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Georgia Straight Interview
1999 New Gandy
The Queen of Diamonds Story
from an Interview with Steve Newton,
Vancouver Georgia Straight, March
instro-rockers the Falcons recently had their independent CD, Queen of
Diamonds, chosen as best
album of 1998 by UK's influential surf-music magazine Pipeline. As lead
guitarist and main songwriter Mike Beddoes explains, that's a far
better reaction than he got the first time he performed that album's
title track, in a Grade 8 talent contest at Lord Byng High School.
"That was a
fiasco," Beddoes recalls, "The drummer and I were too lazy
to rehearse, and when we got onstage they closed the curtains in front
of the drummer, so he couldn't see or hear me. When I started playing
the song, somebody had to go back and tell him to start, so then he
chimed in. He only stopped playing when I went back and said, 'It's
back to top
Needless to say, Beddoes and his
hapless pal did not claim first prize
FALCONS - MILLENNIUM
Excerpt from a 1999 Interview with Davy
Peckett (the complete interview can be found in New Gandy Dancer Issue
New Gandy Dancer: As we
move towards 2000, what have you learned about playing in an
instrumental band in the last decade and have The Falcons changed in
Mike Beddoes: I've
learnt that people still expect singers! But after a couple of numbers,
they get acclimatised to all-instrumental. Direction? Well we're more
focused since 1992. Also, we know there is an audience for this stuff
which is pretty encouraging. Getting album of the year from Pipeline
was real recognition for us too.
NGD: What has been the
reaction of live audiences to a band that doesn't sing and doesn't play
MB: Relief from those who
have heard me sing! No actually, we do play lots of covers live like
"Apache", "Meadowlands" and "The Mexican". With our new drummer, Andre
Deslauriers, we've added a few tunes with drum solos like "Diamonds"
and "Let There Be Drums".
NGD: Why do you think
that instrumentals, never mainstream pop, still keep hanging in there?
Is it a musician's thing?
MB: I think the old
instrumentals have a fresh sound that's as good today as when they were
first recorded - just like early vocal rock & roll. I think
the music is the most important port - more important than just the
image. When I played with Nokie Edwards and Jimmy Torres down in
Oregon, they sounded just as good as ever. It probably is a musician's
thing because you can play instrumentals even when you're an old guy -
look at Link Wray.
NGD: Along with very few
other bands, you seem to have been banner-waving for Canadian rock
instrumentals this last decade. Why has the North American instrumental
scene been so swamped by the USA and European scenes and do you think
The Falcons have been successful in correcting the balance to some
MB: Well there's tons
more people in Europe and the USA, so it's no surprise we were swamped
by their music. The big deal about Canada though is that we heard The
Shadows and The Ventures, not just one side or another. So even today,
Canadian instrumental bands are more influenced by The Shadows than our
American counterparts are. Correcting the balance? You bet! Canada uber
Alles! I'd like to think we're helping people pick up on Canadian stuff
but I don't know. Canadian bands are usually thought of as imitation
American bands. For instance, on "Evening In Nivram", we're labelled an
American band in the liner notes. I guess that's a compliment.
NGD: Most forms of
today's music have been infiltrated - if not overwhelmed - by
computers, programming, drum machines etc. It hasn't happened though to
any large extent with instrumental bands. Is this a part of the
character of guitar instrumental groups?
MB: Yeah, most
definitely. Instrumental rock has certain characteristics that define
it - no computers, no synths, no drum machines. But if you go outside
the constraints, like Joe Satriani, then it's no longer rock
instrumental And it's not just the guitar bands. Sax-led bands playing
things like "Raunchy" or organ like "Green Onions" are the same.
Instrumentals started the same time as ordinary rock but ended in the
mid sixties. As a genre, their big charm is that they didn't change or
NGD: That being the case,
what is the authentic instrumental recording all about?
MB: Authentic recording
to me means real musicians with real instruments. The way The Falcons
record is live off the floor - you know, drums, bass, and rhythm guitar
record simultaneously while the lead plays a dummy track to cue
people. The lead is added next and then double tracked (played again).
All recording and mixing is done on analogue tape recorders and the
sound is digitised only during the mastering stage. All this makes for
a pretty good 'live' sound.
Excerpt from a 1995 Interview with Dave Burke
(the complete interview can be
found in Pipeline Instrumental Review,
....Central to the sound of [The Falcons]
is the deep, fat bass of Gord Kearney.
His use of a 1975 Fender Precision Fretless provides for an unusually
rounded and, on slides, characteristically smooth and unbroken tone,
providing a dependable pillar for the rest of the band to build around.
Kim Clarke, the interestingly close-shaven one with an arty beard, uses
a modern Rickenbacker twelve-string semi-acoustic for rhythm which adds
a notable warmth and substance to their sound. Lead guitarist Mike
Beddoes' choice is a 1966 Fender Jaguar or sometimes a 1964 Gibson
Firebird 3, and of course it is principally Mike's compositional
prowess and instrumental dexterity that makes the band such a standout.
Hank Marvin is clearly a prime influence but, beyond that, there is the
legacy of classical training which lends the multi-picking ability to
adorn and embroider central melodies with conversational asides. The
band insist on using tube amplifiers such as Mike's 1963 Gibson Falcon
and Gordy's 1970 Ampeg, and all effects are electro-mechanical with
spring reverb and tape-echo instead of their digital equivalents. The
four man line-up is completed by Mitch Lazer, a lively go-get-em
drummer who is also hip to the subtleties involved in playing
instrumentals. Dems da Falcons, folks.
FALCONS - LIVE REVIEWS
first formed in
Vancouver during January 1991 as Dreamrider.
Consisting of Mike with Ted Harrison (drums) and Brian Harton (bass),
they recorded a three track cassette featuring "Dreamrider", "Rikki"
and "Come by My Love". In the summer the band experimented by adding
different rhythm players and changing bassists, eventually disbanding
due to other commitments. "Beer and heroin, beer and cocaine, beer and
singing in a C&W band" Mike adds wryly!
he had decided to
try again, this time naming the band The
Falcons after his vintage Gibson amplifier because, as he explained,
"It suggests the era and the music that had first inspired us". By
January of '92 Mike had completed another three track cassette, this
time featuring "Shadow Land", "Tina" and "Fiesta de Guerra" helped out
by musicians Michael O'Brien on rhythm, Larry Lunchpail on drums, and
Gord Kearney beginning his stint with the band on bass.
distributed the tape to
local radio stations but then took a
lengthy sojourn away from the locality. On his return, and much to his
surprise, he found that several jocks had picked up on the tape, and
interest and support had gradually begun to build for the band in his
absence. Mike speedily reformed the band in May '93 to play live gigs,
using at first Joe Bouchier on bass and Darrel Mayes on drums, before
returning (after passing through a further six drummers and three
bassists) to the recording formation of Gordy on bass and Larry on
drums with the addition of Kim Clarke on rhythm. The band was now
stable and, while at first the response at gigs was like, "Where's your
singer, man?", people soon became accustomed to the idea of them as an
instrumental group - at re-bookings the question did not arise again....
...the interest shown in the
band's first efforts
encouraged them to return to Bedclothes Studios to put down some more
produced the previously
lauded "Fly By Night" CD which they
recorded in January '94. Mike reported that the recording techniques
were straight forward with one mike for each member and then mixing the
results straight down from four tracks. The finished disc is of very
high quality indeed and the "full, rich mono sound", as it is described
on the sleeve, is arguably the best way to enjoy our kind of
already proved to be
a year of highlights with not only their
highly successful appearance at the Pipeline Convention under their
belts, but also a prestigious appearance playing at Nokie Edwards' 60th
birthday party! Nokie was doubtless delighted to see how well some of
those seventeen year old kids that he had inspired to pick up the
guitar some thirty odd years ago had turned out. Mike is only too happy
to honour the genre's vintage bands "Their influence", he says "is
immeasurable, but we do not want to be a clone of anybody. To us it is
important to create our own, updated version of the early sixties
instro sound, something that people will recognise as our own Falcons
sound". The band are already planning new recordings that will enable
them to do just that. With the current upsurge of interest in
instrumental music amongst the young - largely because of the
appearance of the film "Pulp Fiction" which has spread the energy of
our music directly to them - the prospects for the future look better
than ever. The band feels that this is not just a passing phase but a
genuine sea change and that the future will find RI assuming a greater
importance in music. Certainly they all talk in terms of "spreading the
instrumental gospel", which is the kind of evangelical crusading that
is needed to change attitudes.
both from their CD and
from their performance at our Convention
they are poised to do just that. Personally I cannot think of any finer
back to top
Club, 1994, Vancouver:
When The Falcons took the
stage, their presence
assured the crowd they were in for a treat. I was originally impressed
by their demo tape but, live, the Falcons blew my expectations away
immediately. Imagine yourself driving through the desert, heels on the
dash of your green '69 Eldorado, wind blowing through your hair, arm
around a cozy friend with the 8 track playing in the background -
smooth - don't remember the stars this bright before... The Falcons
brought out the atmosphere of the Railway like no other Shindig
performer, with a cool, instrumental, Mexican twist on Chris Isaak. Be
sure to catch these local wonders at a venue near you. Just don't
forget to bring a wheelbarrow full of joints, a bathtub of margaritas,
a padded recliner, and thick, shady sunglasses. It's nice to see some
- Skyler, DISCORDER, Vancouver,
Convention 1995, London UK:
The Falcons were over here all
the way from
Canada.This band is relatively new to me, having only heard the track
"Shadow Land" from them previously. But let me tell you people these
four guys were really a revelation!
Bravely they kick
off with two of their
originals, they were startlingly intricate with memorable melodies
betraying a good deal of technical ability on the part of their lead
guitarist Mike Beddoes.
"Out of Limits"
follows and my notes from the
day simply say "cool". Cool in extremis to be exact, deliciously played
and more relaxed than you could ever imagine "Out of Limits" to be.
Better still was the ballad "Tina", emotive, gorgeous, and sounding
like Dire Straits could but don't. Standout stuff. Guitars are swapped
for the catchy "Sombrero" and Eddy-ish "El Nino" which proves to be a
good idea because rhythm guitarist Kim Clarke has a totally different
style of guitar playing.
Returning to their
usual guitar formation they
next took on "Pipeline", the announcement of which provoked a rapturous
reception, and this too was every bit as different as "Out of Limits".
Something to do with the neat harmonics that Mike produced I think, a
technique you learn with classical training.
three tunes, plus one encore.
were every bit the equal of the earlier material (all originals too!),
displaying at times a distinct shift towards flamenco guitar. "Shadow
Land" disappoints me a little, too much Marvin and not enough Beddoes
but, that said, The Falcons were superb and my favourite band of the
back to top
- John Beddington, PIPELINE, London UK
back to The
The Falcons 1998 (Andre, Mike Gord, Kim)
The Falcons at Cloverdale Rodeo, BC, 1999
The Falcons (Mitch, Gord, Mike, Kim) in
Paris, 1995. Photo: Kim Clarke
Mike Beddoes with Jimmy Torres (The
and Nokie Edwards (The Ventures). Photo: Judy Edwards
The Falcons at Pipeline 1995, London UK
Photo: David Hawley
The Fentones with Mike Beddoes on rhythm
guitar at Pipeline 1995.
Photo: David Hawley
The Falcons at Nokie Edwards 60th Birthday
Party, Seattle USA
The Falcons with special guest, Bill Bonney
of the Fentones, at Pipeline 2000, London UK
The Falcons first publicity photo, 1993
(Kim Clarke, Darrell Mayes, Mike Beddoes, Paul Beddoes)
Photo: Susan Edelstein