A story from the vaults. It was June 1996 and we had been offered a chance to play a festival in Fife.
After all the brilliant early gigs, the big crowds and the respect that we started to earn around the scene, it wouldn’t be long until we were brought back to earth with an almighty bump. We would play a gig that we would never forget, for all the wrong reasons.
Chris (late singer of Cage and longtime friend of the band) approached us under the blue neon haze of the Martell, we were all well on under the influence of cheap lager. He asked us if we fancied playing a festival, a biker’s rally in Crossgates, a small mining village just 2 miles from Dunfermline. This would be one of our first ventures out of Falkirk. A festival ( T in the Park was in its prime and we wanted to play a festival), a chance to play outdoors to an enthusiastic crowd of rockers, let’s face it, everyone who rides a motorbike likes heavy rock…right?
We didn’t enquire why Cage couldn’t do it but considering they had been asked to play the gig must’ve meant that it was a good setup. We agreed; Chris gave us the details of the organisers. It would be our tenth gig, the date was set, June 29th 1996.
Greg drove us across the Kincardine bridge, the day was fairly clear with sunny intervals, the trees full and green. We were in a jovial mood, Stu and Derek had a carry out and were keen to have a few beers before we played.
When we arrived, we bounced out the car, dressed in our checked shirts and ripped jeans, Stu in black, our long hair draped over our shoulders. The bikers turned to look at us, they stared for what seemed like an age, then lost interest. There was a mixture of leather clad bearded giants and weekend riders who on weekdays, we imagined, would be professionals that would spend Monday to Friday bored behind a desk trying to sell insurance. A short distance down the field stood, flapping in the early summer breeze, a white canopy tent. Within this, on some wooden pallets was the stage, to see this was rather deflating. There was a PA left idle. The speakers buzzing as we approached to set up. There was no sound engineer, no rack of lights or crowd barriers. Derek unpacked his kit and started to set up.
We plugged in our gear, Pabs tapped the mic to ensure it was working. Stu shredded some chords as Derek hit a roll on the drums. A diesel generator nosily rattled as it spilled out fumes just beyond the tent, this was our power source. Outside, under the occasional burst of sunlight, the bikers were indifferent as they started to play their drinking games. With a bottle of whiskey in one hand, a biker held a pole as another leather clad rider wheezily ran up to the pole, placed his forehead onto the shaft and ran around in numerous circles before being egged on by his brethren to drink from the whiskey bottle. As the red-faced biker swigged the spirit the crowd roared in approval. Back in the tent we played a song then waited for the bikers to swagger into the arena. Still we waited. A young mother carrying her child, stepped under the canopy and took a seat at the back, this was to be our audience.
We started to play our growing collection of songs, the generator in the background roaring over our guitars. The lady bounced her child to the music. After our first song we thanked her and tried to entice the crowd into the tent, it was not to be. Goaded by their peers the drinking games continued, roars and laughter spilled in from the field. We were the background music. Stu shouted, ‘any requests?’, a drunken biker hollered ‘aye get off the stage yer f*cking shite’
By the time we had finished the set a couple of curious peeks into the tent was about the best we could muster from the crowd. We had played our own songs, perhaps flung in a cover but it made little difference. We stepped off the stage and back into the field. We avoided the cow pats and stares of the inebriated crew. Stu and Derek had somehow acquired onion rings crisps and were merrily drinking cheap lager under the late afternoon sun, after this a drunken Derek and a sober Greg piled into a transit van with some of the bikers to get a chippy. Pabs, alone in the field was keen to go home, an alien in this unknown world. To make things worse for the brooding singer, Derek had left his kit up on the stage which another band had started to use so we had to wait until they had finished. To compound his misery the bikers piled into the tent to listen to the band.
We remember this gig to this day; we laugh at it now. Chris probably had a grin on his face when we accepted the gig, a wee chuckle knowing what we were getting into.
In the 23 years that we’ve played around Scotland we have met many great bands and friends. Time often sees many bands fade as we carry on towards out next musical adventure. There is an exception; the wonderful Buzzards of Babylon.
It was around our One More Solo tour back in 2005 that we first met some of the Buzzards. Back then they were in a different guise, Kranksolo, this is where we met current BoB members Rab Dempsey (vocals) and Mike Gordon (bass). We had played the Path Tavern, a small venue in Kirkcaldy.
The Buzzards of Balyon arose from the unfortunate end of Kranksolo and released a fantastic EP; this included Monkey Knife Fight which became a solid live favourite.
Probably one of the best album names of the year is Micrometeoriod Modulation. Rab, Stuart Gillies (guitar), Mike, Stephen Kirk MacLeod (drums) and Alec have produced a thumping 48 minutes of rock, blues and a tinge of metal brought together by their long served sound engineer Travis Whalley.
Opener I Am Hell has a growl, Rabs vocals are always strong, he has a voice and range perfectly suited to the downtuned rock that plays with him. The huge riffs have a blend of Queens of The Stone Age but meater, perhaps in the vein of mid-early Metallica.
The guitars drive the music, with the kind nature but imposing stature of Alec Raeside and Stuart Gillies assaulting both speakers.
The guys are having fun, embracing their superb music that so far remains unsigned, is being unsigned such a problem anymore? The title of the tracks give away some of the enjoyment they are having B U aWzrd being an example. Its quick riffs show the dexterity of the band before they launch into meaty chorus chords.
Rabs lyrics have always been well written; ‘Be you a wizard or a Mother of invention’ he roars as the band changes pace throughout the track. The beauty of B U aWzrd is the many magical roads it takes you down.
This is what people miss when they only listen to bands from the mainstream, they miss bands who are prepared to take risks, push their music in a different way, bands that are happy to play songs over 3 minutes long. At over 7 minutes this is spellbinding.
Morning After is next, subtle guitars gently bring in the song, giving the record a chance to breath and cleanse the palette before the crunch kicks back in. I thought Mark Lanegan was singing for a minute, Rabs fantastic controlled vocals showing his lower range; arguably this is where he thrives.
When Rab snarls ‘I lost my way, I lift my head towards the sun’ near the end of Interplanetary Convulsion you can feel aggression resonating from the usually upbeat Mr Dempsey, it’s a fine track that slows down with the mood as it fades.
Bi-Polar Bear is blues at its heaviest, this is confirmed when the mouth organ floats over the monolithic guitars, it’s a nice change of texture for the record. I’m tempted to say that this is a direction that suits the Buzzards, the moody blues really fits with the pitch of the vocals. Perhaps a highlight of the album.
Buzzards Of Babylon are a fine band; we’ve played a few shows with them and love it. Everytime we met its never like strangers. They can drink…only our Greg has matched them.
They have finally graced us with an album and it is worthy of a purchase. Sure you could accuse us of being bias towards our friends but those that know me say I won’t say music is great without meaning it. Its excellent and satisfyingly aggressive enough to have you nodding your head in approval. Buy it, support one of the unearthed gems of the Scottish music scene, the Buzzards are soaring upwards.
Stu and Pabs take a look back at our first gig at the Martell Falkirk in 1995. Thanks to Derek for the archive flyers, posters and clippings. Stu for the pictures. Not sure who took them.
It was Thursday 17th August 1995, Bill Clinton was still president of the USA, Take That were in the top five and in the the cinema Waterworld was watched by noone. Another seismic event was about to take to place. Weird were about to play live for the first time.
A few months earlier Greg and Pabs had set their first target, to form a band and play the Martell. They created Weird with Stewart and Derek in the deepest of winter in February 95. A few songs later, probably around 6 or so we were looking for our first gig. That offer came from the late Chris Masson who got us on the bill to support Cage, one of Falkirk’s finest and fiercist bands.
We just had a handful of songs, we hadn’t even graced the studio but we had written some songs that earlier Weird followers would enjoy for years namely: The Rain, Vancouver and Educational Suicide, some of our best known tracks. We felt these songs were strong and it made us confident going into our first gig, well fairly confident!
Back then the Martell was a big deal, it, alongside the Happening Club were the places for local bands to play. Greg and I had went every Thursday night for weeks, months even, to drink beer and listen to Cage. When the call came to play the Martell I was excited, nervous, but really excited. Derek kept a copy of our first flyer. We were third on the bill, we would open up the show for Cage and a band called Twister. A lot of bands in the local scene had ‘er’ at the end of their name.
Our first set list was penned in black ink, what a feeling that was, writing our first set list. Six songs. The Rain, Educational Suicide, Show Your Face Soon, Stay In, Vancouver and Go Away. We never recorded Stay In or Go Away.
We pulled up to the Martell and had to load into the side door straight onto the stage. I walked onto the stage as Jimmy and the sound guys were setting up, I had long hair draped over my face I didn’t want anyone to see me. I was just doing vocals, the freedom! I could just turn up and sing. The classic days.
I remember walking into the venue and hearing Ewan the drummer from headlining band Cage sound check and the hairs were standing on the back of my neck.
Sound checking my guitar felt amazing as It sounded huge through the massive pa system.
I remember hearing the kick drum through the PA for the first time. What a sound. We just used a vocal PA down at our practise room. Derek never used mics on his kit in rehearsal so we had never heard the drums like this before.
Derek was the cocky youngster so full of confidence and even in the early days he used to love winding me up. Greg was laid back as always. Stu if I remember correctly seemed quiet and a bit nervous.
Looking up I saw the lights during soundchek, the blotted out my view of the Martell, at this time it was empty, I remember Stu shredding the guitar to test it, it seemed like a huge sound. This was it, we were going live. I can’t remember what song we soundchecked with but I do remember reading about Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. Even at soundcheck Vedder would give everything to his performance, so I did the same. I put everything into the soundcheck!
We were about to go on, by this time a crowd had gathered, there were a lot of friends from high school. Phil and Juls were there as well (I’m sure Phil is in one of the photos), they only knew Stu at this time but we all became friends over the years. I walked up to the stage ready to play, I was really nervous. It’s always the first line you have to remember. Do that and the rest of the gig is fine. So I walked up ready to play and Derek was nowhere to be seen…
Stu played a riff as the crowd waited. Then Derek runs up after getting changed in the toilets. I was raging. Finally we were ready to play. I just recall the lights, the music took me and I just went crazy. I had seen Chris Masson of Cage do the same a few times on this stage, he put everything into his live shows so I did the same, it was natural. Something comes out when you play live, its like all the anger that builds up just pours out. My hair was everywhere. I was singing my songs to other people now.
I stood on stage blasted out the 1st song the Rain the crowd went mental I thought that’s awesome but my guitar didn’t seem that loud on stage…I then realised the sound engineer hadn’t mic’d up my guitar amp!
First song done and my confidence grew. The crowd cheered, the folk from the high school, were loving having a few beers on a Thursday!
After I moved the microphone in front of my amp it sounded a lot better and I grew in confidence.I was pretty nervous which I always am at gigs but after I nail the 1st song the nerves settle and after rehearsing at the practice room for months the live sound on stage was incredible.
The gig flew past, it was only six songs but it felt like 5 minutes. It was an amazing feeling coming off stage and our friends were congratulating us. We dissolved back into the crowd and enjoyed the rest of the night. Cage were amazing, Light years ahead of us, they had been together for a while and were getting into their stride. Stu
Our 1st gig flew by so quickly. So many people came up to us after in Firkins on the Saturday night saying how good we had been. Such a buzz. We had arrived on the live scene.
We are just about to release our latest recording; Everyday Heroes will be our 16th recording that we released over the last 23 years. While we have never had any success commercially we are proud that we’ve been lucky enough to record many moments from our rock career so far. Check out our bandcamp site for the two singles already released from the EP.
The last two decades have seen us visit studios, dig out four tracks, fling mics around music venues and hire country retreats to capture whatever creations we had come up with.
It’s been an interesting adventure so far with a wide range of results. So the four of us sat back an attempted to put it all together by rating them from our proudest creation to something we’d put down as experience. It was an interesting debate over a cup of tea. How rock and roll are we?
We present you a look at our recordings from 15 to 11. Nearly all can be heard free on bandcamp. Part 2 will be here soon, keep an eye out for it.
We put together a 4 track EP as a demo before the launch of our 2004 album One More Solo.
2004 was an exciting year for the band; we were reforming after a 4 year hiatus and we were frequently recording at Derek’s old flat just outside the centre of Falkirk, I just remember having a great time there, drinking beer, eating Subways and recording all our old albums again. The Cold Calling Ep was released prior to the album One More Solo. It was also a demo of the album and had only track that did not appear on One More Solo which is why I rated this low.
This Is The Last time, written by Sllablo, a side project that Derek and I had worked on was a song of the same rock vein that can be heard on Solo. It’s a raucous number that I really enjoy and hindsight would have probably said put it on the album and take another track off. However I’m not sure what our thinking was at the time.
Cold Calling, Easy Way and Trying To Grab Hold were also included. The EP got a rather average review in the Daily Record which in some ways was fair. Before these recordings were re-mastered the music was muddy in tone but they are fun songs Cold Calling is of its time, influenced by much of the music scene at the time, the clean riffs of Doves and early Coldplay are present. Easy Way has always been a favourite of the band. Trying to Grab hold always transported me back to grabbing a guitar and sitting it a fireplace with beer and rum
The Cold Calling cover is perhaps one of our best, its a bit like a catchphrase with the phone nestled in the freezer.
Cold Calling is a good EP, it got us back going again so I will always have a soft spot for this record. Stu
Great cover photo.We used a blue bulb and the photo turned out bright green! Good taster for the full (One More) Solo album.
Loved the inside cover for this e.p. with the four pics of us even though I was taking it way too serious and ended up looking gormless :D. Easy way is a great track.
Our second collection of rare recordings and demo tapes that we never intended to put onto our albums but didn’t want to go to waste. It includes live recordings, radio interviews and unreleased tracks.
I recall Derek being a bit reluctant for this to be released as it didn’t have the same variety of recordings that the first bootleg had. However I had CDs and tapes lying around the house, and as Im a worrier I thought “what if the tapes or CDs stopped working and we lost the recordings?” So I went ahead and made up the bootleg.
I don’t think there is nothing wrong with Bootleg 2 in my opinion I just feel that Bootleg 2 has two many versions of songs that are already on our albums, and they are better versions.
I do agree with Derek’s comment, however I feel there are many good moments on Bootleg 2, not least Side by Side. How can I not mention the song that my wife and I had for our first dance at our wedding. I was so grateful to the band for helping me make a unique song for our day.
There was also rough 4 track recordings from a family BBQ that we played, they bring a smile, and I really like the first version of Breathing Space. The re-recorded version of Easy Way which was to be released as a single on Bracken Records is interesting, it just didn’t have the feel of the original. A bit like the whole album to be honest.
Some good stuff on this album. Side by side is a belter of a song. Radio interviews are good listening back to. Not as good as bootleg 1 but great lost versions of songs and ideas that didn’t quite make it onto album’s.
Love side by side, one of my favourite tracks. I wasn’t in the family barbeque recording as I wasn’t there. Agree with the re-recording of easy way losing something, think Del may have used a double bass pedal on the original recording.
Yes that’s right he did; i just think the whole feel of the original version was better.
The recording of Easy Way I was away on holiday. Straight back from my break I turned up at Deeks flat and knocked out my guitar parts as you guys had done the Rhythm track. This is probably why it had a different feel as we are always together when we record normally
13. Live at the Lodge (2009) (not currently released)
A live acoustic album of cover songs that we recorded at the end of the Quiet Act sessions back in 2007.
I could not be bothered recording this; it was the end of the Quiet Act sessions and i was absolutely gutted to be heading home and I was immensely hungover. We had spent the previous day drinking at the Baddachro Inn before Greg and I spent much of the night sitting by a fire in the garden before being freaked out by the bellow of a male stag.
This is my least favourite recording, the Cold Calling EP is bottom of my list only because it’s obsolete but Live at the Lodge never added anything to our roster of music.
Live at the Lodge was great fun to do but it was really a wee recording for us that takes me back to my favourite lodge.
I’m quite surprised that this was Derek’s favourite lodge (that we recorded in), saying that he did have the biggest bedroom, which he always manages to snatch! Favourite recording lodge is a whole new blog, but I loved the last cottage that we used for Weird Decibels 2
Good wee live acoustic covers album but the best bit is an full band version of Glass People. Instant classic.
Yeah, Glass People saves this record. Brings back good memories though with that big picture window.
I forgot about this version of Glass People! We should have this on another record…
Recorded in a mixture of studios and on a 4 track tascam the sound quality of Coldhome Street doesn’t do it justice. The band were also in limbo; still smarting from the Big World scam, we disappeared from the scene, hid in our practise room and recorded. This is the only official album release in our bottom five,
My least favourite album only due to the sound quality. Some great songs on there such as I Tried to Fly, and Sun Shines Brighter which would have been great with a higher quality recording.
I think this is an underrated album that’s often not given the credit due to the recording; it was on a 4 track an we were four experienced guys (one which wasn’t really there). The album has some good songs though.
Stu looks dejected as we struggle to finish Cold Home Street
Derek has time for a beer
I’m not sure what Derek means by ‘one which wasn’t really there’ I think he might mean Stu who had lost heart at this point. He wanted to gig and rock out, we were just moping in the studio. Yeah the recording is pretty bad but i still try to work out how i bounced all the drums and bass onto one track then added the guitars and vocals. Not many young musicians would even consider that these days.
Of the four of us i rated Coldhome Street the highest. It was the only full album we had at the time when Stu left and I believed the band was finished. So all I had was a 6 track demo and this album to listen to. I played this a lot and discovered a lot of hidden parts in the songs.
The songs are fun, at times they make me laugh and some of the lyrics I penned. Especially Pearl Necklace!
I remember Stu and I used to reminisce about this album, we listened to it a lot as we started to plan the ‘best of’ acoustic album as we truly thought that there was no chance the band would get back together.
Used to love listening to this album as it was the only fully recorded album we had at the time. I don’t think it has lasted the test of time compared to our other recordings hence why I rated it so low.
Musically I wasn’t in a happy place during the recording of this album and as Henry Senior rightly points out, I lost it during this period.
I wouldn’t say Stu lost it…It creeps up on you, going to the same room, doing the same things over and over. We just got jaded. We learned a lot from this time and we needed the break. We came back to do One More Solo 4 years later and we never looked back. However my Dad does keep reminding Stu that he lost it back then!
I managed to find my form when we got back together and them some!
This turned out to be a stop gap between Weird Decibels 1 and 2. A lot of the tracks were lifted from the podcasts we did at the time. They turned out to be good live acoustic versions of songs that appeared on Weird Decibels 1. Some unreleased tracks on there as well.
I enjoy listening to this record, it feels like another bootleg but it was more a compilation of songs that became a kind of Bandcamp exclusive. We never cut a CD or printed off sleeves for WdB 1.5. I really liked the podcasts live versions of songs like Wonder.
There are a couple of songs from the WdB 1 sessions that we didn’t put on the album. Buddy, Rusted and Bullet. When we started writing WdB1 we never intended to leave songs on the record, however as rehearsals progressed we kind of knew that these songs weren’t going to make it.
What an amazing guitar solo in Buddy and it never made the album!
3 great songs that never quite made the final cut and some cracking alternative acoustic versions. A great little listen and one for the complete ists.
Many thanks to James Trimble, Graeme Smith, Sarah Moyes, Kevin Byrne phtography and all at the Falkirk Herald
It was probably around late 1994 perhaps early 95 when I saw the advert. In plain black and white text it was the description of a practise room in Grangemouth near the docks. There was a phone number. I dialled and spoke to a guy, his voice distant. ‘I saw your ad in the Falkirk Herald mate, about the practise room?’
There was always ads and music guide in the Falkirk Herald; as a fledgling singer I used to study the gig guide and the demo reviews. One day, I thought, Weird will be in the local paper and then after that? The NME. That was when we dreamed of success.
I used to deliver newspapers. The Falkirk Herald was an extra shift. Grudgingly I’d lay down the Megadrive controller on a Thursday afternoon and head out to Charlie Sismans newsagents and pick up my batch of papers to stick through letter boxes with the occasional dog attack tearing up the paper the owner had just paid for.
So I always had a connection with our local rag. The days before our first gig I wrestled with the broadsheet hastily flattening the pages to see our band name in print. There it was. Weird. In bold black letters, in print, Goal 1 achieved, now to earn a decent review.
There is a distracting photo in the slideshow just below, the Martell at just 6 years old celebrating its underage birthday, we were listed on the live night with Nearvana. Every Thursday there was a Martell listing, from Sids Bevy Wheel to Foam nights (not the band..).
The local journalist Graeme Smith seemed to be the dominant force in the local music articles, his writing was sometimes witty, showing a hint exasperation at the various tribute acts and britpop clones floating around every music scene at the time.
I nervously slipped our chrome 90 tape with our freshly cut demo (The Rain Vancouver and Chameleon)into a padded envelope to be reviewed by the fearsome Graeme Smith.
The following Thursday I quickly flicked through the vast pages to get to the local music scene column hoping that a review would be there. It was. Our first ever review in print Thankfully the article was positive. Goal 2 achieved.
Things went quiet after a while as we drifted into even deeper obscurity. We failed to reach many goals after our early successes. Gradually we took a step back from the local scene, every Wednesday we would practise and record for an audience that had gone. Aimless and wandering to an eventual end like so many local bands before us.
A few years passed. We returned to the fury of One More Solo and gigged that album relentlessly. The local scene had changed but the Falkirk Herald was still there, piled in beside the vender, the pages fluttering in the High Street wind.
We resumed a more restrained relationship with the Herald; there were a few pieces covering the albums that we had recorded at the time. James Trimble now had the reigns of the local music section in the paper. Both One More Solo and Riot Act were covered. By the time we had reached Quiet Act things were, well, quiet.
It was not until Weird Decibels 1 that things changed again. We grabbed our camcorders, drove around Falkirk and shot the Wonder video. It caught the imagination of the town and amazingly (for us) it hit 2000 views. Once again there was some interest and we contacted James at the Herald.
What followed has been an upsurge of support from James and our local paper. Almost all the videos have had a feature and our new album Weird Decibels 2 is discussed.
Of course print is now struggling and this was reflected in our last discussion via email with James; he was understandably frustrated with the state of things. Everyone wants everything for free, music and news included.
So as the Falkirk Herald attempts to move to digital hopefully we’ll still get column space albeit pixels instead of print.Who knows what the future of our paper is but when we appear in the centre pages rest assured as I walk down the corridors of work the following Friday someone will say ‘I saw you in the Falkirk Herald yesterday!’