A/V Room









An exclusive interview with Longview guitarist, Doug Morch

Story: Jack Foley

'IF you don't feel something, then why bother saying it?', asks Longview guitarist, Doug Morch, ahead of the band's Liverpool gig, in support of Elbow, on Thursday, September 25.

The comment was made in relation to the curious 'style over substance' approach which, he feels, is beginning to take a precedence in modern music.

And he has a point. While the charts continue to be dominated by the manufactured likes of the Pop Idols, or Fame Academy, wannabes, or worse, the cover versions of DJ Sammy, etc, the genuine songwriters continue to struggle to make any sort of impression.

With the exception of the likes of Coldplay, or Radiohead, achieving any sort of chart success can seem like a lottery, no matter how good the band.

Take South, for instance, one of IndieLondon's favourite bands. Their recent single, Loosen Your Hold, has been liked by just about everyone who's heard it, while the track achieved playlist positions on Radio 1, Virgin and Xfm (prominently), yet debuted at something like 84 and vanished.

One can only hope that a similar fate is not reserved for Longview's Can't Explain, when it is released this week (September 29), following similarly positive word of mouth, good reviews and airplay.

The single, like much of the material on the debut album, Mercury, is a melody laiden ballad, packed with melancholy lyrics, which seek to appeal to people's emotions. They are borne out of personal experience - in this case, lead singer, Rob McVey's time spent on the dole.

And guitarist, March, believes the track will appeal to people because of its honesty.

"You write about what you now," he told me. "There's no point in writing about something in New York, say, a thousand miles away, when you have no experience of it.

"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, and his songwriting is personal."

And it is this passion which has helped Longview to achieve the comparisons to the likes of Coldplay and Doves that could yet see them realise the hype which is building around them.

So do such comparisons help, and are they flattering, I asked Doug.

"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."

Doug, himself, took up the guitar at the age of nine or ten and cites the likes of Nick McCabe (Verve) and Nick Drake as strong influences, for the musical textures they create.

"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," he continued, with a nod to the Manchester scene he is clearly proud to be a part of.

"Manchester has a cultural heritage of great songwriters, so it's great to be part of it," he continues.

"And it feels good to be part of the Manchester music vibe, as it's definitely a good musical home."

Certainly, the musical location is renowned for delivering some of the best British bands of recent years, which has to play into Longview's favour.

And if the reaction at ULU, last time they were in the capital, as well as the feedback from the support slots alongside Elbow, are anything to go by, then Longview are heading in the right direction.

So what does Doug think of the reaction so far, both from the radio stations which have playlisted their tracks, and from the fans (most notably in light of the ULU gig).

"Well, the ULU gig was our first headline gig at somewhere as big as that, and we sold it out, so we were pretty chuffed," he recalls. "In fact, it's one of the best gigs we've played.

"And as for the radio play, it's all about getting the songs across to people.

"There are millions of kids in the UK that come from these sorts 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."

So what does the future hold for Longview?

Doug revealed plans for another headline tour in January, as well as another single from Mercury, while also being pleased to announce the start of work on new material.

"We have got some great new songs that we've been working on, which we're really excited about," he revealed.

"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."

And, in second album tradition, there is even talk of expanding the instrumentation, as well as different vocal styles (such as the inclusion of more of the type of female backing vocals which make tracks such as Falling For You so special).

"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."

And will Doug be involved in the songwriting process this time, given that he McVey wrote all of the songs on the first album, while the rest of the band members merely 'embellished' them with their own style?

"Aiden, the bass player, has already written one, which we may use on the second album, 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."

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