Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dee til they deh

IN THESE days of plummeting sales, of two copies per auntie securing a pop band a chart placing, what exactly does a Top 20 single mean?

Quite a lot, if you're a member of Dundee's The View.
For singer Kyle Falconer it means new gear. He's laden down with shopping bags and outside the Yummy Yummy Chinese Takeaway on a warm summer's night he shows off some of the apprentice-rock-legend threads he will be packing for the band's marathon 66-date British tour, which begins this week.

"Look at they," he says holding up a pair of trainers. "Only six quid and nae laces."
"Falco" is hoping for the sartorial approval of two girls - blonde, View T-shirts, immortalised in photo-form on the record sleeve - who are hanging out with the band down at the shops on Dundee's Dryburgh estate. Guitarist Pete Reilly, however, isn't impressed. "Nae laces? Izzat why they were so cheap, like?"
"Style," sniffs Falconer. "Something you ken nowt about."

For bassist Kieran Webster a No 15 chart ranking for the single 'Wasted Little DJs' (it's since dropped) means a new bike and word of it quickly spreads round the maisonettes. A tubby ginger-haired boy in a Juventus football strip with a face already as old as his dad's screeches to a halt. "Gie ye a race," he grunts. Then another tyke on a trike appears, then another...
By entering our pop consciousness with their rumbustious sound, The View appear to have come from nowhere. But Dryburgh to them is somewhere. The band grew up here, winning the talent contest two years running at St John's, the local high school. Their songs reflect their surroundings, with walk-on parts for many of their friends. "This is hame," says drummer Steve Morrison.

Before the interview, and before the entire estate gathers, the photographer snaps some malarkey involving Webster's new wheels. "I've got a bike, you can ride it if you like," sings their road manager, evoking the spirit of Syd Barrett. "You're showing your age," I tell him. But then everyone feels old around The View.

Falconer and Morrison are 19, Reilly and Webster one year older and, because of their callow, guitar-grinding sound but also their strong sense of place, there have been inevitable comparisons with the Arctic Monkeys. When they suggest the interview is done at "the steps" I assume this to be a local pub, but, no, it's a flight of stairs behind the shops. And between mouthfuls of crisps - and between constant interruptions from the biker squad asking if this is the night they're going to be playing on the roof of the Yummy Yummy - they tell their story...

They started out as the scheme's biggest Oasis fans, called themselves The Casuals and played Noel Gallagher covers at Arbroath's Red Lion Caravan Park. "We thought we were brilliant," says Reilly. "And we'd chuck in clubby classics like 'Stuck In The Middle With You' because a'body likes them."

But at that time music was just a hobby and real life quickly got in the way. Falconer was a bricklayer, Webster worked in Pizza Hut, Morrison was a butcher and Reilly a joiner.

Without the other knowing it, the brickie and the pizza boy started writing songs about Dryburgh. They then pooled their ideas, rounded up Morrison and Reilly and began rehearsals in the Bay View, the pub which would eventually give the reformed foursome their name. "None of our songs are about shite. They're all about something," Falconer declares proudly.
Webster: "They're all about our mates. Right from the start we got loads of folk we know coming to our gigs at the Doghouse. That was a big part of us getting the recognition."
'Wasted Little DJs' is a thrilling first blast. Apart from the line "cleverest blonde weekend", though, the chorus is almost impenetrable. Maybe it's as Dundonian as the slogan on the T-shirt of the lad who's just passed us on the steps - "Dee til eh deh".
Falconer: "That song's about these two girls who come to all our gigs and are always trying to outdo each other for outrageous behaviour - that's one of them over at the shops."
Although they love Oasis, The View have differing views on the merits of other bands. "I'm into Deep Purple and Falco's into Fleetwood Mac," says Reilly. "We all go off at wee tangents but I think that's a good thing."
They continue talking up their own repertoire, including the next single 'Superstar Tradesman'. Webster: "That comes from us all being told when we were 13: 'Son, get yourself a trade.' We want to film the video for it on the roof. That's what all these wee shites keep asking about."

Falconer again: "And we've also got this song called 'Wasteland' which is kind of like our anthem for Dryburgh. OK, so you can see there's some graffiti, but this place is no' the worst. Still, folk form first impressions and think we're schemies. We're no'."

Webster says only one of their numbers has a fictional premise. "'Trendy' is about this bloke trying to get help for a heroin problem," he says. "He's not a mate but we do have a couple of pals in similar situations."
Which brings us neatly to Pete Doherty. The Babyshambles leader with an exaggerated sense of his own rock'n'roll mythology offered The View a leg-up and they won't hear a bad word said against him. "When he played Dundee I gave him a tape," says Falconer. "On the strength of that he let us open for him that night, then we toured with him. He's sound."
Their list of famous acquaintances is growing all the time. They liked hanging out at London's K-West Hotel, where Drew Barrymore and Kelly Osbourne are among regular guests, until the record company decided its all-night bar was too much of a distraction for four scamps from Dundee. So what treats has the label permitted for the tour rider? "Socks and Hobnobs," groans Morrison.

The band have a limited biography and a limited attention span; it's time to wind up the interview. Webster has a bike race to finish - a 15-strong field has now assembled - and after that, the rock'n'roll highway beckons. "We're really looking forward to the tour," says Reilly, "although I'm sure we'll a' miss this place."

Webster wonders where the inspiration for new songs will come from, so far from home, but really that's a concern for another day. They've already amassed enough for their debut album.

Due for release in the new year, it's been produced by Owen Morris who twiddled the knobs for their heroes Oasis. A certain Mr N Gallagher dropped in on the sessions and, for a rare few seconds, succeeded in rendering The View speechless.
"It's the only time I've ever been starstruck," says Falconer, as if he's met them all. "All I could do was hand him a bottle of beer. He said: 'Bloody hell, I don't drink in the morning, where are you guys from?'"
Remember the name: Dryburgh.


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