I’m just about to call Kyle Falconer, lead singer of Dundee band The View, and I’m pretty nervous. I haven’t done a telephone interview for a while. All of a sudden I’m hit by the realisation that my home in Abernethy seems to have become a mobile phone signal black spot. Luckily my bedroom seems to be the only area of the house that has any sort of reception, so I sit on my double bed, my list of questions open on my laptop and finally ready, I dial Kyle.
But I’m not ready, I’ve just got a new phone and it suddenly occurs to me that it hasn’t yet been set up to record outgoing calls. I hang up quickly, hastily install the call recording software and redial. An error message reading ‘call recording null’ pops up just as Kyle answers. I stick the phone on speaker and fumble around trying to start a portable audio recorder as a backup. As I am doing this I say hello and ask about Kyle's new album, ‘No Thank You’. Except it isn’t new, ‘it came out nearly a year and a half ago’. Caught off guard by my faux pas, I stammer something about always being slow to ‘get on the bandwagon’ as I try to mentally regroup.
I’ve been listening to ‘No Thank You’ a lot recently and I’m struck by how different the sound of the album is to The Views output. A large part of this is due to the impressive string arrangements that accompany every song, I ask who is responsible for them. “I wrote the string parts on a Mellotron at Paul Weller’s Studio,” Kyle tells me, “that’s where I recorded the album.” The Mellotron is sort of like a very early synthesiser that plays pitched samples of real instruments like flute or strings. The Kinks and The Beatles both used it extensively, most notably on ‘The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society’ album and the ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ single.
“I was originally just going to just have the Mellotron parts on the album, but I decided to teach those parts to The Rogue Orchestra and that’s what you hear on the record.” Except for the strings and the drums, Kyle played and sung every single note on ‘No Thank You’ himself.
“I produced it all myself too, there were times with The View that I felt that we lost a bit of control over the sound and I didn’t want that to happen again.” I ask him if he’s referring to the ‘Ropewalk’ album produced by Albert Hammond Jr., formerly The Strokes guitarist ‘Yeah, I love Albert and I’m a big fan of The Strokes but we had a ton of songs prepared and the ones he picked for us to record seemed to be ones that I didn’t really connect to emotionally, also it felt under-produced. It’s still a great album and I get where he was coming from and that it’s good to try something new, but it just didn’t have that personal connection for me.’
I ask if the DIY approach he had to the album is why it is called ‘No Thank You’. “That’s part of it”, he says, “ but it’s also me being able to say ‘no thank you’ if I’m offered a drink or whatever. All the articles say that Liam (Liam Gallagher from Oasis) came up with the title but it was one of my song lyrics that he really liked and he said ‘that’d make a great album title and if you don’t use it I’m going to have it for my next album. ”
I’ve been listening to ‘No Thank You’ pretty solidly for the last couple of weeks and my favourite track is the upbeat and catchy ‘Family Tree’. With its lyrics about focusing on ‘putting bottles of whiskey behind me’, the promo video is made up of touching home movie footage of Kyle, his beautiful fiance Laura and their adorable baby Wlyde Elizabeth Falconer. It’s clear that family is extremely important to him. “I love everything about being a dad, some people find taking kids on holiday stressful but I even love that. I’m really happy with my life at the moment.”
Kyle talks to me a bit about his friendship with Liam and I ask him if he was starstruck when he met him. “I was really nervous when I met Noel but it’s impossible to be nervous around Liam, he’s so down to earth and good at making people feel at ease.” He mentions that Liam met up with him when Kyle was undergoing rehab in Thailand.
I had decided before the interview that I wasn’t going to ask Kyle about the time a Jet 2 flight had to be diverted after a disturbance broke out between Kyle, another passenger and an air steward resulting in Falconer's arrest. However, Kyle seems so open talking about his problems with drink and drugs that I find myself asking if that incident was the impetus for him checking into rehab. “Yeah, that was a big part of it. We all liked to party in The View and I would have spells off of the drink and drugs for a few months or a year but I’d always go back to it.”
Kyle understandably seems a little resentful about the way his arrest was reported in the press and how one-sided the coverage was, painting him as some sort of rage-filled bigot. “Strangers will come up to me in the pub and based solely off of what they’ve read say to me, ‘you’re a w$nker’ or ‘you’re an ar&ehole’. I just don’t react, there is no sense letting it get to you, I’ve developed quite a thick skin.”
I mention that my autistic brother Ewan and his carer had run into Kyle and some of the band the afternoon before a The View gig at Birnam Arts a couple of years ago. Ewan’s carer had said the guys spent ages chatting to him and he even showed them photographs of his sheep that he carried around with him. It wasn’t a big deal but I remember being surprised to hear that there was a softer, gentler side to a man who at the time seemed to be defined by a single drunken action fed to us by a tabloid media determined that we should think the worst of everyone. “Yeah, I remember that”, Kyle laughs, “it was a good afternoon”.
I remember reading somewhere that the reason Kyle had become a musician was that he got a bad beating as a teenager. “We used to run around in gangs and chase each other but no-one ever got caught. One day they got me though and they all piled on. My eye was swollen shut and I was black and blue, an absolute mess. I didn’t want my mum to see me in that state so I stayed at a friend's house and said I was working on a school project. After a couple of days, she got suspicious and made me come home and when she saw the state of me I had to tell her what happened.”
At this point, Kyle was given a guitar and would spend all his free time in his room learning songs and practising. I ask him if it was because he was worried about getting another beating so was keeping a low-profile. “No, it wasn’t that. I was ashamed really, I was better than that, I was raised better than that.” Kyle tells me he had reached a crossroads and felt he wanted to do something more positive with his life. “At first I kept the guitar thing quiet at school”, he laughs “I didn’t want people to think I was a mosher!”
I ask if there are any plans for a follow up to ‘No Thank You’, ‘Still No Thank You’ perhaps? “Definitely”, he says, “I just need to arrange some time off and get into the studio. Hopefully towards the end of the year.” I’d seen a video of Kyle playing an amazing cover version of Tina Turners ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ (click play on the YouTube clip to see for yourself) and ask if he’ll be playing it on this tour. “It depends on how I’m feeling on the night and what the audience is like.”
Throughout the call, I can hear Kyles kids going about their daily routines in the background and although he’s been really generous with his time and his answers about the music business, it suddenly occurs to me that I should let him get on with the more pressing business of being a father. I say my goodbyes and tell him that if he hears someone trying to start a chant for ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ at any of his upcoming gigs that it’ll probably be me.
Kyle Falconer's solo album 'No Thank You' is available on Riverman Records. His solo tour will continue in December including dates in London, Bristol, Newcastle, and Manchester.
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