Thursday, March 26, 2009

Interview with Kieren

Can nothing stop these Scottish indie superstars? Dan Jones catches up with Kieren Webster of The View for a little chat and a whole load of beers.

Slammed in police cells, banned from the States and notoriously reputed as a lawless bunch of teenage tearaways, Dundee’s finest export, The View, are on the cusp of full blown, Heat magazine style success. Their second musical installment, “Which Bitch?” shot straight into the British music charts at a healthy number two, beaten only by America’s working class, blue collar sensation, Bruce Springsteen. It’s been an eventful old journey for these mop-topped rockers, and one that has resulted in a rather unexpected, if slightly warped, drug induced happy ending.

After around 20 dates in the last 21 days Kieran Webster, bassist from The View, is looking a little shattered. His pale looking skin and his shadowed eyes tell a thousand tales of rock and roll four day benders, sleepless nights and maybe a little too much party powder but he assures me this is the happiest he’s been on the whole tour. “Aye I’m well up for it, this is the happiest I’ve been, I like it here, it’s out of the way and it’s sunny” he gabbles as we sit down to a table of beers.

Three years have passed since the release of their debut. The grubby acoustic ballads and escalating Libertines influenced anthems that appeared on “Hats off to the Buskers” set in stone the potential of the guitar wielding scallywags, and set a rather high bench mark for their second coming.

Having worked with legendary Oasis producer Owen Morris on their debut, The View decided to work with the button-fiddling producer one more time. “It wasn’t different on a personal level“, Kieren told me, “We were still having the same banter and the same drinking and the same shenanigans going on…As far as musically he was a lot more involved this time than he was on the last time, he had a lot more ideas and a bit more input.” And it showed.

“Which Bitch?” surprised the critics. With their pens ready for a good slandering they were stopped in their tracks because something a little experimental happened. The Dundonian teenage upstarts had taken a bit of a different direction. The rusty squeal of a harmonica echoed on opening tack “Typical Time 2” and the brass handy work of Paolo Nutini’s trumpeter on “Covers” demonstrates that this is a band developing in both mental and musical maturity.

“Well that song with Paolo wasn’t even planned.” Murmured Kieren, “We had the song written right, and it was just meant to be Kyle on the track and it turned out that while we were recording and demoing the album he was in the studio down from us. We know him from like festivals and shit, and Kyle just asked him if he wanted to sing on this track. We had to borrow his trumpet player for like three days though which I don’t know if he was too happy about…”

We also see an appearance from Katie Gwyther on the album. Miss Gwyther is the ex-girlfriend of singer and guitarist, Kyle. She appears in the closing track of the album, “Gem of a bird”. The lovable tale of this very Beatles-esque acoustic melody was oh-so 60’s in its creation. Two guitars, the band and Katie in a circle and just one take. The outcome, a tentatively harmonic love song, crafted around the simplest of instrumental construction, and almost slightly nostalgic in its graceful presence.

And it’s songs like these that define the second album. Where “Hats off to the buskers” sounds slightly like stoned students with acoustic guitars, this is an album that showcases the development of four tender bairns into a world that’s completely uncompromising. The songs are about harder hitting subjects – drug abuse and bar time brawls have become standard occurrences, and even more so, standard song subjects. A recent gig at Koko in Camden for the NME awards shows saw it kick off once again, and this time The View weren’t anywhere near a right hook! “Our mate got in a fight with a security guard. But it was happening and we were still playing! We didn’t know what was happening at first, there was just scuffling at the side of the stage and we were doing the last song. As per usual though, the press blew it out of proportion.”

But what hasn’t been blown of proportion was in fact the blow itself. Kyle is currently unable to tour the States due to previous drug charges that prohibit the front man from entering the land of opportunity. “Yeah, Kyle’s not allowed to go at the moment .We’re trying to sort that like because obviously we want to tour there again and we can’t do it without him.” And even more surprisingly I’m told that “people think Kyle’s like well loud and that but he’s probably the shyest out of us.”

And as we continue our chat and the empty glasses pile I can see a lot of hope in Kieren. He’s a clever guy, he’s bought me countless drinks and he’s inspirationally enthusiastic about the smallest of things. As we make our way backstage Pete is nowhere to be seen. Meanwhile, Kyle has risen from his slumber on the tour bus and is proceeding to hurl up copious amounts into a plant pot five minutes before stage time.

As my vision blurs slightly more I realise that Kieren has gone and got me drunk. Maybe it’s because he wants good feedback or maybe it’s because we got on so well, and if slightly naïve, I think it’s the latter. From the get-go I was a View fan. I enjoyed the first album and I’ve become quite attached to the second, but what it is, what really gets me is the spirit that lives in this band.

They are rock and roll to the highest degree, and it’s none of that cliché, Babyshambles, trilby-wearing bullshit that so monotonously treads the pages of myspace. They are a real rock and roll band because they simply don’t give a shit. And in a good way. They riot and rally about the lulls of society in their anthems, they criticise the establishment and all the capitalist trash that goes with it – And when this is all said and done, that is what rock and roll is about, four Dundee locals and a couple of guitars. A fairytale come true.

Daily Music Feed, 24th March 2009


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