There’s a fine line between rock’n’roll behaviour and self-destructive oblivion and Kyle Falconer has crossed it numerous times in his 13 years as frontman of The View, the Dundee foursome whose hell-for-leather live shows have been as gentle tea parties compared to their offstage rollercoaster of a career.
Falconer’s conviction for cocaine possession back in 2007 led to the cancellation of their first US tour, effectively stunting their prospects across the Atlantic at a time when they were riding high in the UK charts with debut album Hats Off To The Buskers. “It really f***ed our career,” says Falconer with characteristic bluntness. “I thought my life was over.”
Falconer was back in court last year following a 2016 alcohol-fuelled air rage incident which, along with the impending birth of daughter Wylde, was the wake-up call he needed. He sobered up following his third stint in Thai rehab – which don’t come cheap – and clawed his way back from penury to complete his debut solo album, the wryly titled No Thank You.
Inevitably, he has a wealth of material to draw on. Even a cursory glance at the song titles – The Therapist, Confusion – tells a chunk of the story, while the mournful lyrics do the rest. His debut single Poor Me is named after the Alcoholics Anonymous mantra “poor me poor me pour me another drink”, Family Tree pledges “I’m putting bottles of whisky and vodka behind me” and Jekyll Down Your Hyde alludes to the need to temper behaviour.
“All the stuff’s quite personal but it’s obvious I’ve been in rehab a few times so there’s no shying away from it,” says Falconer. “There’s a lot of Jekyll and Hyde on the album – I need to get rid of my Hyde so I need to Jekyll it down a bit, but I also went through all the songs and put a wee bit of a spanner in the works because it would have sounded like a big happy-go-lucky record and I didn’t want that because that’s not how I feel. There are moments of schizophrenia, a lot of people say I’m a bit nuts, so I had to get rid of the old person. But this bad spell that I’ve come out of is the best thing that’s ever happened because I’ve got a baby, I’ve got a car, I’ve finally got a mortgage. For years I’ve been p***ing my money up the wall so I needed to give myself a boot up the arse and I’ve done it.”
No Thank You puts a bright musical face on some dark lyrical matter, and makes a virtue of Falconer’s love of strong melody, harmony and the more sophisticated easy listening side of pop music which he doesn’t get to indulge in The View.
“I love The View, it’s my favourite thing but it’s like verse-chorus-verse-verse-chorus-middle eight-guitar solo-double chorus-outro,” says Falconer. “We’re punks, and that’s still what I stick to, there’s just less of the whole guitar pedal blaring and trying to get more connected with the lyrics.”
Falconer arranged and produced the album himself in Paul Weller’s Black Barn Studios in Surrey, writing string parts on mellotron, playing Weller’s old Hofner bass and revelling in all the old analogue kit at his disposal.
“I was in my element,” he says. “We used this piano that was a semi-tone out of tune so it was a head pickle to play but it was making me come out with different chords that I wouldn’t normally do. I’m not an amazing piano player but I write a lot of my stuff at the piano. There was a lot of melancholy in the whole process, mixing the lyrics with the mood, and having no one else there, just me, an engineer and a drummer, and staying in this wee cottage with this wee pub at the end of the road. I would have one beer at most, whereas The View sessions were wild, up for weeks, sticking to the roof. Some of the stuff that happened with The View in the studio, we don’t even talk about, it was that insane.”
The View are currently parked with the engine purring while Falconer embarks on solo shows with a new band, including an appearance at TRNSMT in Glasgow next weekend, which he says will include reworkings of a couple of lesser performed View numbers. “We’ve been in the band since we were 14 years old, same primary school, same nursery, all living next door to each other,” he says. “So it’s a bit weird not having them beside me. I do feel a wee bit vulnerable but it’s good because I’d forgotten what feeling nervous was like, I was always so drunk on stage. I’m remembering that I’m actually quite a good singer and I’m not afraid to say it!” ■
Kyle Falconer plays the King Tut’s Stage, TRNSMT, Glasgow Green, 30 June. The festival takes place on 29 and 30 June and 1, 6 and 8 July, www.trnsmtfest.com