A/V Room









Longview - Doug March/Can't Explain Q&A

Exclusive interview by Jack Foley

Q. Hi Doug, you're playing Liverpool tonight, aren't you, in support of Elbow. That must be quite gratifying, as it will help to raise Longview's profile?
Yeah, we're on at the Academy, in Liverpool, in about an hour or two. But Elbow are big friends of ours, they're from Manchester as well, and we like each other's music, so it's good to be able to tour with them.

Q. How has the past year been for Longview, given that you've released a critically acclaimed debut album, conducted a headline tour, which is all off the back of the EPs you put out first?
Yeah, it's been great. We put out three limited edition type EPs, which were sort of early versions, or demo versions, of the stuff on the album. Further was actually recorded about two years ago, but we didn't re-record the whole album, when we came back to some of the material.
In fact, we got signed off the back of tracks such as I Would and Can't Explain.

Q. Hailing from Manchester is a pretty good thing, as well, isn't it, when considering some of the great bands that have emerged from that part of the country?
I really love Manchester and the way that places like Night and Day cultivate local talent. It feels good to be part of the Manchester music vibe, as it's definitely a good musical home.

Q. So how did you meet Rob McVey - wasn't it while hanging out at Night and Day?
I met Rob in the Dance House bar, when Elbow were there doing a video, and invited extras to appear for the Newborn single. I just remember seeing this big, tall, lanky git, who came up to me and asked if I could play guitar. I just said 'yes' [laughs].
It then came together pretty much straight away.

Q. So how long ago was that?
Just over two years ago. We did our first gig in the city of Manchester in September of that year [2001], and just went from there. Manchester has a cultural heritage of great songwriters, so it's great to be part of it.
Nowadays, there's too much style over content. If you don't feel something, then why bother saying it?

Q. That does seem to be a strong point of Longview's songs. They're not trying to comment on world situations, or influence views, but they appeal to people on an emotional level. A track such as the forthcoming single, Can't Explain, is remarkably melodic, even though it contains some melancholy lyrics, which were written while Rob was on the dole, apparently? Was this single borne out of a particularly frustrating time in Rob's life?
I remember he and Aiden [Banks, the bass player], used to live in a terrible flat, with slugs on the walls, and just a couple of pots and pans.
I stayed there a couple of times, and it was like sleeping in a swamp, and I think he would just spend some days sitting around the flat, or maybe taking a walk around the park....
But that's what Rob's about. You write about what you now. There's no point in writing about something in New York, say, a thousand miles away, when you have no experience of it.

Q. So what do you think of comparisons with bands such as Coldplay or Doves? Is that flattering, to be talked of so highly, or slightly frustrating?
Well, they are both great song bands, which comes back to what I was saying earlier. But it is kind of lazy, even though it is inevitable we will be compared to someone. I would say we're louder than Coldplay or Doves, though. We like loud guitars.

Q. You recently played a sold-out headline gig at ULU. Was that your first time in London? And how did you enjoy it?
Yeah, that was our first headline gig at somewhere as big as ULU, and we sold it out, so we were pretty chuffed. In fact, it's one of the best gigs we've played.

Q. And were you pleased with the reaction, because the crowd seemed to be pretty into the music, even singing along to album tracks already...
That was amazing. When we first started to hear people singing along, we knew we had got something.

Q. You've toured pretty extensively this year?
Yes, we toured in the Summer, and then did Reading, Leeds and T in the park. The Elbow tour started last night, in Stoke, which was ace, and lasts for about three weeks.

Q. So what are the plans for the future? For the rest of this year, in particular?
We'll probably do some one-off shows, and we have Can't Explain coming out on Monday [September 29]. There will probably be another new single in December or January, but we're not sure which track yet. There is a lot of speculation surrounding two in particular, and a lot of stuff in the pipeline, which is difficult to talk about now.
But our next tour will probably be in January, and, in the meantime, there will some one-offs and might go abroad.

Q. In the biography for the band, Rob [McVey] cites the likes of Bob Dylan and Radiohead as strong songwriting references. As the guitarist, who are your influences?
I love people who create textures. Nick McCabe, from early Verve, created textures that I'm really fond of, and Nick Drake is a great acoustic player. Growing up, I loved John Squire and things like that, and I've always been into the indie guitar vibe. People like Ride, or My Bloody Valentine.

Q. When did you start playing?
I've been playing since the age of nine or 10. Rob started much younger, though. I think he started when he was a baby [laughs]. I think he was born with a guitar in his hands [jokes].

Q. So coming back to the album, Mercury, and the singles, you must be pleased with the reaction from fans and from radio stations, which seem to have picked it up?
Definitely, because it's all about getting the songs across to people. There are millions of kids in the UK that come from these sort of towns, in suburbia , and they like the songs because they are so honest. Radio is a good tool for doing this, so it's great to have them responding to us.

Q. So which are your favourite tracks?
Will You Wait Here and This Is are two of my personal favourites. The atmosphere of both is very brooding and there is some stuff on those tracks that I'm proud of.

Q. The album is packed with great songs, though, my favourite of which is Falling For You. It seems to be a live favourite, as well. What made you decide to include a female backing vocalist on that one?
Thanks. I like the texture of the female vocals on Falling For You, and agree that it is a really strong line. But what made us decide to use them on that track? It just seemed right at the time; she's a friend of ours, and it works really nicely. It was a little confused at first, as we weren't sure whether it would work, but it's one of my favourites as well. When Rob gave me a demo, I straight away fell in love with it.

Q. So is the use of female vocals something you might return to? And what does the future hold for Longview?
Well, actually, we have got some great new songs that we've been working on, which we're really excited about. Work is very much underway on the second album, even though we're still promoting this record, but we will definitely be trialling some of the new stuff during the January tour.
With regard to using other vocalists in the future, we wanted to get a gospel choir on Further, but thought it might be a bit much for the first album. Maybe, in the future, we will though; Elbow have done it, and it's worked for them.
And we're certainly looking at different instrumentation.

Q. How involved were you with the songwriting for the first album, and will you be more involved in future?
Rob wrote all of the songs on the first album, and we just embellished them, and put our stamp on them, to make them more Longview.
But with the second record, Aiden, the bass player, has already written one, which we may use, or as a B-side, and I've got some stuff up my sleeve.
We all write, apart from Matt, so there will be scope for it being more about the rest of us as well in the future.

Q. Well, good luck for the future, and we hope the single achieves the success it deserves....
Thank you. Come down and see us at The Astoria on October 8...

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