12th November 2015

Interview: The View

Tom Learmouth spoke to bassist Kieren Webster of the View about the band’s new sound before their gig at the Gorilla

Dundee’s finest, The View, returned to Manchester in October as part of a UK tour of their new album Ropewalk. Their recent fifth studio album Ropewalk certainly demonstrates that the band have departed from the punk-influenced indie rock that had characterised their 2007 UK number one debut album, Hats Off to the Buskers.

“It’s had really good reviews, pleased with that. It’s been enjoyable playing the tunes live,” comments Kieren on the experimental sound of the new record. “Listening to material that we don’t normally do,” such as “Michael Jackson and The Jesus and Mary Chain” has certainly created a record of more variety and complexity than the more anthemic rock that typified their previous albums.

A key energy behind this shift was The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr., who produced the album and pushed The View creatively. When asked if he thought Ropewalk was more soulful in style, Webster replied: “Aye, it’s definitely a different style. Albert really put his fingerprint on it. He was a cool guy, really down to earth and really enthusiastic.”

The development of The View’s sound bears a resemblance to the Arctic Monkeys’ recent change in style—but it didn’t seem to influence the band, on a conscious level at least: “That was never mentioned. Never really thought about that before.”

Unlike the Arctic Monkeys, The View have certainly retained the tongue of their roots as rhotic Dundee Scots. This is in spite of The View’s diaspora that has developed over the last few years: “I’ve just moved from London up to Glasgow this year. Kyle [The View’s frontman] is all over the place just now. Pete lives in Liverpool, so all over the place.”

Webster definitely thinks that the band’s sound “has gone a bit more experimental. Hopefully we can go even more experimental in the future. Sort of get away from just the guitar, bass, drums; which is my favourite sort of song, but just to keep it moving.” It seems like Ropewalk may be a sign of things to come. There’s even a smattering of psychedelia on the new record: “Aye, we got some synths out and that, got some moogs out. We got quite into it. That was the first time we’d kind of fucked about with them.” The result is a surprisingly interesting and, as always, enjoyable record.

A problem The View currently have to deal with is the changing tastes of sections of the music press. However, Webster didn’t seem overly concerned, commenting, “show’s a bit smaller than back in the day, but hey-ho. Aye, it’s all still good fun.” On the current indie music scene Webster added, “There’s definitely some good stuff around. But I’d like to see bands getting more publicity, more radio play— especially traditional, four-piece, five-piece bands.” When asked if that was down to the changing nature of Radio 1, Webster said: “Aye, but these things just go in swings and roundabouts. It’s down to the powers that be… Just have to get on with it.”

Strangely, The View are still banned from Japan, eight years after their last tour there. As Webster described: “We apply for a visa every year. We eventually got back to America so we’re hoping the same thing will happen with Japan. They’re just really strict. They don’t like drugs at all.”

They certainly make up for their absence in Japan with the amount of gigs they have done around the UK each year, and the band also look set “to do a tour towards the end of the year. Probably a smaller one with bigger venues.” If they return to Manchester at the end of the year, it would be The View’s third Manchester gig of 2015. They’ve also got plans for 2016, with Webster outlining: “Next year it’s our anniversary, ten years since we released our first album, so we’re expecting to do some stuff to do with that. Not re-release it, but a tour I think.”

Given the band’s high-energy style when performing live, I asked whether the new album was harder to play live; but Webster replied: “I wouldn’t say it’s harder to play live. There’s some stuff that we just don’t play live that’s on the record. But it still works.”

As Webster had said to me earlier, The View’s gigs still have the “same sort of energy” as their chart topping early days, and this was epitomised by Webster’s full-blooded performance of ‘Skag Trendy’ towards the end of the set. As this suggests, the gig itself followed the traditional ‘raucous start, mellow middle, euphoric ending’ formula, and it made for an entertaining gig. The tracks on Ropewalk that made up most of the ‘mellow middle’ (the highlight being ‘Under the Rug’) were generally well received and definitely gave a variety to the set.

Before the encore, Webster said to the Manchester crowd: “Best school night gig for a while,” and a fairly trivial stage invasion during ‘Superstar Tradesman’ shows that The View continue to maintain a dedicated following.



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