What a feeling! Welding tutor gets flash of US fame
It's not uncommon for college lecturers to have a part-time job to supplement their income. But few lead as remarkable a double life as Des McCabe.
At Forth Valley College, he works as a fabrication and welding lecturer. On the other side of the Atlantic, however, Mr McCabe is better known as the frontman of chart-topping rock band Dead Man Fall.
The 35-year-old's unlikely brush with fame came after his band's song Bang Your Drum attracted the attention of Scottish-born Craig Ferguson, at that time presenter of the popular The Late Late Show in the US. This triggered an extraordinary series of events, which resulted in the song hitting the top of the American iTunes rock chart and being used in a video featuring Hollywood A-listers Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L Jackson and Matthew McConaughey.
But, despite his band's international success, Mr McCabe is now back in his workshop at the college where he has worked for more than 11 years. "I enjoy welding," he told TESS. "It is an art that you have to master and a bit of a challenge."
After playing local gigs for several years without making a mainstream breakthrough, Dead Man Fall decided to try to gain some more publicity.
"One day, we were sitting talking about how we could get the [Bang Your Drum] video seen and we wondered who we could tweet it to - and then Craig Ferguson's name came up. We tweeted him the link to the song, and he then posted it on his timeline," Mr McCabe said.
Shortly afterwards, one of the lecturer's bandmates received a phone call inviting Dead Man Fall to appear on The Late Late Show. "The band member who found out first couldn't reach us for a while and he said that was the closest he had ever felt to spontaneous combustion," Mr McCabe said.
However, it appeared that their dream would be dashed when the band members were unable to secure US visas in time. But the show's producers came back with another idea: they would put together their own video for the song to mark Mr Ferguson's final appearance as host of the show in December. The result starred a stream of celebrities including Pierce Brosnan, Mila Kunis, Kevin Bacon and Lisa Kudrow.
"We didn't get to see the video until about an hour before everyone else saw it," Mr McCabe said. "I was watching it in a daze. It wasn't until the bit where Desmond Tutu pops up that I woke up.
"Shortly after the video was shown, the song started making its way up the charts. It went all the way to number one in the American iTunes rock chart, and there were thousands of downloads."
The lecturer has kept his feet on the ground, however. "We are all quite pragmatic," he said. "We just knew it was something that was good to have on our CV and we hope it will lead to exciting opportunities this year."
Not surprisingly, the college's learners have also been excited by their tutor's success. "It's all quite surreal," said welding and fabrication student Callum Neeson. "We're all really proud of what Des has achieved, though; it's nice to see someone you know become so successful."
Students and staff at Forth Valley College have even made their own version of the music video in recognition of the band's efforts.
Principal Ken Thomson said: "We are all so proud of Des and what he has achieved with his band. It was a very nice gesture for him to allow us to use the song for our own film."
And although it is now back to the day job for Mr McCabe, he hasn't quite come to terms with the roller coaster of the past few weeks. "Watching the video now, it doesn't really sink in that that is my voice," he said.
See the video at www.tesconnect.comBangYourDrum