Saturday, January 20, 2007

Gang of New York

Trashed hotel rooms, tabloid notoriety and lashings of booze - the View are causing carnage on a scale not seen since Oasis. Mike Sterry heads to NYC with the rock'n'roll scoundrels set to tear up 2007

'We got presents from the Yakuza. It was weird accepting gifts from gangsters... The View.

There's a Mexican standoff on the streets of New York: "Just ye come and try it pal, we'll fuck you up proper." On one side of the street is the View's guitarist Pete Reilly. Eyeballing him from the other side is a burly gentleman who, until he spotted the cameraman following the View, was happily engaged in some decidedly ungentlemanly fisticuffs with his girlfriend. They're a long way from their native Dundee, but it's obvious the View don't shy away when a lady's in trouble. The brute thrusts a stubby finger towards the hapless cameraman. "Hey! Point that thing at me again and I'll shove it up your ASS!"

Reilly steps forward, nostrils flaring. The View's small entourage tenses as dozens of unconcerned New Yorkers hustle by, heads down. The brute takes a step back and raises his hands in the air as if to concede the standoff. It's only when we're about to turn the corner does he call out: "Aw, come on! I'm right here you buncha homo jerk-offs!"

The View don't take the bait. Instead, they whistle to a nearby cop and head off on their merry way. "Fuckin' hell," floppy-haired drummer Steve Morrison grimaces, "so this is New York!"

Born and raised on the Dryburgh estate in Dundee, the View are feeling more than a little out of place right now. It's understandable given that they're all under 21 and have never visited America before, let alone played a whistlestop series of shows to crowds of wizened industry bods. Still, it's all of their own doing. If it hadn't been for the singles Wasted Little DJs, Superstar Tradesman and Same Jeans all crashing into the Top 20, or the fact that their debut album Hats Off To The Buskers is so chock-full of gloriously grotty Libertines- meet-Oasis belters that captains of the music industry are predicting it will "do a Monkeys" this year, they might never have found themselves in this mess.

Now safely ensconced back at the hotel bar, it's clear that the band are suffering. Just prior to arriving on US shores they'd been on a jaunt to Japan, while all of them are still working their way through the kind of hangover Keith Richards hasn't experienced since 1976. As bassist Kieren Webster files into the bar, eyes closed, you get the feeling that the boys do little sightseeing, and that to them "culture" is just another word for "almighty piss-up".

"We got drunk on sake every night in Japan," recalls Steve. "We're really payin' for it now." Kyle Falconer, lead singer and the most visibly anguished of the four Views, flops down on a couch. "Aye. We got presents from the Yakuza while we were there," he croaks. "They just gave us loads of clothes. It was a bit weird, accepting gifts from gangsters. We didnae ken who they were until afterwards, then we found these cards in the pockets sayin', y'know, 'Love, The Yakuza'."

As if to prove they're not just your average fly-by-night buzz band, the View have already amassed a catalogue of famous friends that most fledgling indie bands would castrate their drummers for; Noel Gallagher loves them, they count Primal Scream among their closest compadres (care of one debauched tour together), and it was a leg-up from one Prince Doherty of Tabloidland that started everything in the first place.

"This has become a bit of a legend now," Kieren sighs. "We was just standin' outside the Babyshambles tour bus with our guitars when they played Dundee, an' we asked if Pete would listen to our demo. He came out and we were all proper intimidated. Kyle was just stuttering. He couldnae even work the CD player to play Pete our demos, like."

But work it he did, leading an impressed Doherty to request their services as support act that very night ("The promoter was having none of it," says Steve). One lucky break led to another and their demo ended up in the hands of A&R guru James Endeacott aka He That Discovered The Libertines, who promptly signed them to his own imprint, 1965 Records. Endeacott has flown out for the tour especially to see his young charges perform and spirits afloat through an endless supply of bear hugs, paternal forehead-kisses and some surreptitiously purchased booze.

It's the band's relationship with Doherty that has made the headlines, however, with drummer Steve finding himself on the wrong side of the law after Doherty took a wrong turn down a one-way street. "All I remember was a pair of handcuffs comin' down and being put into the back of the car," he says. "I was trying tae tell my mum that everything was okay but she was like 'Yer on the front page of the paper after being arrested. You're not okay!'"

"That's nothing really," laughs Kieren. "We was havin' a party in Liverpool, there was like 21 of us in one hotel room. At about 8 o'clock we decided to go tae another party, and Kyle turned the bath on and left it after we left the hotel. We came back the next mornin' and the tour manager was just lookin' at us. Then he shouted: 'You flooded two fucking floors of the hotel! They're charging us two and a half grand!' I dunno if we ended up payin' for it."

Cartoon gutter-punks Towers Of London aside, it's been a while since a band has truly flown the flag of rock'n'roll excess with such pride. Even the conundrum of American drinking laws fails to halt the View from enjoying themselves. "We just fills our water bottles with straight vodka before we go on stage," says Kieren. "It keeps us steady."

Amid all this debauchery, official View cynics aren't impressed. They see the band's rise as the product of an industry still reeling from the shock of the Arctic Monkeys' overnight success. Similarly, the inevitable pre-album internet backlash is already painting the band as mere Liberclones. How do they plead?

"Pure lazy journalism man," Pete spits. "It's just 'cos we're the same age as the Arctic Monkeys. And we love the Clash so of course we're gonna sound like the Libertines."

With Kyle and Kieren off to catch some sleep before tonight's show, Pete and Steve settle down to a game of pool, playfully flicking jellybeans at each other and quoting their favourite scenes from Finding Nemo at length. It's an idyllic, if rather bizarre, scene given the rock credentials they've just lain out before us, and the things we've seen them snort. Maybe it's their alarmingly youthful appearance, but the View consistently give off the impression that they're still adjusting to their rock'n'roll lifestyle, and when complete strangers press free "snack-sized" packages into their palms after tonight's show, you can see that hidden beyond their obvious joy lies more than a little confusion.

Showtime eventually arrives and New York's Mercury Lounge is already stuffed to capacity with every flavour of guestlist-grubbing ligger, from hipster bloggers to New York Times greybeards to, well, Alex Kapranos. "Just look at these kids," Kapranos enthuses. "They've got a real buzz about them. They're quite young, but they'll do well. You want a quote? Here's one: the View are on ... fire!"

Kapranos' echoing of their fanbase's infamous chant proves prophetic, as onstage the View demonstrate how their vicious little ditties about life in Dryburgh might just end up conquering Britain. Though the lifeless crowd can nary decipher a word of Kyle's slurred Scots brogue, they bound up and down to Wasteland's chest-beating ska just the same.

Afterwards, as Kyle heads to his room to pay off his week-long sleep debt, Kapranos heads to the bar with the rest of the band to offer his rock'n'roll wisdom over - you guessed it - more drinks.

But no matter what they're told, the View are destined to follow their own path, undoubtedly leaving a trail of empties behind. Their logic is simple, best paraphrased from something Peter Fonda/Primal Scream once said: they want to be free to do what they want to do, they want to get loaded, and they most certainly want to have a good time. Just so long as they don't have to get up before 3pm.

ยท Hats Off To The Buskers is out Monday. The View headline the NME Awards Tour, Jan 29 to Feb 23

The Guardian, Saturday January 20, 2007

Courtesy to TheGlobe & Undertow


Post a Comment

<< Home