Crazy Inspired Symphonic Orchestra a la 2011
The View - Bread And Circuses cover art

The View are the unlikely phenomenon which burst out of Dundee five years ago, teenage prodigies of raucous punk rock and bittersweet melodies which set their accounts of heady intoxicated adventures and reflections alight. Despite their second album ‘Which Bitch?’ failing to make an impact on the charts, it was an artistic move forward for the band. Material from their new album ‘Breads and Circuses’ (released March 14th) produced by maverick producer Youth sees them returning to their relentless helter-skelter imaginations, with demands for the first single ‘Grace’ already causing downloading problems.

Still, they have weathered the blasts to the music industry over the past two years due to their distinct quality – the something which distinguishes them from their contemporaries. In person they appear diffident, almost dowdy, shrouded in the usual hoodies, sandshoes and skinny jeans, talking the consonant-free Dundonian blur which alienates even other Scots. But as soon as they play, the mysterious, fascinating element of The View emerges, igniting imaginations with something adventurous, heroic and strangely beautiful. This is what their live shows are renowned for: the atmosphere of the transcendent, the sense of the epic and celebratory euphoria. They are the Tchaikovsky of the 21st century, the band re-visioning the world of the common man from the darkest corner, giving a breath-taking narrative to the everyday.

They still appear slightly embarrassed by their own vision and musicality, however, but producer Youth (who produced most of The Verve’s albums, Heather Nova’s debut, U2 and Embrace) coaxed them into commitment and the result seems worth the wait. When not touring or recording, the band are rehearsing in a tiny studio in a disused Dundee mill which is where I find them.

How does it feel to have completed your third album?
Kyle: When we did our first album, we were like : ‘Imagine the setlist when we get to our third album.’ And it’s true – it’s hard to choose a setlist nowadays.
Kieren: Yeah, there was never going to be just a one-off album.

In what ways do you feel you’ve stayed the same and in what ways have you changed?
Mo: We’re a lot more serious about our responsibilities these days.
Pete: Says the drummer wearing a sock on his head.

Artistically how have you changed?
Kyle: For the first album, we were dead punk rock. Now we’re more confident in using more instrumentation, more sources. We’re not scared to use what we can to get the sound we want.

Is there a difference between being a recording artist and a touring artist/performer?
Mo: There’s different codes and etiquettes for on the road and surviving in the studio.
Kyle: In the studio, you can do stuff like change the tempo. When something is being documented, it’s got to be pretty sturdy. You’ve got time to ponder. Whereas live you’ve got to be in the moment.
Mo: In the studio, everything’s got to be a lot more pristine, finely tuned.
Kyle: Live, you’ve only one chance to hit that chord. In the studio, you can stop and start again. On the first album, we kept everything in. On the second album’s ‘Give Back The Sun’, we used the clicker for the first time. Back then, we were a wee bit scared of using it. On this album, we’ve used it quite a lot.
Kieren: Live, obviously it’s the crowd you vibe off to tell you how to play. But in the studio, you vibe off the boys. We choose how a song’s going – the band just decide.

Don’t you argue?
Mo: Na. (Everyone laughs).
Mo: Things get a bit heated.
Kyle: In recording, it can be frustrating at first. You just want to get out. The actual start bit is really boring, when you’re laying down the basics. For this album, we were really going for a finer quality because we were driven by Youth. I’d do take after take just waiting for his ‘That’ll do, guys!’. Just those three words meant it was perfect. You’d strive all day just for them. You’d convince yourself it was good when it wasn’t. Thankfully, he didn’t stop pushing us.

What made you choose Liverpool to record your demos?
Kieren: We wanted to get less distractions.
Pete:…and instead we got mare! We’ve got loads of mates in Liverpool and it’s a good musical city…so it worked out well in the end.
Kyle: It was a good place for us to be. We got healthier – going for jogs and bike rides in the morning. Got some fresh air.
Mo: We did a couple of stage rehearsals too.
Kieren: Taped our faces up and made a video.
Mo: I was sober that night too!

How easy did the recording and harmonies come?
Kyle: We were more open-minded on this shit. Youth brought a lot of musical ideas in. We were playing omnichords (weird harmonic 80s instruments), organs, harmonies. Even if I thought there was enough, our engineer Tim Bran (who’s also incidentally a magician, a member of The Magician’s Society) would say ‘Put in more – put in another octave!’ And he’d be right. For our track, ‘Witches’, I ended up playing a comb and a skin. We needed a sound like a kazoo and it was 10pm at night so we had to improvise.

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A lot of people have been surprised by the drum machine intro and keyboards in ‘Sunday’. What gave you the courage to break away from the standard rock outfit? Were you nervous about reactions?
Mo: When you watch bands, it can be disappointing to realise they’re using backing tracks. We didn’t want that. We’ve used a keyboard on two albums and their tours so people know it’s real. I think it’s more the drum machine on the opening of ‘Sunday’ which initially freaked some people.

How did you find recording with Youth? What techniques did he use which you think made the recordings more full in expression/more distinctive than the demos?
Kyle: Everything is clearer. You hear every instrument. We put more different techniques in. I think he’d only heard a couple of our tracks before we came in. He’d never studied us so there was no prejudice and we were all starting from scratch. He never gave anything away, did lots of over dubs. He heard instruments in places I’d not considered. He heard loads of instruments which we would never have thought of using – like bringing in the omnichords.

What’s an omnichord? (Rennie uploads a photo of one on the computer).
Rennie: An instrument they used a lot in the 80s I think. Made by Suzuki. This one’s called a Q chord, a remake of the omnichord.
Kieren: Youth introduced us to loads of instruments: tubular bells, bongos, kettle drums…

Kyle, your vocals are more clear and smooth on this album. Was that a conscious move?
Kyle: Youth made me do loads of takes. My voice sounds clearer because I wasn’t getting bevvied up as much. He also made me do take after take after take. It surprised me because he did push something out of me that I had never felt capable of. Because of the vibe too, I was able to be more soulful. I was used to pure rock and roll, just belt them out. But we had in a whole load of gospel singers. I felt more freedom in it, ken.

What were you listening to around the time of recording?
Kieren: We don’t listen to much music when we’re recording. But Youth was giving us all sorts to listen to. He made us up mix USBs to listen to. The singer John Sinclair was a big inspiration. He did this speech. Youth called us up just last weekend as he was doing a track with Primal Scream and we did lots of backing vocals. Keith Richards was on it too.

What were your inspirations? Why did you change the title from ‘The Best Lasts Forever’ to ‘Bread and Circuses’?
Kieren: It’s a better title, brings it all together.
Kyle: Grant, our manager, had a dream. It’s like distractions from what’s really going on. When there are deep problems going off, the governments would always say ‘Give the masses bread and entertainment and they won’t revolt!’ It will distract the masses. But we want to say deep stuff IN the entertainment.

What do you think is missing from contemporary music today?
Mo: There’s a cycle. I think when we first came out, everyone was rock and roll mad. Now it’s electro. There’s no consistency and artists are turning their back on good old fashioned rock and roll and original songs. Melodies are missing. Everything’s re-invented. It’s like a fart in a spacesuit.

You’ve done two UK tours over the past few months prior to your main headline new album one in April. How have these tours been different to previous ones?
Kyle: We don’t get as drunk. We used to be completely twatted, couldn’t even remember the gig. We’ve a lot more responsibility now so can’t afford to mess up. We’ve got to wait for our cues and there’s a lot of harmonies so you have to stay focussed.
Pete: King Tuts was mental. They are mad for us in Glasgow. You’ve got to be tough enough to take whatever they throw at you: piss, fag ends…
Mo: Hotel room keys.
Pete: Spark plugs. They throw me spark plugs. (I try to work out the message behind a spark plug. The hotel room key and knickers are easy but a spark plug? Fix my car? You look like a good mechanic? Set it off?)

What is your definition of quality?
Mo: Quantity.(they all laugh)
Mo: No. Inner well-being.
Kieren: Excellence.

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What’s the best compliment or weirdest thing a fan has said to you?
Kyle: Japanese people are mad. They said all sorts.
Kieren: A lassie in Germany said ‘Give me your shoes.’ They were just normal shoes.
Kyle: A guy in Glasgow said: ‘The View is not my band – it’s my way of life!’ That was cool.

What do you hope your songs do?
Kieren: Inspire people. I think they allow people to celebrate.

Have you changed direction or do you think it’s an artist’s natural instinct to find new ways of reaching their audience?
Kieren: Just natural instinct. We evolve naturally. We ‘re artistic people first and foremost. Obviously we want to sell records- it’s our livelihood - but being artists is what defines us.

Who do you think really gets your music and why?
Kieren: Our generation because people can relate to it but also younger ones and older people are at the front of the crowd going mental too. The Japanese totally get it.
Kyle: London really gets it. We had brilliant gigs there. Very rowdy in London. It has a reputation of being stand-offish but that wasn’t the case for us.

What encourages you the most?
Kieren: Seeing people who are mad for it. The fans who are just vibing. We end up speaking to the fans before the gigs and feed off their excitement.

How has your relationship with your record company changed since the first album?
Kyle: We’ve got a good relationship, we’re on the same page. James Endeacott has always given us lots of freedom.
Kieren: Yeah. Record company – thanks for always having faith! Put a smiley face after that!
Kyle: It was difficult to decide which songs to be on ‘Bread and Circuses’. We tried to keep it killer – no filler. The majority of the tracks everyone agreed on.

Why do you think so many bands are flailing right now?
Kieren: The industry is just gaming for different markets. It’s easier to sell a pop act or celebrity and get rid of them than to develop a proper indie rock band. But the times are changing. The public are sick of autotune, r n b and the same old songs.

How are you able to keep coming up with original songs?
Mo: Doing years of covers as teenagers helped us learn different styles. We’re now all about expressing ourselves, creating something new.
Kyle: Melodies are always in our heads. It’s just waiting to be released. We don’t have to think about how to be original.

Where would you want to play a gig?
Kyle: Hampden. Celtic Park. I’d like to play there.
Kieren: Or Dens Road.

Is The View an entity or a group of talented musicians who grew up together?
Mo: It’s beyond friends. We’re an entity. We’re a spiritual dragon, a spiritual rollercoaster sent back in time!

Words by Jaime Scrivener


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