Tag Archives: metal

We Played in A Prison (a story from 1996)

It was around 1996 when on a normal Wednesday night we gathered for practice, Stu asked us if we fancied playing a gig in a prison. He had a relative who organised entertainment for the inmates HMP Longriggend (which has since closed). We had reservations, as four young guys all we knew about prison was the stuff you saw on television. Prisoner:  Cell Block H was terrifying… However when Stu added that it would be our first paid gig we quickly manned up, did a few push ups and agreed to play.

We had to learn a few of our first cover songs to mix in with our own numbers; and we hired Jim Dunbar to do the sound. For additional support we brought our friends John Baines and Ruari Pearson. For the purposes of security Stu had to phone the prison with the names of our party. For some reason he couldn’t remember Ruari’s surname so under a bit of pressure from the gruff voice of the warder on the line, Stu said Ruari’s name was John, John Ruari…

Longriggend was located near Airdrie and as you drove along the winding B803 taking in the desolate back farmland your eyes would be drawn up the hill towards the walls of the prison, it was an eerie scene often shrouded by the clouds that hung to the hillside.

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

On the day of our gig we drove up to the gatehouse unsure what lie ahead. It was the late 90’s and while the prisons had settled back to some sort of normally after the turbulent start to the decade there was still an imposing welcome at the gate.

We gave our names. Ruari gave his; Rurai Pearson he said to the guard. Sorry we don’t have that name stated the gatekeeper. Derek whispered, today you’re John Ruari. ‘John Ruari’ said Ruari. Finally we were in.

We were led around to the games hall past the prison wings; the cell windows were adorned with steel bars no doubt there was an unknown soul awaiting his fate from the courts locked within. Barbed wire hung to every wall. Some of the inmates were having a kick about in a five aside pitch they took little interest as we passed.

The guard escorting us pointed to a parking bay and showed us inside the hall. Some prisoners were in the wing adjacent, staring at us through a grill gate as we went in. Intimidating to anyone first entering these institutions however to the guards this was just another backshift.

It didn’t take long for us to set up, Jim turned up the volume and it was loud. Time passed and slowly the prisoners shuffled into the hall in an orderly fashion and took their seats. Derek noticed a couple of guys from our school that had wandered onto the wrong side of the law. Not one of the guys heckled us, indeed they seemed happy to be free from the confines of their cells. When we started playing things changed slightly.

As we launched into our first songs some of the prisoners walked out to the toilet. A few minutes later they came back with toilet roll stuffed into their ears. Others sad impassively, some laughed as I tried to rock out to the music.

It was a fine gig though and our inhibitions were unfounded; for as we neared the end of our set the power cut and the lights went out…that was hairy but we got a warm round of applause at the end. It was nice to get paid, just a bit unnerving seeing the guard counting out the money in front of the captive audience!

A few weeks later Stu and I were in Glasgow picking up our printed demo tapes that were still to be filled with the audio tracks. As we headed down Sauchiehall street back to the station we heard a ‘hello’ from behind us. A young guy staggered towards us, ‘you guys played at the LRU didn’t ye?’ ‘eh yes’ we replied; ‘Brilliant you got me oot ma cell for the afternoon’. ‘I’ll buy wan eh yer tapes’ Stu tried to explain that the tapes were blank but he waved his words away. He handed us a couple of quid and stumbled down the busy street with one of our demos before disappearing into the mass of shoppers.

 

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

 

Gig Diary 22nd August 13th Note Glasgow

Weird Decibels live at 13th note 22/08/2014

Our names in lights
Our names in lights

A few months ago at practise, Derek suggested that we run and promote our own music night for a change; give the promoters a wee break. So Derek, Greg and Stu ( I was kinda leaving it to them to be honest) fused their music biz minds together and came up with SYTB promotions.(if you’re wondering its Strumit, Yellit, Twangit and Bangit)

A venue was needed, 13th Note were offering their excellent venue plus sound man for a very competitive price. It seemed too easy. The only thing we needed now was other bands.

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a solid performance from the Dark Arts

We talked about the bands we have played with over the years and wanted a good mix of styles for our debut event. Up stepped Miss The Occupier, Dark Arts and Ciceros Secret. Three fine and very different bands.

Here is the story of the night.

The first thing that surprised me was my car; the boot swallowed up the bass amp plus two guitar amps without so much as a shrug. Gear packed we battled though the rush hour traffic back to the city of Glasgow which is still basking in the after glow of the Commonwealth Games.

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derek couldn’t wait until the photo was taken and kept eating nom nom

We arrived early so I had time to sample some of the 13th Notes grub. Its all veggie; to be honest I could do with a night of the red stuff so I ordered a cracking veggie burger. Once we were fed we headed down stairs to one of the cities most iconic wee venues. For a band our size it feels more like home; even a modest crowd fills the room so that settled us.

The sound check went smoothly; the other bands rolled in. It was nice to see Jon from the Dark Arts; we played for a least three years together in the Seventeenth. Now I’m not saying it was a time of high fives and fist pumps, we had our moments, but it is a time I look back fondly on; it was nice to see the fella again. I was tempted to ask if he still listens to the old Seventeenth records (I do) but I let that one pass.

Ciceros Secret arrived; they are a nice bunch. We played with this young band back in November 2013 at the Garage Attic that was a crazy gig; their fans stormed the stage and the place turned into a mosh pit.

Miss the Occupier are friends of our friends and it was nice to meet them.

Now that the greeting were out the way it was time to get down to business.

The wonderful Miss the Occupier
The wonderful Miss the Occupier

The crowd floated in as Miss The Occupier took to the stage playing a fine mix of their own tunes which reminded me of Joy Division, they had a really clean, punchy sound; Roz the singer owned the stage. The crowd swelled and the temperature rose; the 13th Note atmosphere was here!

I really enjoyed their set you should check out their excellent video on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPZrhr5Pbn8

Sometimes it good to hear something you know, the Dark Arts provided a cracking set of rock covers for the now packed audience. Pearl Jams ‘Even Flow’ was excellent; Jon was particularly good on the bass. He had his sound spot on which was not really a surprise given that he was a perfectionist back in the Seventeenth days.

It was our turn to step up and time was pressing I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little rushed. I quickly set up the gear and we were ready to go. Or so I thought.

Set list

  1. Speak

  2. Kill it! Kill it!

  3. Miss Asphyxia

  4. Wonder

  5. Little Thoughts Lost

  6. Deliverance

  7. Joker

  8. I Hear the City

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

We started well with the now stable Speak which often opens our set. This flowed nicely into Kill it! Kill it! Slight confusion at the intro but generally nailed. Then it was a wee hello to the crowd; straight back into Miss Asphyxia. By now I could hear my guitar on stage and it seemed out of tune but we flowed onto Wonder where Stu held the notes. A quick tune up confirmed that the G string was well out (har har). That fixed we moved on to a strong finish. New song Little Thoughts Lost got a little lost in my head! However Deliverance, Joker and new favourite I Hear the City went down well.

It was good to see the crowd right next to us; I was pleased everyone had stuck around to the end. It was hot; my shirt and tie combo was beginning to feel like a bad idea.

Before I knew it we were done and quickly packing up the pedals to allow head-liners Ciceros Secret on.

These guys are in their late teens; their music is high energy experimental metal. Its loud and in your face and I hate to say it but it took me back to the days when we started 20 years ago! Long hair waiving, loud music, playing hard and fast and not caring that some of the crowd were now starting to disperse into the late Friday night.

For those that remained they were treated to a brilliant show; their guitarists weaving through the crowd not missing a note. They were a brilliant end to the night.

We learned a few lessons on the night. Bands will run over, its natural with live music. So I’ll try not to rush my set-up in future. All in all it was a very successful night.

Final thought goes to our fans. Given that many of you have now seen us live many times we feel we are in a unique place that we have a group of friends that want to come tine and time again. The effort you guys make is quite simply brilliant. Thank you for keeping the band live.

Thank you WdB fans!!!
Thank you WdB fans!!!

Pablo likes…(discovering music)

From time to time I will dive into the digital sea of internet sites that offer a quite often bemusing amount of music to listen to. Here is what I liked on the 12th of July 2014

Famine, Famine

https://wooaaargh.bandcamp.com/album/famine

Simple cover, straight to the point. A bit like the album
Simple cover, straight to the point. A bit like the album

Fast and uncompromising metal Famine, from Germany, deliver a short sharp jab of crunch. Littered with samples of what sounds like physical pain and the odd quote the interlaced tracks on this album are short and brutal. There is not much in the way of information. http://www.wooaaargh.com/ the website takes you to a German site with similar artists and similar themes. This is guid though, that’s if you have a sick fetish for a short and sharp kick in the ears now and again. I love the guitar whammy bend in the riff played on the 53 second track ‘Stacks To Buy’. Try it.

 

 

 

 Caves, Homeward Bound

 

https://specialistsubject.bandcamp.com/album/homeward-bound

CavesSnappy punk wanders away from the slick sound I often stumble on while scouring Bandcamp. You can here the buzz of the amps, it sounds live and I like that. Its fast and it sounds underground. Their album starts strong ‘Time and Time Again’ and title track ‘Homeward Bound’ are impressive. These guys sounds young, it seeps through their music. The energy flows into your ears, gets the head nodding and the feet tapping. It sounds like one or two takes were played to nail this. Magic. Signed to Specialist Subject Records who seem to share the liberal feel of their music. The slogan, ‘Download Everything Free’ hits you when you navigate to the labels site. A two piece with Lou on guitar and Minty on bass and vocals. A quick look at the photos on Facebook shows you that the energy on their record evidently overflows into the gigs.  New Year/New Start finishes the album with a nice acoustic texture, these lads from Bristol (nice city) have been a worthy listen tonight.

 

https://www.facebook.com/wearecaves/timeline

The third and final recommendation is from The Lucies, Houston Texas

The Lucies‘I’m Afraid Of People Cutting Me Out Of Their Life’  is rather beautiful, a sleepy soulful song recorded and written by The Lucies, information is spare . This album is a self confessed lo fi experimental recording and admittedly the 2nd track is too harsh a change from the beauty of the first. If you can climb over this track the rest of this short record is rewarding. ‘Out Of It’ recovers with the title track, tape hiss and all. The beauty of  this music is the spontaneous nature of the recording, the hit or miss. This is what is absent from mainstream music. The finale ‘Steamboat’ is a reflective wee song about a presumably drunk or high steamboat lizzy needing a lift to the infirmary. In the background you can hear a strimmer, an unassuming neighbour trying to get to grips with an overgrown lawn. It rips you out of the scene. You hear the artist sigh at this infringement. I smile because I’ve been here in my own home studio many times. That’s why I never record in the summer! That aside this is  a great but vulnerable little album.

http://theluciesband.bandcamp.com/album/out-of-it

Pabs