Dave McCabe plays intimate gig as Pirate Records celebrate opening new Liverpool studios

When musical history runs deep through the streets of Liverpool, there’s bound to be an unrelenting feed of new, hungry artists and bands desperate to make their mark in the ears of music fans. It’s not always the easiest process though, so the opportunity that Pirate Studios have presented with their new space on Regent Road in Liverpool is one that so many will be grabbing hold of.
“Follow the noise”, I was advised as I walked down the corridor of Pirate Records, opening the door on York’s HELLO OPERATOR gearing up to detonate. They’re slickly-clad in black and leather to kick off the launch and they do nothing by halves, the volume is pumped up and the studio is rocking. Black Blooded Tiger is a song that especially catches my attention; it sounds like Royal Blood, with aggression and purpose. Lead singer Max Dalton has a look of Kyle Falconer, and his voice isn’t far off too, an explosive sound, and a sound that is bang on and they won’t be contained within this studio for very long. This noise will be followed around the country in the near future.

From the humble beginnings of an old abandoned police station in Bristol, Pirate are the operators of over 90 studios, 11 of which are in the Liverpool space. A walk round the unit and a chat to some of those in the know at Pirate and This Feeling, who are the organisers of these launch gigs, tells me everything about the ethos of what’s happening. The goal is to create a community of new bands who can help each other break through. The studios are 24/7, too, so if there’s a band up for an all-nighter, Pirate Studios can accommodate them. It is unique in the sense that there are no ‘staff’ on-site, instead 24-hour help lines if something doesn’t go to plan. Whatever hour of the day; the important thing is helping these bands produce music.

Anyone that’s ever met DAVE MCCABE knows he’s a huge character, and he loves doing what he does. When he arrives at the studios, he’s eager to get on the microphone and start making noise. The sound of Earth, Wind and Fire’s September travels down the corridor in the format of a vocal warm up, and a mess around. Dave’s back on his guitar after a stint with The Ramifications, but it is Let Me Go from that project that brings the room alive, it’s transfixing and inspiring. You Will You Won’t arrives soon after, and Pirate Studios basks in Zuton fever like it’s 2004 again. He’s joined by IAN SKELLY, from The Coral who’s by his side on bongos, looking towards a heap of local press and competition winners squeezed into the packed studio. McCabe commentates, “this one’s for your ex birds, I haven’t even got an ex bird”, and “this one’s for your ma’s”, Scouse humour went hand in hand with this set. He’s a good fit with the optimistic attitude that this building instils on its guests – an environment to express and go get ‘em. McCabe voices a word of thanks to support Hello Operator, still enjoying the atmosphere, and also those responsible for organising the gig. Last up is Valerie, in many ways the one everyone wanted, here’s a mainstay of Merseyside music celebrating the birth of another hive of activity in Liverpool. He ends the gig pretending to smash his guitar up in the studio, “was that alright?” he asks, on his way out. Yes Dave, it was.

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