haze of green smoke, the rules. We agreed a time for him to close the room and all was good. He dropped the keys into my hand and I raced back to the idling fiat Uno my Dad drove at the time.

After a great practise and three new songs we heard Greg’s dad Arthur pull up outside. He had kindly offered to take us all home. The hour came for the dude to meet us however there was noone to be seen. 15 minutes later Arthur was no longer waiting and we were to get going. We had to leave the room and all the gear unlocked.

The next week I nervously phoned the dude and for some strange reason he explained the location and rules of the room as if I had never used it and we had spoken for the first time. Then he explained that some arseholes booked last week left the room unlocked. He was so stoned that night he forgot we were even there. Had he remembered that fact we wouldn’t still be in that very room today.

In 1995 Grangemouth was a different place. We were in a basement, above us were various business that have come and gone over the years. There was noone around in this slightly dodgy location it was just a mass of overgrown trees swaying in the breeze from the forth river. The sky was (and still is) often lit orange by the flares of the refinery.

The basement is the size of a fairly large living room with a smaller passageway that leads around the back. There was never a toilet, just a sink. Heating was supplied via a gas heater that we used to huddle around in the coldest nights. We’d pay towards the gas as well as the rent and it was Greg’s job to get it lit.

In the early days there were white washed brick walls that gave it a clean look. There was a couch to dive onto and mirrors to check that the rock poses were all good; it was bright and spacious and a cool place for young musicians to create music. There were a number of bands booked in the room at that time.

In the late 90’s we used to cross the road to Haddows to buy carry outs prior to practising. Greg was now a driver and the rest of us saw this as an excuse to drink a number of midweek beers. It got ridiculous, I used to take down a pint class and sink a few calders creams. The three of us would be plastered and Greg would drive us home via the BP garage at Earls gate where we would buy food and Derek would take on any eating challenge presented to him. This included fitting a whole packet of cheese bites into his mouth.

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Haddows and drink; we had a lot.

The owners eventually ditched the room and we were forced to find a new rehearsal place which turned out to be in Bonnybridge. This lasted for a few months but as soon as we heard our old room was back up under new ownership we went start right back

Practise became a drunken stupor, we had lost focus and we stopped playing gigs so Wednesday nights were the only time we’d play music particularly around 1999 2000. The room was repainted by its new owners Frazer Law (Beany) and Russell Dickson in more a psychedelic palette and the drums were placed on a riser. We started taking a four track down and recorded a full album that would become Cold Home Street.

With the band stalling, Stu left for a few years and we became the Seventeenth. The room was now rented from a flower shop owner and we found the space was filling up with pots and flower beds (but sadly with no flowers). The room was split with a third used for storage for the florist. This was unfortunate as the place lost its feel for a while. However we still huddled around the same old gas fire in the heart of winter.

Time passed and in 2004 Weird reformed, the dividing wall fell much to our delight and the room was whole again however things were changing outside.

The bulldozers rolled in and swept aside the wild trees then an ASDA sign appeared. Our wee secret corner would soon be changed beyond recognition. A building merchant moved in upstairs and a fast food outlet next door to that. Then came the rats.

One cold wintry evening as Greg tried to start the gas fire I asked him to stop, the rest of the guys fell silent as I listened. Then from the pipes came the scurrying. The rats were here and getting bolder by the day. The room started to feel dirty and rundown.

Thankfully the rats were dealt with and Beany made an almighty attempt to clean the room to its past glory, however he was scuppered by the strange appearance of couches. Several monolithic chairs started to appear and we were battling for space with the furniture. Some of it was Greg’s and he promised to get rid of it (tomorrow, promise). Then the couches got mouldy, still he promised to get rid of it (tomorrow, always tomorrow).  Months passed and the mould grew greater; my love for the room was wilting. Finally one Wednesday when i was expecting to open the door to its usual musk I was delighted to see the seats were gone. Once more the room was spacious albeit a little grubby.

Today we still use the room most weeks and at occasionally we use it for recording. We do have to wait for the boy racers to drive out of the ASDA car park with their exhaust blaring. Haddows is gone, now it’s a sober trip to ASDA for water and sweets. Alcohol is gone, replaced by Tea and coffee supplied from flasks that I bring down during the winter months. A Chinese moves in upstairs every few months and one of the delivery drivers spends his life in his car with the engine running all night for some heat or to charge his phone as he attempts to combat the boredom of waiting for the next Chicken Chow Mein.

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We’ve adapted. When we get bored of writing songs in the room we hire a cottage to refresh the creative minds however even to this day we are still inspired by our rehearsal space to create new songs. We’ve now used the practise room for 22 years. Recently we moved things around the room and the sound feels refreshed; when I strike the first chords on the guitar and look around the room at the other guys I can’t picture us being anywhere else. Fingers crossed we can stay a while longer as we’ve had many many happy times in that wee basement. We even shot a music video in the room and several songs. Check them out at the top of this post.

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

 

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!

 

Our Influences. Alice In Chains, Greg

Greg

“First heard Alice in Chains through my pal Phil Harley, former lead guitarist of Falkirk band Cage. He introduced me to a lot of bands but AIC really appealed to me. The heavy guitars, fantastic melodies and just amazing songs continue to appeal to me. I have their logo tattooed on me haha. Mike Inez is a tremendous bass player, using effects in his riffs which I’ve recently been experimenting with in my own writing. Still perfecting that though. I’m not sure if they changed the scene or industry but they certainly helped to make the 90s grunge scene as fantastic as it was and continues to be. Ah the 90s..”

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The summers of your adulthood always seem to be memories of sun filled days and hazy nights. The days spent listening to the new emerging grunge scene with Greg were no different. We were probably just about to leave high school and there were many afternoons spent diving on his unsuspecting parents couches singing Nirvana songs and we’d shake our brains to the fast hyper beats of Therapy but Alice in Chains were different.There was probably a time where Greg and I shared a smoke over the song ‘Rooster’.

The deep sludge sound of Chains was hypnotising and it was the album’s Dirt and Jar of Flies released 92 and 94 respectively that stuck with us. Dirt just pounds you for an hour, epic tune after epic tune. The track ‘Dam that River’ doesn’t just show that AIC can create massive riffs but on lead with Jerry Cantrell dueling for the limelight with the gnarly vocals of the tragic Layne Staley who through his chronic drug use, died like many other troubled musicians, a young man aged just 34.

Greg would be drawn to the bass, and Mike Inez subtly underpinning the dynamic guitars would influence our very own bass player to drive our music.

Down in a Hole changes the mood of this album with its acoustic tones and many of our influences are heavy rock bands that have more thoughtful moments and this can be heard on many of our own albums.

1996’s MTV unplugged would be one of Stacey’s last shows with the band, this epic acoustic album, with stripped down versions of their songs showed their remarkable musicianship.

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AIC still produce brilliant record to this date the Devil Put Dinosaurs Here showed that despite the many setbacks AIC still rose above their peers. Their longevity, their adaptability and their ability to write dynamic songs in about the darkest of matters is incredible. As we advance in years it’s nice to see our musical heroes continue to release high quality albums and it makes us believe that you don’t have to be young to write your best music.

Our Influences. Nirvana, Derek

 

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Bleach! In Utero! Bleach! In Utero! Bleach! In Utero! etc etc

 

Our dear drummer takes Pabs through the first of his favourite artists in our current series of band influences. Seattle’s Nirvana

It was probably the mid 2000’s when we were re-recording some of our early albums and Derek and I got into a healthy debate about Nirvana. Bleach is best he said. I spat out my Carlsberg and protested, how can Bleach be the best. Surely it’s the raw power of the Steve Albini produced Cobain curtain call that is In Utero? No he said, it’s Bleach.

In later years Derek would confess an admiration for Dave Grohl who as we know has stepped from behind the kit to become perhaps more commercially successful with the Foo Fighters. It was clear that Nirvana would have a huge influence on him, his drumming and indeed the band. Derek explains how Nirvana has influenced him.

When did you first discover them?

“I first heard of them (Nirvana) when Scott (a good friend of Derek and the band) of all people, pointed me in the direction of a tape entitled Bleach. I put it on but at first listen I didn’t really get it, I was 11 and I wasn’t quite into music yet although I was listening to Queen and a bit of Guns n Roses. Then, like so many of my generation, I heard ‘that’ song – Teen Spirit and my mind was blown. The rest is history.”

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Nevermind is a classic.

In the early 90’s as our young minds were soaking up our first musical tastes Nirvana did indeed explode onto the scene with Smells Like Teen Spirit. It would have a huge bearing on our first album Whapper Stormer. Educational Suicide, the opening track, was directly influenced by Teen Spirit. Educational was the first of many many songs we would write. On the same album the song ‘Vancouver’ addressed the tragic events that led to Cobain’s self inflicted demise.

Why do you like them Nirvana?

“Probably the same reason most of us like Nirvana, the utter shambolic brilliance of their music. Scratchy vocals, massive riffs and pounding, pounding drums, how can you not like them? Their almost anarchic attitude was exactly the way to get to a young teenager, who in times of angst, could literally let his his hair down and blow off some steam. Nirvana was the perfect soundtrack for that.”

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I wish i had the guts (and money) to smash guitars, but i get attached to them! Pabs

 

It was true that the punky anarchic attitude of Cobain and co directed our behaviour. Our early practise room videos show a total disregard for our futures. It would be mid week and we would be drinking to excess, generally giving a middle finger to the working life ahead. While our peers were revising for sixth year exams we would be planning our next gig, our studying would suffer and at times so did the music. We got really drunk at practise, we traded insults, dived off sofas (yeah I know anarchic) and hung around Earlsgate garage causing low level mayhem.

How do Nirvana influence you or the band and are they still a favourite today?

“Very much still a favourite today, they shaped my music taste from the word go. I wish we could have got another album out of them, but I don’t think we would have got much more than that even if Kurt was still with us. I would say they massively influenced the band, especially in the early days. For at least 3/4 of us they might not have been our favourite band but they were definitely in the top 10. Probably the reason some of us picked up an instrument. Definitely the reason I picked up a set of sticks. So blame them!

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Nirvana in 1993 (from left): Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl.

Even our latest album has threads of Nirvana. Quoted not Voted is perhaps an example of recording what you want to the harddrive and it paid off. Most modern rock bands still go for the large sounding chorus a technique that Nirvana helped make mainstream. My style of guitar playing is heavily influenced by Cobain.

How have Nirvana changed the music scene or the industry itself?

Difficult one to answer for me, I don’t really take much notice of the scene. I don’t listen to music radio at all and I don’t get too many gigs. As Pabs will tell you I live in the past a bit with music. I don’t download and I don’t stream. So for me to comment on how these, or any bands have changed the scene or the industry would be a bit like me trying to design the instrumentation for an a biomass upgrade of a power station…….wait a minute!

With regards to the structure of today’s music industry you could argue Nirvana don’t have much of an influence as they were at their powers during the CD boom of the 90’s however their song structure can be heard everywhere and they opened the door for a huge alternative rock scene.

There probably would’ve been no Weird Decibels without Nirvana.

Kurt Cobain File Photos
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

 

50 Weird Decibels songs as chosen by the band. Part 2 40-31

In the run up to the launch of Weird Decibels 2.0 we look at part 2 of our countdown to the bands favourite song…

Here comes the acoustic album. We have done one acoustic album to date.
Here comes the acoustic album. We have done one acoustic album to date.

40 Grand day out, Quiet Act 2008

The first pick from our acoustic album Quiet Act, Grand Day Out describes a day out in Edinburgh drinking with close friends. Indeed much of this album’s lyrics were about drinking; 6 albums in it was becoming clear that my song writing was getting lazy.

Grand Day Out is a warm upbeat song that builds to the sing along finale. At the time I was pleased with the sound. We were learning more about recording and thinking more about where the drums should be recorded; this album has an airy feel, more open thanks to the acoustic guitars and more subtle drums. Much like the album, Grand Day Out doesn’t change our musical landscape but it is good fun. It was recorded at a beautiful lodge in Gairloch near Baddachro. We had a grand day out at the Baddachro Inn. Pure heaven.

39 Woman In My Dreams Quiet Act 2008

It was a laid back approach to a laid back album
It was a laid back approach to a laid back album

Another take from Quiet Act; this time a pretty obvious love letter! At its heart it is a simple two chord song summed up in the title. I really liked the way we recorded this song, it felt like we were making progress. Stu plays an effective guitar pick over the rhythm, we doubled his part and you can hear the slight differences in his takes panned left and right. It gives the track a kind of ‘sparkle’ which suits the lyrics well. The track ambles along nicely with Greg’s acoustic bass and Derek’s gentle drums giving it flow. Certainly one of our best sounding songs

Like Grand Day Out before it and most of Quiet Act, Woman in my Dreams is simple in its nature although I do feel the lyrics were stronger in this track than most of the album. Not everyone who listens to the band liked this direction… it would not be long before we switched the distortion back on.

38 Fighting With Forever One More Solo 2004

Fighting with Forever sessions recorded at Dereks flat no beer in this shot?
Fighting with Forever sessions recorded at Dereks flat no beer in this shot?

Distorted guitars? Check. Screaming vocals? Check. Clearly this wasn’t from Quiet Act; One More Solo’s final third kicks off with this belter. It bursts in with a solid rhythm before we stop for some toms and guitar build before the song launches into an exasperated look at the formula of adult life, the lack of sleep and fear of getting left behind. ‘Night and day, it just seems the same to me’.

Fighting rolls along before the satisfying screams at the end; my voice barely held out for those as you can hear it burn out towards the end, hence the big FX.

We still play Fighting With Forever at practise but it hasn’t made our set lists for years.

37 Crazy Head Coldhome Street 2000

Crazy head was originally on my solo album ‘A Twist and a Turn’; it had found its way onto this album as have one or two tracks over the years. The rattle at the start of the track is my broken acoustic guitar! We did mention the budget for this album, didn’t we?

This is a bitter tale of broken romance and blaming someone’s past for their actions. It is not a song we have played for years and it is very much of its time.

36 All Good Things Firkin Outburst 1998

That old bridge is now the blue bridge on the Camelon bypass
That old bridge is now the blue bridge on the Camelon bypass

From Firkin Ourburst one of the songs that survived the alcohol laden writing sessions that had an impact on our second album. We were flying high after Whapper Stormer, our first gigs had been a success, we had recorded our first demos and our friendships were growing. There was a Haddows off license across the road from the practise room. We frequented this place every week.

Often we would head home so drunk we wouldn’t be able to remember the songs we had written; All Good Things was one of the 9 that made the album (we recorded 10, Today Was Insane did not make the record).

This track was recorded on our 8 track years after we had written it, again at Derek’s flat during our mad recording weekends.

It has the acoustic/ heavy mix sound that we adopted after Whapper when I was playing more guitar but had yet to purchase an electric.

Lyrically simple there is no complexity to the song, it’s a good riff and has a slightly different feel to our usual tracks.

35 Summerhigh Firkin Outburst 1998

Look at that hair!!
Look at that hair!!

‘Summerhigh, a good day to die’ a lyric straight from Star Trek and the Klingons! This upbeat tune was one of three recorded at our second visit to Random Rhythms, a great wee studio hidden in the outskirts of Edinburgh near the airport. The first sessions, for Whapper, were excellent however this time the recordings did not reach the previous heights. The sound engineer seemed to have lost interest this time around.

Summerhigh sounds slightly thin but the performance was good that day, particularly from Derek who really enjoyed recording in that studio. I sing of getting older (despite being in my early 20’s…) and starting to realise that I had to take some responsibilities; however there was still time for days in the sun.

There is a good live version on our first bootleg, Central FM were very supportive of the local scene during the late 90’s, they had recorded the gig which was part of an all day festival. This Martell performance reflects much of the swagger we had then.

34 Love Hate Thing Riot Act 2007

there is something amazing about rocking out in the remote parts of our land
there is something amazing about rocking out in the remote parts of our land

Sometimes you get a little fed up of the town in which you live; then you go for a stroll look over the forth valley and think, it’s not so bad. Love Hate Thing describes those feelings when out at night. Much of Riot Act is based around nights out in Falkirk (or the aftermath)

Nestled near the end of the album Love Hate Thing starts to wind things down with its moderate pace; at nearly five minutes long it includes a build and a solo. Riot Act is a mixture of fast 2 minute rock and this more measured number.

‘Streets with no name, streets with no shame’ Its not a song we visit much any more. It’s perhaps overly long but not a bad number.
33 Beauty Queen Coldhome Street 2000

This was us doing the 'live' guitars. Made it up as we went along well i did...
This was us doing the ‘live’ guitars. Made it up as we went along well i did…

Given the throwaway nature of Coldhome street it would be surprising if there was not a live jam on the album. That’s what Beauty Queen, the last track on Coldhome, was. The track was recorded in a small studio just outside the centre of  Stirling. I believe we recorded the drums prior to Greg, Stu and I jamming the guitars in the studio. Much of the solo work and possibly the vocals are improvised.

We mixed it on the same day, the engineer seemed to struggle a little and asked if we would mix the track. It’s quite a poor mix; the drums lack the impact needed for a live jam but it is a fun song with some daft lyrics. ‘oh my beauty Queen she loves technology, My beauty queen wants part in a home made movie!’

We all have a soft spot for Beauty Queen; perhaps because it was the song that was never finished. To my knowledge Beauty Queen has never been played live

32 Stand For Your Rights One More Solo 2004

Pensive? Or empty beer bottle?
Pensive? Or empty beer bottle?

Another album ender comes in at 32. A long slow burner of a rock track Stand For Your Rights is the first song we wrote when Stu re-joined the band after his brief hiatus.  Big choruses , dueling solos and a big ending this was our first hint at writing about politics. I’ve always liked the line ‘if you stand for your rights you’ll die young but you’ll die healthy’ it’s a bittersweet statement.

Recorded onto the 8 track along with the rest of One More Solo it was fairly straightforward to record despite the number of different sections of the song. While we were laying tracks at Derek’s flat there was a biblical rainfall shower outside. I grabbed a mic, careful not to get it wet I recorded to the sound of the rain. It was so heavy it ended up sounding like static. My shitty Renault 19 was flooded where it was parked, pity it didn’t float away. I added a little bit of keyboard to give One More Solo the closure it deserved.

31 Crown. Weird Decibels 1

we always look for a recording location with a good pub. Ettrickbridge had the wonderful Cross Keys Inn
we always look for a recording location with a good pub. Ettrickbridge had the wonderful Cross Keys Inn

At number 31 the first track from Weird Decibels 1, a high point in our history, the album was a return to more meaningful lyrics and carefully considered arrangements (well most of it!). Crown is one of the many ‘character’ songs. I was fed up writing about getting drunk at weekends, to be honest I had little to write about so i made up characters. Recorded in Ettrick Bridge (nice pub here as well) we were on a working farm in the middle of the borders. Stunning.

Crown was the murderer, the guy who snapped. He had committed a horrific crime but still attended his mundane office work as normal. ‘Perfect smile it makes me sick, he shakes my bleached hand,  i wonder what makes him tick’. I enjoyed writing about the meeting between the murderer and his perfectly groomed boss.

Crown also asks what happens in our town and cities that we don’t know about as people go about their own business.The vocals during the crescendo are ‘borrowed from a certain Mr Vedder and the song Jeremy. A similar story!

This concludes part 2. nearing the mid table now. next part has a rather big surprise for regular WdB gig goers…

Gig Diary. Record Factory Glasgow 29/8/15

The record factory Glasgow 29th August 2015

Thanks to James from Indievous gigs and Eve Smith for the photographs.

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Another gig break broken by a trip to the big city. Recording finished we finally set out to start promoting Weird Decibels 2.0. its been too long.

With the gear packed in the car we set off to the record factory; a venue at the bottom of Byres road in Glasgow, a place we had never played before. The venue is a basement buried under the street. It had a good feel to it. The smell of barbecued burgers and real ale circulated the warm August air.

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The place was jumping for Paolo Nutini nobody paid much attention for Paulo Smitty. The Nutinis eventually dispatched to a bigger venue to see the Paisley lad, we were left with an empty stage. No gear no promoter.

We had received quite a comprehensive contract from the promoter prior to the show; basically pay to play with the explanation for the pay being the provision of a full back line a sound engineer and some nice lights.

The cracking lads of Avante turned up with… a full back line and a drum kit. So here we are two bands that have paid yet these lads brought their own gear. Still no promoter.

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Sound check started, engineer seemed a bit lost. Avante were loud (all young bands are, we were once!), the sound guy had the charms of George Osborne eating a veggie burger. He spoke to everyone like we were kids.

You need to turn down, now that’s a fair shout but the explanation was hilarious. He explained that the neighbours will complain about the noise and they might come down and stop the show, also the drummer was asked to play softer!!! Avante singer couldn’t believe what he was saying, He replied well we play music and yeah its loud. Like it should be. However the sound man pointed out the flats were here first, a 100 years ago in fact. Why say that?? Bizarre, build a music venue under folks homes?!?

Our sound check was awful, the sound bounced everywhere but to be honest the big metal shutter was down so that wouldn’t have helped. Usual sound man lore, when its busy the sound will improve, yeah that’s fine…it did but then we turned our stuff down, to be fair the guy eventually nailed it.

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We were on 2nd that was perfect as it gave our crowd the chance to get trains home back to Falkirk (the hardcore stayed!).

Set list

  1. Kill it Kill It

  2. Miss Asphyxia

  3. I Hear The City

  4. Speak

  5. Crown

  6. Little Thoughts Lost

  7. Its who You Know

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it was an absolute belter of a gig; from one of the worst set-ups to one of the best gigs we played. From the off we were all up for it. The venue was busy the sound tight and the performance confident. It was great to play new songs to our fantastic listeners. It was great to see some new faces along; some folk made huge efforts to come out and see us!

Kill it Kill it went down well; seems to me growing in stature as a song, other highlights were miss Asphyxia Crown and Little Thoughts Lost. Its Who You Know was up last and drained the band after half an hour of rocking out in rather intense heat. The single wasn’t the tightest (well I got a little list) but it still went down a storm

Post gig there were a few sweaty hugs (need to remember spare tees), out friends were delighted which is great as I need to know the people who have paid money to see us enjoyed it, its great to be back on the scene with our new album. Here’s to a few more gigs like this!!

THANK YOU to all our friends and family that came to see us, including some straight from their holidays in Spain! Many made the trip from Falkirk to a far flung corner of Glasgow, every chord struck, every drum hit, every bass twanged, every sweat drip is for you. Without you we would not be able to do this.Fact.

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Making of ‘Its Who You Know’ video

Its Who You Know the Video

Its Who You Know
Its Who You Know

Our latest video for our brand new single ‘Its Who You Know’ is now on YouTube. This is how it happened.

view the video here

As we finished the writing of Weird Decibels 2 we had a look at our set and decided that we did not have enough songs for the new album (out at the end of this year). So we wrote Its Who You Know, it quickly established itself as the first single.

Its Who You Know has been used many times in songs by other artists but it was apt for where my head was at the time. The 2015 general election was approaching; when I see many politicians I see people who have got their positions simply through their class and connections. I felt angered that people making the decision that effect my life and that of my family were made by those who were not there on merit (I must add that there are many who have worked hard to get where they are).

Indeed many walks of life are influenced by the people at the top favouring friends, family and people they know. Its human nature to surround yourself with people you feel comfortable with and are unlikely to challenge you. The music industry is a another example of ‘Its Who You Know’.

As my father often said when I was young. ‘its not what you know, its who you know’; he stills believes that to this day. However I believe you can make a difference to your life by working hard and never giving up but it is nice to know people with a little ‘pull’. Anyway this is what the song is about.

The Idea.

At 3 minutes the song is not long but it is an age in a music video. The idea was to have an interview with a pre-determined candidate guaranteed the job and the band being the hopeful applicants who did not stand a chance despite their qualities.

The successful applicant would walk through a door to find the band playing, a symbol of going it alone and doing things for ourselves without the help of other influences. The idea was a simple, realistic and a budget friendly plot.

The Shooting.

Kevin Byrne kindly stepped up to the lens and shot the video, he controlled the lighting and directed many of the scenes. His influence was crucial to the final outcome of the video. James Cattanach kindly let us have free roam of the Three Kings and we set up in various rooms to create the interview room, the waiting area and the stage.

Kevin grew slightly concerned about the time we had to shoot the film however once we were set up things quickly took shape.

The Cast

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Chris Wilson: Chris played a cocky applicant who was guaranteed the job. He played his character with a swagger and style; look at the scene where he passes the band knowing he has the job. When he opens the door to see the band play is reaction is priceless.

Chris Burt: Brother of Jemma who appears on Weird Decibels 1 plays the interviewer who grills his victims and draws out nervous ticks and weaknesses of the applicant. A dismissive employer who enjoys wearing a ‘sacking tie’.

Dale Ashworth: Plays another cocky and smug interviewer who plays off his colleague to mock the hapless interviewees. Both members of the board are dismissive of all the applicants until Chris Wilson’s character appears and they shake hands. (which had the director and cast scratching their heads trying to work out the handshake in reverse order)

The Scenes

there were to be three scenes, the waiting room, the interview and the band playing at the end. The first scene had to show that Chris knew the members of the board. The interview displayed the hopeless interviews and the final scene is the band playing the song. We had great difficulty shooting the interview due to uncontrollable laughter! During the waiting rooms scenes I headed out the wrong door and the band followed!

Its Who You Know!
Its Who You Know!

Editing

Greg, Derek and Stu did most of the editing with input from Kevin. The first edit of the film was not far from what you see in the final version. I had the idea to put ‘Tarantino’ titles before every scene to help define the story. We had real difficulty getting the timing right, we play our songs far faster live than the recordings. Greg had to use the force to get some of the playing in sync with the music.

The Release

Its How You Know is the first of three single from our forthcoming album Weird Decibels 2.0. the single has been well received and its nice to know that after two week its hit over 300 views. Thanks for the support!