Tag Archives: recording

The Final Touches to Weird Decibels 2

How we made Weird Decibels 2

Deluxe download at bandcamp

In the home studio

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Lewis loves the studio and he is at home there

As the Springfield bags were unpacked and I sat in the home studio I had an optimism about the forthcoming mix sessions. We seemed better prepared; all the tracking seemed to have gone well. There was still a lot of recording work to do but I’d be able to edit the drums and bass.

I looked at the small screen of the Korg D3200.  It’s a horrible tiny basic green lcd display that is your eyes for the whole project; a bit like a Nintendo Gameboy. A flicker of envy passed through me as I yearned for the bigger monitors of a typical DAW setup. Maybe I should go on Tipping Point and win some cash.

Editing is horrible on the Korg so discipline is needed at the tracking stage to make sure you are not wading through silence trying to reach the recordings. The drums generally edited well and sounded pretty good. The bass had a few problems with tone  so some EQ cutting was required. It turned out to be quite drastic and reminds me that I need to sharpen up on my micing techniques.

My concerns about Stu’s distorted guitars were justified. There was a good tone in there but it was laden with low mid eq. This was the biggest mistake I made, I wrestled with this frequency and tried to shoehorn it into the full sound. There was a creeping dread that I’d have to ask Stu do redo the entire distorted guitars.

Mastering?

Mastering is a topic in itself. To say Weird Decibels 2 is mastered would be stretching the term. It does have light compression, some subtle stereo track EQ changes and some limiting but it was also done by the same guy that mixed and recorded it, (me). I can understand why people say that  you do get too close to the sound.

When Derek texted to say that he felt the album sounded poor on his headphones I had a small fit. I knew he was right but wished it had been spotted sooner. The summer months had been a rain filled wash out but I had still spent them in a small room hearing the same songs many times over.

My mood dipped, I didn’t notice it at the time, others did but I did not see a problem. I soldiered on with the record trying to find out what was causing the album to sound muddy.

When I cut into Stu’s guitars it did the trick; his tone was still there but the rest of the album had opened up. Of course it knocked the mix out so that had to be done again. Then it had to be re-mastered all while I heard my son and my wife downstairs playing and possibly wondering when I’d join them.

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Snappy singer. pic Gary

Now I was getting snappy; frustrated that my normal life was getting in the way of the album (even though I had spent half a year on it). I missed the deadline, we wanted the album out for our 20th anniversary gig at North Star. I shouted at the guys that night; moaning at them for trivial things.

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Deadlines are pointless unless you are Guns and Roses. When its ready, its ready.

My wife had asked me to take a step back from it; I reluctantly agreed to take a couple of weeks off but that turned into three.

The Cracks Begin to Show

Things got worse; I awoke on the 11th of November 2015 and read some messages; I had been trying to get the practise room keys to record some vocals. I tried to get in touch with the band to get the keys but nothing happened and I couldn’t record the vocals. It was a small irritance but it infuriated me. I just wanted to get the album finished.

band banter
21 years of band history could’ve been finished by a stupid disagreement. Thankfully it never happened

I quit the messages, cut myself off and walked to work convinced that I had quit the band.A sense of mourning had crept over me as I listened to Spotify while walking through the Quarry park. It was a weird feeling.

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Stu was a constant presence in the studio. Not sure what he is seeing here!

The guys laughed it off; Stu visited that same night and we sat over a coffee like nothing had changed; the dude was there and I was impressed with that. So we mastered the album. A few weeks later it would be done.

At 33 minutes Weird Decibels 2 is our most compact and focused album. It has its flaws; sometimes I think we are better live and there is no shame in that as many bands are the same.

It’s a quiet album by today’s standards; so sometimes it suffers in the ‘loudness wars’ but I think it sounds fairly good overall. This full album was recorded for around £500.

I should bite the bullet and let someone else record our stuff; think of all the spare time I would suddenly have.

The problem I have is that I love challenge of getting that sound; when an acoustic guitar sound crisp or the drums, as in Weird Decibels 2, sound like they are recorded in a grand room. Then the test of putting it all together.

Maybe I’ll leave the mastering to a pro….but how did the pros learn?

Weird Decibels 2 on Spotify

 

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Writing Weird Decibels 2

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Pictures by Mr Kevin Byrne

Writing Weird Decibels 1 All Over Again

We started creating Weird Decibels 2 in  March 2013 you can read about the first session here. We got many things right when creating our new album but one of the few mistakes we made was the title, Weird Decibels 2. The name put an expectation on us to write an album every bit as good as its predecessor. So when the pen hit paper and the guitars were strummed we were unaware that we were writing the same album all over again.

The three songs from this session were Left/Right ( a father son politically themed song), Rain Parade and Feet First my description at the time?

‘They are quite dynamic, influences so far point to The Pixies, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden. We’re not going quietly!’

Despite our early enthusiastic approach none of these songs would ever be recorded.

In April 2013 we had another update (read here) and at this point I start to voice concerns about our new songs, in particular Feet First which I thought was ‘too commercial’. A creeping doubt was emerging that we were not writing particularly strong songs, sure we enjoyed them but they didn’t have the ‘look around the room and grin’ feel that we have when we stumbled upon a great idea.

The Stalker Song’ made an appearance here, written about a young man who falls for a woman he sees on the bus. This song would be quickly apprehended and sent down the lost ideas vault.

Here is a wee description I noted at the time.

‘So here we have a guy who gets the same bus every day and at the next stop is a girl who gets her bus everyday. He falls in love with her, he feels like he has known her all his life. He’s a loner doing the same thing day in day out. She simply fills her commute with the usual check on her smartphone. One day he follows her home. I’m not sure where to go from here, my character isn’t a violent guy, just lonely but he has really strong feelings for this girl he doesn’t know’

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Stu and Derek show beer and guns.

Jemma Burt and Craig Elder were approached to appear on the album but for various reasons this wouldn’t happen. I guess this was a mixture of time and the desire for the four of us the be the nucleus of our 20th anniversary album.

Derek added his insight to the writing of the album you can read that here. He also shares his concerns about the changes that needed to be made but there is no hiding his delight at starting a new album

As the summer of 2013 moved in and the sun hung in the sky (highly unlikely) we wrote more songs.

Another song, inspired by Alice In Chains, called ‘Miss Asphyxia’ had been floating around for weeks and is first listed during this practise.

‘Small Hands’ would appear in June, by July I was really excited by it. I has asked the guys if they had received my email of a new idea in a 3 / 4 timing, Stu was the only one who listened to it. I carried on regardless and played a hyper riff that I had named ‘Kill it! Kill it! A few minutes later it was our latest song. I described it as my new hope for Weird Decibels 2, we all looked around the room and grinned.

By September 2013 writing was becoming stagnant, however Stu had a new riff that we were attempting to put some music to. At this point it remained untitled. We also agreed on no deadline for the album, perhaps aware we were nowhere near to recording it.

As the masks and costumes of Halloween were don October was the month we made a big decision. We ditched nearly all the songs from the first 6 months and we agreed that the practice room was no longer a place of creativity. it was a dark moment as we sat in silence on the old couches, cold creeping back into the year.

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The Marvels

We had decided to keep just Miss Asphyxia and Kill It! Kill it!. Now that we were back to just two songs I had doubts another album would ever happen. So we sat and looked at each other and said. ‘Lets book a wee lodge, take some guitars, a shit load of beer and see what happens’.

Oakley Writing Sessions

Just 20 minutes from our home town is a beautiful little cluster of cottages nestled within the grounds of a stately home. This grand building stands in Oakley a small settlement just outside Dunfermline. So with heavy hearts we headed to Fife.

The lodge was wonderful; with an open plan living room and a fridge nearby it allowed the band to sit in ample space facing each other with our guitars ready to see what tunes we could write. (Blog)

Derek had brought the keyboard as he was keen to try something other than the drums. He had suggested we head up to the lodge without any ideas, basically a blank page.

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Beers keep out the cold

Well I tried to do that! However I had a couple of ideas floating around my head; I wanted us to hit the ground running and build on any momentum.

We arrived the Friday night and I set up the desk and loosely placed a few mics around the room and set up the Blumlien microphone technique to capture the room sound.

With the headphones places I could hear that we had a nice sound so we grabbed a beer and launched ourselves into writing; well I say launch. We had a beer or two and talked about television and monty python quotes.

Friday 31st January 2014

Little Thoughts Lost which we wrote with some keys over the top. the song on the recording hasn’t change much. I Hear the City was also born on that crisp night, slightly faster in tempo back then other than this it hasn’t changed too much. Derek had suggested ending on a G but Stu said this was too happy!

By now we were for more positive about writing our new album and after a few Tsingtao’s we had another go at City this time more in line with the album tempo and it turned out pretty well.

Towards the night we engaged in some more joyful band banter then  wrote another song called Hit me. A depressing little number that did not really make it past Oakley.

After a round of applause for Stu’s beard and a word from his sponsor we scooped a few more beers.

Saturday the 1st of Feb 2014

Four cracking cooked breakfasts wolfed down and coffee slurped we were ready to get the writing caps on again. Kevin Byrne was on his way, camera and mandolin in hand we chapped on the door and was welcomed into the warmth of the lodge as the fire crackled in the middle of the room.

Quoted Not Voted  arose from the fumes of alcohol on Saturday afternoon, this is the weaker version which lacks any significant verse vocals this was the 4th song we had written,

Digital takeover, one of those nice riffs we could never finish was attempted on this day. Curtain hits the cast offered a little humour as I tried to play the intro riff (which we’d later drop) several times much the amusement of my fellow musicians.

Oakley: I Hear The City, Digital Takeover, Little Thoughts Lost, Curtain Hits the Cast, Quoted Not Voted, Hit Me. 

Heights Session  Saturday 22nd November 2014

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setting up the heights sessions. pics Greg McSorley

Heights: Smash the Glass, Almost Beautiful, Car Crash, Once More With Feeling, Away Home.

A few months of practice passed and we polished off the work from Oakley. We had a desire to go back to another lodge, possible the same locale but time, money and real life would get in the way.

Undeterred we decided that a Saturday up at my place with the studio set-up would be a suitable option.

That morning we attended the funeral of our friend Chris Mason; a huge influence on the band. Afterwards there was a sombre mood to the writing. We turned the LED lights blue in respect of the colour of lights Chris had on his Christmas tree which he never took down!

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Derek on the keys

Later, while Stu was watching his beloved Alloa getting thumped by the mighty Bairns (Falkirk FC), we set up and cracked open our first beers.

Again I had a couple of ideas floating around my head. Both The Dancer and Almost Beautiful were sketched by the time Stu arrived. Now that we were all together the songs would be finished. The Dancer sounds intense during these sessions and we lost this feeling for a while; luckily we got it back for the final album version.

Away Home was a long song, it didn’t make the final cut. Its another brooding song with a slightly different structure to the fast punchy pace of Weird Decibels 2.Perhaps this would’ve survived during a different time in our writing career.

Car Crash was another nice sounding song. Sadly it didn’t stick, it had a Americana feel which I guess we are not ready for. The version recorded has a nice mouth organ piece over the top of the guitars.

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Stu arrives to write!

Deeper into the night Stu and Greg launched into a jam, it was a heavy riff and I struggled to get a melody for it, I sang in a different style and sounded alien on the take. Indeed it would be many months before I cracked it. That song would become Once More With Feeling.

The Shore on My Soul and It’s Who You Know, final writing. January 2015. 

As usual I fretted about the lack of songs for the album and I played the guitar for days recording every single idea I had. I brought two ideas down to the room. One song took an age to write another happened instantly.

What started off as Shore on My Soul would eventually end up being Medicine. It developed over a number of months; the ending just grew into a jam and remains one of the best endings we have carved out of our sonic landscape.

It’s Who You Know had the grins from the start. We built this song on a wee into riff and i was amazed that we could still write songs like this quickly. I really felt that this was the last song we would write for the Weird Decibels 2 sessions. We were happy with what we had; a couple of years hard work, a few false starts but now finally we had an album to record.

review of our year 2015

(featured image by Kevin Byrne)

Pabs looks back on 2015

What a year its been for both Weird Decibels and Pabs solo music. Many highs and to be honest a few lows but a great year.

January.

As the bells sound for the new year and 2014 turned to 2015 I remind myself that in February it will be 20 years since we first stepped into our Grangemouth practise room. Simply unbelievable.

2nd January

10891648_947995368558885_7424031052007615815_n The band head out to Linlithgow to choose a lodge in which to record the new album. We chose Kelso simply for the massive room that would allow for a great drum sound. What an inspired choice it was to be.

26th January

Tommy gives us a wee play on the Third Class Ticket ahead of our show at the Buff Club; he has supported us all year and his show goes from strength to strength.

31st January

10308122_967071426651279_2127647646909692300_nWe play the Buff Club in Glasgow. This was one of the strangest gigs we played! Look at the stage! We enjoyed it although it wasn’t our best performance.

February

8th February we turn 20 years old. We forget that this is an achievement; I guess as we’re all good friends it seems normal that we play music together.

19th February

we get a nice article in the Falkirk Herald to celebrate our time together. James Trimble has done us proud over the years.

21st February

We release the single version of Easy Way; never heard before until now. This was the version we sent to Bracken records which would never be released. Look out for more rare tracks in 2016 and beyond. There are loads!

28th February to 6th of March

We record some of Weird Decibels 2 over a week in Kelso. Here is the story part one two and three. This was one of the best weeks in the bands history.

March

March 6th

Pabs plays the Tolbooth in Stirling. A fantastic night for our singer who was lucky enough to be supported by friends and family as the headline act didn’t bring many people!

April

our modest desk

We continue to record parts for Weird decibels 2. Mixing starts; this turned out to be a long drawn put process despite our attempts to avoid this. Pabs went back onto shifts which helped but eventually he went back to day shift and juggling mixing, family life and work became difficult.

May

10th May we shoot the video for Its Who You Know at the Three Kings Kevin Byrne, Chris Wilson, Chris Burt and dale Ashworth all did us proud in this video which is nearing 500 views.

 

28th May Tommy Clark is first to air the new single on the Third Class Ticket.

29th May. Our new single its Who You Know released to the world. It went down very well; its since been remixed and will sound even better on the album.

 June

11095684_1039585756066512_5892143361267208515_n6th June we discuss the possibility of a deluxe version of Weird Decibels 2, over a few beers naturally… We had written so many ideas and recorded many practises as we wrote the album.

July

22nd July Stirling DIY Collective do a nice piece on the single. The Stirling scene turned out to be brilliant for Weird Decibels and Pabs this year. Big thanks to all at Stirling DIY collective and Kenny Bates.

August

August 18th and we set ourselves a deadline for releasing the new album. It would be missed. I will now be out 2016.

August 29th we play a superb gig at the Record Factory

September

Heavy mixing and mastering session begin to take their toll…

October

3rd October Pabs plays the Stirling Tolbooth 

10th October we release part 1 of our top 50 songs feature.

16th October part 2!

17th we play a great gig at Oxjam Stirling. 

23rd October we get a wee mention in the Stirling Observer.

25th October part 3 of our top 50 countdown is uploaded.

27th October Deadline for Weird Decibels 2 missed.

 

31st October part 4

November

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Lets raawwwk. pic Byrne

 

1st November shooting starts for the new video for Kill it Kill It released next year. Thanks to Kevin Byrne, Ruari Pearson and Chris Wilson.

2nd November our new range of tees are launched!

7th November we reveal our favourite song that we have recorded. A surprise result!

7th of November we play a fantastic gig at North Star with Buzzards of Babylon to celebrate 20 years together.

13th November Weird Decibels, like all fellow bands and musicians, are shocked and saddened by the awful events in Paris, including the massacre at the Bataclan where the Eagles of Death Metal were playing.

18th November Weird Decibels and Pabs solo work are nominated for best song, acoustic (pabs) and best rock act alongside many other talented Falkirk hopefuls for the first AMiF awards. Still time to vote!!!!!

18th November Pabs and Stu lay some new alternative takes for Weird Decibels 2.

December

whapper stormer
The famous cover now all over the world!

‘we tried to get it out for the 20th anniversary gig and it became a rush. I wasn’t paying attention to the sound and was determined to get it released. 

Derek had listened to the masters on his earphones and voiced his concerns, I lost it! I was fed up, I wasn’t spending time with the family, work was hectic and I was coming home to mix. I nearly canned the whole lot. I walked away from the album and the band.

Stu came up to visit and we had a coffee and a blether. I returned after three weeks and felt great. I could hear all the problems with the sound and EQ’d them out. Now the album has the clarity it was missing. ‘ Pabs.

Pabs takes a three week break from mixing; comes back fresh and sorts out the frequency problems that had been causing issues. Album now sounds epic.

5th December Our first album Whapper Stormer appears on all digital platforms including Spotify.

 

 

 

 

50 weird decibels songs as chosen by the band. part 5. the top ten.

So here is our top ten songs from the last 20 years. Lets hope the next 20 years bring as many good memories, and tunes.

Drink makes you 'cuddly'
Drink makes you ‘cuddly’

10. Trying To Grab Hold. One More Solo 2004

Pabs voted it in 18th place out of 20, Stu N/E (didn’t vote for this) Greg 9th Derek 7th

stu rocking out in the studio flat
stu rocking out in the studio flat

A real favourite with Greg and Derek, Trying To Grab Hold is one of the most laid back tracks we ever put down. Reminiscing is something I find myself doing on a regular basis; the early days with the band were a riot and sometimes I wish we could turn back the clock and change some of the decisions we made.

The second verse; ‘summer breeze whispering we were laughing, watching the red sky fade to black, then we would gather, around a fire and talk about this and that’. Im convinced that I’m recalling the time that Greg, Derek And I went to T in the Park at Strathclyde in the mid 90’s We had camped in a site away from the festival and there was a group of revellers around a fire passing around a guitar singing various well known songs.

I sat, drunkenly swaying, one eyebrow raised, awaiting my turn while taking in the folky atmosphere. When the guitar reached my eager hands I started belting out a song we have long forgotten called Brilliant at the top of my wayword voice. A silence descended over the rest of the circle

In my self absorbed gleeful bliss my eagerness grew; I was about to hit the second verse when the guitar owner promptly asks for his guitar and storms off! The three of us laughed our hearts out that night.

Like I say it was good times and Trying To Grab Hold is looking back at these days that seemed a bit less complicated.

This was another song recorded at Derek’s flat, at the end of the track you can hear me leave the vocal booth made of egg cartons. You can hear Derek explaining to Gav McVicar that we were always looking to try new ideas. I kept that in to give us a sense of those recording sessions.

A really nice song.

9. Vancouver. Whapper Stormer 1995.

Pabs 5th Stu 3rd Greg NE Derek  NE

I lay the vocals for Vancouver at Split Level
I lay the vocals for Vancouver at Split Level

Yet another split opinion between the band. Early favourite Vancouver was rated highly by myself and Stu. Vancouver is somewhat surprisingly is pegged down at 9.

One of the first three songs we created; Vancouver is about Kurt and Courtney, the John and Yoko of my generation. I remember being obsessed with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. Like millions of  others I watched his helpless dive into a heroin abyss.

It’s strange starting a band only to hear your favourite artists moan about how much they hate the fame and fortune they have found. I guess we’ll never understand what it is like to see the music world from these lofty heights.

For the lyrics of Vancouver I imagined this world; placing myself in the shoes of Cobain and others. The song is called Vancouver because it was an easy place with which to rhyme with other cities like Hanover which I could rhyme with hangover. Then it was easy to link it in with ‘the Camera the microphone it’s blown your cover’.

I love these lyrics, some of my best, even after all these years I still have a fondness for them; I just don’t write like that any more. It was another melody that I had in my head. I would sing it and Stu would play the tune.

Backing vocals from Derek
Backing vocals from Derek

The line ‘you try to make yourself look bad, but you only look better.’ was an observation made about artists those days. They would descend into deeper trouble and yet still manage to look cooler in the eyes of their young impressionable audiences.

Vancouver was recorded at Split Level studios, this was our first proper studio sessions and one of our best. Neil the engineer did a really good job with the production. It was brilliant walking past the massive desk into the vocal booth. I felt like we had arrived!

Vancouver was a live favourite in the early days; it was always well received at gigs. It was a setlist regular for the first few years before we laid it to rest; I do recall us getting a bit tired playing it which in hindsight is no longer a concern I have;  If we are lucky enough to have someone love our songs then I’ll play them . A truly wonderful Weird Decibels song.

8. The Rain. Whapper Stormer 1995 Stu’s top track

Pabs 7th, Stu 1st, Greg NE, Derek NE

‘I love the rain cause it’s got loads of wah wah and a huge end and it’s a classic.Takes me right back to the martell gigs.’ Stu

Stu loves the Rain. The recording at Split Level worked out really well
Stu loves the Rain. The recording at Split Level worked out really well

First there is the splash of the cymbals, then Stu & Greg launch into the riff before I sing the word ‘The Rain’. Once again we have a band divider. Another surprise as the Rain, an early favourite for top track drips in at 8. Recorded in at the same sessions as Vancouver, the Rain is one of the most refreshingly original songs we have ever created.

The lyrics were written during the massive rainstorms of 94 when the Dawson mission near the Carron Works was flooded. A religious building at the mercy of the heavens (well the river Carron).

In 95 I was only 18 and I guess that I leaving high school to go out into the mercy of the big bad world was worrying me so I went for another two years to Falkirk College. It’s a huge change especially when, like me, you don’t have a plan for the future.

Back then I wasn’t aware of the magnitude of my lack of direction and how it would effect my future. This explains the chorus ‘Stored in houses known as clouds, leaves the clouds and hits the ground.’

Throughout the verses are lines that have little relation to each other that, ‘the rain’. I’ve always liked walking in the rain and I remember the velux window in the ceiling of my room in my old house. When the rain fell it was a beautiful sound.

‘the rain, a beautiful sound on the window pain, a musician who has no composition’.

As Greg and Derek  maintain a nice groove; Stu lets a nice lead flow over the lyrics. Neil at Split Level added a little FX onto the guitar which gave the guitars a liquid feel.

There is a pause in the song for a middle 8. Then it builds to the double distorted guitars and loud vocals.

Educational Suicide, Vancouver and the Rain became the original three we wrote at our first practises. They were played relentlessly during the early years and gained attention from Central FM who were excellent at supporting local acts back then.

Eventually as we tried to move away from the early dominance of Whapper Stromer we would stop playing them. A classic Weird Decibels track. Makes you wonder what came on top!

7. Glass People. Whapper Stromer 1995

Pabs 8th, St 9th, Greg 12th, Derek NE

Amazingly we recorded a full band version of Glass People here; no one has heard it yet…

The finale of Whapper Stormer Glass People is one of our longest songs; originally a full band  track, the album version features Stu and I on acoustic guitars for the one and only time in the history of our 7 albums (and our upcoming 8th).

Glass People was written in my head over many Saturday nights at Pennies, the run down alternative disco that was hidden away down the old Coasters ice rink. We had wonderful times in there. Every weekend we would head down and join our music community. All the songs of the times would play and strong friendships were forged.

No matter where I went I always found that there were people I could ‘see through’; there was a big act hiding the real person under the surface, hence Glass People.

‘It was a rainy night,for the night I was going to witness

people who are desperate, to escape all that lies before them,

all are congregated, maybe not at church but a place we can worship

our freedom and our choice, the only play where I can let go for recreation

but I noticed , I noticed something spectacular.

Glass People’

For the few hours that Pennies was open every weekend we did feel like we could be ourselves. Most of us didn’t really embrace the night clubs in Falkirk, it just wasn’t our scene.

Glass People was the first guitar riff that I had written for the band. The chord progression, Dm, open F, C to G was easy to play!.

At the time of Stu’s hiatus we bumped into each other in Behind the Wall. After a few pints we reluctantly accepted that the band may never get back together so we decided to start working on a ‘best of’ acoustic album. The first track we recorded was Glass People. During the wintery recording session it snowed, we strolled through the falling flakes to the off licence to collect a carry out. We returned to the studio and cracked open a fresh beer. Stu then laid the most incredible acoustic solo for the end of the song and the album.

Luck had it the band got back together; we gathered all the recordings, old and new and tracklisted Whapper. When we all sat and listened to the acoustic version of Glass People we all looked at each other and agreed. It had to stay on the record.

The band version of glass people can be heard on our bootleg and there is another version floating around somewhere.

6. Now I Can See His Eye. Whapper Stormer. 1995

Pabs 2nd, Stu NE, Greg NE, Derek 4th

A rare picture of us doing a lost recording for the Falkirk hospital.
A rare picture of us doing a lost recording for the Falkirk hospital.

Scored highly by Derek and myself the incredible Now I Can See His Eye breaks in at 6. This, often ignored, track of Whapper is another of the more imaginative songs we have written. I would be lying if Now I Can See His Eye wasn’t written without any substances… Singing about yellow brick roads, eyes in the ceiling and the rather obvious lyrics ‘ the sky the sky , it’s just a trip a little day out’,

Greg and I fell into a good group of friends who wandered slightly off the straight and narrow. You do experiment with life when you are young and I look back fondly at the parties we used to have, but we could’ve easily slipped into another way of life.

Now I can See His Eye subconsciously speaks of this fear of following the wrong person into a chaotic lifestyle without much hope for a future. It also speaks of the desire to be successful with the band.’Now I can see the crowds and my friends stand beside me’.

A wonderfully spiky and diverse track.

5. The Ending. One More Solo 2004

Pabs  9th, Stu NE Greg 15th, Derek 2nd

1000412_633101920048233_114988496_nScored highly by Derek and propped up by myself and Greg, The Ending breaks into the top 5 tracks we have done. To be honest the verse and choruses of the Ending are fairly standard arrangements

I remember getting the idea for the lyrics when I visited Edinburgh museum; looking down from the high balcony to the floor below I thought of the lyrics. ’ I’m tempted by the rush of the ground as the season flow I will never now how many people I’d have hurt.’ Strange times…

It’s the ending of the song that has always been a pleasure to play. The chord change after the build. E C A, then it drops to G. When we first played it I had one of those moments where I’d look around the room and see everyone grinning (the last time was when we wrote the end of Medicine for the new album).

So the Ending has one of our best endings!

4. Easy Way. One More Solo. 2004 Greg’s favourite track.

Pabs 4th, Stu NE, Greg 1st Derek NE

‘I love (the) Easy Way as it’s a great energetic, heavy song which drives all the way through. Great fun to play.’ Greg

perhaps the coolest pic of Greg
perhaps the coolest pic of Greg

Another top 5 track from One More Solo; loved by myself and even more so by Greg. Easy Way  is a thunderous track with two versions. The album take above and the re-recorded single here. One of the best lines I have written is ‘I can see my future, I see it everyday!’ A lot of One More Solo speaks of being stuck in a rut.

We were approached by a small record company called Bracken records, this was to be the first record company interested in our material. We were asked to think about re-recording the song. So we duly tried to recapture the original One More Solo performance but it didn’t quite hit the raw aggression of the original. We didn’t hear from Bracken records again (not sure if they are still on the go); eventually an ‘unsigned’ band learned to live with the knockbacks as there are always high points around the corner; perhaps this is one of the reasons we have lasted 20 years.

The original is a powerful take; the sound isn’t the greatest but underneath the murky frequencies there is a frantic few minutes of rock. I really go for it on the vocals at the last chorus: ‘I tried ! I tried the easy way!’

A remaster has been attempted on One More Solo, but it had varying results on the album. Some of the songs turned out well. Easy Way was certainly one of those moment where we were all glad the band had got back together.

3 Culture Creature. Firkin Outburst 1998

Pabs 3rd Stu 13th Greg N/E Derek 6th

SCAN0015
recording acoustic at split level

The first open string picked chords on the slightly out of tune acoustic, followed by Stu gently picking a couple of muted notes before Derek and Greg ease their way into the intro. Culture Creature is based on the darker side of the drug culture that hovered around our community. It’s surprising that one of our darkest songs has made its way to the dizzy heights of 3. (given that Stu, Greg and Derek are constantly telling me to cheer the f*** up!)

‘We wanted jobs, we wanted to escape, but we ended up like cars with no brakes’

We were all leaving school, some with hopes, aspirations and career plans others with an uncertain future. Culture Creature was strange phrase I used to try and describe people who were drawn into the late 90’s booze. music and drug scene. This transition from childhood to adulthood is such a difficult time for young people, as it was for us, not everyone made it. One of the perversions of life

It ends with the line

‘I’m the one blame, do I see my reflection?’

I’m sure I’m finally blaming myself for not trying harder during my education when I finally realise how important it was as I walked out the school gates for the last time. I almost felt like turning around and promising the teachers that I’d given a hard time I’d try harder! ( I wasn’t that bad to be honest)

Culture Creature was recorded during the 2nd session of songs at Split Level. As previously mentioned; Neil wasn’t quite on the ball this time, the sound is slightly thin. I can remember everyone being drained during the recording of this song. The vocals took a few takes; we played it over a few times and the song’s mood brought everyone down!

I left the vocal booth to see John Baines, our guest at the recording, looking totally despondent on the couch!

Despite the slightly wayward sound and the subject material Culture Creature has stood the test of time. It’s a haunting piece, beautifully played by Stu. It’s a reminder of what could’ve been.

1995
1995
Weird Decibels
2015. Picture by Kevin Byrne

2. Wonder. Weird Decibels 1. 2012 watch the video

Pabs 11th, Stu 4th, Greg 6th Derek N/E

A fly past of Pennies
A fly past of Pennies

At the end of writing Weird Decibels 1 we were fairly confident we had a strong set of songs for our album. Stu was playing around with the guitar as we prepared to rehearse. He played this really cool looping riff. I asked him to keep playing it; I simply held a E and the rest of the band joined in.

We kept playing the song and I started every line with ‘I wonder’ as I tried to find a melody. The line stuck and I fleshed out the lyrics. When we finished the basic track, Jemma Burt stepped in with the violin, it was a really nice touch that added to the mood of the song.

‘The bridge on which we stand has crumbled and untied, we can either run to our sides or repair it over time’.

I guess I’m thinking of relationships with friends and family, as we all get busier and more distracted by life we must try harder to stay in touch. This seems a bizarre thing to write in the age of social media and instant communication. In many ways this technology makes this worse.

Wonder is now one of our best known tracks with thousands of views on Youtube. The video was shot around our old haunts of Falkirk: Pennies, the doorway of the old Clydesdale bank (where we used to sit after the night out had come to an end) and Firkins a pub that used to be a meeting place for all the fans of alternative music.

The scrolling landscapes (influenced by the start of the film Lost in Translation) and drive by shots capture the mood of the song; a wintery grayscale hue over the places where we spent our youth. It’s a video full of memories; and famous sights of Falkirk which seemed to strike a chord with fellow Bairns.

Wonder found its way on many of our sets after the launch of Weird Decibels 1; it remains a favourite of our regular listeners. Its funny how at the end of  writing sessions these songs can come along…

so

with 51 points out of a possible 80 its…

1.Speak

Dave and Su
Dave and Stu. Not sure if they are playing chess and its Stu’s move…

the videothe song.

Weird Decibels 1. 2012

Pabs 13th, Stu 8th, Greg 7th, Derek 5th

Track 2 from our last album Weird Decibels 1 gathers the most points from our voting and is crowned our top track.

Speak to meee! Picture by Eindp Scotland
Speak to meee! Picture by Eindp Scotland

Written around late 2008 and early 2009 Speak has significant meaning. The riff, picked around a G bar chord, was around for a while and the song had been building into an upbeat rock number. It starts with the toms pounding through the intro, the riff, then the whole band launches a sonic assault. It was one of the first songs we had written for the then untitled Weird Decibels 1.

Songwriting came to be in my late teens, I grew up surrounded my the music that my father played and would always hear my mother singing away whilst making some delicious pancakes. Lyrics were my way of communicating. I’ve written many many songs, a lot bad, some ok and a few that I am proud of. Speak falls into the latter.

The sudden passing of our much loved friend Dave Broon brought my thoughts into sharp perspective. I no longer wanted to write about beery nights in Falkirk; now I wanted to make sense of my world and the lives that we lead.

The lyrics.

I was told you work, In mysterious ways I learned you were liberal, with your selection

I’ve been gifted a life, with wonderful people Why must you start, to take them from me?

So speak to me

Let me hear what you say

Speak to me

You built this world, in all it’s glory You gave us greed, to strip it all away

But I hope you’re there, taking care  Offering refuge, for our weary souls

So speak to me Let me hear what you say

Speak to me let me hear what you say!

Speak video final scene
Speak video final scene

Speak was always going to be a single and like Wonder before it a video was released, set in our practise room that we’ve used for the past 20 years it’s a mix of live action and stop animation. It was a well received video.

This song has started many setlists; it is a very hard track to leave out, its fast pace and aggression help liven up our sets.

Like the majority of Weird Decibels 1 Speak was recorded at the 4th lodge we hired in Ettrickbridge. The drums were recorded in the practise room prior to us doing the guitars at the lodge. Speak was one of the few songs to feature doubled up vocals to enhance the chorus and it is something we use a lot more now.

Speak may not be the favorite track of anyone from the band, we all rated around the upper middle of our top 20, but the difference this time is that we all voted for it and has ended up as our number 1 song.

It’s not a complicated number by any means. It’s just balls out rock, a bit like AC/DC, which happened to be Dave’s favorite band. I wonder if the big man would agree with our top track!

Wilson is not happy high heels did not make number 1
Wilson is not happy high heels did not make number 1

Some facts about the top 50

The Top Ten had 2 tracks from Weird Decibels 1 the top two tracks! Whapper Stormer had 4 in the bottom 5, One More Solo had 3 and Firkin Outburst had 1 top ten track.

In the whole of the top 50 the breakdown from each album was

Whapper Stormer 9 out of 10 (possible) tracks

Weird Decibels 1 9 out of 12 tracks

One More Solo 8 out of 11 tracks

Riot Act 8 out of 12 tracks

Cold Home Street 8 of 13 tracks

Firkin Out Burst 5 out of 9 tracks

and Quiet Act 3 out of 11 tracks

I asked each band member to list their top 20 tracks the points were 20pts for 1st then 19 for 2nd and so on. This was all added up then compiled into a top 50.

Well if you have read this far then I must thank you! I hope you enjoyed this article.

Do you agree with the top 50 then? leave a comment or two below

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

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

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

40 Grand day out, Quiet Act 2008

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

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

39 Woman In My Dreams Quiet Act 2008

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

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

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

38 Fighting With Forever One More Solo 2004

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

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

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

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

37 Crazy Head Coldhome Street 2000

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

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

36 All Good Things Firkin Outburst 1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

35 Summerhigh Firkin Outburst 1998

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

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

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

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

34 Love Hate Thing Riot Act 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

32 Stand For Your Rights One More Solo 2004

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

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

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

31 Crown. Weird Decibels 1

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

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

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

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

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

the Recording of Weird Decibels part 3

onto the final part of our extended look at our recording experience in Kelso

the moon shone through the ceiling window most nights. Beautiful.
the moon shone through the ceiling window most nights. Beautiful.

Wednesday 4th March

Hangovers. They hit me hard and I had a belter on the Thursday. Derek looked no better, I’m not sure if it was a hangover or his mood was low. He sat on the stairs for a while deep in thought as I prepared to record some vocals.

We mulled over breakfast, I picked at some food. Derek said he was missing his daughter and he was thinking about returning home. He said he felt bad about leaving the band. I said that we were lucky to be given a chance to do this for a week but you can’t help your feelings. I suggested he should return home to his family. With a heavy heart Derek headed off; the cottage was quiet for a while.

Recording the Vocals

the sun shines through the pop sheild
the sun shines through the pop sheild

I set up the rode just of the centre of the room ( sound reflections can sound worse in the middle of a room) and placed a room mic up on the balcony to see if we would get some nice over spill or ambiance from the louder vocals. The sun shone through the window onto the pop shield. It was a nice moment.

It generally went well although my voice burned out pretty quick; probably due to the alcohol the night before. My head was pounding as well. Greg manned the desk.

Onto Solos

Again using the big room I set up the blumlein mic setup using the two Rodes to capture Stu’s solos. I had a SM57 on the amp for back up. Again Greg thankfully manned the desk. I went outside for a wander.

With shotguns blasting in the farm far in the distance and the cold cutting through my skin I wandered down the dirt track away from the cottage thinking about the band and Derek’s early departure. I wondered if this would be the last time we would do this.

Then I heard Stu’s epic solos in the distance; when I listened back on the desk I was truly impressed.

A quiet night was had; Stu and I drove down to Kelso to get a chippy only to get lost on the way back. When we reached the dirt track in the black of the night Stu switched off his lights…

Thursday 5th March

We had a nice truckers breakfast thanks to Greg and Stu; I was feeling great and headed though to the big room to lay

Pabs and Stu. Victory coffees
Pabs and Stu. Victory coffees

some more vocals. There was a notable difference in the length of time my voice survived. We had to change some lyrics to one of the songs which Greg was happy to help with!

I found a use for my marshall distrotion pedal that I failed to get a sound for my guitars. I fed my vocal through a SM58 and the pedal for ‘Its Who You Know’.

With the vocals complete we took the whole kit back upstairs to concentrate on Stu’s clean guitar sounds. We completed those in a fairly quick time. The full day was a long shift though; when we were finished I was ready for Stu’s Spaghetti bolognaise and a mountain of garlic bread (the man likes garlic)

I missed my wife and kid a lot; we were all feeling it by now but I had a heavy heart as I packed up all the gear and stored it in the hallway for putting into the cars. We moved all the furniture back into its place and the cottage no longer looked like a makeshift studio.

The three of us sat and watched Still Crazy while the fire crackled in the background. It was the perfect movie to end the night.

Going Home

I woke up and thought of the solo gig I was due to play at the Tolbooth in Stirling; the nerves kicked in. So I got up and got ready to leave the cottage.

As I talked to the farmer who had stopped by to collect the bins I watched from the corner of my eye Stu and Greg load the cars. When they were done I nipped back into the cottage! We had a final look around and I knew that we had a fantastic time.

As the car trundled down the dirt track for the final time I turned around had a wee look back; Springfield got smaller as we drove away. It was time to return to our loved ones, a wee smile came over my face. I turned back around and looked to the road ahead; perhaps this won’t be the last time we do this. I’m sure we’ll find a way.

The cottage stands silent after a week of rock.
The cottage stands silent after a week of rock.

Pabs.

The Recording of Weird Decibels part 2

More from our recent week recording in Kelso.

Monday 2nd March

cracking view from our cottage
cracking view from our cottage

Woke up refreshed and went for my second and final run of the week. During his run I started thinking about the lyrics for quoted not voted. It was a beautiful morning; the sun was just coming up and the countryside was coming to life.

Distorted Guitars

Many many pedals
Many many pedals

I returned to find the rest of the band up and ready for the day ahead. You could tell that Stu was itching to play the guitar so we headed through to start. However before we could lay those tracks I wanted to back up our work so far and check the drums, that took a wee while so some records were made at Athlete Kings albeit the wrong athlete got the credit!!

Recording Stu’s distortion has been a bit of a challenge; we have different tastes in our sound so I was trying to ignore my preferences and do the best for the band. I started out trying to get a blend of the rode and the SM57 but the SM57 was coping far better with the dynamics of his sound. Every time I moved the rode from the amp the old phase cancellation was creeping in. Now I’d love to spend hours trying to sort that but time was precious in our week. So I stuck with the 57.

We tried a various number of positions (right on the grill to about a foot away) before opting for just of the centre an inch or so from the grill. It gave us a full sound which at first I though was muddy but by then my ears were shot. It was a mistake to go onto my guitars after Stu’s; I though I had my sound before coming to record but my amp just didn’t sound right so I switched back to my old trusted amp distort and ditched the pedal (that would be used later…).

My sharper sound blended nicely with Stu’s heavy tone; I recorded just under half of my parts but we got Stu’s finished at the lodge.

This was the worst day for my ears; the tinnitus was setting in despite trying to keep the levels low. We had a great night though; refreshed from our rest we went straight back into the drink and some silliness found its way onto the cameras.

Tuesday 3rd March

went with the sm57 for stus distortion it could handle the pressure!
went with the sm57 for stus distortion it could handle the pressure!

I got up a little later with another bad hangover ( I swear I used to able to drink better than this). I started the preparations for the rest of Stu’s distorted guitars. Again the recordings were nailed pretty quick as we started from where we finished the previous day. We pressed stop at 2pm and decided to go into Kelso for a few drinks.

The Day In Kelso

Showered and refreshed with our best (ish) rags on we phoned for a taxi; a few minutes later we could see the taxi. Now usually when you see our taxi approaching its a mad dash to find the house keys however given the length of the dirt track we had time to make last minute adjustments to our attire!

Kelso is a lovely small borders town; we were dropped off outside the Queens Head and had a few fine pints of Best and Guinness. It was a strange pub, you had to walk through an outside close to get to the toilets. We headed out to the Black Swan which was the ‘local’ pub if you like. We didn’t stay long; the faint hint of bleach was creeping into the enjoyment of my rather drab pint.

Next up was the Cross keys hotel where a lovely lady was trying to make us feel most welcome in the rather sterile surrounds. When she finished her brief introduction Greg, as blunt as you like, asked ‘Whaurs the Red Lion?’.

A pint later we headed out; I stood in awe of the swarm of starlings that were forming amazing shapes above the square of the town. Dusk was setting and our stomachs were growling. We reached Cobbles.

Cobbles was cracking; we had our 20th anniversary celebration meal in here. Fine real ales and a selection of fine steaks ( I had a burger, a great burger at that). Bellies full and satisfied we headed off into the damp night to find Greg’s Red Lion.

A fine pint of ale was had
A fine pint of ale was had

When we found said pub a slight air of disappointment descended upon us. The bar was split into two parts. It was dead apart from one man and his dug (no seriously). The barmaid, who could hold her own in a scrum, was nice enough but we decided to head off to the first establishment that served up fine ale, The Queens Head. After another fine pint and a whiskey or two we grabbed a taxi.

Let me take you back to the Weird Decibels 1 recordings. Back then we headed out on a cold frosty evening to the local pub in Ettrickbridge. We had a lodge that was located up a narrow track with a steep drop to the side of the road. Greg drove us in the camper van that night and as we headed down the difficult route Greg decided to wind me up. He switched off the lights of the van and drove in the dark… Now I’m a bad passenger at the best of times…I didn’t help when he put the hazard lights on for illumination…

Fast forward 3 years and the taxi driver who was kindly taking us home over heard us recall this tale; as we approached the dirt track to gain access to the lodge he turned off his lights much to the delight of my fellow band mates! Dicks.

We had a fantastic night in the lodge; four great mates belting out tunes and busting moves on our makeshift dance floor (the drum kit was packed). It was a classic night.

The final part here

The Recording Of Weird Decibels 2 part 1

The making of weird decibels 2 part 1 Springfield lodge

DSC00874

Weird Decibels would like to thank our nearest loved ones, our children and our friends for allowing us to be away from you for a week.

We’d also like to thank Guy Scott Plummer for the trust he put in us to take care of his cottage while we recorded.

Friday 27th of February we set off.

PATINNG went my phone. I opened up the message; Derek texted ‘Half an hour to go! Come on!!’ He was working, as was Greg, I was sitting with Lewis waiting to go and I hadn’t slept much the night before.

DSC00751

An hour later two cars pull up. Its two out of three of my greatest and life long friends, Greg and Derek. A pang of guilt prods me. Stu missed the first night (in the cottage) as the date that I had booked clashed with the end of his holiday in Spain.

We ram packed the two cars full of gear, food and drink. As Greg’s suspension creaked he wandered around his WV Passat with a small air compressor and started inflating his flat tyre. He looked around to me; grinning as he knew I’d be worrying. Don’t worry Pabs slight deflation he said.

To be honest I was slightly deflated. We were heading out to have the time of our lives in separate cars and without Stu. When we left for our last album WdB1 we were all together in a fantastic camper van. This didn’t compare; however things improved when Derek brought out a walkie talkie! Banter ensued…

As we headed down the familiar roads to the borders (this is the second time we have headed south to record) I could not wait to see the cottage we had booked. We were all on good form if a little weary having just completed a week of normal work.

As we passed Lauder I was about to send Greg some more walkie talkie abuse, however the battery failed. We learned later that Greg was wondering why no one was talking to him; he had been talking to static about big plans for the bands 20th anniversary celebrations at the cottage!

The arrival

A stunning and breathtaking property
A stunning and breathtaking property

As we headed out of Kelso into the countryside I caught a first glimpse of the cottage standing alone surrounded by fields awaiting the start of spring. From here I could see we had picked the right location.

We looked for the ‘pyramids’ as described in the directions; there nestled in beside the old stone wall stood two modest ‘pyramids’ we turned into the drive of the estate unaware of how massive this land would be.

We edged along the farm road passed a grand white house that looked over its land; perhaps keeping an eye on its latest visitors. We approached what Derek thought was the cottage, we continued driving. We reached a potholed dirt track no worse than the roads in Falkirk. It seemed like an age as we crept along looking for our temporary home.

Finally as we emerged from a hedge row was saw the sign for Springfield and at the top of a small hill was the cottage standing quietly behind a large tree still bare from the colds of the winter.

As we rumbled up the wind swept dirt track towards the gate the place got bigger. I jumped out and opened the gate, the traditional sounding of the car horns beeped when we reached our new temp studios; Derek and Greg glided past with huge grins beaming from their car windows.

I approached the door and stepped inside. Instantly I was struck by the space of the modern part of the property. We went in further and saw a grand and open staircase. Further on we peeled back a curtain to reveal the main room and older part of the building. I looked down the room to the dormant fireplace then up to the high ceiling. I knew that we had picked our best recording lodge.

We headed back out to empty the car, I heard Derek simply say ‘gents’ he was holding a beer for each of us. Cracking open the cans we slammed them together and knocked back the first of our frothy refreshments, we’ve arrived. We carted all the gear into the hall and picked our rooms.

After setting up the drum kit and some general preparation Derek cooked some food, Greg got the fire going and I set up the nights music. We let Stu know how wonderful the place was.

The three of us sat around the now established fire and enjoyed the first of our nights; myself and Derek would later have a pec dance off (don’t ask) Greg was scarred. When I was a little tipsy I looked around the huge room and thought of all the people that had paid for an album or come to see us and raised my tin of Tenents to them; without them we would not be here.

Saturday 28th February

I got up early and went for a head pounding run around the countryside perhaps not appreciating the distance. While I was running I planned the day ahead; this would hopefully see us record some drums and bass.

Stu was quick to arrive and we gave him a huge ‘we’re not worthy!’ welcome. He rolled into the massive drive and headed into the house. Once he had settled the band were determined to get some tracks onto the drive

Recording the drums and the bass

The reason we picked this place was for this set up
The reason we picked this place was for this set up

I have the use of 12 tracks to simultaneously record on the humble Korg D3200. Not a lot but enough. Tracks 1 and 2 were for the Bass DI and a cab mic; for this I placed a Stagg large diaphragm condenser just a few inches from the grill in the middle of the cab. The cab was placed as far from the walls in the corridor of the modern part of the cottage

Tracks 3-10, 8 tracks to record drums. Not a lot by today’s standards but enough to capture a decent sound. The snare was captured by a SM57, the kick with the Audix D6, toms and cymbals were closed mic’d with Stagg’s, small diaphragm that Derek owns. Overhead were to Rode NT 2A’s; they were raised high thanks to the spacious ceiling. The final two tracks were for guide vocals and guitars.

All leads led to the kitchen where we placed the desk in a semi isolated position. First couple of samples sounded promising; the sound was perhaps a wee bit too bright so a couple of adjustments were made to the close mics on the kit. Overall we were very happy with the sound of the drums. The bass blend was sounding good as well; so we went for our first takes. Miss Asphyxia was recorded first to settle any nerves and it got us off to a good start.

A few hours and a few takes later we were done of the day. Six of the songs now had drums and bass. Greg was trying to record an extremely complex line for the bass on Curtsin its the Cast. We literally had to punch in nearly every part of the song. I lost it when Greg said ‘the up bit comes after an up bit which is not right it should be a down bit…’

I had been at the desk so long everything was sounding like mush; my ears were simply tired

After all his fine and energetic work on the drums Derek prepared a fine meal for the hungry band. We scoffed that and sat together listening to some cracking tunes. Eventually the moon shone through the velux window above us. It was a fantastic sight.

Sunday 1st Of March

This was used to record both the bass and the drums at the same time.
This was used to record both the bass and the drums at the same time.

This was the first of my bad hangover days… We had necked a few the night before, celebrating Stu arriving at Springfield and watching the old Riot Act video. So my heid was fragile. Not great when you want to record more drums and bass.

After a hearty breakfast we managed to lay down the remaining six tracks. It was hard work and would take us well into the afternoon to record. We left the newer songs until last; however they worked well as we had rehearsed them last. There were a couple of changes to songs that I found annoying, one being the intro to our newest song ‘Its Who You Know’. An extra bar was added to he intro which there was no need for. However apart from this it went well.

The Guitars

We headed upstairs to the newer part of the cottage. Up on the open plan area is another sitting room, the bedrooms, a table football room and the balcony that overlooks the massive main room. Having checked all the rooms we decided that the football room would be the best for the guitars. We had nice room reflections from the drums so the distorted guitars would be more direct in their sound to avoid swapping the drums.

I would have regular breaks to rest the ears. I stepped outside into the cold wind and took in the breathtaking views of the countryside

The table football room was already an arena with a history, I had soundly beaten greg 10-3. He was not to have his revenge.

Having carted the entire studio upstairs it was time to sit down to a cracking Steakpie. One of the culinary highlights of the week by Mr Menmuir. A lovely red from Stu was going down well however last night or age caught up with me and I spent the rest of the night feeling sorry for myself. I tried to watch the Quiet Act’ video but the shaky camera footage was making me feel queasy. How rock and roll is that!

So an early night for all; the earliest night in recording history!

Part 2 here..

Weird Decibels our 2014.

Weird Decibels review of the year 2014

January

The year started with a mixture of optimism and permission; we had started writing weird decibels 2 and it wasn’t really taking off so we had to find some inspiration from somewhere. We booked ourselves a wee lodge in Oakley for the end of the month.

Before we were due to set off we had the small matter of releasing a new music video. Speak was the song we opted for.

http://youtu.be/bhh3IeKejGM

We stayed true to the black and white theme of Weird Decibels 1. It was shot down at the practise room with a mixture of stills and live footage. The idea was to have a bit of fun with each of us switching musical positions. The video did quite well; sitting at over 1000 views and that isn’t taking into account the Blank TV stats. A good start!.

The Falkirk Herald kindly ran a story about the video. Nice folk.

http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/what-s-on/weird-combine-sound-and-vision-once-again-1-3271181

Moshville times wrote a nice piece for us as part of their ‘Band of the Day’; my favourite quote would be ‘not exactly radio friendly (!)’ and ‘ an overall undercurrent of folk’ this led us to utter a new genre Folking Metal!

http://www.moshville.co.uk/botd/2014/01/new-band-of-the-day-weird-decibels/

Spotifyimage3as January came to a close we headed off to Oakley with the acoustic guitars and a shit load of beer. We wrote 6 songs. ‘I Hear The City’, Little Thoughts Lost’, ‘Digital Takeover’, Curtain Hits the Cast’, ‘Quoted Not Voted’ and ‘Hit Me’ the latter had everyone reaching for their beers a little quicker. ‘Its a song about depression’ quipped Stu. We never played it again.

February

This took us neatly into February and Tommy Clark of the Third Class Ticket Show continued to do us proud by playing us on his show; ‘Speak’ getting the slot.

Click ‘like’ here

https://www.facebook.com/TheThirdClassTicket

March

We were looking forward to playing Stereo but the gig was cancelled. I was gutted at this news; A because I love playing live and B because its a cracking venue.

We also uploaded the remasters of One More Solo to limited success!! I’m not sure if its worth doing the other albums; the overpowering bass of the original master was swamping the album. I like the new master though.

Hear for yourself.

http://weirddecibels.bandcamp.com/album/one-more-solo-remastered

April

April was quiet for us. I was busy working on Morningday; an album I recorded with Kevin Byrne and Jemma Burt.

May

Derek and Ann tied the knot. Its good to have a least one celebrity wedding a year.

World cup fever was building, we continued to practise the new songs another quiet month.

June

We had a gig at Pivo Pivo to look forward to. We were sitting in the practise room mulling over the limited response to the gig (we would learn that gigs are best played on a Friday or Saturday); we got a phone call from PM promotions who had helped us have some cracking gigs in 2013 (Oran Mor, ABC 2). It was to be at the QMU; an old stomping ground for us. The big stage right? We asked the promoter.

Ah no its Jims Bar.

Mmm it still looked ok so we went for it given that Saturday gigs tend to be better. First gig of 2014 booked… in June… Anyway it was to be part of the ‘West End Festival’.

June would also see us attempt our own event. We booked a gig at the brilliant 13th Note with young rockers Ciceros secret, Miss the Occupier and The Dark Arts. Things were picking up!

10401915_10152485640034519_7255418438963022257_nThe 21st of June would see us play Jim’s Bar. I filmed the approach to the gig hoping to start a documentary for the band. It was a clammy summers day, the football was on and the venue was like a an oven. Not the greatest gig; our patience with PM promotions was staring to run low.

https://weirddecibels.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/pabs-gig-diary-jims-bar-qmu-live/

July

The film I made for the Jim’s Bar gig was quickly shoehorned into a video for Joker’ we hadn’t had a presence on YouTube for a while and this was a chance to get back on.

Not our greatest video by any stretch but it was a bit of fun. Views? 120 on our page around 600 on Blank TV. Very disappointing given the success of the other videos. A fickle world indeed!

Go on click the link and make it 121 views.

http://youtu.be/5GAXNtruyqA

August

I was with Lewis sipping a coffee at the Helix when the phone rang. James Trimble from the Falkirk Herald looking for an interview! So look out for our article in the next couple of weeks! Thanks James. This was a Facebook post I wrote the day James Trimble phoned my mobile as I sipped a coffee. You should have seen the looks of the other costumers as I was talking about writing albums and playing gigs!

http://www.falkirkherald.co.uk/what-s-on/falkirk-s-kelpies-are-rocking-horses-in-music-video-1-3501992

It was a very good article from James Trimble.

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

To top off this fantastic month we played our gig at the 13th Note. One of the best we played and we met some good friends old and new that night. I also highly recommend the Notes veggie burgers!!

https://weirddecibels.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/gig-diary-22nd-august-13th-note-glasgow/

Oh before I finish August we had promised for weeks to do the ‘ice bucket challenge; the Facebook craze that had went mega viral, listen close and you will hear Stu scream like a big girl!

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=868665706491852&set=vb.128933433798420&type=2&theater

September

We booked another gig; this time at Ivory Blacks. It looked very promising; although it was on a school night…

September was a quiet month of writing and recording practise sessions. We actually started writing in the old room again and the results were pretty good.

October

We launched our very own website this month in a hope not to rely too much on Facebook. Its hard to say where this is going to go. My how did we get to attached to Facebook. Disturbing…

anyway here it is.

http://www.weirddecibels.com/

The website will probably evolve to become more of a tribute to our 20 years together. Watch this space.

We started drinking tea and coffee at practise; yes you read that right.

November

Stu rocks the ivory
Stu rocks the ivory

We hyped the Ivory Black gig as a send off to Weird Decibels 1. A very disappointing gig and a rather sad end to the live life of Weird Decibels 1. Maybe we’ll do another show and send it off in style.

As I write about the highs and lows of unsigned music life there are certain things that quickly pull you back into perspective

Our good friend and fellow musician Chris Masson passed away at the age of 37. Too young. Too soon.

https://weirddecibels.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/chris-masson-1977-2014/

On the 22nd of November the guys brought their gear around to my place and we set up the studio. We wrote another batch of cracking songs for Weird Decibels 2. This will be the way we write in the future given the success of the session.

https://soundcloud.com/weirdmusiconline/the-canine-with-no-teeth

December

Weird Decibels 2014
Weird Decibels 2014

The band has wrapped up early this year, work and the festive season have taken their toll on our practise sessions.

All is good, we have a batch of songs ready to be rehearsed and eventually recorded next year

2014 has been a mixed bag. Some highs some lows; I feel we lost a wee bit of momentum this year due to different circumstances and perhaps poor choices.

2015 is our 20th anniversary. A new album is due, new videos, gigs, podcast and hopefully a film. So a lot to look forward to,

Massive thanks to the unflinching support of our family and friends

The unsigned musicians work is never done!