Interview: The View, Dundonian rock band
SO THE lead singer of The View is big into musicals and Abba. Really? Fiona Shepherd meets the Dundee band ahead of their appearance at this weekend’s RockNess Festival and finds there’s more to them than their popular image as a gang of high-spirited lads enjoying the rock lifestyle to the full.
Kyle Falconer has a confession or three to make. It’s not that he’s had the same jeans on for four days now. Or anything to do with that time on magic mushrooms when he had the MOR epiphany which would ultimately lead to his description of The View’s new album as “Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours done by The Clash”. It’s far more surprising than that.
“I’ve been to see Jersey Boys seven times now. And I went to see Wicked the other day as well.”
So the leader of The View wrecking crew is big into musicals. Certain musicals, he is keen to clarify, not the girly ones. West Side Story is cool, Jesus Christ Superstar even more so. Falconer loves the Lloyd Webber/Rice prototype rock opera so much that he even auditioned (unsuccessfully) for the part of Judas in a production about 18 months ago. This seems like a revelation too far but Falconer looks to be in deadly earnest. And that’s not all. “I like Abba. And I took my niece to see Backstreet Boys versus New Kids on the Block the other week.”
His bass-playing, co-songwriting partner-in-crime Kieren Webster is not inclined to follow this with any specific disclosures of his own but what he will say is “you’d be surprised at some of the stuff we listen to”. I already am.
There is clearly more to The View, who play RockNess this weekend, than their popular image as a gang of high-spirited lads enjoying the extracurricular perks of the rock star lifestyle might suggest. Scratch that hard-partying surface and there has always been a seam of urban lyricism to their music, a talent for capturing the characters they meet and expressing the affection and disaffection they feel for their environment, be it Dundee, where they all grew up, or their subsequent stomping grounds of London and Liverpool. And for all the untrammelled energy of their live shows, the pop craft which has been there from the beginning has become more pronounced with successive releases. Last year’s Bread And Circuses produced a couple of their most unashamedly mainstream moments to date.
Their forthcoming fourth album looks set to shift the goalposts a little bit more. On the one hand, it is called Cheeky For A Reason, which does seem to play into the prevailing mischievous troublemaker image. On the other, it features at least one sterling song, The Clock Has No Sympathy, which flirts with soft rock, allows guitarist Peter Reilly to unleash his best Lindsey Buckingham-style playing and features Falconer’s most accomplished vocal to date. The song has been kicking about for a few years but came to completion when Falconer and Webster collaborated with Kings of Leon co-writer/producer Angelo Petraglia. This was their first experience of allowing a third party into their songwriting marriage and Petraglia’s business-like approach was in marked contrast to their usual take-it-as-it-comes modus operandi.
“We like to do things in our own time,” says Falconer. “There’s only been a couple of occasions where we’ve phoned each other up and said, ‘Want to come up and write a tune?’ We usually get heavily smashed, get the creative juices flowing and then you start telling each other you are geniuses: ‘This is brilliant, get the recorder out.’ But this was about turning up at 11 o’clock in the morning and sitting in a circle and he would say [adopts American accent] ‘OK, what you got guys? Let’s throw some shit around.’ We were just pleased to be there, but I wouldn’t have minded a couple of tequilas first…”
It must have worked out okay in the end, as three songs from those sessions have made the cut for the album. Falconer is particularly proud of The Clock Has No Sympathy, explaining its odd title as meaning that “there’s nae time to piss about, you only live once kind of thing. It’s a selfish way of looking at the clock because the clock’s not yours, it’s everyone else’s as well. It’s about self-obsessing.”
“Kyle thinks he’s getting old cos he’s 24,” says Webster. Accordingly, on this album there is a certain mellowing of the frenetic pace which characterises their earlier material.
“There’s less guitar,” concedes Falconer, “so you can hear what’s going on. It’s more about focusing on the lyrics. It’s not as mental, eh?”
“It’s more dynamically mixed,” says Webster, “but the bits that are supposed to be ferocious are.”
Fleetwood Mac might be a new point of reference but the other part of Falconer’s astute album analogy have always been a crucial influence on the band. He quite happily likens hearing The Clash for the first time to “when you get your first boner – honestly! We couldn’t believe it. I thought you stopped being obsessed about stuff around the age of 15. At 18 you think you’re more mature, but I swear walking about Brixton I could smell Mick Jones…”
While The View maintain their priapic passion for their musical heroes, they have calmed down in other respects. “We’re trying not to be big spenders,” says Falconer. “We used to not give a shit about spending money.”
“We’d go out every night and never put our hand in our pocket,” says Webster. “We would be getting two taxis a day each to the airport and stuff. We were never told how much these things cost. It just spirals into chaos and we would end up owing the record company about half a million. We only discovered that after we’d made the second album.”
Falconer assumes a mock-tragic tone: “Why didn’t we listen?”
So is this the advent of the new mature and responsible View? “No’ really,” says Webster, to the probable relief of their mad-fer-it fans. “It’s just that we’ve all got our own houses and you’ve got to start thinking about things, eh? I’d rather get a new guitar then spend £50 on a taxi again. It’s not really the money, it’s about being more productive about releasing songs.”
• Cheeky For A Reason is released by Cooking Vinyl on 9 July. The View play RockNess on Saturday, O2 Academy, Glasgow, on 12 July and Wickerman on 21 July
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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