Saturday, February 07, 2009

Q&A with The View

No strangers to the charts, Dundee four-piece The View’s second LP ‘Which Bitch?’ is currently doing the business on the commercial front, challenging the Boss himself for the top spot.
Released earlier this week, the band’s latest long-player is a worthy successor to the band’s Mercury Prize nominated debut, ‘Hats Off To The Buskers’, and is released simultaneously with their new single, ‘’Shock Horror’. The album’s picking up its share of critical praise, too – Clash’s own verdict can be read HERE.
Clash’s Will Kinsman caught up with the band – Kyle Falconer, Kieren Webster, Pete Reilly and Steve Morrison – to talk about what’s been, what is, and what’s to come…
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You’ve had a little time off touring, since your epic jaunt around smaller venues at the end of last year…
Pete: We done a wee gig at the New Year, like. Just a little New Year thing for our mates. The tour at the end of last year? Yeah it was good. Great fun.
Kyle: But it seemed to last forever. You’d wake up and it felt like you’d been going for ages. By the end it didn’t seem like ages, but halfway through it was like ‘Fucking hell!’ It was a long time.
Pete: We were stinking by the end. The bus was absolutely reeking! It was good to go back and play the wee rock ‘n’ roll holes, like. But I like playing the big, like, normal tours as well.
You really notice the difference between the larger and smaller gigs…
Kyle: There’s a big difference – a significant difference.
I guess you’re used to at least travelling in comfort, though.
Steven: It depends. That tour we’ve just been on, I was with the boys from The Law, who was supporting us, and I was with them the next day and they said ‘Oh, just jump in the van’, in the wee splitter van, and I thought ‘Yeah, it’ll be good to go, it’ll be good to go back out’. But see about three hours later, man, it was like, ‘Nah!’
And how do you balance your live pursuits with the need to record, to work in the studio?
Kyle: It’s weird, because everything we’ve been doing, we’ve been doing in a full way. So when we were recording, it was like we were recording for ages, so you want to get back out on the road again. But then when you get out on the road again you want to be back in recording! It’s never like we get wee spells, it’s always full on, so…
And did you make the most of your studio time?
Kyle: It took longer than we thought. We did like a month, but then we came up with more than we thought we were going to get, so we done another like three weeks in Brixton, and then we were dabbling in another couple of studios.
Pete: We did a couple of weeks before we went in, as well, at Monnow Valley.
Kyle: We did a few weeks in (producer) Owen’s house as well… Fuck, it took ages, actually.
Kieren: It took two years! (laughter) It took all of last year, basically, with a couple of months off here and there.
Kyle: Aye, because we started writing at the beginning of the year. We went to this house in Cornwall, locked ourselves in a wee shitty room, got depressed, and then…
It all sounds more serious than last time around…
Kieren: When the first album came out it was party time. We took a year of just partying, playing all the songs we’d already written, and forgot to write any more. (laugh)
So did that leave you nervous about beginning a follow-up?
Pete: In the beginning, yeah.
Kieren: The album probably wouldn’t be as good if we hadn’t had a bit of that.
Was there a conscious decision made to approach the second album differently?
Kyle: No, not really. Even the strings and that on the album just came at the last minute. We never really had any intention to be different.
Kieren: The only conscious decision was not to… If we had something we wanted to put in, we’d leave it. We wanted to keep it the way we had it live on the first record, whereas on this one we were like, ‘We’ll just put it in and then worry about how we’re going to play it live later’.
have you been able to translate the stranger numbers to the live stage yet? Because there are some bizarre tangents on the record…
Pete: We’ve got a gig coming up where we’re going to try a couple of the weirder ones, the one with the quartet in it. But we’ll wait and see – we need to rehearse for it. It was good fun doing something so different.
Kieren: We played about half the new album on that last tour, it’s just the other half, the stranger half that we need…
Kyle: We’ve got, like, our mate playing keyboards and stuff now, so we’ve got like samples of the album and stuff. Like where we’ve recorded a bit of choir and shit, we’ve took it off the album and we’ve got loads of wee samples that we’ve used. Our samples. But I never expected it to be anything like it is.
Steven: The first album, you couldn’t really listen to the tunes around the house, but this album I stick the tunes on when I’m cleaning the house and shit. (laughter)
Not all of you live in Dundee these days, is that right?
Kyle: I live in London.
Steven: Me and Kieren live in Dundee.
Pete: So do I! (laughter) You know, wherever I lay my hat…
Kieren: It’s cheap!
Pete: Yeah, a lot cheaper than London.
Kyle, do you ever feel isolated away from the band?
Kyle: That’s what I miss most, is mates.
Which can be important for a young band, having mates around to keep you level headed…
Pete: They dinnae let you float off in the air, like – they’ll ground you! ‘Shut up!’ You know what I mean? ‘What are YOU talking about?!’
Kieren: You come back off tour and chill out, but as soon as you see them, they just want to do exactly what you’ve been doing for the past two months. So you never really get a chance to chill out.
How do you find the travelling side of being in the band – touring the world can sound fun in theory…
Kyle: Japan and New Zealand was mental, because we were getting on planes every day, and there was about 20 of us needing to check in. And then on the last day our tour manager discovered that he never actually needed to do that. After about three weeks of touring…
Pete: On the way home from New Zealand we had the same day twice. It’s just really weird – a lot of travelling. A lot of air miles…
Kyle: That’s the shite thing. It’s good on a tour bus because you can just get pished and play computer games, or play guitar, or sleep, but see going through airports and shit like that, it’s pure soul-destroying, man.
Kieren: You just end up sleeping all day; you never get to see anything, apart from the inside of the bus. I like a bit of both.
Kyle: A tour jet’s what we need, eh? (laughs) Each!
Pete: You can do what you like on it. Smoke on it.
Kieren: Shite on the seats. (school boy snigger)
Do you see the new album’s various directions as an example of the band maturing?
Kyle: It sounds more mature, but just because we’ve not been restricting ourselves to anything.
Pete: We’re getting better as well. We’re better musicians as well. We were good before, but we’re even better now, if that makes sense. Just playing all the time, you get better. I could feel myself getting better on my instrument. We’ve gelled as a band as well. Beforehand we kind of just winged it; we really didn’t think about it.
Any regrets so far? You’ve had your falling outs...
Pete: There’s always regrets.
Kyle: Where there’s memories, there’s regrets.
Kieren: As soon as you get on stage it’s just like a licence to speak rubbish.
Kyle: These things are always going to happen, so as long as it’s not really bad. I don’t think we’ve done anything really bad yet…
Kieren: You’d be boring if you didn’t, and you’d probably regret that even more – not having any regrets, you know what I mean?
Kyle: There’s nothing REALLY bad. Yet…
What are your ambitions for this album, in terms of your career trajectory?
Pete: Hopefully we’ll get back into America with this album.
Kyle: We’re just waiting to see if we can get back in. I think the plan is to book a tour and then see if we can get a visa for it.
Pete: We got told last time that we need to be on our best behaviour for a year and then they’ll let us back in, and it’s been more than a year and we’ve no had any trouble with the police or anything, so hopefully we’ll get back in.
Kyle: We really want to get back in, because we feel cheated that we never got in the last time.
Pete: You have to apply for a waiver or something, some special thing, so hopefully if we apply for that this time we’ll get it, and then we can get back in and get touring again in America. Because it would be good to see a bit of America.
And as musicians? Do you hope that people might begin to hear you differently…?
Kieren: We’ve got a bit more musical on this album, so hopefully people will see it like that. A lot of the magazines ignored us in the past because they thought we were just like pure poppy chancers, but hopefully this will destroy that.
Pete: Scouse buskers, I think we got called.
Kieren: Aye, but I think that was by Owen! (laughter)
What did working with Owen Morris bring to the band’s sound? Was the experience what you expected?
Kieren: He gets more colourful as he gets older.
Steven: He’s a unique guy, to say the least.
Pete: I don’t think it could ever be as much fun working with anyone else.
Kyle: He’s there to please, like. He wants to make sure you’re at optimum happiness, man, at all times. He can be pretty selfish, like, but still works it for you - he does it in a weird way. He’s good, man.
Pete: He gets the best out of people. It’s good as well, because he’s like family now – we’ve been through loads.
Kieren: He’s more like a fifth member on this album.
Steven: He’s got the tattoo.
Kieren: We’ve had him on stage with us.
Kyle: He was meant to be like teetotal – stop smoking, nae alcohol and all that – and he ended up on the stage with us in Swansea, with his top off, and didn’t care what he was doing.
Pete: The soundman muted him about half way through the song, because he was just pure rocking!
So you’d happily work with him again?
Pete: He says he’s no recording our third album. But then he said he was no recording our second album as well, so…
Kyle: He said the other day that he’s doing it.
Steven: He said it’s the last album he’ll do – we’re the last band he’ll ever work with.
Pete: Yeah, as he was crying and spewing into a bucket while listening to the final version of our album! We’ve destroyed him - ‘I’m never doing it again!’…
Kyle: He was pretty bad by the end of it, like.
Is there any pressure on you, with a second album coming, in light of other bands whose second albums haven’t done as well as their debuts?
Pete: We’re confident of our fanbase, like.
Kieren: It’s because their album wasn’t as good as the first one, you know what I mean? They rushed it out too quick. Are you on about the Pigeon Detectives? (laughter) Oh, the Fratellis? That’s even better… They just made more of the same, you know what I mean? You’re better to take your time and wait ‘til the songs are there. If we’d got it out earlier, when people thought it was supposed to be out, there would’ve been loads of songs missing off it – ‘…Dubloon’, ‘Realisation’ and that wouldn’t have been on it. And that would have been a disaster cos they’re my two favourite songs.
Pete: I went off for a day and came back and Kyle had made this pure masterpiece, you know what I mean! He had all these things Sellotaped to the wall and he was saying ‘Listen to my tune’. He’d made this whole musical, and we’ve strings on it, which is weird. You know ‘Distant Dubloon’? The one with all the strings, the musical one? I came back and he looked demented, and had all these things Sellotaped to the wall, and he said (adopts demented voice) ‘Listen to my song!’ I think a lot of people will be like that when they listen to the album.
And they’ll be surprised, pleasantly?
Pete: Yeah, because we’ve not just made ‘Hats Off To The Buskers II’.
Kyle: I think it’s good, because it’s like some people have tracks on the album which will be there for the surprise factor, but I think the songs that are surprising [on our album] have got good melodies and tunes behind them as well, so we’re not just doing it for the sake of it, they’re actually good tunes. If you could play them in a different version, on just an electric guitar, you could actually hear it; it just takes a few listens to actually hear the tune.
Kieren: We never thought ‘We’ve got to put a couple of tunes on there that are different’, kind of thing. It should just be a natural progression anyway, cos if you’re a creative person, you shouldn’t be putting out an album that sounds like the first just because you think it will get played on radio the same as the first or whatever.
And do you think there’s still an audience out there for you, because all the talk this year’s of pop artists rather than indie acts…
Kyle: I’ve noticed, just being bored and watching TV, that there’s nae indie bands on all the channels any more. It’s all like complete pop. You know, Rihanna’s got about ten tracks in the chart at one point. Because pop music’s coming up they’re all pouncing on it. Even Christina Aguilera’s new single sounds exactly…
I know what you mean. So what now for the band?
Kyle: We’re just happy to have it finished. It’s been good to get back in the studio, but we just want to get out and play all the festivals and stuff.
Kieren: Get the third one out quicker than it took to do the second.
Pete: I’d like a wee bit of time in the studio where we’re not being pressured to do an album or whatever. Just spend time in a studio together and see what we come up with.
Kyle: Owen was talking about getting a studio. He’s up in Edinburgh just now, and he was talking about getting a studio above where he’s living. So that would be like an Abbey Road vibe, where we could just chill and we wouldn’t be having to pay for the studio. That’s what it used to be like – we’d go to his house every now and then, and go there for a week at a time, and just come up with tunes. You always come up with something. You’d be there for days and think ‘What are we doing here? We’ve done fuck all.’ Then you’d get a couple of beers down your neck and bang! You come up with all these ideas, or bits you wouldn’t think of putting into the songs. It’s good. With ideas, it’s good to wait for them to come naturally… But if you force something, as well, you always get something, you know what I mean? It’s good, man.
You can’t see yourselves writing on the road at all?
Kieren: All you do is get trashed on the road. Maybe as we grow up we’ll start to write more on the road, but as it stands right now it’s just a free for all! If you write something on the road, nine times out of ten it’s pretty gash, let’s be honest…
Kyle: We’ve written a couple of beamers, but usually we’ll be smashed and think ‘Ah, this is genius’, and then we come to record it and… Remember we had that recording studio thing on the bus, and we never recorded one thing?
Pete: We’d get people on and say ‘Look at our studio on the bus’, and we never used it. It was all dusty.
Kieren: Being on the road, you get some subjects, but most of the time you just want to meet new people and see the sights.
Do you ever think of calming down on the road?
Pete: All the time, all the time…
Kieren: Half way through the tour we’ll start saying that, but it never happens.
Kyle: Sometimes you’ll take a night off, feel great the next day and then just start again.
Pete: Sometimes if it’s a big massive gig we’ll watch what we’re drinking beforehand, we don’t want to get absolutely smashed before it, but if it’s a wee gig, anything goes…
Kyle: Basically on the last tour we were really wasted. I gave up speaking on this tour, eh. I just didnae care what I was saying, and was pure twittering.
Pete: You wouldnae be able to understand us – that accent and pished as well!


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