THE LOW TONE

 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

  1. CHAPTER 1: Intro. Noise.

 

LIVE TONIGHT! YOKEH HOLE, BUMDER and OXTER. For fans of TIGHT WAD, LUNG BOOGER and early NAIL POLISH- THIS GIG WILL BE ALL THE LOUD……………The band begin- the lighting on stage is basic, harsh white light. The band look sickly and gaunt. An unhealthy bunch. The guitars drone and swell…..clattering out of time percussion joins the off kilter audio assault. The lead singer leans into the microphone…. “This is a happening, a happening is NOW” he drawls in a fake American accent….around 15 people stand around clutching drinks, some taking notes…..this is the Aberdeen “Piss Club”, and it is almost without any significance….near the back of the room a small glistening pod of Anthropologists take notes. Field work in the field. A self contained insular group

 

A ponce is present, a wordsmith of ill-repute. A freckled pug, bitter and entrenched. A failure even at this fucking level- he seethes. Preppint He types his thoughts on the performance on his word plank. “This band are hopeless, a disgrace to Aberdeen’s vibrant musicscene. All my friends in other bands agree that they are indeed unprofessional and not really taking things as serious as they should be. The guitars are tuned to different keys. It’s far too loud. It’s just not good. Anyhow- what kind of gibbering imbecile calls a band YOKEH HOLE? WTF, etc. ”

 

Simply not a patch on Chair 43 or indeed Intense Tablature.

 

It’s very early. Far to early for Derek’s usual routine. Normally he sleeps until noon, waiting out the morning from underneath his sleep soiled and fag burned duvet. He’s more of a night creature at the moment. The daylight scares him a little, it symbolises normality and all the compromise and dull conventionality that he despises. No surrender for Derek, he’d never be a drone, never play his part as a cog in the grinding machine of everyday life. Margin Walker forever, that was his motto. He was always thinking about getting that tattooed somewhere on his person, but would never get round to it. In Derek’s mind that whole inking up thing would remain for Jailbirds, Prostitutes and Sailors. Old fashioned, yes. But a man was entitled to his views.

He still had problems taking people with writing and shit all over them seriously, still- It’s not like he was a fucking racialist or a Baby rapist: It could be so much worse.

The intercom buzzer blares loudly, the first blast penetrating into his dream, the second blast jolts him awake, the third sends him reeling from his bedroom, colliding with stacks of paperbacks and musical equipment. A whole stack of Robert Silverberg paperbacks slowly teetered then collapsed in his wake.

He washes up bedraggled and confused by the front door to the flat. Clumsily he fails to grab the receiver, it dangles from it’s nicotine stained umbilical cord. He fishes for it desperately, slowly realising just how much he had overdone it the previous night. Harsh lager slicked his throat, red raw and achy from to many cigarettes. Far away a voice crackled through the tiny speaker in the cheap plastic handset.

Mornings man, what a bloody struggle Derek mused to himself.

He managed to put the phone to his ear:

“Aye fit?” his eyes were all stuck together with post sleep gunk. His ears were malfunctioning in a similar fashion. Tinnitus probably, but damn it-music was meant to be played loud- you had to suffer for your art- and by Derek’s reckoning so did everyone else in the venue.

“Parcel for ye, ah need a signature for it…”- the voice of the delivery drone was tinny and harsh. He sounded disappointed to get an answer, he’d probably already filled out his little postcard to pop through the letterbox. Lazy shiftless buggers the whole lot of them, Parcelfarce, DHELL- shysters and cowboys one and all thought Derek.

“Aye, okay.” He stabbed at the entry button.

BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZRRRRRR-AH-CLUNK!! He heard the door remotely unlock six flights of stairs down. He’d asked him in essentially, hope to God he’s not another vampire- Derek had been there before, they always seemed to get awfully clingy…..they were hard to kill though- he blamed himself for that-trying to stab some crazy Goth through the heart with a pork chop was a fools jaunt- he really ought to label all the meat in the freezer. It would make life easier. That was his mistake with hindsight- it was a steak through the heart for Aberdonian Vampire’s- God knows what a Pork chop would dispatch.

Meeting the delivery guy halfway down the stairs makes Derek’s head swim, little lights dance excitedly on the edge of his vision. Awesome stuff, like taking a sideways peek at a welders torch. It’s a bit tricky and distracting though when he’s trying to put his signature into the wee computerised doofer-twanger that the royal mails finest is brandishing.

He was a strange specimen indeed, wearing the regulation Parcel Force fleece but combined with skin tight trousers and cowboy boots. He brandished his POD gadget- spitting on the plastic scribing tool for no apparent reason. Perhaps he hadn’t moved on since the days of the pencil and paper, or in a past life he had been a gentleman’s bespoke tailor.

“Cheers, pal- that’s spot on.”

Off he goes at full pelt. A man on a mission- a road warrior of ill-repute. As you were min…

“stick yer’ spot on up yer’ fucking arse min” Derek mumbled under his breath. What a dick…

At a slow pace. Derek ascends, twirling the parcel in his hands, about the size of a shoe box- swaddled in masking tape and warped squiggles. Shaking it gives no clues, a slight rattling on the inside. That’s all. No sender return address label or anything, God knows. He’s not that fussed, and certainly can’t remember sending off for anything recently apart from that Inspector John Calvin DVD box set that didn’t turn up for months. Ah well. On wards and upwards. It’s freezing in the hallway, his balls tightened in the cold.

The door of the flat crashes shut behind him and he dumps the box on the couch and starts pottering around the flat. A bit later on he’s smoking and waking up properly on the couch. Radio four burbles happily to itself in the background. Apparently clowns somewhere exotic are really pretty dangerous , throwing kids in rivers, taking sexual liberties with female audience members so says the fluffy voiced radio talker. Derek makes a mental note of this, and a felt tip and A4 one as well just to be safe.

He digs out his phone. A couple of messages. Gavin says:

MINE PRCTS AT 8. MINIDISC AND CDR. SECOND BATCH OF STUFF MIXED!! SOUNDS GREAT DUDE! FANCY A LAGER BEFORE JAM IN X3 KIRKS?

 

Derek says:

GET SOME STRINGS ON THE WAY TO PRACTICE: HEAVY GUAGE. THE ONES IN THE YELLOW PACKET. AYE, PRACTICE. THATS TONIGHT.

Surprising just how effective sending a text message to yourself is, especially if your short term memory is really unreliable.

Drummy drum bob says

FIRING SOLUTION IZ LOADED! YOU WILL RECIEVE THE ORDER OF LENIN FOR THIS CAPTAIN.

Bob was a pretty good drummer at times, but his taste in films was terrible. Derek had witnessed a screening of the aforementioned Hunt for the Red October round Bob’s house- well more accurately his parents house- and he had felt more and more uncomfortable with Bob’s teary and overly emotional reaction to certain key scenes in the movie. Bob was a strange guy. Bob was a 27 year old child.

There’s the spread of the day right there. He could pick up a couple of sets of guitar strings before practice and string up the guitar while the rest of them are pissing about setting up and discussing the latest non events on the the scene. Fucked if he was keen on going to the kirks tho’ the place was hoaching with student tossers at this time of year. Freshers week expanded in to a bloated two week binge of gibbering twattery, which is fine if you’re in the eye of the binge but pissing rubbish to watch as a spectator.

The space beetle on the wall was half way up now. Making cracking progress. The little insect would be up by the ceiling by tea time. From the difficult vertical slopes of the wall by the cd mountain to the impossible Artex swirls of the roof, festooned with spider webs and angry yellow nicotine deposits.

Ah wish I was a beetle thought Derek longingly. Nothing to think about, sweet oblivion. Just the wall to scale. Mindless.—-The slot in the guitar effects pedal looks a little like the beetle, a circle and six spikes- like little legs….

It looked like an easy life really. Up the wall a bit, take a break, up the wall a bit. Have a sleep. Hit the roof, head for the light bulb. Fall off, start again. The only remotely annoying thing about sharing a living space with the explorer insect was the clinking noise the wee bugs tartan flask made bashing against his rucksack but it was only late at night this became really a problem.

Derek tootered around the flat a bit smoking and buggering about on the internet, that got to be a bit of a chore and he sat down to give the bands latest batch of recordings his limited attention. The songs are okay, getting a bit more organised but the drums sound flat and lifeless. That was more a fault of low production values than Bob’s prowess behind the kit. Still it gives folk an idea of what we are capable of reckoned Derek. The material definitely needed a bit of work. What they really needed to do was to get in touch with a producer or engineer that had some real credibility- Derek could see the potential of the songs they were kicking about, but they needed a lot of work if they were going to get anywhere. Maybe, Aberdeen was a bit short of talent as far as recording engineers and producers went- there were a lot of have a go heroes but very little people of actual skill and ability around. ACH, FUCK IT HE THOUGHT. Now was neither the time or the place for these kind of musicological debates. That could wait for the pub. They were due a a proper bitter argument after the bands last gig supporting local legends CHAIR 43, which had been a complete disaster on all fronts. Post-Gig dissections were always great fun, sometimes they got a little heated and ugly- but that was the musicians life.

Derek hated CHAIR 43 with every fibre of his credible, real-deal musicians soul. As far as he was concerned they were a blot on the musical landscape of Aberdeen. He hated their dull as dishwater songs, he hated their pub-rock sound, and most of all he hated that they were actually quite popular in Scotland and were destined for big things. He fucking hated the lead singer’s floppy Goth razor cut MTV2 haircut as well, but that was more of a principled righteous kind of hatred.

That said the day was getting on a bit, noon had lunged lackadaisically into afternoon- the sky had begun to darken outside and the night beckoned Derek. Time to get going he thought. He grabbed his second favourite Fender Jazzblaster 1974 guitar and bag of leads and FX pedals, and reached to shut down the PC, he quickly ran the e-mail client just in case some big record A&R man has deemed fit to show an interest in the band, two fresh unopened e-mails lurked – one junk the other read:

 

 

Thank you for your payment of £2.00 GB to e-bay seller Massivecollectionofbinbags#2333

Blah blah waffle waffle

Item: gibber gibber THE LO-TONE ULTRA EFFIN HEAVY DIDDY distortion box (mint)

Parcel farce next day delivery. Please make sure you are at least 32% awake in order to answer random general knowledge questions from your slightly dodgy looking post person.

Please do not reply to this e mail as you were two bottles of wine into a drinky when you bought this item. Chin up deek-miester!

————————————————————–

e-bay is not arsed about this purchase. Questions should be written on a plank and hidden behind the skip at b and q warehouse Aberdeen. Replies will be whispered in jib-talk by all joiners present in Dufftown on the last Thursday of june. Transcripts of jib-ings are available in PDF format from the following website : www.dotdotdotdotdottled.com/jibtalk.updates.htm. do not contact e bay directly, this will lead to your account being made lumpy round the edges and for the majority of the listing on the site to huff when you try to browse them.

 

 

Mountains of quackery! Thought Derek, it all became semi-clear- the parcel contained a guitar Fuzz-box! He must have ordered it last week- probably during an ill advised mid-afternoon drinking session after a spectacularly uncomfortable grilling by his Job Seekers Allowance adviser at the local Job Centre. They didn’t get along. His adviser was a total dick, and there was no way around that. He was a good ten years older than Derek and seemed to think that this age gap, and the fact that he had played in a few bands years ago gave him some sort of credibility with Derek. It didn’t- the guy was a loser. His adviser probably meant well that was for sure, but his condescending been there and done it young man attitude really ground Derek’s gears. Over the last few months they had reached a stalemate. Like two weather worn gunslingers they refused to back down. Life however wasn’t anything like a shimmering Technicolour John Ford western and rather than something glamorous or even remotely heroic they were set at odds against each other by Derek’s stalwart refusal to take any kind of shit job at all.

“Look dude,” Derek would explain- “ I can see where you are coming from man. But taking a job in retail will kill me, it will kill my future. You think it’s not a big deal. It bloody is. I’m not having you lot establish that kind of precedent on my work history- it’s a slippery slope man- and I know how hills work in retail- I’ve done my research, the hills are slippery because shit rolls downhill man…..do you realise I have a first class degree in Divinity and Anthropology?” Derek would snap- finally succumbing to righteous crabby anger at the constant irrational probing of under-cover Randalf. I mean why on earth would he check the local press and local job listing websites?- he was taking the band national, even international if they could land a state-side tour with Sonic Youth. They just needed a break, that was all…

His man at the Job centre, incidentally quite a nice chap called Randalf- although for the sake of an easy life among the underclass his bright and cheery name badge read MIKE-let’s get back to work-TOGETHER!! was fairly used to this tack of argument. Aberdeen was a University town, also fortunate to be stinking rich on Oil extraction money. It was a good place to escape reality, and a great place to party on for a few years after a pointless degree. Mike/Randalf had indeed walked that line himself a decade or so ago. He had a box of 250 brown and green vinyl 7” singles lurking shamefully up in his loft, what a way to waste his Granddad’s money…he was still a little bitter at DJ John Peel for that, six copies he had mailed to him and not even one play of their funk-rock anti vegan classic. He still didn’t understand why CRASS had been so much more worthy of the esteemed Mr. Peel’s attentions. He still resented John Peel for that, it had spoiled everything. The beardy cunt.

“Derek, now try to remain calm- I already have a good understanding of your educational background- but you just have to be realistic- you’ve been out of education for what was it now?-”

Under-cover Randalf pretended to leaf through his extensive folder of notes-

“It’s been five years now- and to be honest a job investigating religious tribes in Africa is not really going to come up in Aberdeen is it? Be serious with me now, you really need to expand your options otherwise you may loose some elements of your current benefit package…”

This was terrible news for Derek. He had heard mumblings about this new procedure, but had dismissed it as hearsay, or indeed heresy. This guy was comin’ the cunt in an unprecedented style. He could take his transparency and go fuck a Jellyfish with his Jobcentre cock. He was entitled to his dole money, and there was no way he could maintain his current standard of living without housing benefit. It came with great sadness that he would possibly have to get some sort of job. That revelation, plus the fact that he had been awake since 8am had made him deeply depressed. By the time he had stumbled out of the Job Centre and made it halfway home he realised that it was around eleven o’ clock. He nipped into the local shop and grabbed three bottles of Red Wine and a packet of Amber Leaf. Needs must, and his soul needed calming. The only way to square his wonky mental equilibrium was to put some tunes on and get really buckled in the privacy of his flat. The world could just fuck right off.

 

Derek was pushed for time and takes the box as the aforementioned pished purchase and stows it in his bag, squints a bit at the beetle and fucks off out of the flat.

 

Half an hour later three fourths of the band were gathered round a table in the Howling Gael bar on Bucket street. Gav and Bob are gibbering enthusiastically about some new record they had both bought, this discussion was bound to start trundling downhill fast and Derek couldn’t be bothered paying attention until the bitching session kicked in.

“Am off for a fag, watch ma bag will ye?”

Blank looks, it’s like he was speaking a different language to them- he should have sent them a fucking e-mail.

“Oh never mind.”

Slowly they processed-the words sinking into their distracted brains….

“Aye okay sorry Deek min, nae bother…all come oot if you give me one of yours like?”

chirped Gav, he had been experimenting with smoking for the last month or so- brought on by how impressed three blind drunk student nurses had been with his ability to play guitar badly and smoke a fag badly at a fairly disastrous gig in Dun-Deh.

“Na gav, roll up. See? Nae good for yer throat is it, silk cut for you!!!” grinned Derek, already halfway to the door, gingerly he stepped over the culvert of piss and water that ran from the bar to the doorway. By the bar a blasted old man with luminous yellow hair pissed directly into the trough and also over his brown shoes.

“Aye supposeyer right Deek…” submitted Gav. Looking somewhat reduced. Rock and Roll was not really his thing.

Derek smokes. Down the corner by the Gasslight Anathema wine bar a man dressed as a gladiator is lying face down on the pavement, he is splattered with weird black gunk. His sticky footprints trail all the way back up the street and seem to terminate at the cash machine. This puzzles Derek for the duration of his fag, stuck for a suitable explanation he concludes- stag night, they’ve covered him in treacle- thought they only did that in the country at a blackening, ach maybe he’s a teuchter in the town for his blooterage……

Back inside- theory shared, Gav suggests a suggestion- all sweary round the edges, but he’s a student so it sounds like a pose with eyeliner.

“Aye that’s weird deek, I seen a lassie up the road all covered in treacle as well, she was half cut I think, could hardly stand up in fact…maybe she was the stripper an that?”

Derek snorts, Gav and drummy Bob giggle.

Strippers….

“Aye well, that cd’s pish though it jist sounds like a bucket o shit to me, bollocks recording as well…my mums made better albums..”

ETC……the discussion was getting slightly heated…..

The conversation was beginning to bore Derek. He liked to keep his band mates on edge, and he knew that producing a new distortion box unsanctioned would cause problems. He fished the box out of his bag, unwrapped it’s swaddling of bubble-wrap and presented it to Gav for inspection.

“Here Min, have a look at this- just got it off e-bay today, I haven’t even had time to see if it works- it looks pretty beastin’ though…what do you reckon?” There was an awkward pause, Gav’s face sank. Derek hardly used guitar FX pedals- preferring a simple two channel amp with a little overdrive. Gav saw himself as the guitar-master of the band, his army of peddles and gadgets took up a large and impressive pedal board. His tone ranged from hissy to trebbly and occasionally non-existent when his bespoke amplifier caught fire. For Gav it was all about GUITAR TONE, which was a shame as he was almost certainly tone deaf.

His curiosity eventually got the better of him. Examining the pedal he was interested: it looked old, maybe 1970’s vintage, there were no branding marks, no serial number- and strangest of all there was no battery compartment or power socket. The back of the pedal had a small recess- kind of like a circle with six little spikes on it.

“Cool man, if it’s any good I may well consider takin’ it off your hands Deek…”

That was about as close to a compliment Gav would ever give. Derek grinned-

“Na min, ye can fuck off- it’s for my new lead guitar parts min- I’m changing things about”

Gav fumed quietly.

 

A couple of pints down hill the three of them pile out of the pub and head to the practice room, nipping into the wee corner shop on the by and by for some tins of red export pish.

Admiral Garth’s was pretty much full that night. All the practice rooms were jammed, the sound of five different bands churning away blended into a dull background throb. The lads spend a few minutes shooting the shit in fluent rock talk with the Admiral at the front desk. Any successful communication was negated by the admirals massively stoned state, the lack of lucid dialogue was added to and indeed made all the more interesting by free lance engineer and “very hands on production and audio enabler” Brian Minty McFuckstick who interrupted the confab with updates on his mission to try and hot knife vodka from the back room. As the bands room became available there was a loud whoosh and a spirity tang in the air. Success, Minty creates fire. Suspicions were confirmed as Minty on fire ran past and out the door, to confirm doubters he yelled-

“Am on fire! , watch oot! Shift”

The foyer filled with a strange smoky odour, part burning Minty and part Vodka. What an escapade, it was up there with Minty’s legendary short time studying at Clinterty Agricultural College.

“how did he manage that? Have you got a cooker back there?”

Derek was genuinely interested in the engineers sideline in pyrotechnics. The Admiral processed slowly…….

“kettle. He was doing something with the element. It was either fire or electrocution. I tried to talk him out of it but you know what he’s like. He’s got tunnel vision task wise…..he’s really burning innee, must be quite dry , like kindling…awesome….”

 

Truly, every night at the Admirals is an event.

The band toddle to the room and start fucking about with amps etc. Gav s guitar was slightly out of tune, but mostly this didn’t bother him because being in tune was a kind of compromise, and compromise was for cunts. Gav was actually a cunt, and his guitar being out of tune would’nt save him. Deek really couldn’t be bothered. They had been hammering away at the same bunch of tunes for what seemed like years now and as much as the others claimed that this repeat/loop of the bands jukebox was for the benefit of record company scouts – “they need you to be as tight as buggery,that’s how I ended up doing the welding on that Del Amitri tour”, that flippant piece of advice was burped up by Gav’s gigantic load bearing pillar of an uncle Bill-eh, a man so clued up on the pitfalls of rock and roll or as he knowingly referred to it as the business, that it was as humbling as meeting the risen Christ down the spar clutching a pack of butteries.

Which actually happened to Gav once.—

Jesus: allright whats happening like?

Gav: they look sair. Nippy like enough- div you put dettol on them?

Jesus: naw, they jist winnae heal right- ah thinks it’s part of hitting middle age, your body just cant cope with the stress of healing properly.

Gav: ah well, nae getting some jam for them.

Jesus: naw its fine, I’ve a tin of syrup in the hoose. Am nae really a big jam fan……(eyebrows leap up on his head his mouth twists with glee) ah….i like his solo stuff though

Gav: eh?

Jesus: hihuhuhuhuhuhuh.. weller, ken?

Gav: eh?

Spar Drone: two fifty please.

Jesus: aye, ta min. see you later Gav.

Gav: fucking tit…(muttered)

Jesus leaves.

Spar Drone: he looks terrible since the cruxifiction

Gav: aye , sound bloke though.

Spardrone: do you have a ten pence?

Gav: no sorry, jist this 20 note

Spar drone: okay, I give you two burst plastic bags and throw receipt at you now.

 

 

Everybody was ready and they began to practice, three songs in and it was sounding pretty much as it usually did. Loud, in fact it was head fuckingly loud. A witless wall of hopeless muffled chords and strangled out of tune embellishments. Staggeringly challenging. Drummy Bob kept things interesting behind the clattering racket he called percussion by adding his own special “jazz fills” accompanied by mammoth feats of gurning. These jazzy bits were really annoying for Deek, but not as annoying as Bobs face pulling, he looked like a duck that’s just been told he’s a dog by an expert in identifying fido’s. for added pizzazz they allways ended the last song of the first movement with a barrage of bonkers low end feedback, folk loved that- or said they did. And acceptance by like minded tone deaf cretins was all that the band was about at the moment.

 

After a run through of their set some red tins of pish were glugged enthusiastically and the band blethered about forthcoming stuff, a live set recorded next week for trailblazing gonzoid journalist Remington Blastcap III at his prestigious shed in deepest Glenn Bucket, just about quite close to Lost out on the A96- or as Deek amusingly re-titled the road, “the anal 69”. Hilarious, but these were lean times and a man had to compromise. A fierce debate ensued about covering the theme tune from popular 80’s detective show Bergerac but this little bush fire of blame and recrimination died out sharpish as soon as it became obvious that no one but Bob could remember how it went .

They batter on, and on, mid way through the space rock classic “jupiters got a big zit upon its surface and a know its full of monoliths” Deek drops his pick, the things gone, into the snarled up plectrum coloured carpet. Winging it he dives into his bag and rakes for another he comes across the pedal that arrived today. On a whim he digs it out and starts to plug , primarily to annoy Gav who is precious about the approval of new gear in the band in cases the creative dynamic is unbalanced. ( “ I mean I cant stand it when my frequencies are invaded, I’m like Poland about that…etc etc.)

It seems to come with a battery, great. The band hit the first crescendo- like a drunken retarded Mogwai wearing woollen mittens. Deek stamped hard on the new fuzzbox.

 

Everything stops. A throbbing bleak low e drones, fading and cascading through the room. Everyone in the band stopped and looked. Notes hang and bend. Sicking harmonies slide vomit coloured at the edges of our vision. The air becomes thick and soupy,its really hard to breathe and still that low e marches on………..

 

Gav’s face is a picture..

“deek, what the fuck are you doing? Yer totally flattening the dynamic of the song yer guitars feeding back and cutting everything else out…”

 

More low e. acres of it, opening up like a gateway to the kingdom of tinnitus. The light in the ceiling changes frequency, humming along with the flatlining e.

Nasty….Derek’s mind wandered, he looked around the room…everything had become hazy- a strange dream like quality happened upon him. He scanned the ceiling- the Admiral had plastered the walls and roof with band gig posters, names and logo’s, the typefaces of the posters grew and shrank- changing from one style to another, before his confused eyes a poster brand newly affixed only last week yellowed and aged, then was replaced with a 10 year reformation poster. City of STRANGE. He was near the door, and he had a long lead on his guitar. His curiosity got the better of him. It was pretty bad form to open the rehearsal room door while you were playing- kind of discourteous to the staff and other musicians….but with his free hand he opened the door.

Outside Klint from local band Chair 43 was deep in a bragging fest with some minor band member- but something was wrong. Klint was an animated chap, skinny almost to the level of starvation, all sharp elbows and wildly gesticulating hands. Like all local celebrities he had a very large head. But, it was like they were in slow motion. It was so slow that Derek really had to concentrate hard to follow the drawling ultra-stretched out words: he gathered quickly though that Klint was delivering his usual lecture about how Chair 43 were doing, mostly lies about who he knew in the central belt music scene and outlining just how much further up the shit stained ladder he and his cohorts were in relation to his disciples outfit.

Deek smirked, he glanced down the corridor- at the front desk the situation was similar- The Admiral was slowly opening a box of crisps- it was taking him ages.

 

“ sorry Gav its this new pedal…”

Billys bass speaker croaks, the individual speaker cones throb and pop….dials and led’s flicker and die. Drummy bob gurns then full on pisses himself, his combats darkening around the crotch…

 

“turn it aff. Deek. Af pished. Masell.”

He stands up, face aghast as his Glaswegian bowels open chirpily dumping an avalanche of shit into his trouserlegs…..

“fuck. Ah look like Alice the goon fae popeye. Overdeveloped calf muscles”

 

Derek’s half amused half confused. The tins of lager at his feet detonate harshly at his feet, but far off and distance, as if like sound is coming down a land line- everything buried under the bone rattling drone….

He can feel it kicking at him now, tearing through him. A big blob of red runny blood plops onto the carpet. Then another, drooling thickly down his t shirt….soon its bubbling and boiling out his nose. The veins on his arm coil and twitch like twice strung coils of binder twine, wriggling under his skin…

 

 

“Fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.this……..”

 

Deek hammers down on the box, banging it off…..

And they are back, coda ends. Bob rolls and clatters the song shut.

 

They stand confused. No nosebleed, no blood, no shit and no piss. The tins sit happy and unmolested. Billys bass amp happily signals to itself with its winking green lights.

All ship shape and Bristol style, without that awfull trip hop leaning.

 

That wis really fuckin weird.

Gav adds drama to his thought by sucking way to hard on his silk cut, then turns a bit blue. He just cant get the hang of smoking.

Deek has twigged, he has a wee idea of what the pedal can do. Out of habit and through boredom he watches the clock. It’s a weird one, he loves playing in the band but its frustrating- so on the one hand he watches the clock, begging the two hours to be over so he can escape to a book or a bottle of cheap booze, on the other hand when things just come together it’s a buzz – collapsing fully formed out of the amps. Vocal chords and drums all together, chaotic but wondrous he’s having a great time. It’s rare and fleeting and to be treasured, like a decent fish supper cooked well and served with style. Anyhow the upside is he knows. The pedal does things. The bottom line is fiscal. The pedal slows time- they could practice for four hours and pay for two, the other dickheads don’t twig. His brain rambles a few seconds on this, free practice time is just the start- the possibilities were endless, and then there was the mischief making- malicious of course……..

 

  1. VERSE: A MASSIVE RIFT.

Verse: a massive riff emerges, all low end and crunching art-rock distortion. Loaf-Eye noise rock. The band throw shapes, Deek tries to stagger about like Scott mcCloud of GVSB- but he can’t quite pull it off. Gav thrashes about like a twat- he admires the Foo Fighters because they are really punkeh.

Main Verse: Moronic riff, repeat, repeat, occasional fuck ups disguised as arty noise. Mumbling vocals.

***********its later than you think***********************************************, the phrase toils round Deek’s aching skull. He heard it in the late night Goth pit the band had decamped to after the generals practice fuckabout., it was definitely Vincent Price sampled from one of those hammer horror edgar allan poe films//// he couldn’t remember, probably Entombed or sommat. Never mind. His clothes stank of cigarette smoke and goth atmospheric swirly smoke. Christ. Dry Ice, fucking stupid stuff- worse than smoking Malboros.

He’s lying face up on the living room floor. Its very late or really early, depending on your take on such things. The blue light of dawn is pitching in through the half opened curtains. All around him objects fill in the blanks in his buckled memory. Beer cans, packet of proper fags ( must have been treating himself, either that or he was to pissed to leave theclub and find a 24 hour shop for hand rolling.) , flyers for various pish in various pish venues, and over on the couch some unidentified knickerless alt. girl- her slightly blue arse sticking out from under a duvet- complete with a weird squiggly satanic-lite tattoo. Classy. Deek gathered his thoughts, the beetle stared down at him with wonder.

 

And then it slowly and with all the confusion of a combat troops flashback in a bad tv movie things began to come back to him. The sheer staggering twattery of the evening was jaw dropping. They had all been chuffed with the practice, no mention was made of Deek’s new pedal- none of them seemed to realise the possibilities that it offered. Plans were hatched for a king sized networking binge. The band had played a handful of extremely badly attended shows in the last few months, they had a gig coming up at the black lodge club night in a week or so and they really had an opportunity to score some better gigs and chiefly if they buttered up the awful Glaswegian spazz-core band that was headlining they might actually get some press attention. Fair enough Black Lodge was being “curated” at the moment by Garry Barryson, a short fat arsed Hitler flicked twit music promoter and wheeler dealer who also wrote occasionally for scotch rock mag “that’s nae music”- but none of the band could stand to talk to Garry face to face for more than thirty seconds without the milk in their teats curdling and blind fisty rage descending.

 

Aye so the idea was to toil along to the late night band member haunt club “gettagrip”, and hand out flyers and spread the word and so forth. This was duly done and various other skirmish activities engaged in. As usual the “net working” was a slow starter, Deek always found that talking up the band was difficult unless he was really drunk, and even then it was hard work. He spent most of the night taking the piss out of the clientel of the club and struck a fairly jovial drinking relationship with one of the promotional girls, who had finished handing out flyers for the night, money in the bank right there.

 

They had indeed managed to book some sort of tour with some band from Dundee. Using the word “Tour” made it sound a lot grander than it was. It was three dates back to back, but fuck it- it was a start.

 

 

A week later the band were on their way out to the sticks. Blastcap had been on the phone a couple of times to Derek regarding pre-production of their recording. Blastcap was a complete lunatic. He’d been living out in the middle of a wood for the last three years since loosing interest in the music industry. It was easy for him to walk away- the boy was loaded. Half in half dirty black oil money and hard earned royalties from his record label. The word was he’d gone feral- off the grid. He was full of great ideas for the band- banging on into the wee small hours about getting a beastin’ drum sound and what kind of mic’s he was intending to deploy.

They were packing up all the equipment from Derek’s flat- mainly guitars and amps. He’d stowed all the bands gear in the old coal shed down in the garden- He’d even invested in a new lock- in gun-metal grey just like the sky above Aberdeen.

Still nobody knew where the fuck they were going.

 

“It’s simple. He’s just a bit paranoid. All he did was say drive to this fucking bus shelter and he’d get word to us.”

 

The rest of the band looked crestfallen, confused and sceptical. All at the same time.

 

Gav started to speak, but thought better…he fumed quietly.

 

“ Are you sure he’s nae flipped out? I mean I’ve heard some funny stories about him. Is it true that he gave the bass player fae Chair 43 a prison style bumming just for missing a few notes?” Bob grinned- attempting to lighten the mood.- “Bum notes…”

 

“Aye, it’s true. Jist ask the boy fae Chair 43 about it- he gets really crabby about the whole thing. It will be fine- he’s just been out in the sticks for too long, they are all fucking strange out that way- remember that gig in Elgin we did? Jist like that but worse.” said Gav.

“look. We’re ready to go- lets jist get going. Blastcap’s mad for us and we’re getting three days out there for practically fuck all. It’s a winner. I’ve got his phone number but it’s some sort of bar. If we cannae find him fae the bus shelter we’ll just go to the pub and try and track him down. Deal?”

 

They all shrugged. It was too late now, they had all taken time off work/not working- and they’d scabbed a van for three days. Too late to chicken out now.

 

The mood in the van was grim as they slowly navigated out of Aberdeen. They got held up on Great Northern Road, a huge pile up of Tillydrone Drone Rock police vans were tackling a riot in some scummy bar on the main road. It was slow progress- as the van inched along they were getting some funny looks from the locals. Strobe lights flashed, the green and orange suited Drone Rocker police dragged a few ring-leaders into the back of a van, occasional gun shots rang out. It was all the usual. Gav pondered just how long Aberdeen would have to wait before it came under marshal law- and that would probably mean the end of the band- they would all either be conscripted into the new Roamin’ Army or sent to a camp. Christ, time to get the fuck out of the city, perhaps Blastcap had the right idea.

 

One of the cunts in Green and orange rapped on the window- his gloves were claw like- just a thumb and two prongs. Slightly insectoid. His tail swished spookily in the strobe lightening…

 

 

“Far are you cunts going?” this road is getting’ closed see. Right tae right. It’s a fucked up.”

 

As the designated driver Gav did the talking-

 

“Erm, Min nae bother- we’re jist going out as far as Inverurie- Dropping off some insulation and skirting boards for my cousin. What’s all the hassle up there like?”

 

Instant respect. Joiners and tradesmen were treated as Royalty in Aberdeen. Like Knights or saints.

 

“ Och ah see. Nae bother. Mercy mission. I see. I’ll flag you through. Oh, the bother- just the usual pish- some cunt playing sonic youth….open chord tuning drives the Junkies and Bahm’s mad, it’s just askin’ for bother.”

 

The Droner handed Gav a card.

 

“That’s me mobile and that, if you boy’s can spare the time I need a bespoke bookshelf knocked up. Favour for a favour, ken? My hoose is all funny shaped…”

 

“aye min nae bother- could cram it in next weekend- I’ll give you a shout. Need to come round and measure up first?” said Gav, trying desperately to look like a chippy on the make.

 

“Yas Min! Get battering doon the road lads, and God bless ye!” replied the droney, casually kicking a passing mink girl in the back of the knee- felling her instantly- “carry on lads, this bitch is getting’ battered”

 

 

 

They settled in. Derek rolled and smoked. The road tore by. There was something soothing about the van. A strange smell though. Gav’s uncle Bill-eh was always reluctant to hand the van over- he was touchy about it. He said it had great sentimental value- and would launch into long boring stories about which (now legendary) bands he had driven around in it. Bill-eh always seemed to be discarded by said super groups- at exactly the point that his filthy old transit became less than essential, he was bitter about that. Trying it on and wearing people down was Bill-eh’s forte. He was a fucktard and did his side picking very early on. And why not. Bill-eh was his own man, and he ruled his own kingdom like a feudal lord with brain fever. Bill-eh wrote almost monthly to the relevant publications such as The Press and Journal, Entrenched Despotism and Miasma. He could move with the times- since many of these organs had ceased to be printed and now existed in the digital realm.

Bill-eh would periodically try to test his coinage with long since abandoned bands- usually in the form of turning up at a large gig at the Aberdeen cattle shed and try his coinage on a guest pass blag. This sometimes worked, mainly because most of the door staff and security knew him and his propensity for explosive rage- plus Bill-eh had contacts in the council and the Drone Rock Police.

Blastcap’s cottage: and the bunker recording studio. They lay down some tracks over a few days. It was a fantastic place, and as soon as Gav and the lads entered the complex they new that they had made the right decision. Blastcap was indeed a difficult and eccentric chap- but this was his natural habitat- his lair. It was obvious how the space had informed his recordings- it was fucking huge, and a very odd layout.

Natural reverb was his thing. There was, along with the gigantic live room- converted hastily from a cold war era bunker atached. He despised digital effects, he had created several natural reverb chambers- sending sound bellowing and bouncing through the cavernous purpose built tunnels. And, all this showed on his work. His recordings had a distinctive sound, some people called him a mere technician- other’s saw him as the pinnacle of his profession.

Blastcap’s public persona was that of an arch-creep, a vicious petulant curmudgeon at odds with his times and despising modern culture and commerce. As well as recording music he was a prolific writer, allying himself with various anti-system opt-in action groups. He despised organised religion- and held the primacy of the drone rock police and the new roamin’ galactic empire in deep contempt. This feeeling was mutual- hence blastcaps off the grid covert rural existence and location.

 

Trees. The hostile stiffling pine needle death of Evergreens. Acidic soil poisoning.

Chapter 3: In the hall of Bill-Eh.

The day had been slow going. Doing what Blastcap termed pre-production work on the recording. Fiddling about in the massive live room, getting the amps set up. The drums had been an issue. Blastcap’s studio kit was massive, and odd. Bespoke was the word he used. Handcrafted. Bucket of shit was Bob’s verdict. He had brought some of his own drum equipment- but nothing fitted right. His snare drum was about half the size of the studio kit. Snakes and cables festooned the room. Much of the grunt work in the morning had been done by Bill-Eh, his skills best suited to setting up cables and mic stands. Blastcap occasionally barked instructions over the PA system from the control room. He rarely emerged. Exept when around lunch time, when he ran out of wine. Towards the back of the live room there were two pairs of stairs leading up to a balcony area- probably according to Blastcap this area and the rooms attached had been the operations room of the Bunker, below on the live room level there were many small rooms attached by a long cramped corridor- which was possible used for sleeping quarters, storage and plant materials. All this was gutted now, and mainly housed musical gear, Blastcaps’ master tapes and odd’s and ends the belligerent studio engineer had amassed over the years. Somewhere in there Gav knew there must lurk the infamous lawsuit master tapes of Shibbolth’s unreleased and unreleasable Blastcap produced career wrecking LP. Maybe, If Blasty got pissed enough he might dig those tapes out he mused. But it was far better to concentrate on the job in hand. Getting the songs down on tape.

The band were ordered out for the lunch hour, eating outside on craggy furniture fashioned roughly from huge trees by chainsaw. As the ate barbequed meat amongst the sinister evergreens they were menaced by various huge grotesque totem poles. All gurning faces and twisted limbs. The dark arts of chainsaw sculpture were yet another of Blastcaps skills. His art was disturbing, clanging around them sending his bad vibes and paranoia directly into their conciousness.

By Evening, and late evening they had barely played a note. Blascap marshalled them into the main room and ordered

 

 

One thought on “THE LOW TONE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s