Wednesday, December 27, 2006

View to a thrill

...A more credible alternative for fresh new talent in the country is Dundonian quartet The View, an obstreperous bunch of archetypal indie scruffs who will be singing about not changing their jeans for four days and other kitchen-sink concerns in the immediate run-up to the bells in Glasgow.

In the past, no-one would have let these toerags anywhere near a Hogmanay hoolie - or, indeed the charts - but in these Arctic Monkeys-dominated, post-Libertines, post-post-Oasis days of the indie mainstream, their rough-and-ready rabble has gained them speedy recognition as Dundee's most significant musical export since The Associates and the Average White Band.

Backstage at the SECC, prior to one of their biggest gigs yet, supporting Primal Scream, all the band are present - some in body more than spirit. While guitarist Pete Reilly and singing bassist Kieren Webster chatter away enthusiastically (Webster breaking all speed-talking records along with way) about the band's steep ascent of the last few months, drummer Steve Morrison languishes in the corner, chipping in the odd comment, and frontman Kyle Falconer barely averts his gaze from his mobile phone.

The foursome have all known each other since primary school - in some cases, even longer. They all look way too young to have been playing music together for over five years - Falconer in particular looks like he got lost on a school trip and has stumbled in through the wrong door - but are, in fact, all staggering into their twenties as veterans of an Oasis/Beatles covers band called The Lost Weekend.

The quartet made the decision to stop playing covers a couple of years ago and, naming themselves after their local, the Bayview Hotel, rebooted their set with the songs they had been writing for a number of years.

One of these songs, their recent Top 20 hit Superstar Tradesman, was inspired by the mantra, heard at home and school throughout their teens, that they would have to pick a trade if they wanted to find steady employment. "They tell you that you've got no choice, but I'm pretty sure I do," laughs Webster. Against all advice, the foursome had already decided that music was their trade of choice. "That's probably the reason it's going so well for us," says Reilly. "We had to make it work or that's it."

The View's apprenticeship was spent rehearsing and hanging out in the Doghouse - "the best venue in Dundee" the band all agree - where they also played their first gig.

"They'll give anybody a gig," says Webster appreciatively. And a place to crash, it seems. "I'm sure one or other of us slept there," says Reilly. "We stole couches from this place round the corner, called 'Don't Dump It, Gie It To Us' - or something like that. We got settees, chairs and a coffee table from them."

Like a low-rent Monkees, the band radiated an appealing gang unity from the off, and had no difficulty standing out in the local music scene. As Webster puts it: "We're more mentaler".

"And younger as well," adds Reilly. "But nowadays there's loads of young bands in Dundee. People are realising there is talent in Dundee, whereas before they would bypass it and look straight to Glasgow or Aberdeen."

The View can take some credit for turning a spotlight on the city. Their fledgling success has encouraged a ripple effect, while Radio One's decision to stage their One Big Weekend all-dayer there in the summer was a confidence booster, inspiring many fringe events in pubs and venues around the city.

The View have ambivalent feelings towards their hometown, as documented on their forthcoming debut album Hats Off to the Buskers, which they recorded intensively over a two week period in the summer with Oasis/Verve producer Owen Morris.

The Oasisy Streetlights, written after Webster "got jumped", proclaims: "I'd like to move city, I'd like to move town, cos all you ignorant people, you're bringing me down"; while Gran's For Tea communicates a certain homesickness. "I was pissed off with Dundee for a wee while," admits Webster, "but when I was thinking about going awa' fae Dundee, I was also thinking if you were miles away you'd be wishing you were at your gran's for tea."

With tour dates in Japan just completed and the prestigious NME tour and their first US gigs in the new year, The View are having to get used to that feeling. Whenever they do make it home, there is always something else about their Dryburgh neighbourhood which has changed. "Our school's been rebuilt with a huge swimming pool," remarks Webster. "It's like Pimp My School!"

There are also changes back at the immortalised Bayview, from which the boys were apparently banned after an especially raucous gig. "It's under new management," notes Reilly. "So I'm sure we'll be able to go back in..."

• The View play George Square, Glasgow on Hogmanay and Carling Academy on 1 February. Hats Off to the Buskers is released by 1965 Records on 22 January.
FIONA SHEPHERD, The Scotsman 23/12/06


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