24 questions, 4 categories. Hard, Funny, 2013 and WdB 1 the album. Stu and Pabs pick four each.
At rehearsal we recently played through our entire first album Whapper Stormer as part of our preparations for our 20th anniversary celebrations in Feb 2015. It got me thinking about bands, their longevity and the law of diminishing returns. Is early output an artists best?
When thinking of this subject I thought of some of my favourite artists and some others. Let me begin.
Case 1. Nirvana. 1st album Bleach. Best album In Utero 3rd studio release.
Case 2. The National. 1st album The National. Best album Trouble Will Find Me, their most recent.
Case 3. Oasis. 1st album Definitely Maybe. Best album. Definitely Maybe.
Case 4. Guns n Roses. 1st album Appetite for Destruction. Best album Appetite for Destruction.
Case 5. Radiohead. 1st album Pablo Honey. Best album. Ok Computer.
There is one band on the above list that did not achieve overnight success that the others enjoyed. The National. Slowly they have been building their music, and slowly they have been building their fan base. All the others, bar Nirvana had stratospheric success with early output and have since struggled to match this with later works. Radiohead had huge creative problems after Ok Computer and opted for Kid A which was great but not in the same league as its predecessor. They hit a high with In Rainbows, their peak lies with their difficult third though. Oasis produced one of the greatest debuts of all time then rarely recorded anything of merit thereafter. Guns n Roses had an agonising death after the wonderful Appetite.
So what has this to do with a small band like Weird Decibels I hear you scream at your tablet/laptop/mobile phone/PC and maybe, just maybe surface…
I prefer their earlier stuff. This is an expression I had fretted over for years. When we had written Whapper Stormer we were a fresh faced young rock band with ideas pouring out of our finger tips. Whapper had found a small audience of people who really enjoyed it, including a radio DJ who loved The Rain and Vancouver. A year later we had recorded some of our follow up album, the slightly lazy drunken romp that is Firkin Outburst. We handed this DJ our new demo and in the very pub the album is name after I asked him what he thought. His answer? Well I think you know by now….
I stormed out the pub in anger, seething our new songs had not received the praise that our debut collection had mustered.
In the following years we wrote songs of varying quality, another 5 albums would be produced. The other guys would ask me what my favourite album was. Without fail I’d say Whapper Stormer, for the lyrics, the music and the youthful exuberance. Then from 2008 we started to write Weird Decibels 1.
Derek is quoted saying we had to do Quiet Act (our first fully acoustic album) to write Weird Decibels 1. He’s right. We had a renewed enthusiasm for writing. So many things came together. Our music, my lyrics and the gear we had to record it. A year ago I knew we had written one of our greatest albums. For months I was not sure if it was better than Whapper, a year on and several listens? Its my favourite.
So what Is the point here? I hear you ask.
We are a small band, very small. We have our little patch on the huge quilt of music. We have no pressure to make a living out of music, we can write what we want when we want. We have been together so long it was likely we would hit another creative peak.
Any band that is allowed to breath, grow within itself without the pressure of producing an even better follow up to the last will always prosper. In this new age of self released music, small artists will produce music the way they want to smaller but more enthusiastic fans. I hope these bands will glow for many years instead of burning out and fading away…
Our last gig of 2013.
It was a surreal night in the city of Glasgow, it was the night after the tragedy at the Clutha yet there was the normal hussle of Sauchiehall Street. We parked up at the back of the venue, climbed up several flights of stairs past the bigger and more impressive stages until we reached the Attic. A smaller, darker room in need of a little love and attention. I must confess I like the little run down places to play gigs there is something ‘underground’ about it.
We had reservations about tonight. Our fans have dug deep this year to support us at other venues, Christmas was on the horizon and well we didn’t push it as much. When I saw the venue I must confess to being spoilt by the recent adventures at Oran Mor and ABC2. The sound would confirm this. I believe it sounded good to the audience but on stage it was no where near the crispness of the aforementioned venues.
We set up our sound and belted out a sound check in minutes. (I have no idea why it takes so long for bands to sound check) It was at this point we were asked for money to pay for the hire of the drum kit. There were four different reactions to this request. Stu went a bid red, (seething anger) Greg went quiet, (how to I sort this), I sighed,( why are we doing this) and Derek went into full blown Kirk rage ( Khaaaaaaaannnnnn, the older folk will get this). He said no to the promoter and we left to get a pint.
During our rather lovely pint and the effect it was having on me I had a conflict of thoughts. Do I really want, after 18 years of getting f**ked by promoters, to keep doing this. However I love it, sitting with guys pre gig, meeting our crowd and belting out our tunes. Why does playing live have so many pitfalls? I concluded I wanted to do this for as long as possible (although perhaps not as long as the Stones). I still love the whole scene.
Greg snuck off and paid for our share of hiring the kit… Stu and Derek were livid, I was angry but I could see where Greg’s heart was and gave him some money to put in his lighter pocket’s.
So we’re all a bit angry, the venue is lite on crowd and we’re about to go on. I looked at our faithful friends who came to see us. I thought, this is for them. The last time we played angry was at the QMU.
3. Ms Asphyxia
Angry gigs are amazing, we play hard and fast. Our 30 minute set felt like 10 minutes. I had had a few beers and we were loving it. Every song merged into each other, I didn’t say much to the crowd which is not like me. The sound on stage was poor though. I was distracted by feedback throughout and that really annoyed me.
I enjoyed the night. It was a fitting end to an amazing year for us. Perhaps the next time we play live we’ll be showing off new songs, oh and we won’t be paying to hire a kit!!
I must mention Cicero’s Secret. They were brilliant live. The sound was a bit of a mash but the energy was incredible and their crowd were a delight to watch. Yes we were the oldies up the back foot tapping to the tunes! I wish them the best of luck.
Random searches can produce great results.
9M Lied, from Barcelona Spain, found on Bandcamp.
A week or so ago I hit a link to this band on Bandcamp. They are instrumentalists, no singing, instead they opt for carefully measured, brilliantly played rock. The bass drives it, allowing the guitars to tell the story through picked licks and full on distorted assaults. The drums pound relentlessly adding to the atmospheric mood of the music
David, José, Andrei and Anibal are modest in their description of the band, ‘just a fukk yes instrumental band’ this band is perfect for listening towards the end of the night as midnight becomes morning.
Start with their studio album the self titled 9M Lied,tracks Night Rider, the brilliantly named Dolphins v Penguins, Devon and Mosquito Tiger are all highlights. The studio album has a fantastic roomy drum sound, the snare snaps brilliantly in the middle of the mix. The guitars sound ranges from spacious to right in your ear rawness.
Summer Song steals it though, as I listen I can imagine myself driving along a Spanish motorway, the stillness of the night passing quickly by.
If you love the studio album try the bootleg. A live recording you can hear the crowd in a bar eagerly applauding the band. The first track is slightly out of tune but the albums recovers and you are rewarded with a great performance.
I really like this band and wish them the best for their musical future.
Look out for my next unsigned wonder, its amazing how much talent there is out there, recording and releasing their own material.
Is rock dead? How many times have we heard that question being asked. Many times.
I was reading my latest copy of Sound On Sound in which they review a music submission by a band called Teenage China, an artist from our very own Scottish shores. In the review there is a statement ‘ The distorted guitar/crashing drums combo has been done to the point exhaustion in the multi-pronged world of rock’ Now that statement almost had me reaching for my acoustic guitar and writing Quiet Act 2. The reviewer went on to give Teenage China an enthusiastic thumbs up. A fine achievement from this excellent magazine.
So as a fully fledged vocalist in a distorted guitar/crashing drums band I wonder if the music world has once again shifted its sonic tastes into another dimension.
Kurt Cobain said great music happens every decade or so, I’d say every 20 years. So here we are now, and no one is entertaining us. There is no scene. I search obsessively for new music (see last musing) and yet ‘proper balls out original rock ‘ appears to be buried deep in the servers of our music providers.
I love acoustic, folk, electronica, mix them up, indie, a bit of trance, however I miss a primal scream, not the band of the same name but a vocalist who yells so hard down the mic with such passion that you clench you fists, grit your teeth and thank god you are not the only person on this planet that has had a bad day or two. Indeed Mr Cobain had that scream but Mr Plant perfected it well before him.
I thought we’d have a scene when the recession hit. Then I thought the riots would piss off some youngsters holding a guitar or two, then there was the cuts and the empty pockets and the run down schemes and shameless poverty that countless rich politicians and richer musicians have tried to eradicate, but nothing. There is no scene.
The music is there, buried deep in the Soundclouds and Bandcamps. Lost in a fuzz of commercially controlled search engine algorithms that recommend artists based on your listening habits. I really regret listening to ABBA when I was pissed.
Anyway that ‘celeb’ that pisses herself has just won big brother so I’m going to rock out to Teenage China.
Pabs, primal screaming lead singer of a guitar solo obsessed rock band that has loud drums and deep bass. Musically Fashionable? In 20 years I guess!