“Cottage pie! I love cottage pie! Say no more!” Rob McVey has no doubt what the dish of choice is tonight.
Rob is the singer in Longview, and is very impressed by the standard of catering at Nottingham’s Rock City. If The Vines are overpriced, under-nourishing fast food, easy to consume but ultimately unsatisfying, then Longview are cottage pie: wholesome, real and unmistakably English. There’s no bullshit going on with cottage pie.
Longview’s rise from Manchester obscurity has been rapid. Signed to East West Records after only four gigs, the band have just spent Christmas in Seattle recording their debut album with Rick Parashar, legendary producer of (amongst others) Pearl Jam, a fact which Rob still finds difficult to believe.
“It’s hilarious! We had the opportunity of working with an American producer, so we wrote down our five favourite producers, one of which was Rick. Then, and this we couldn’t believe, he actually wanted to do it!” So bewildered were the band, they took to carrying around a video camera to record their stateside experience, just to make sure it actually happened. As guitarist Doug relates, the staff of the local supermarket were suitably impressed by these young Englishmen “makin’ movies”, although this didn’t stop Rob’s soup buying frequency from being questioned, “as if it’s his fault that their soup is so good you have to have it everyday.”
Songs. Longview are all about songs. Well, girls and booze too, but mainly songs. Songs of honesty and strength, songs of hope and life. Songs like the religiously tinged epic “Further”, the debut single that will form the cornerstone of the album. “If people hear our music and get it, that’s all that matters. Why write music otherwise?” Once Rob has started on songs it becomes difficult to get a word in. He will unashamedly proclaim that “Take On Me” by A-Ha as a great song (It is– Ed) and says, “I can take a one-hit wonder and love it, I don’t wanna be snobbish about it. That’s a real weakness in musicians.”
Despite the fact that three of the four members of Longview have the requisite straggly long hair, they’re not really into the new rock revival. “Style bands! Shit! I want a band to come along and write something about my life. I mean, The Strokes have good songs, but I don’t know anything about New York – I don’t live there! I want an English band to come along, and, to quote some Smiths lyrics, say something about my life.”
For Rob, what’s important is emotion and atmosphere, and reaching as many people as possible: “Music is about how it makes you feel, and I don’t relate keeping it on a low level to how emotional your music is. If it’s just underground, then surely that’s a stylistic thing, and that would defeat my whole object of writing a song. All I’m trying to do, hopefully, is try and reflect a simple kind of emotion. To me, the more people you do that to, the better. A granny or a girl, a policeman or a fucking arsonist – whatever.”
Debatable customer base aside, Rob writes about what he knows, which coming from Manchester is a dank and grey England, “fucking drudgery man. But I love it! If it weren’t for that we wouldn’t have written any music. I love those cold, rainy November nights, when you wanna feel uplifted, feel some hope.” The Manchester scene, which seems to chiefly consist of bands like Elbow and Badly Drawn Boy sitting around drinking, has been an important part of Longview’s development, although Rob does admit that having such a large number of musicians in one city does cause some ego clashes. “There’s a Longview backlash started already! But I love that! I want to be fucking hated or loved – bring ’em on. The music’s what it is; it’s black and white. The middle ground of blurriness, nothingness, that’s the ultimate sin.”
So can we expect their album, out around May, to avoid this? The last word goes to Doug: “I’ve been thinking about sunflowers a lot lately and finding them inspirational whilst making such an optimistic record. You must have seen time-lapse photography of fields of sunflowers all watching the sun and moving in unison. That’s what it sounds like.”