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We rate our recordings part 3. 5-1

Part 3

Photographs Neil Henderson, Sweet P, Kevin Byrne and various.

Don’t you just love countdown list? Yeah thought so! We’ve been rating our recordings and now we reach the top five records that we feel represent our best work. This is all to celebrate the forthcoming release of ‘Everyday Heroes’ EP.

So now that the teacups are running dry and the biscuits are nearly eaten we’ve finally agreed what are our favourite recordings are.  All albums are on Spotify, just hit the links. Feel free to follow us so you get notified of our new releases.

5. Firkin Outburst (1998)

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Drinks on the cover and drinks in the album. This is a wee table in the quiet corner of Firkins

Our second album. By this time we were enjoying the freedom of college and the fact that we hadn’t started full time jobs. We drank a lot of beer writing this and probably forgot more songs than we recorded. Nine songs survived.

Pabs

The front cover sums up the album. Drink and Firkins. We were having a riot. The band was young and we had had a successful couple of years thanks to Whapper Stormer and the vibrant local music scene. This album is messy, it was recorded in two different studios and on three different desks. I remember standing in Firkins asking a guy from Central FM what he thought of the new demo which had Culture Creature, Summer High and Today Was Insane (which never made the album) He didn’t think it was as good as the previous tape (The Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon) I was gutted, raging and walked away.

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During the Firkins sessions we liked a booze in the practise room, apart from Greg who always drove. We owe you Greg!

But the assessment was correct, Firkin didn’t hit the heights of Whapper but it is a fun record that captures a great time for the band. We threw discipline and care out the window and had a laugh. 

Derek

Big highs, a couple of lows, probably an unfocused time for us but from the practise room point of view it was the best time ever.

Pabs

It was crazy, taking beer glasses and a carry out down to the room on a Wednesday night. Sometimes we’d drink more than rehearse.

Stu

Not as good as Whapper but has its moments. Culture Creature is an absolute classic. Loads of songs lost during this boozy period.

Bo

Excellent album, long way down is a totally underrated song in my opinion. Wasn’t quite as boozy a time for me as I was the one driving. Some good vids made then though that are fun to look back on.

Pabs

Greg drove all the time…He’s one of the most patient people I think I’ve met. He put up with our antics for years. We need to get these vids onto YouTube or something.

4. One More Solo (2004)

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Stu returns after a break and we write songs for fun and record in Derek’s old flat with our friends ever present cases of beer and Subways.

Pabs

All of us apart from Greg gave this the same score. One More Solo was plain good old fashioned rock. We were celebrating getting back together and it shows on this record.

The original master was bad though; in fact i don’t think we mastered anything back then. The bass swamped the record and there was these lovely ringing guitars at the end of nearly every song that Derek was a big fan of.

It was a great time for the band, we still believed that we could make a go of our music career ao we gigged this record quite intensely. We met some great friends on our travels. Its a good record and a wee bit or re-mastering has helped to clear it up.

 

 

Bo

The remastered version is better. Just think we’ve played the songs on this record so often that they lost out a bit to the other albums on my list.

Pabs

We haven’t played Waiting On the Sound Of Your High Heels that much.

Stu

Not! Great album. Love being back in the fold. Hanging out with my best mates and writing recording and gigging. Remastered version a lot better

3. Whapper Stormer (1995)

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Star Wars has always been a big influence on Weird Decibels

Our debut was always our favourite recording over the years, until the Decibels arrived!

Pabs

I love this record. Three songs were recorded at Split Level in Edinburgh: the Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon. In terms of quality they’re above the rest of the record so in that regard it’s a bit uneven. However the songs were some of the best we ever wrote. This album also has my favourite lyrics; my imagination was firing on all cylinders then, perhaps with the exception of Downer.

 

 

It was what we team as ‘classic weird’ I would stick to vocals and Stu would take care of all the guitars. The four of us wrote together. I would sing the melody to Stu, it was a time where i could keep melodies in my head for months. Stu would create a riff from it. I was fascinated by that.

Derek

You always remember your first!

Pabs

Although this album was written in the mid 90’s it would be in 2004 that we would record 7 songs to fit in with the three from Split Level. Just For Today was an early example of progress we were making at recording our music.

Stu

The classic Weird album. Still sounds amazing. Timeless. It was so easy to write those songs. Happy happy days.

Bo

The first professional recording we did at a proper studio by the chain smoking Neil on a reel to reel whilst muttering ‘the rain..in Spain’ to himself over and over. Was an exciting time.

Stu

And Neil added the delay effect over my wahwah guitar in the verses then I bought a delay pedal to replicate it live

Pabs.

Haha yeah I forgot about that, then he sang ‘trousers that keep you alive’ and I’m at the back shaking my head because he’s mocking my diction. It was a very exciting time; it felt like we were living the dream.

2. Weird Decibels 1 (2012)

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One of our best and it was a great era for the band

The second coming. 4 years after Quiet Act, finally back on the gig scene and about to have our most successful phase some 17 years into our career. Weird Decibels 1 was a defining album for us.

Derek

There isn’t much between WdB1 and 2. There would’ve been a bigger difference if WdB1’s tracklisting had been better, WdB1 would’ve been a clear number one.

 

 

Pabs

Ahh the WdB1 tracklisting debate. I stuck firm with this one. Psalm was a statement of intent. It was some 4 years after Quiet Act and we were nowhere on the local scene. Psalm had everything, big guitars, epic drums and bass. The intro is on an old acoustic, similar to Battery by Metallica. The acoustic linked Quiet Act with Weird Decibels 1. The song builds to one of our biggest crescendos. Stu played about three solos while I sang my heart out.

I’m worried about the concept of an album these days. I hope there is not a time where bands stop putting out collections of songs. An album is an experience for me, a beginning, a middle and an end. WdB1 had that.

I see the point that the other guys made about not starting with Psalm but I couldn’t see it any other way. The album starts big and ends big with Industry.

One thing I will say about my favourite recording is that the vocals are loud in the mix and a little harsh, if I had the time I’d have a wee go at mixing this album again.

I like the scope of WdB1, Jemma Burt added piano, keys and violin to three or four tracks but it adds so much to the album, it gives it a lot more texture than it normally would have. Derek and I rated this our favourite recording, there are a lot of solos, guitar riffs and vocals on this album.

WdB1 was also a great era for us. We ventured out of the practise room and started to head out to Glasgow playing some cracking gigs around the city. We shot our first music videos which were watched a few times. Until this time we were a largely ignored band so it was a highlight for us.

Stu

Wdb1 is a fabulous record. No acoustics just huge epic rock. So many great songs and still play many of them in our live set. I stand by the track selection although we never really play Psalm live. Love all the videos we made for this record which opened up new listeners to the band. I don’t think Steel had aged too well hence why I rated the album my 3rd favourite.

 

 

Pabs

It’s true what Stu says we do lean quite heavily on this album when building sets. We’ll need to write more!

Bo

This album had a limited edition release with hand written lyrics around excellent artwork by pabs which I really enjoyed. I also started making t shirts to sell at gigs with this album cover which seemed to be popular. Good songs which were well received when we played them live.

Pabs

Yep we put a lot into that record.

1.Weird Decibels 2 (2016)

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Our favourite recording. A lot of things came together, the songs, the location of the recording. it just worked.

Our latest album is voted our favourite recording. At 33 minutes it’s a short, sharp burst of rock recorded at our biggest location yet, the grand Springfield cottage.

Pabs

I voted this my 3rd favourite recording, I like the record, its two years old now so i’ve had more time to reflect on it. It’s probably the best sounding record but it was hellish getting there. Recording the drums in Springfield was a good move. It gave the drums the room sound i was looking for. After the drums and bass things went a bit askew.

Whatever technique or mic placement i used on the guitars I could not get a decent tone for the distortion and spent ages during recording and at mix to get it to sound good. I used to use the Rode for the guitars as I liked the bright tone but the industry standard SM57 gives me more control of the sound. With the Rode I was always cutting a lot of frequencies so I guess it took me awhile to get round to using the SM57; I’m stubborn that way I just wanted to try something different.

I always thought numbering the albums (like Led Zeppelin) was a mistake as it felt like we were essentially doing WdB1 again. We scrapped a few songs at the start and hired a cottage to write, This was new for us and it saved the album. It turned out really good

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We went away to write WdB2 and it saved the record. Pic Kevin Byrne
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The highlight of promoting WdB2 was Shuffle Down. Pic Sweet P

Bo

An album full of excellent songs, some stronger than others but very fun to play. I feel we’re pushing ourselves a bit which can only be a good thing for future recordings.

Stu

I rated this my top album as there is not a weak track. It’s our best sounding album recording wise. I had an absolute blast recording my rhythm and especially solo parts (with Bo recording)

 

 

Pabs

Yeah I remember Greg recording the solos for me, I had had enough. I set up the mics, got the sound then said to Greg can you do it? Im done… Then I went for a walk in the freezing cold. Derek had went home early he was missing his family. So I’m standing at the end of a farm road, fed up, in the distance I hear Greg and Stu finishing the album and I’m thinking is this it? That was then, time has passed. I think we’re gonna do it again.

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I was standing here thinking we wouldn’t ever do this again. Pabs

Stu

Once More with Feeling and Medicine kick arse and love playing those songs live. Plus it was the best lodge we have used to record. Very happy memories. A fantastic album and looking forward to you guys hearing our brand new EP coming soon.

Words Weird Decibels

Edited by Pabs

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Falkirk Music 2016

 

Pictures Kevin Byrne Photography and Eindp Photography 

Its well documented on this site that I’ve been in Weird Decibels for over 20 years playing in the local scene and sometimes beyond. For a majority of those years I’d admit that I was quite insular and interested in promoting only our band. However time and attitudes have changed and I have found myself taking in more and more of the local music scene around me. I’m not out at every gig or bought every CD (although I’m drawn to downloading from Bandcamp!) from our town, I don’t have the time (and money!) but when I can take the sounds in I enjoy being a part of it  So here is my brief look back at the local music and events I have personally enjoyed (and been a part of) in 2016.  Pabs

Bands/ Artists.

Ghost Writer. I saw these guys at Behind the Wall and the Trinity Church, they have a dynamic sound and really bring something different to the scene. They have been busy recording and released a few singles this year. They’re worth checking out.

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Bootsie Blue. These guys bagged best new comer in this years AMiF awards this young three piece lit up Behind the Wall a few times this year, I saw them in June but they also played as part of the Falkirk Live festival. Looking forward to hearing what they lay down in the studio.

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The Sonic Blues. The Breens (and Douglas Campbell) have had a busy year in the town, they played alongside us in May at North Star and several other gigs. They have regularly been sharing their music to the Falkirk masses via Facebook. I admire their DIY ethic to recording (its what I do)

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Robbie Lesiuk. There is a big acoustic movement in town at the moment and Robbie is very much at the forefront of this. An accomplished live performer, I caught him at the Trinity and Coffee on Wooer where he supported Stirling act Lefthand.

Blind Daze. Its good to see more rock bands appearing on the scene (Falkirk badly needs more rock bands), these guys are playing with us Jan 6th 2017 and have been busy this year.

Albums

I’m still an album guy and there were a few that I discovered from our Falkirk acts this year.

Dextro. In The Crossing. Discovered this sublime electronica while listening to all the acts nominated for the brilliant AMiF awards. This is a well crafted piece of work that flows from track to track. Hunt this down.

13 A Line of The Dead on Deadline Day. Great, raw garage sound, really like this album from punk rockers 13 they’ve played a few times in 2016 and I’ve not been to one of their gigs yet. Need to sort this 2017.

The Animal Mothers. The Incredibly Strange Animal Mothers Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed Up Zombies. Great album full of attitude and fuzz, i’ll be keeping an eye on this band and hopefully I’ll catch then at a Falkirk gig

Live Events

I have a soft spot for Shuffle Down 2016 and it was great to see the festival return this year. The lineup was more varied and better for it. Still grin when I remember how good (and bizarre) the Paddy Steer set was. Great to see SD is back 2017

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Weird Decibels/Rabid Dogs/ The Sonic Blues. Finally we got to play with Rabid Dogs at the North Star and it was a great night you can read about it in the link above. We’re hoping to hook up again in 2017, sound bunch of lads.

The Loft Sessions. Very enjoyable and it’s good to see that BTW have adapted the ale house to have more of a music venue feel, especially when they get rid of the benches. I really hope this continues and it gets busier. There were a couple of times it was busy and a couple when it was quiet.

Fairweather and the Elements Falkirk Trinity Church. A heavenly evening was had by the impressive crowd that attended, read about it here This was another watermark for the scene, new venue, great acts and a great atmosphere.

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Falkirk music business.

Big shout out to Noise Noise Noise a wee music merch shop tucked away in the Avenue on the High Street of Falkirk. Craig is also stocking a number of albums from local acts; he even sets up stall at local gigs which is an inspired idea.

Revolution Music. Just down the street from Noise Noise Noise is Revolution Music, I know you can get strings and stuff cheaper online etc but it is nice to hand over cash to a fellow human now and again. Falkirk has had a long tradition of music instrument shops this is the only one (to my knowledge) still standing.

Honourable mentions

2016 saw an upsurge in Falkirk acts releasing music videos; however a fantastic playlist has been created by Stuart Gray (Children of Leir fame) he has painstakingly scoured the internet for videos past and present and brought them all together in one place. I heard Belt songs for the first time since I heard their tape in high school (that as a while ago) Hit this link and give yourself a couple of hours to discover some great stuff.

Adam Donaldson took the time to compile a playlist of local acts on Spotify and it is a superb way to hear them all in one place (if you use Spotify)

AMiF. The constant local music news updates, spreading the word and of course the AMiF awards has really helped engage the people of Falkirk with the scene and raised awareness among artists. Big congratulations to Fly Jackson on winning album of the year, Nickajack Men on winning song of the year and Sarah Em who won video of the year. The full listing of winners and nominees can be found on the AMiF page (link above). Check them all out, including best rock act of 2016 😉

Falkirk Music Scene 2016

So this was a quick glance from my personal perspective of the Falkirk scene this year but I can guarantee that there is so much more in our town.

The Falkirk scene is in good health but it is still not held in the same light as Fife or even Stirling  I have really enjoyed giving a wee bit back to the scene and hope that all Falkirk artists support each other. If this happens I reckon it’ll get busier and more people will sit up and notice. Download from Bandcamp, go to a gig, write a blog, spread the word, anything to help Falkirk music grow, after all it’s your scene.

Pabs

 

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!

Speak, how we made the video.

Speak, the video

Picking the song.

Weird Decibels 1 has many good songs (in our humble opinion of course) but Wonder, Joker and Speak have always felt like singles. We had an idea for Wonder fairly early on so that video came first. Joker has had several ideas that we either too ambitious for a zero budget or the logistics of getting the right people together didn’t happen. It will though. Speak kinda hung around waiting for an idea. Derek rightly pointed out that we needed to get a new video out and he suggested our faithful practise room owned by the most understanding of landlords Fraser Law aka Beany. We get a free reign of the room so its been our home for nearly 20 years. Derek suggested we shoot a simple video there, and get it uploaded quick, however the idea started to develop.

 

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The room is brilliantly ramshackle, it’s a homely basement with an underground feel. A perfect setting for an underground band shooting a budget film!

Influences and the ideas

The White Stripes, The Hardest Button to Button
A wonderful video.

After the drums intro Speak breaks into a guitar riff with individual notes. I remembered the White Stripes video The Hardest Button to Button, I thought some pictures on the video would be cool, a picture for each note. Below is a still from that wonderful video.

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It worked really well, firstly with the guitar picks, then leads and pedals. Look for the picture of Pabs turning up his amp after Stu. That NEVER happens.

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Pic above. One of the many stills used for each note of Pabs guitar riff.

For the verses we decided to mix things up, Stu singing, Derek on lead guitar, Greg on drums and myself (Pabs) on bass. For those who know the band there would’ve been a few head scratching moments for those that didn’t, well everything would be normal until the chorus. Myself back on vocals, Stu on lead, Greg on bass and Derek on drums. A simple goofy idea.

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Our next influence?

Nirvana. Smells Like Teen Spirit.

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Nirvana is in everything we do

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Yep straight from the Smells Like Teen Spirit vault. The middle 8 sees me screaming into the camera Kurt Cobain style, another mod to our musical youth.

The second verse was a complete surprise for the band. Greg took the outtakes and inserted them into film. Inspired. It gives the video a human edge and is rather funny when Greg fails in his drum stick whirl.

The solo is a classic Stu gig pose that we finally have on film. Stu and I stopped short of doing the back to back pose normally pulled at gigs. I had my moment now it was the turn of the guitar hero.

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For the ending we returned to the still pics for every note. This time we had the band sitting on the old practise room couch. It was a nod to the back cover of Whapper Stormer, our first album. We had no one to take a band pic so we took a photo of the couch then using Photoshop we placed the band into the picture. This idea worked well for the end of the video.

How We Shot The Video

We simply used HD camcorders and Derek’s posh camera. The moving scenes were simple to shoot. The photographs were more challenging as we did not want the light to change too much, so we grabbed some sheets and covered the lights until Derek was happy, and continued to hold the until our arms ached with lactic acid.

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The pic above sees Stu goofing around, the shadow on the right is one of the covers slipping down. No expense spared!

We shot the video in black and white to go with the same colour theme of the album, however Joker, the next video may get the full colour treatment. Who knows!

Editing

We thought this would be so easy to edit and upload but it turned out to be a nightmare in comparison to Wonder. The high def photographs sapped the RAM out of Greg’s poor old PC. Some more RAM a new video editing package and a new OS later and Greg’s hard work paid off.

The Reaction

So far so good! For a small band with around 30 hardcore followers its great knowing that hundreds of people are watching our videos. It is a new audience for us and we are reaching new corners of the globe. So thanks for watching!

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The Speak video in all its glory.