Sunday, November 16, 2008

What A Great View

CRA-A-ACK! Sounding like it’s 50ft tall, Steven Morrison’s snare drum is pushing the speaker system to its absolute limits.

The volume is turned up so high that when Keiren Webster’s bassline kicks in, the windows of the tour bus begin to shake.

And when guitarist Pete Reilly plays his first power chord, they threaten to fly out of their frames completely.

Forget Led Zeppelin, My Bloody Valentine and even Mogwai.

When it comes to loud, even Motörhead’s Lemmy might quake at the sheer ear-splitting volume The View are coaxing from their on-board hi-fi.

“Shout it from the rooftops,” insists the colossal chorus...but we’re betting that, at these sound levels, that might not be necessary.

The View are playing their favourite new album — and, coincidentally, it’s their own.

Which Bitch is the follow-up to last year’s chart-topping Hats Off To The Buskers.

It’s not out until next year but the band treated A-Listed to a sensational sneak preview.

And the verdict? Frontman Kyle Falconer insisted: “It’s magical.”

Keiren, meanwhile, suggested: “It’s majestic.”

“It’s the bee’s knees,” grinned Pete.

But the truth is, it’s probably even BETTER than that.

Together with producer Owen Morris and string arranger Ollie Kraus, the four-piece from Dundee have pulled off the impossible and created a masterpiece.

The gutsy punk-rock thrills that made their debut so essential are all still present and correct.

Yet this time around there’s much more besides, including dazzling orchestral fantasies like the breathtaking Distant Doubloon, toe-tapping shanties (Typical Time 2), massed choirs (Glass Smash) and raw, celtic-infused rhythm and blues (Double Yellow Lines).

Those who’ve been content to dismiss them as Tayside tearaways with a well-deserved reputation for bad behaviour, mayhem and drunkenness might want to have a rethink because Which Bitch proves they’ve got lofty musical ambitions too.

“We’ve moved on,” explained Pete. “We’ve gone out of our way to put a bit of extra thought into the recordings this time round,” added Keiren. “Just to make things more interesting and a wee bit different.”

Partly, of course, that’s the result of the amazing success clocked up by their platinum-selling debut.

Kyle confided: “We’d say to Owen, ‘It’d be good to have an orchestra on this’ and whereas before he’d have said, ‘Well, we’ve not got the budget for that, you’ve already spent your tenner at the pub’ this time it was, ‘Well, you can do that if you want to’.”

Elements of the new album will be familiar to long-term fans — at least three songs, Jimmy’s Crazy Conspiracy, One-Off Pretender and recent single 5 Rebbeccas, have been in the band’s live set since last December. But the process of putting Which Bitch together really got under way when indie legend Owen — famous as the man who rescued the crisis-hit recording sessions for Oasis’s Definitely Maybe — flew up to Dundee in January to hear their new tunes.

Kyle explained: “He came up to Scotland and really kicked things into gear.

“He wanted to know what was going on with the album and more or less pushed everything forward. He was really a key part of it all.”

Work continued in February and March with a series of test recordings at Owen’s home in Wales.

To inspire themselves to push beyond the conventional indie format, they continuously blasted out hits by Fleetwood Mac.

The operation then moved to the world-famous Monnow Valley Studio, also in Wales, in May to begin recording work on the album proper.

But the sessions were nearly over before they’d even begun. After the band celebrated their reunion with Owen over a hearty liquid breakfast, 21-year-old Kyle decided to take a dip in the River Monnow, which runs alongside the studio.

One insider revealed: “It’s a beautiful, fast-flowing salmon river but the current is very strong.

“Kyle jumped in and was pulled under almost immediately. When he didn’t reappear, we really thought we’d lost him.

“He finally struggled to the surface 500 yards downstream and managed to grab onto a branch.

“He’d no clothes and he looked like a drowned rat. But, because he was a bit the worse for wear, it took him about an hour to scramble up the bank.”

It wasn’t the only time the singer got into trouble messing about on the river.

On another occasion he clambered into a dinghy, determined to sail down to the local pub.

But while the bar was four miles away as the crow flies, the winding river meant a journey of more than double that. As a result, the mop-haired frontman spent almost the entire day out on the water. Pete recalled: “We had a lot of fun there. We had a raft that we used to go out on as well. It’s a beautiful place so it was nice, now and again, to take a break and have a bit of a laugh.”

On another occasion, Steven — known to most band insiders by his nickname ‘Crazy Mo’ — took Owen on a pub crawl in nearby Monmouth that ended in a tattoo parlour.

Keiren laughed: “Now Owen’s got a View tattoo just like the ones we’ve all got. It will wind Liam and Noel up — he doesn’t have an Oasis one.”

Meanwhile in a series of gruelling all-night sessions, the ambitious structure of Which Bitch began to take shape.

Kyle and Keiren would frequently drag the producer out of bed to record song ideas.

But Realisation, one of the album’s highlights, emerged from one of those morning-after-the- night-before sessions when Kyle woke up the 22-year-old bassist to help with the lyrics, barking: “Come on, Webby. Words, words.”

And the basics of Which Bitch’s most breathtaking moment, Distant Doubloon, came together in a whirlwind four-hour stint that began at eight in the morning, straight after another all-night session.

As studio staff watched in amazement, Kyle scribbled lyrics (including the deliriously wacky classic “Don’t dwell upon your wooden leg, your limp is boring me”) and stuck them all around the studio walls.

But, despite his exhaustion, he mapped out the song’s incredibly original structure — a massive leap from the traditional verse-chorus, verse-chorus format — in his head.

Kyle admitted: “It was an on-the-spot thing but when you get an idea you’ve got to follow where it takes you.”

The result is an ambitious, widescreen sound that’s sure to confirm the band’s reputation as one of the indie scene’s most maverick talents.

Their capacity for springing surprises stretched throughout the recording sessions.

On one occasion, after finding out that their pal Paolo Nutini was recording nearby, they hopped onto motorbikes and zoomed up the road for a quick visit.

Kyle recalled: “There was a lot of rubbish about us having a feud with him that was just completely made up. I adore that guy.

“So we chapped on the window at his studio and asked him if he fancied coming to record one of our new songs.

“We’d already done it so he just sang his vocals on top of mine and we did a verse each.”

Pete added: “It was good to see them singing together in the studio. Really cool.”

They played the Paisley star almost every track they had completed, including Give Back The Sun and Realisation.

And practical joker Paolo was clearly taken with upbeat lyrics like “Why should we throw away a sunny day?”

Kyle beamed: “Paolo sang a wee song for me at T In The Park. He called it The Sun Can Kiss My A***. I was fair cheesered up, man.”

But while on Hats Off For The Buskers the beautifully-crafted ballad Face For The Radio showed off the band’s more sensitive side, this album’s most emotional moment is the heart-tugging Unexpected.

As Kyle softly sings “I always should have known” over a note-perfect backing, his voice is powerfully affecting.

And he delivers the line “Now my sun has gone to sleep” with spine-tingling intensity.

This soon-to-be classic song has its roots in a very personal tragedy — the loss of his father Ronnie, who succumbed to cancer when Kyle was just 16.

He recalled: “My dad worked in the Michelin tyre factory in Dundee but he loved films.”

Pete added: “He knew more about the movies than anyone else I’ve ever known.”

It’s clear that Kyle has inherited that same passion for storytelling. Which Bitch is full of adventures, cliffhangers and dramas.

And it looked like the storylines certainly grabbed the fans this week during their explosive gig at Glasgow’s King Tut’s.

It was their first headline show at the venue since we first tipped them for success back in April 2006 and new tracks like Shock Horror, Temptation Dice and Realisation went down a storm.

They’ll follow up with an eagerly-awaited gig at Glasgow’s Barrowland later this month.

And it’s obvious the band’s taste for getting high is still intact.

When they finished recording sessions at Monnow Valley they celebrated with a trip in a hot air balloon.

Pete, 22, laughed: “It’s not something you do every day. It was a totally one-off experience.”

After the band moved to London to complete recordings at Brixton’s The Dairy Studios — a favourite with a string of acts from Posh Spice to Babyshambles — Owen put the finishing touches to the album this week, with Kyle travelling south immediately after the Tut’s gig.

It’s due to be mastered tomorrow — the final stage in preparing it for release.

And Kyle confessed: “We can’t wait for people to hear it. We’re really proud of it and I think people will see there’s a bit more to us than they thought.”

By Tim Barr, News Of The World, 16th November 2008


Post a Comment

<< Home