The View are back, and circumstances are surprisingly cyclical. The Dundee rockers and ‘Same Jeans’ hitmakers earned their keep by toiling back in the mid-naughties, quitting their jobs to go on the dole, and rehearsing up to 12 hours a day. Their debut album, Hats Off to the Buskers, hit Number One in the UK and earned a nomination for the Mercury Prize. Over 15 years on, and seven years out, Kyle Falconer sits down with me after a week of promoting their new album, Exorcism of Youth, playing up to four gigs a day and signing albums for fans. The album charted at six, and number one for physical sales; Falconer is definitely proud of it.
“It’s good to see that the hard work has paid off. Some days we’ve sold 800 records just from going to the shop, and if we hadn’t have done that we’d be Number 35 or something. We wouldn’t have done it back in the day, we would have been like ‘fuck you, I’m not doing that’. But it shows if you do the hard it definitely does pay off and it’s worth it.”
Discontentment with the industry was part of the reason that The View took time out. Of the break, Falconer is adamant. “I think we needed it. We just didn’t really know what we were doing, we just letting people guide us. We never really had our own direction […] we were just on the tour bus, and we weren’t appreciating each other or the tours, or the venues.” Between this, a revolving door approach to hiring and firing management with their own ideas, and a never-ending tour, it was time for the members of The View to pursue other projects.
“Pete [Reilly] plays for Echo and the Bunnymen, Kieren [Webster] got a degree and he’s a producer now,” Falconer says. “I got a publishing deal for the first time in a while, and I thought that I’m not gonna piss it up the wall.” What Falconer did next was set up a songwriting camp in Spain, La Sierra Casa, nurturing new talent and bringing in big names to assist the next generation, such as Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai and Blaine Harrison of Mystery Jets. A member of The View’s team arrived midway through our interview to confirm that a bigger name than both was interested in joining them in southeast Spain.
Exorcism of Youth came about from an essay that bassist Webster wrote, and the title track was composed in the same room by the band members – the first time anything of the like had happened for The View. It marks a departure from their previous albums, and it is reflective of where the band are at present. From the buoyant opening title track to the bewitching final track ‘Tangled’, it is a cathartic trip that the listener can tell means a lot to the band. They still have the passion to return despite other projects, and their graft has been rewarded.
The View will return to Manchester on November 4th, playing the University of Manchester’s Academy 2. “Manchester was the first place out of Scotland, or even Dundee, that we instantly made pals. When I go to Manchester today, I still meet people that I met from back in the day. I remember doing two or three nights at Academy in a row and thinking, ‘this is fucking class being here’. But I don’t think we really appreciated what we were doing.” A return to the adjacent building on Oxford Road is sure to reignite the raucous times of old.
But what’s different this time? For Falconer, it’s wisdom. “Everything’s fun, there’s no regrets. But I do think labels take the piss. That’s one thing I would say to people, don’t be naïve. Ben Walker, who I’m working with on the camp is so clued up, and he’s 18. I’m like, ‘come and sign this deal’, and he’s like, ‘let me see it first’. Luckily, we’re not ripping him off, it’s a good deal, but if that was me back then, I’d fucking sign it. Let’s go, lets get another bottle of champagne. Because now you’ve got the the internet, you can find out everything you need to know rather than let other people walk over you.” Falconer recalls being on $5 a day on US tours, and losing sight of why the band were doing it in the first place.
“It’s a lot of work. I’m always trying to burn the candle at both ends. I’ve got three kids, so I’m always trying to make sure I’m delivering enough.” Between Falconer’s many projects, the one constant that he keeps returning to is his children. When asking about what kind of music he loves, he cites his admiration for Disney. “I love the fact when my kids watch Sleeping Beauty, they’re like, ‘Daddy, why is that music so sad and scary?’ And I love explaining how emotions occur when you hear certain levels of music.”
It doesn’t stop at Disney, as Falconer recounts his children, the youngest 21 months, playing The View on the smart speaker in their house. “They’ve got Alexa, and they’re just like, ‘Alexa, play ‘Same Jeans’, play ‘Superstar Tradesman’.’ They’re obsessed with it. I love it.” He has a rich smile that only appears when someone talks about something they truly love. Suddenly, it occurs to me that this is what it was really about for him all along.
The View play Manchester Academy 2 on November 4th.
Exorcism of Youth is out now.