Thursday, April 26, 2007

Downing a brew with the View

Chaos reigns as the View, the hottest - and rowdiest - new band of 2007, kick off a UK tour on home turf. Craig McLean joins the melee

Bank holiday Monday in Dundee, and the atmosphere in the city centre is sun-dappled, festive and boozy. Hordes of mop-haired youth, mums, dads, toddlers and grannies stream round the bronze statue of Desperate Dan - one of this comic-creating city's greatest sons - towards the 2,400-capacity Caird Hall, and a sold-out evening with Dundee's most famous rock progeny.

The View are what would have happened if Beano and Dandy publisher D C Thomson had stuck Dennis the Menace in a band, or if the Bash Street Kids had collaborated with the Libertines. The band have been causing chaos - both the good kind and the less parent-friendly kind - since debut major-label single Wasted Little DJs came out last summer.

On the plus side, that tune and its two indie-anthem follow-ups, Superstar Tradesman and Same Jeans, all thumped into the Top 20, with Wasted Little DJs also being anointed NME's Track of the Year. Their album, Hats Off to the Buskers, hit number one on its release in January, and has sold 300,000 copies.

But it's not just their rumbustious post-Libertines rattle-and-roll that has raised their profile to that of the hottest new band of 2007.

This working-class foursome (average age: 20) have been touring hard and partying harder since last summer, with everyone from Babyshambles to Primal Scream and We Are Scientists. "We've put in the miles with gigging, building up a fanbase," says guitarist Pete Reilly a couple of hours before showtime. 'We've done 83 gigs in a month."

What about their reputation as hard-drinking hedonists? "It's pretty much true," says singer Kyle Falconer with a mutter.

But then he says everything with a mutter, and, if you're lucky, you can secure fleeting eye contact from beneath his mop of hair. Right now the gnomic - and gnome-sized - frontman is most interested in excavating a pluke (Scottish for zit) on his cheek. "The only band that are like us are Primal Scream," says Reilly of the notoriously bacchanalian elder statesmen.

"Even Babyshambles - it's only Pete Doherty that goes mad," says Falconer. "The rest of them are pretty straight." He winces as he utters the distasteful word.

While touring with Babyshambles, the View's drummer Steve Morrison was arrested with Doherty for a driving offence. The band's own management barred them from London's K West Hotel and its rock-band-friendly late bar.

"We're no' banned any more," beams Reilly, lighting a cigarette with a book of matches from said establishment. "But they've started shutting the bar earlier!" says an outraged Falconer. "They dinnae like us much," admits Reilly. "We're sitting in the Jacuzzi at half six in the morning, worse-for-wear, tin [of lager], smoking"

I should point out here that the View talk - and occasionally sing - in a thick, gloopy Dundonian accent. I was born and raised in Dundee, but even I have trouble understanding them. Reilly says that, on a trip to Japan, they had two interpreters: one translating from Dundonian to English, and another translating English into Japanese. He may not be joking.

Things are taking off in America, too, although here the band's argy-bargy reputation is causing them more serious problems. Falconer was found guilty of possession of cocaine earlier this year and, as a result, is now barred from entering the US.

The View had to cancel an American tour, including a slot at last month's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, and have just been forced to abandon the rescheduled dates in May.

Reilly claims that the case was "forgotten about" - Falconer's arrest dates from last summer - but "when the album went number one, it came back up again". The American Embassy, says Falconer, "never even gave us a chance" to plead their case.

But they're hopeful of being allowed in at some point in the near future. "We just need to no' get in trouble with the police or anything," says Reilly. "They'll let people in that are gonna fill shows. We've got a number-one album, but we'd just be going and filling maybe 1,000-capacity places."

The View aren't going to dwell on what might have been. They're having too much fun to waste time on regret. A year ago, they were unsigned tykes from a housing scheme in one of Scotland's most historically maligned cities. Tonight they're homecoming heroes, kicking off their biggest yet UK tour.

The show is a good-natured riot, everyone singing along to every song, even the pig-Latin chorus of Wasted Little DJs. The View have picked four other Dundee bands to support them.

They dedicate Gran's For Tea to their own grannies, who've turned up along with various other family members and schoolmates - notably The Don, the nickname of the titular hero of their new double-A-side single. But Skag Trendy, the heroin-taking character who gives his name to the other song on the single, is, they insist, fictitious.

Occasionally, the fast-rising View's musical youth is apparent. Don't Tell Me is more Chas and Dave than Libertines, and their speed-ska cover of Squeeze's Up the Junction is decidedly ropey.

But mostly it's easy to see why they've been booked for all the festivals, including two slots at Glastonbury and a gig with the Who in Liverpool in between. Theirs is a good-natured feelgood stomp to excite the moshpit all summer long.

"We've got a crew bus, band bus, catering and everything," Reilly had said excitedly of this month's tour. "It's no' just the support band in a Transit getting Ginsters."

Talk of food roused Falconer from his mopeyness. He was going to exploit their newfound headline-band, chart-toppping status and approach their "brilliant" on-the-road caterer with a special rock-star request. "Macaroni cheese," he said eagerly, suddenly looking about 14.

by Craig McLean, The Telegraph, 26th April 2007


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