Tag Archives: radio

Demo tapes to Dropping

We’ve just ‘dropped’ a track; right now people all over the world can listen to our brand new song ‘Take the Blindness From Your Eyes’. This is a far cry from our first ever recorded release. A three track demo tape recorded and released in 1996 on cassette tape. I remember to this day when we drove home from the studio putting the tape into the car stereo and being blown away at hearing our first record.

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we were chuffed with our first sleeve for our first demo tape.

The Rain, Vancouver and Chameleon were recorded at Split level studios at Ingliston, Edinburgh, it was a great experience for a young band. The reel to reel tape spun at the back of the mixing room as we laid down our the tracks that we thought would break us into the music scene.

The tracks were all mixed down to a DAT tape master and we nervously took this small cassette (which we couldn’t play on normal cassette players) to a duplication service called Chow Productions. While they could print out several copies of the tape artwork and print on the cassette they couldn’t duplicate the music from the master; so they printed off a batch of blank cassettes with our artwork. We had to get the DAT onto a CD and manually recorded the three songs onto the printed cassettes. This was done by a specialist who was able to convert the master DAT to a CD.

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can you spot the three songs that would appear on our first album!

Our first demos would be packed in padded envelopes with a typewritten letter explaining who we were (an early version of a bio I guess). There were computers around in 1996, it’s just we didn’t have any. I got some addresses for record companies out of the NME and Melody Maker listings and sent off the package envelopes with the demo tape and hoped for the best.

CDRs became mainstream around the late 90’s early 00’s. The studios we were now working with handed us a shiny disc with our new demos. The world of home studios and doing this for ourselves was still a couple of years away. We would get these CDs duplicated then, in a similar way to the tapes, we would package them in a padded envelope and send it off to record company addresses that we found in NME and Melody Maker however this time we had a PC that we could print of letters with pictures.

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By 2004 we were regularly sending off demo CDs

As the 2000s surged into middle age we now had our own studio gear and were recording our own demos and albums. The first self recording was Cold Home Street which we burned to CDR. After this we upgraded to digital multi track but CDR was still the format to send stuff to the ever silent record companies.

By the time we were recording One More Solo the internet was screeching (kids won’t get this ) into existence and loading up at around 500k, MP3’s were creeping in and the ipod was taking off. Bebo arrived and we were now sharing our music in a more direct route to our followers. Back then it was customary to let listeners hear 30 second previews of the track and they would buy the full MP3 in a frenzy of rapid Weird Decibels anticipation. They didn’t. However some people were still buying music but there was no doubt that the free tier was on the way and Radiohead’s In Rainbows, pay what you want, strategy was an interesting experiment. To be fair bittorrent, the pirate bay and napster had already set (arguably illegally, but record companies were still in the stone age) new ground rules and while they were now being dismantled by the ever eager record companies (who were still not calling us) the music distribution models had been changed. Many listeners were no longer paying for music.

Riot Act and Quiet Act were never sent to record companies, they were uploaded to the internet however CDs were still very much important to print as we had a fanbase that wanted them, we still have some if your interested. Shop Bandcamp

After a lengthy pause between Quiet Act and Weird Decibels 1 the music industry was changing rapidly. Spotify had arrived 2008 to try and muscle in on iTunes. It did in spectacular style. We were slow to adapt.

Weird Decibels 1 was released in 2011, demo tapes were now a long way off however we were still printing limited batch CDs. We tried to make WdB1 more attractive by offering a tiered approach to our music. You could listen free on Bandcamp, buy the normal CD or order the limited edition CD with added an artwork booklet, which we sold out of.

We also had to consider a growing number of formats including WAV, FLAC and ACC. Streaming was now a growing force; downloads still made us money though. We finally made the jump to streaming via a digital distributor. We could now effectively be our own record company.

Roll forward to 2016 and Weird Decibels was printed on CD and sold less than WdB1 however most of our top stream tracks are from WdB2 . Now we could see who was listening to our music, a slight nod of pride arose when we saw significant activity in South America and other far off lands.

Of course we were still behind the times, many artists were now ‘dropping’ tracks, no hype no fanfare, just uploading songs for people to listen to. Vinyl had also made a massive comeback. This appears to be out of our reach at present. The mastering techniques involved and the cost of printing are out of reach. Hopefully this will change.

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Take the Blindness From Your Eyes is the first song we have ever ‘dropped’. Its a new approach to releasing music for us. We tend to write and release albums every few years.

So here we are now, we’ve dropped a track but now it’s getting harder to reach audiences without paying for promoted posts given that we’re not paid in the first place! Facebook isn’t helping, people are fed up with it, so we need to find a new way to reach an audience. Until we figure that out feel free to enjoy our new song.

Just a wee note, when we sell a CD at a gig it’s a huge thing these days. The money made from that single purchase can takes us months to raise on streaming services, So if you like a local act buy a CD!

Dear fellow bands please let us know what your first demo was!

Pabs

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Our year 2016

Words Pabs

Photos. Kevin Byrne Photography, Eindp Photography, Purple Dot Photography Juls Samson.

While the world around us was erupting in unexpected vote results, civil unrest and the Great British Bake off scandal; some of our music legends decided enough was enough and packed their bags for heaven. We released our 8th album Weird Decibels 2, we embraced the local scene and won our first award, although we didn’t play live as much as I would’ve liked. 2017 will be fun. (its got to be!!)

So we wish our listeners, friends and family a healthy new year. Here is our 2016.

January

10th. The master (of Weird Decibels 2) is finished but Pabs went and re-mastered…

13th. January, front cover of Weird Decibels 2 is leaked!

February

17th. Firkin Outburst our second album written years ago in 1998,  is shared across the world including Spotify

27th. We told the story of how we made weird decibels 2 including our temporary studio in the Springfield cottage down in the Scottish borders.

March

4th. Kill it! Kill it! Video is unleashed. Cracking piece of work from Kevin Byrne and a great performance from the indefectible Ruari Pearson.

10th. We are featured artist on the Third Class Ticket. Tommy done us proud with this show. Sadly due to an increasing workload Tommy later closed the Third Class Ticket.

We had a good spread about the album in the Falkirk Herald big thanks to James Trimble and co for the article. 

11th Weird Decibels 2 is released on all digital platforms and a thing called a CD

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29th Great review of the album in the Moshville Times. Thank you!

moshville times review

April

May

8th. Live tracks from the rehearsal room are released and filmed from our practise room that we’ve called home for two decades. Find the videos on our YouTube channel

18th. Another great review from Kenny Bates and Gregor Flynn at Stirling DIY press collective

27th May we rock out with The Sonic Blues and Rabid Dogs at the North Star. This is the story

 

June

20th. We head off for a lovely family day gig at Whitecraigs. Here are our thoughts.

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pic purple dot photography

July

August

20th. Pabs returns to the studio for some solo work. Slow Motion Action Punch

28th. Pabs teams up with Neil Logan and they release two songs hear them here

September

4th. Pabs starts a wee look back at Falkirk venues which proves popular with the community. The Martell and Firkins both feature with more to follow in 2017

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a younger Stu playing the Martell

16th We pay homage to the photographers who have kindly taken snaps of us over the years.

26th. Pabs and Stu release a single Passers By from their EP Hero or a Villain

October

14th Stu and Pabs release their debut EP Hero or a Villain

17th We head through to Stirling City Radio for a live acoustic session. Read about it here

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November

24th. Coldest rehearsal for years but something great happened; you’ll find out next year

December

One More Solo appears on digital platforms commuters everywhere listening to the sound of high heels as they walk to work.

We win our first award! AMiF Falkirk’s Best rock/metal/punk act 2016. Humbled to say the least and you should check out our follow nominees 13, The Animal Mothers, Media Whores and Blind Daze.

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A great moment for us, thank you for voting

26th Stu, Derek and Greg didn’t notice the ‘No Parking’ folder which had been on the drive since early November…in this folder there was a live album…

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Weird Decibels in session at Stirling City Radio (the story)

Huge thanks to Stirling City Radio, Stephen Franklyn and Jim Kettles

words Pabs

Social media can be great at times and in terms of raising awareness of the local scene it can work (although I find it increasingly frustrating and the ‘boost’ button is always just a click away asking you for money). So when Stirling City Radio appeared on my news feed I was interested to see what this new internet radio station had to offer. Intrigued, I had a look at the schedule and I was delighted to see that the station, that has been broadcasting on the internet since August 2016, had various shows to cater for all genres. This included rock and live performances from local acts so I sent them a message.

A nice guy called James returned my inquisitive email, he was more than happy to organise a slot on a Monday evening with Stephen Franklyn, a presenter who has an easy approach to playing rock and pop, in addition he hosts live local acts.

Once I got the guys to commit to a night James sent back some instructions, basically head to Stirling arcade and record some acoustic songs and talk about our musical journey so far.

Greg opted to sit this one out, his new house needed a bit of work and this included fitting shelves. More on that later…Derek, Stu and Myself rehearsed a couple of the quieter songs from Weird Decibels 2, we arranged a time to meet and the plan was set.

The train rolled through Polmont and I hopped on, Stu joined me later in Camelon with Derek running a half hour behind us. Stu and I walked onto the Stirling Platform and headed up to the arcade just up the hill from the station. As we approached we could hear tunes drifting out from the main entrance. We walked into the empty corridor of the arcade and headed to the centre where there is a cafe and the radio station itself. There, in the studio booth for all to see, was Stephen Franklyn broadcasting live. Our time to play was 7pm so we had 25 minutes to set up.

After a warm handshake Stephen explained what we needed to set up. It didn’t take us long, as Stu picked up his guitar to soundcheck Derek walked through the door with his beat box that was borrowed from our friend Kevin Byrne.

After some Aretha Franklin we were ready to go live on air, the clock hit 7 Stephen welcomed us to the airwaves. My 5 year old son Lewis was listening and I was told he went crazy at this point! We had a brief welcome and chat with Stephen about the band before we launched into Curtain Hits The Cast.

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Lewis listens to Daddy on the radio.

Thankfully it’s a fairly easy song to play as, surprisingly, the nerves had kicked in. I’m not sure how many people were listening but Stu, Derek and I wanted to get this right. It went well and Stephen asked us more questions about the band. We discussed how we write songs and Derek stated that I have an idea which is developed by the band, I said it was  more a collaborative approach whereas Stu, bold as brass asserted, Pabs comes out with a riff and I make it better! It was a great moment.

After Stephen played It’s Who You Know from the album we moved onto Almost Beautiful. We explained that Greg couldn’t attend the show as he was hanging shelves so we dedicated the song to him and renamed it ‘Almost Level’. It was a stuttery start from me, it’s a tricky wee riff when the nerves kick in but I recovered and it seemed to go down well. Cue another brief chat with Stephen before he closed with a play of Medicine, again from the album.

We had a chat with Jim Kettles who broadcasts on the station, he does rock show just after Stephen and he played It’s Who You Know later in the night which was a nice touch. Then we signed the pillar which was adorned with names of local acts who have played previously. We stood on a table to reach the top of the pillar; all was going well until Stu stood upon the frame, it slid from under him but luckily his reflexes are still razor sharp and he landed like Batman, on his feet.

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This is the view as Stu fell back to earth but like a pro he landed on his feet

We said our goodbyes and headed out of the door back into the arcade as the radios tunes floated across the empty concourse. I was tempted to have a pint but Derek sensibly said he needed to get back for the kids.

Stirling City Radio is a wonderful station set up to serve the local community, it is a fair distance away from the bland automated ‘local’ stations we have on traditional frequency. The station gives local artists the chance to play to a broader audience, the music it plays is varied to try and  capture the ears of the Forth valley. Central FM used to do this before it was turned onto a bland franchise. Now motivated people like Stephen and Jim are staring up their own platforms (Tommy Clark’s Third Class Ticket is also a prime example) and the local music scene can only benefit. Tune in here and find out for yourself.

Pabs

 

Its Ticket Time.

The incredible Third Class Ticket radio show

There are two gatekeepers of the music scene in Scotland. Two. Jim Gellatly and Vic Galloway. You send demos and you hope that they are in the mood to listen to what is probably the 100th WAV file they have heard on a cold damp March morning.

I guess it helps if you are young, energetic, lucky, well connected and to be fair, really good. There are established rock bands in Scotland; a few lucky acts have met the approval and allowed past the gates; however, generally, no one in the mainstream circuit wants to hear it.

Admittedly the Scottish scene had passed over Weird Decibels. It overlooked us and we had left it behind resigned to a life of full time employment with a bit of music on the side.

Then we wrote Weird Decibels 1 and played a one off gig at Box Glasgow. A sparse crowd enjoyed it and our confidence returned. We decided to hook up with PM promotions who asked us to support (the rather good) Life on Standby at the Oran Mor; grudgingly we accepted the harsh ticket deal just to play this venue. It was an incredible night.

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it does take you on a musical journey

The next day I woke up happy and energised then received a message from the guys; this bit is hazy… (hungover) a guy called Tommy Clark liked our tunes and wanted to play our music on his ‘Third Class Ticket’ show. Intrigued I contacted Mr Clark and I received a friendly message from him asking me to send some tracks from Weird Decibels 1 via dropbox.

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Discover these bands and many more

Tommy posted a playlist and a link to Mesi Radio; we were on the tracklist, I tuned in and since then I have enjoyed hearing our music nestled in beside many other band’s homemade and professional recordings. It is an eclectic mix.

Then there is Tommy. I have never met the man but he strikes me as a friendly individual who simply wants to share as much music as possible. His early shows (from when I listened) were an impressive collection of bands from up and down the UK. Tommy had networked and a wide range of unheard acts were submitting tracks and tuning into the show via the Mesi platform.

 

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Tommy wears his ticket tee with pride

At the time Tommy himself was a functionary presenter who stuck to the task of letting Scotland hear as many bands as possible. This included his ‘featured artist’ that would have the privilege of having a few tracks played on a show.

Admittedly I gradually tuned out; my Thursday nights had become more about getting the work week finished and while The Third Class Ticket continuously supported music I had returned to the gatekeepers for musical inspiration. I didn’t find any.

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the many acts who happily send Tommy music for the show

I had promised Tommy a first listen of our new album Weird Decibels 2. When we finally got it finished I got in touch with him and posted out our shiney new CD. Despite the loss of contact Tommy was as friendly as ever and genuinely seemed pleased to be getting first listen of our record. I found that he had moved from Mesi and was now broadcasting on a new platform.

As a returning listener something struck me about the show. The music acts were as delightfully varied as ever but the sound quality of the show had improved. Tommy himself is more confident and relaxed in his role; he adds more of his personality as he introduces the many new tracks that he has discovered. He creates scenes for the listener, in one story he tells of driving to work on a sunny Ayrshire day while listening to the latest songs from hopeful bands, some of which very few people have heard.

Listen carefully to the show. You can hear Tommy switch off his mic as a new song comes on. It adds to the feel of the Third Class Ticket. This is a show, I assume, lovingly crafted in the spare room of Tommy’s home. He plays music that has been crafted in the spare room of the artists.

 

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A cracking wee show created by Tommy

This is the beauty of the Third Class Ticket. It is a grass roots radio show untouched by critics, demographics or industry influence. This is one man encouraging hundreds of bands to get in touch and giving them their first play on a radio show.

In a selfish way I hope the Third Class Ticket stays underground; that’s its appeal. However if Tommy Clark is to become Scotland’s gatekeeper I hope he makes Weird Decibels his featured artist!

If there are other grass roots stations like the Third Class Ticket please get in touch. We want to listen.