Tag Archives: nirvana

Our First gig. Martell. 17th Aug 1995

Stu and Pabs take a look back at our first gig at the Martell Falkirk in 1995. Thanks to Derek for the archive flyers, posters and clippings. Stu for the pictures. Not sure who took them.

It was Thursday 17th August 1995, Bill Clinton was still president of the USA, Take That were in the top five and in the the cinema Waterworld was watched by noone. Another seismic event was about to take to place. Weird were about to play live for the first time.

A few months earlier Greg and Pabs had set their first target, to form a band and play the Martell. They created Weird with Stewart and Derek in the deepest of winter in February 95. A few songs later, probably around 6 or so we were looking for our first gig. That offer came from the late Chris Masson who got us on the bill to support Cage, one of Falkirk’s finest and fiercist bands.

 

We just had a handful of songs, we hadn’t even graced the studio but we had written some songs that earlier Weird followers would enjoy for years namely: The Rain, Vancouver and Educational Suicide, some of our best known tracks. We felt these songs were strong and it made us confident going into our first gig, well fairly confident!

Pabs

Back then the Martell was a big deal, it, alongside the Happening Club were the places for local bands to play. Greg and I had went every Thursday night for weeks, months even, to drink beer and listen to Cage. When the call came to play the Martell I was excited, nervous, but really excited. Derek kept a copy of our first flyer. We were third on the bill, we would open up the show for Cage and a band called Twister. A lot of bands in the local scene had ‘er’ at the end of their name.

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Our first set list was penned in black ink, what a feeling that was, writing our first set list. Six songs. The Rain, Educational Suicide, Show Your Face Soon, Stay In, Vancouver and Go Away. We never recorded Stay In or Go Away.

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We still use the flower logo to this day, The Rain occasionally appears in set lists 23 years on

We pulled up to the Martell and had to load into the side door straight onto the stage. I walked onto the stage as Jimmy and the sound guys were setting up, I had long hair draped over my face I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was just doing vocals, the freedom! I could just turn up and sing. The classic days.

Stu

I remember walking into the venue and hearing Ewan the drummer from headlining band Cage sound check and the hairs were standing on the back of my neck.

Sound checking my guitar felt amazing as It sounded huge through the massive pa system.

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A slightly nervous Stu plays his first live chords

Pabs

I remember hearing the kick drum through the PA for the first time. What a sound. We just used a vocal PA down at our practise room. Derek never used mics on his kit in rehearsal so we had never heard the drums like this before.

Derek was the cocky youngster so full of confidence and even in the early days he used to love winding me up. Greg was laid back as always. Stu if I remember correctly seemed quiet and a bit nervous.

Looking up I saw the lights during soundchek, the blotted out my view of the Martell, at this time it was empty, I remember Stu shredding the guitar to test it, it seemed like a huge sound. This was it, we were going live. I can’t remember what song we soundchecked with but I do remember reading about Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. Even at soundcheck Vedder would give everything to his performance, so I did the same. I put everything into the soundcheck!

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Stu (l) donning the summer rock look, Pabs (c) with vedder hair and Derek (r) takes care of the drums

We were about to go on, by this time a  crowd had gathered, there were a lot of friends from high school. Phil and Juls were there as well (I’m sure Phil is in one of the photos), they only knew Stu at this time but we all became friends over the years. I walked up to the stage ready to play, I was really nervous. It’s always the first line you have to remember. Do that and the rest of the gig is fine. So I walked up ready to play and Derek was nowhere to be seen…

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A young Greg graces the stage

Stu played a riff as the crowd waited. Then Derek runs up after getting changed in the toilets. I was raging. Finally we were ready to play. I just recall the lights, the music took me and I just went crazy. I had seen Chris Masson of Cage do the same a few times on this stage, he put everything into his live shows so I did the same, it was natural. Something comes out when you play live, its like all the anger that builds up just pours out. My hair was everywhere. I was singing my songs to other people now.

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Stu

I stood on stage blasted out the 1st song the Rain the crowd went mental I thought that’s awesome but my guitar didn’t seem that loud on stage…I then realised the sound engineer hadn’t mic’d up my guitar amp!

Pabs

First song done and my confidence grew. The crowd cheered, the folk from the high school, were loving having a few beers on a Thursday!

Stu

After I moved the microphone in front of my amp it sounded a lot better and I grew in confidence.I was pretty nervous which I always am at gigs but after I nail the 1st song the nerves settle and after rehearsing at the practice room for months the live sound on stage was incredible.

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A more confident Stu and Greg entertain the crowd

Pabs

The gig flew past, it was only six songs but it felt like 5 minutes. It was an amazing feeling coming off stage and our friends were congratulating us. We dissolved back into the crowd and enjoyed the rest of the night. Cage were amazing, Light years ahead of us, they had been together for a while and were getting into their stride.
Stu

Our 1st gig flew by so quickly. So many people came up to us after in Firkins on the Saturday night saying how good we had been. Such a buzz. We had arrived on the live scene.

 

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Falkirks live venues past and present. part 1. the Martell

The Martell (now the Warehouse)

You never forget your first time, the anticipation, the hope that everything works, getting the mood right and of course making sure the drummer comes out of the toilet before we start. Yes i’m talking about our first gig back in the summer of 1995. We had a setlist of around 6 songs (it’s all we had) and we had a stage. It was a Thursday night, it was the Martell.

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Our Wonder video has Stu playing outside the iconic venue.

Just off Grahams road near the canal sat the Martell. It was hidden from the road by a furniture store. Once you walked past the lastest sofa sale signs you would arrive at the big sign lit up with the Martell font. You can hear the music as you approached the small unassuming front door and when you entered the music hit you. To the left was the till that took the ticket money. Then you would enter the front room, tables often bustling with punters and directly in front the long bar would stretch back to the pool tables.

A small CRT monitor would flicker as the tills rang though the drink sales. Gold Bier £1. This was the mid 90’s and many of the local kids were heading to this venue to see 4 bands on a Thursday for a fiver. Our friends Cage, rock gods  Monitor Lizard, the wonderful Foam and various other local acts played through Jimmy’s PA system. It was loud and some of us had school in the morning…

The stage was on the far right of the room, it was separated from the audience by a small brick wall for which many stunts and guitar poses would be struck. Up in the booth was the DJ, big Sid and his clap monitor for measuring the Battle of the Bands victors. (yes that was how it was decided…)

Watching bands at the Martell was brilliant; it was a small but loyal community that attended every week. From watching the bands to shooting pool you would find you started to know people’s names and hang out talking about the bands of that era, Oasis, Nirvana, Blur and various other acts. Some nights were packed, others not so and occasionally the place would be dead apart from the hardcore frequenters.

Our First Gig.

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Smokey. loud, young and proud to playing the local music scene

At around 19 years of age I had a mop of long brown hair and a stooped gait. Stu was in full Metallica mode, Greg also donned with long hair often tied up so he could show of his rose tinted shades and Derek the cheeky youngster who infuriatingly got changed a minute before we took the stage. I swear he enjoyed seeing my exasperation as he ran past me towards the drum kit smiling.

The first time we played the Martell was amazing. The lights blinded you, we were probably ropey but we played some of the best songs we had written. The Rain and Vancouver to name two, followers from the start will know these songs well.

The high school crowd that has followed Derek loved it and we were finally part of the Falkirk music scene. What followed was amazing. The battle of the bands.

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Advert for the battle of the bands. £1000 in those days would get you a decent stint in a studio. Our gig with Nervana and local lengends Cage advertised. Miss Wet T shirt perhaps showed the other side of the Martell…

Our first attempt at the battle of the bands would see our largest crowds swell the Martell to bursting. To date it is the biggest audience we have played original songs to. It was the quarter finals. Thanks to the clap monitor being pounded by the crowd we sailed through to the semis and the dreams of winning started to become a reality. The semi final was another packed gig but it was not to be, we lost and did not make the final.

We played a number of gigs at the Martell during the late 90’s it was like our Cavern, it’s where we cut our live teeth. Gigs ranged from supporting our friends Cage and Turtlehead to opening for cover bands like Nearvana. Eventually another battle of the bands took place and sadly we were not as successful.

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Stu on the bigger stage that was opened up at the rear of the venue. It would prove hard for us to fill.

The venue opened up a bigger hall at the back where the snooker tables used to be. It felt different and for us it was too much to fill with our small but loyal fanbase. Highlights started to thin out and the Martell’s appeal was starting the wear thin. Eventually we knew all the bar staff, had lock ins with George the bar manager and played live recorded shows with Central FM (hard to believe a local station used to record live local bands). The alcohol flowed, the gigs came and went. One night when I crashed beer all over the counter I knew it was getting out of hand.

We left the Martell for a while, the Thursday nights were no longer a regular occurrence.

In the 2000’s (do we have a decent name for this decade yet?) we were approached to play and we obliged but the magic was gone or perhaps Falkirk had moved from our brand of rock. The Martell, the birth of our gigging experience and the hub of the Falkirk Music scene for so many years had unwound. As we finished our last set at the Martell there was no ceremony, just an air of disappointment. We thought perhaps the next time we play will be better but there would be no next time for us the Martell.

Life went by as it does, new venues opened and I would head down Grahams road sometimes going home in a taxi after a night out up in the heart of Falkirk. For years the neon sign of the Martell would glow statically in the night. You would hear about the Martells reputation for club music and the place became alien to me. Eventually it changed hands, now it’s named the Warehouse and encouragingly the venue puts on bands albeit tribute acts and mid size touring bands. There has been little mention of local artists playing there.

The Martell was one of the best venues we ever had in Falkirk. It worked for years, bringing together like minded people who wanted to listen to or play in bands around Falkirk. Together we created memories that will never leave us. Indeed some of the people who lit up the Martell stage are sadly no longer with us which makes the memories of this iconic local venue all the more important.

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.

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

 

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.