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Long-View - Subversions Q&A


Interview: Jack Foley

Q. Welcome back Long-View - you're kicking off 2005 with a new double-A side single, Only When You Sleep (from Mercury) and new track Coming Down, which has become a live favourite?
Doug Morch:
Coming Down is one we've been doing for about six months...
Rob McVey:
It's definitely the thing we're most proud of that I think we've ever done, so it's a nice way to introduce our new stuff to the audience.

Q. And how far off is the new album?
Doug:
Well we've written most of the second album - or we think we have. We've got loads of songs, so it just depends when we get a chance to go and record it, because we're still busy doing a lot of touring and stuff. We're doing a lot of stuff around the single and we're playing some shows in America - we're possibly going back there next month.
Rob McVey: We just signed to Columbia in America and Mercury has obviously been out here for a while, but it's just coming out in America in March. So we've literally got to do the whole thing again in America. Hopefully they'll be receptive to us.
But like Doug said, we've written most of the stuff and you just want to use the time - it's quite nice really - to get what you like, to do it with the right producer, and do something that we'd want to listen to and we're really proud of.

Q. Have you got a name for it in mind?
RM
: We did after a while but we're going to keep it under wraps. We just want to make something that we're really proud of - like the bands that we like and listen to, such as Doves or Radiohead. So more like that but with elements of the songwriting that we have on the first album.
We're really excited about it. Coming Down really is a chink of light for where we're going.

Q. And will it be on the new album?
RM:
At the moment, it's the first track but because it's not recorded yet, well you never know, do you?

Q. So when would you ideally like to get the album out?
RM:
After this interview, really.
DM: It'd be good to get an album out before the end of this year.

Q. And what will the themes of the new long-player be?
RM:
We feel like we've got something to say about being our age now and about life in Britain now. Coming Down, for instance, was written at a sort of dark time in life; it was about experiences I had, perhaps, with my girlfriend, and also about what the band had, and living in Manchester. You don't want to be too specific, because you hope that it might perhaps reflect how anyone might feel, but that was about coming down literally and having stuff on your shoulders.
I think the challenge is not to try and re-invent yourselves, but just to write something which still matters. People tend to go, 'right, let's have hammonds in on the next album, let's have strings, kazoos,' - I mean Embrace started to get that way, but we were like 'forget about that'! I think you've just got to try and remain relevant and that's what will make the sound.
I mean I'd never been to America before the first album, but since then there's been so many people we've met, and so many experience we've enjoyed. I mean, we were naive and that naivety on Mercury, like Doug said, is what made that album. We wanted that naive sort of teenage lusty beauty, you know what I mean? But we haven't got it any more.

Q. It's been a couple of years since Mercury came out in the UK...
DM:
This Summer it'll be two years, yeah.
RM: It's really difficult because it's a corporate game, isn't it, if you sign to a company like Warners. They market it and they do what they want to do with it, and we just write songs. We just carry on writing songs and have written enough for our new album, perhaps, so we're just doing what we do, but the truth is, in the corporate world or whatever, they market things and they take their time. They want to get their returns.
Matt Dabbs: Also, we want to find a producer that's right for doing it. There are a lot of things about the first album that we're going to do differently - and one of those is that we're not going to work with Rick [Parashar] on the next at the next record at the minute. We're looking at maybe doing it in England with a more English sound.
DM: And another interesting thing about having had Mercury out for so long and playing it live for so long is that we've been trying to keep ourselves on our toes. Performing them live, it means we don't play the songs the same as on the album. The songs have developed from when we first recorded them, so it kind of makes it interesting for us.
And I suppose that's really affected the way that we've been writing the new stuff as well because of the dynamics we use live. We weren't that experienced as a live band when we recorded Mercury, so I think it's now a case of playing those songs and playing them in the most dynamic way possible, which has, in turn, affected the way we're writing the new stuff.
RM: We sort of really know what we are now. Whereas with the first album, that was really song orientated and I'd written songs and then the band performed them after that. Like Doug says, touring has really helped us to get our sound and know what we are. And we're older now - we're really proud of Mercury - but that was like a teenage sort of naivety that I, personally, was really interested in, and a lot of the music was about that, but a lot has changed since then.
And bands that we've listened to and bands that we're influenced by... we feel like we're just about to do our life's work if you know what I mean? You know, when you get that feeling at a certain age. It's definitely come for me now, it's like I'm 25, and I really want to knuckle down. I feel like I've done nothing, you know, been lazy!

Q. Was 2004 kind of frustrating for you, in a way, because you had Mercury out in 2003, and then went a bit quiet. I mean, I mentioned to one of my friends yesterday that I was interviewing you today and he said, 'oh Long-View, they're great, what happened to them?' So is there a sense that you were having to wait between albums?
DM:
It does seem like a long gap, but we did all the festivals and stuff in 2004. It was kind of a long period of not really being sure what we were doing because we this American deal on the table, and that affected a lot.
MD: We toured so much as well the previous year that anything less than what we'd done was going to seem like we weren't as busy. I mean we did about a hundred odd gigs the year before, so last year was always going to feel as though we weren't dong as much. But I think we're really grateful of the time that we'd got, because it really helped to knuckle down and start getting the whole writing process together again for the second record.

Q. And how big a problem was having to change your name, slightly, from Longview to Long-View?
RM:
It wasn't really a problem. That was to do with the American deal, you know, because we're signed to Sony there and there's a band called Longview in America who are a blue grass band. So we just contacted them and after a period of 13 months - it took bloody ages - they signed the co-existence agreement.
But it was really hard tracking them down because they like live in the south of America, sort of like Kentucky, and they were in their sixties and not necessarily concerned.
DM: Well they're a blue grass super-group which we found out. I think it was at the V Festival, we were introduced as blue grass super-group Long-View, which was the first time we'd heard anything about it....
MD: They're all members from other blue grass bands getting together...
DM: They get together once a year and we just happened to - or a guy that works with our manager - happened to be in Kentucky when there was a blue grass festival and all five members of Longview were in Kentucky at the same time, so we collared them and get them to let us be Long-View.

Q. Talking of America, you were in New York in November. What was the reaction like to you?
RM:
It was great, we played two packed out shows - one in a place called Pianos and one in a place called The Mercury Lounge. It's quite scary because Columbia is a big label, you know, and there were loads of people there.
MD: We'd been out before, to do the video, so we were familiar with a few of the places, but it was nice to go back and have a bit more time. We got to see what goes off over there.

Q. Are you optimistic of success over there?
RM:
It'd be really great if just anyone bought the album. I think when we signed in this country we were all guns blazing - but the truth is I'd just be really happy whoever buys it. Just to sell any would be amazing.

Q. But it's a good sign for British guitar-based bands, like Snow Patrol and Kasabian, and even piano-based bands, such as Keane? And although you preceded a lot of them, I guess you now really want to make sure you get the second album out to get in on that vibe surrounding it?
RM:
Well Keane supported us! It's funny seeing all these now bands at the moment; we saw Kaiser Chiefs on T4 and they're not famous yet or anything. But yeah, it seems that the time now is for bands. I remember when we first started out it wasn't like that at all. There was like us and Haven, as well as established bands like Doves, but now it's like 'bang Kasabian, Ordinary Boys, all the American stuff, Interpol and Secret Machines, and all these bands'.
Let's hope we can remain relevant enough to be needed...

Q. Well certainly an album like Subversions will keep you in the public eye?
RM:
I can't believe we've got so many people on it. The Kacknife Lee remix of Further really rocks.
DM: I heard that played at a club night in Leeds and it went down really well.
RM: I hope it goes down well this album, because we put a lot of work in. We really knew we had something special and I hope people don't just think we're trying to cash in on some shitty sort of whatever. I think there's some really great stuff on it, especially Ulrich Schnauss.

Q. I'm glad you mentioned him as, arguably, he delivers some of the best remixes on Subversions?
RM:
He's become a good friend of mine, actually, Ulrich. We met him at a Long-View gig, he just turned up in his long trenchcoat. He's a very tall bloke and he was in Birmingham one night and it was a pretty quiet gig - it was the first time we'd played on our own there...
DM: He makes shoe-gazing dance music, which was the first time we'd ever heard of that sort of music before.
RM: He just sort of seemed to be interested in the band, so he came back to our dressing room and gave us some vodka and we had some drinks. At first we didn't think anything of it and then he gave me a copy of his record, A Strangely Isolated Place, and I listened to it in Brighton and was blown away by it. Since then, I've been to Berlin and have written a track with him as well.

Q. For the album?
RM:
Hopefully, but it's too early to say what's going to happen to it. Perhaps it will go on his album. But Ulrich really is something special I think.

Q. And you seem to be quite close with Elbow. You've supported them and they have remixed a track on Subversions as well?
DM:
I've known them for years, so it was a bit of a cheat really.

Q. It's the sort of album that you could easily imagine the Xfm remix guys picking up and playing?
RM:
I hope so; I really hope so. I know that Ulrich's stuff is like number one on some chill out chart on radio something. I think it's fair to say that Ulrich's version is probably better than the Long-View version, which could be embarrassing if we didn't embrace the fact that it is.

Q. Bearing in mind the remix work on Subversions, will you be intending to further the use of remixers for the second album's singles, with a view to a Subversions 2?
RM:
That's a good question because there's already one track that has been written with Ulrich and that even be my favourite one at the moment. So it'd be good to maybe mix our new sound with some programmes, or Ulrich-isms.


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