Who/What Is Fioraidh?

The Beginning

Back in 1992, my writing partner, Graham McLeod, and I joined up with a local(ish) band who were looking for replacement guitarists.  They were called Instinct, and we’d been jokingly called Mother and Dad by a singer we’d written a few songs with, a very hairy guy by the name of Noel.  We chatted with the guys from Instinct over the phone and it seemed as though we were all heading in the same direction, so we sent them a couple of our own demos, and they sent us theirs.  We met up, auditioned each other (I think one of the audition songs we sent them was “Paper Love”, and we played their “War Gone” and “Blind Man” songs).

Not long after getting together, we agreed between us that we’d use the name that Graham and I were throwing around – Fury.  A logo was designed, then redesigned by accident (it got squished by my desktop-publishing software, but it looked way better, so I kept it), and we set about writing a load of songs.  By the time that particular lineup split up in 1993, we’d already recorded The Dead Good EP and written another dozen or so (now-forgotten, by me, anyway) songs.

After the split, the band went through so many personnel changes in such a short space of time that it really started to change the way things were going, musically.  I tried to think of how many different bassists, drummers, and vocalists we tried out and actually hired before unceremoniously asking them to hit the road.  It just wasn’t working, and it was a very restless process.

I ended up starting again, basically.  Graham went on to play with The Unlawful who, through a series of lineup changes, became Cry Havoc (signed to Chavis Records in the USA and released several albums as well as some high-profile gigs) and I called upon the original bass player that we’d wanted in the first place, Stevie Caveney.  Drums were handled by Jamey Ralston, and the frontman position was snapped up by a local vocalist (ex Caution Horses), John “JC” Collie.

From that point on, the chemistry was starting to work well, but it was cut short not long after recording the first demo, Furiouser and Furiouser Said Alice, when Jamey was apparently offered a job on a cattle ranch in Texas.  I believe that particular ranch was actually a spraypainting firm… in Clydebank… and he already worked for them.  I guess he didn’t want to be in the band anymore 😀

It’s just as well, though, as we ended up auditioning a load of potential drummers (Ronnie… I hope your hands have stopped bleeding) and found a young guy by the name of Mikey McManus who picked all of the songs up very quickly, and was also able to come up with his own parts whenever we wrote something new.  This was how we were able to go from a band that spent a year in rehearsals getting nowhere, to a band that was playing live every couple of weeks.

Sadly, like most good things, our run with JC and Mikey came to an end.  Much to my chagrin, I ended up taking on the role of vocalist – it wasn’t easy, given some of the guitar riffs, but I got there in the end.  Several drummers later, we ended our run with Anthony Keogh behind the kit.  He’d come to see us countless times and had become a friend of the band, and had expressed an interest in becoming our drummer.

The End

After raising the roof as a three-piece, I decided it was time to call it quits.  I’d spent far too long being the only songwriter, organising rehearsals and recordings, and organising gigs.  It was too many hats for my poor little head, so I told Stevie and Anthony that I was leaving and they were free to keep using the Fury name if they wanted to, but I was done.

It was an odd sense of relief when I quit the band.  What’s weird, though, is that the final lineup of the band was by far the most fun we’d ever had.  I was experimenting more with different styles and sounds, and neither Stevie nor Anthony had any issue with it.  It was a very laid-back atmosphere at the rehearsals, and we all got on great when we weren’t playing in the band.  Even after I left, we all hung out often.  It was absolutely my favourite lineup of any band I’d ever been in, second only to the time with JC and Mikey, but that was definitely the most productive period.

Once that responsibility of being “the main man” in the band had lifted, I felt a great sense of relief.  I called for a cab (a real one, the big, black shiny ones with enough room to have a party) and filled it with all my gear.  I sold the drum kit I’d bought for Mikey to play when he was in the band, the bass that I picked up along the way, and I think it was nine guitars.  I kept the Egypt Pharaoh Isis and the BC Rich USA Custom Warlock, but everything else was sold for a pittance.  It was 1997, I was 25 years old, and I was no longer a musician.

I got a little itchy a few months later and recorded four songs on my PC, just to see what it would be like to do everything myself.  I rearranged “Forgotten” and “Quest For Sanity”, and I wrote two new tracks – “Another Yesterday”, and the instrumental “Hang On To Hope”.  The bass came quite naturally, and although I loved coming up with the drum patterns, I had no choice but to manually program them as midi and use a SoundFont to get the natural-sounding kit.  Stevie and Anthony didn’t bother continuing after I left, but it felt weird to use the “Fury” name, so I decided to make it appear gaelic and changed it to “Fioraidh”, but it’s still basically pronounced as “fury”… or, more like “fee-oray”. After that, though, I literally just stopped everything.

A few years later, I ended up jamming with a bunch of people, including Graham and Stevie.  We tried getting a new band together, but it never really worked out.  A couple of songs were written but we couldn’t find enough musicians to complete the lineup.  We’d rehearse sporadically, and I ended up messing around behind the kit rather than bother taking my guitar with me – it was easier to fumble around on the kit and at least keep a beat rather than try and play with no drummer.

I ended up quitting 100% after my weekends were spent travelling down to London, and then a particularly nasty split from my thieving business partner really took the wind out of my sails, musically speaking.  It was now 2003, and it looked highly unlikely that I’d ever do anything musically again.

The Present

In December 2020, my friend Pete was turning fifty.  We talked about what it felt like, and it struck me that the only thing I had to show for my years as a musician was a bunch of terribly produced songs.  I listened to them all that weekend, though, and it made me think.  What if I were to re-record everything so that my kids could always listen to their dad, and when they grow up and have kids they could let their own kids hear what their grandad did was he was younger(ish… shuttit).

Decision made.  My Amazon wishlist was filled up with cables, tuners, a studio mic, a portable vocal booth, and so many other things.  My birthday was only a couple of weeks away and then it would be Christmas.  I waited to see what Santa brought me and then dumped a load onto my credit card to buy everything else that I needed.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too much… the headphones and monitors were probably the most expensive thing.  I already had the guitars, already had the USB interface (I also had a mixing desk but I think it died from neglect), I had a bass (funny story… I bid on a Traben Bootzilla 5-string bass on eBay when I was bored one night and forgot all about it until I was congratulated by eBay a month later), and I had the Roland TD-20 setup that my better half had got me in 2004 but which lay mostly ignored.

The first thing I did was go back to the four songs that I’d written and recorded after leaving the band and I reworked them.  I wrote lyrics and recorded vocals for the instrumental, I re-recorded vocals on “Another Yesterday” and “Forgotten”, but I couldn’t do anything with “Quest For Sanity” because the source files were incomplete so I literally just remixed that one.  After I’d finished those four, I wrote my first new song in what felt like a lifetime, “Another Year”.  Once it was finished, I created the artwork, designed the full CD and vinyl package, and I released it.

Man, it was a rush.  Just as I was about to start re-recording The Dead Good EP, I snapped my low-b string and had to order a new set of strings.  To be fair, I’d had the same set on the guitar since 2003, so, yeah… this was past due.  The day that my second replacement set arrived (the first set didn’t fit as they wouldn’t go through the holes in the machine heads), I was tuning up and ended up writing a great little riff off the top of my head.  I let it grow organically to see where it would take me, then fired up the music PC and started to record it while I was writing it.  This ended up being “Righteous Breed” and it derailed me to the point where I ignored The Dead Good EP entirely and started writing a whole load of new songs.

The Future

My plan now is to keep writing.  I’ll continue to record all parts myself, but I’ll occasionally reach out to ask people if they’d like to collaborate.  Not only did Graham record some great lead parts on “Adreamaline”, but he also contributed the entire exit solo on “The Heart of Madness”, so from 21:22 until the final fadeout at 24:00, that’s one single solo by Graham… and it’s my favourite thing that he’s ever played in the forty years that I’ve known him.

My journey as a musician is only just beginning again.