Interview: The View

When I found out I was interviewing The View, I asked around my journo friends to see if they had any burning questions for the Scottish foursome. Funnily enough, I got a similar response from most of them. “Ask them if they’ve changed their jeans yet!!! LOL!!1!” they all replied, hilariously. Strangely, I didn’t add that to my list of questions, but it did make me wonder, even six years after ‘Same Jeans’ was released, how often they are posed that question. Meeting up with bassist and part-time vocalist Kieren Webster in their dressing room at Manchester Ritz just before they were due to headline, I asked him how he felt about that question, and whether the song that it sprung from had become a bother. “Aye,” he says, bluntly in his strong Scottish twang, before considering it some more. “It’s not really really a hindrance as such, but when you’re doing your fourth record and everybody’s all “have you got the same jeans on?” all the time it’s a bit annoying because it was a long time ago. I was 16 when I wrote that and I’m now 26 so it was 10 years ago!” We mention that Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner has commented that he feels similarly about a certain joke about chair removal, to which Kieren laughs “at least that’s fairly recent! Although I’d probably do that to him if I was drunk and I’d seen him…”

10 years really does seem a long time ago for a song which still infltrates the minds of so many to be written. It was released in 2007 along with their debut album ‘Hats Off To The Buskers’, and with it The View, formed of Kyle Falconer, Kieren Webster, Pete Rielly, and Steven Morrison (or Crazy Mo as he’s so favourably called) joined the group of loud, brash guitar bands that were emerging at this time, but they are one of the few that have managed to stay popular, in centre focus of the music consumer’s world (bands such as The Enemy and The Pigeon Detectives also released debuts at the same time but have since either slipped off the radar or have been critically panned). It is certainly a difficult time for guitar bands, with the rise of auto-tuned to fuck, record label creations called popstars and a lot of the music press suggesting the idea that simple guitar music is all beginning to sound a little generic. “The charts definitely seem to reflect the idea that guitar music is disappearing, purely because there doesn’t seem to be much in the charts. Its popularity isn’t as much as it was, say, 5 or 6 years ago when we started as a band, that’s pretty obvious,” says Kieren when I ask for his view on this idea, but despite this, he seems fairly certain that it will always carry some popularity, “it’s not dead and it never will die. It’s in a dip at the moment but it’ll come back; it’s all fashions.”

Today (9th July) The View release their fourth full-length album, ‘Cheeky For A Reason’, the follow up to last year’s ‘Bread and Circuses’. The album has a clearly more mature atmosphere to it that was only hinted at in ‘Bread and Circuses’, perhaps because the band have changed how they work together since they formed all those years ago, at least Kieren seems to think so. “I think everybody in the band has got better on their instruments! When we first started as a band it was like everybody was battling; in rehearsals everybody wanted to be the loudest, and when we were mixing the first record everybody wanted to be top of the mix. Everyone wanted to be doing things at 100 miles an hour and showing off constantly, whereas now we’ve all taken a step back and let the vocals do the talking. We’re better musicians, and it’s not as ‘teenage’ anymore. We’re a bit more aware of each other’s space on the stage as well as the dynamics of the band. We’ve changed as people as well – we did our first gig when I was 15 and Kyle was 14. It was 12 years ago, so if you’ve not changed in 12 years then you’ve not really got a life, have you?”

The new album still pushes the influences from the bands they’ve been listening to growing up, but Kieren is still insistent that it isn’t purposely done by way of imitation. “We don’t really think “we want this album to sound like this” or “everybody listen to this record, we’re going to make it sound like this record” so it was more or less the stuff we’ve listened to over the years since we’ve started really critically listening to music I suppose, such as Oasis, The Clash, The Beatles, The Libertines; they’ve always been the main influences in our music. Fleetwood Mac was a big influence on Kyle anyway.”

The View obviously know what works, where their strong points are, and just what they need to do to make a bloody good album. If there’s anything they need to improve, they’ll focus and work on it until it’s done well. During the writing and recording process when working on ‘Cheeky For A Reason’, Kieren says, the band were “more efficient at it” compared to the other recording periods due to the extensive collection of songs they have written during their band life and the practice they’ve had from this time. “When we did the second record we moved around different studios and did a few songs here and a few songs there and demoed up stuff. If anything, there was more thought and time put into it this time. We just did one session, demoed it all up, picked the songs, got into the studio and recorded the songs we chose for the album. It was very by the book.”

The album is not the only thing to be released today; the first single taken from it is also out now. ‘How Long’ is all very familiar to any dedicated View fans; that particular hook that resonates in your mind amalgamated with momentously memorable lyrics appropriate for singing from the terraces. “‘How Long’ was a song that we’d demoed and when I heard it I was thinking “this is really cool, this is definitely going to be a single and I want our album to be like this” and that was my favourite for a while,” replies Kieren when asked about the track. But what about some of the other material on the record – there has to be some sort of inspiration behind the writing of a song – so where did they come from? “‘Anfield Row’ was a bit of a personal song to me because it was all about me leaving Dundee. It’s not about Liverpool – the street that I lived on in Dundee was called Anfield Row – so it’s all about me moving from Dundee but people are getting mixed up about it [being about Liverpool] which I knew was going to happen but there’s nothing I can do about that; I couldn’t have moved house just to write the song!”

2012 is an exciting time for new bands, what with so much on offer for any aspiring musicians; the online presence they can build, the record labels fighting to sign them and every other kid blogging about the cool band they saw down at their local music venue at the weekend. But what does it mean to Kieren, as a member of an already established band to have newly started ones looking up to them as inspirations? “It’s cool, although it’s pretty daunting to think of that but there is people that say “we started a band because we like you guys” which is really, really overwhelming. There isn’t any awards or chart positions that could top that.”

Being in a band is such a terrifying, enthralling experience, especially one that has become a household name in recent years, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its high points. The View started out when they were still in their mid-teen years, so to have achieved so much and still be in their 20s is not something which happens often. “[A proud moment was] headlining one of the T In The Park stages  because it’s just so close to Dundee and it just feels almost like a hometown gig. We all went there as kids with our mates and always thought it would be so good to play it and then we actually did it – that’s always been a bit emotional.” In their time together, The View have toured the world (and been banned from Japan in the process), headlined a multitude of festivals across the globe, and are regularly considered to be one of the greatest Scottish groups to appear in recent years. However, it has been said that the music scene in Scotland is generally quite underrated compared to the English scene, but this isn’t something Kieren wholly agrees with. “Scotland’s got a really rich music history; look at Primal Scream and The Jesus And Mary Chain – they’re probably two of the greatest bands to ever exist. Right now it’s been a bit slow compared to the last few years but there are still great bands coming out of Scotland all the time. There’s a band from Dundee that are around now called – wait, I need to get this right” he ponders, ”Anderson McGinty Webster Ward and Fisher. They’re absolutely amazing; kind of folk rock, and they’re up there in the best session musicians of all time.”

Despite their media reputation as being mental, boozed up party animals, The View have worked their fingers to the bone to get to the position they’re in now. It doesn’t just happen overnight, but it just shows that if four lads from Dundee can do it, anyone can if they put their minds to it. Only an hour after talking to Kieren, the boys were due on stage to fire through an anthem-filled set for the Manchester punters. Six years later and four albums down, The View are still on fire.

 Photo by Jill Coleman

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Charlotte Davies

About Charlotte Davies

Editor-in-Chief of Hooting And Howling Magazine. Just a Northern soul. Music obsessive, band manager, radio presenter and complete shambles. Twitter: @charlottethird