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Why hasn’t Dundee had another View? From The Doghouse to the dining hall, school-age bands are struggling

Nearly two decades on from the city's Same Jeans success, there's a new cohort of young musicians fighting for a way to follow in The View's footsteps.

High hopes: Olivia Ingram is a drummer in one of Dundee's up and coming young bands, The Bampots. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.
High hopes: Olivia Ingram is a drummer in one of Dundee's up and coming young bands, The Bampots. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Nearly 20 years on since The View formed at St John’s High School in 2005, they’re still the last band to really ‘make it’ out of Dundee.

And though their success is well-earned, it begs the question – if they can do it, why can’t anyone else around here?

Moreover, is anyone else even trying?

According to well-known city musician and producer Paul ‘Lefty’ Wright, the music scene in Dundee is far from dead – it’s just homeless.

“I was on the same record label as The View, Two Thumbs, when they came out, and this all came out of a scene in the Doghouse around 2005-2006, which is now Duke’s Corner,” explains Lefty, who played in indie band Vaarstraat 66 at the time.

“The Doghouse was a bit of a hub for Dundee bands,” he continues.

“We could all practice upstairs, and a lot of younger kids who were interested in playing the guitar came down too, so a lot of bands were formed there. Everyone looked out for each other, there was no trouble.”

The bar at the old Doghouse in Dundee. Image: Andy Gee.
The railings of The Doghouse, a hub for Dundee bands. Image: Andy Gee.

So instrumental was The Doghouse that if it wasn’t for that city-centre hang-out, the world might never have known who The View were.

“The View got their break when The Libertines were playing Fat Sam’s,” he recalls.

“One day, in the afternoon, a load of guys in different bands were sitting round the Doghouse, when Kyle comes in and says: ‘The Libertines are parked in their van outside Fat Sam’s, who’s coming round?’

“And I knew their reputation so I didn’t go, but The View went round and started playing songs in the window of the tour bus. They got him in and brought them on as support!”

Doghouse days are over

After The Doghouse was closed down, Lefty says the city’s music scene “certainly suffered”.

And though there was an effort to bring back the hub in the space where Church is now, that golden era of bands had fallen into a slump by the time a new decade dawned in 2010.

“I think a lot of that is to do with where kids can play,” says Dundee drum teacher Scott Donald.

“In the Doghouse days I don’t think they were too strict on a lower age limit for bands who could get up on stage and play.

Pete Reilly, Kieren Webster, Steven Morrison and Kyle Falconer in The View back in the day.

“Nowadays, there’s not really many live opportunities and actual physical places where young bands can play.”

But that’s not to say young bands are non-existent – far from it.

It’s just that the way they are forming is a little bit different.

Whereas back in Lefty’s day, “you could go into town and find like-minded kids – heavy rockers stood outside Boots, and the more dancey types were down near Groucho’s“, musical kids have to work a bit harder to seek one another out in 2024.

Is Caird Hall the new Doghouse?

Take for example Adam and The Observers, an energetic outfit hailing with members dotted across Tayside and Fife.

Made up of frontman Adam Percival and guitarist Logan Craddock, both 18, bassist Georgie Pelc, 14, and drummer Anna Fettes, also 14, the band formed in 2023 at music camp Soundbase, run each summer out of the Caird Hall by Lefty, Scott and their associates.

“We met through Soundbase. It’s an event thing that happens for young musicians, 12-18,” explains Adam.

Adam & The Observers (Adam Percival, Georgie Pelc, Anna Fettes and Logan Craddock) practice in the studio in Ceres. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“You can go along and they put you in bands. They give you six days to practise your songs, and then you perform at the end.”

“Soundbase was mental,” laughs Anna, twirling her drumsticks.

“I’d been wanting to try and find a band for the past three years but I haven’t been able to find the right people in my school and in Fife.

“Fife just doesn’t have as big a music scene as Dundee. Then I came to Soundbase and it was like ‘Everybody here wants to do music, just like me’.”

Observers already seeing success

The lads knew one another before joining Soundbase, but it was after meeting Georgie and Anna that everything fell into place.

Together the foursome took on a nerve-wracking 20-minute set at Edinburgh Fringe festival just one month after meeting.

“If you’d said to me the month before that in a month’s time I’d be playing Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I’d have just giggled, because I wasn’t even in a band at that point,” smiles Georgie.

Now the Jake Bugg inspired outfit have recorded a four-track EP, had multiple radio plays on Absolute Radio and are due to play trendy Edinburgh venue Sneaky Pete’s as well as a headline hometown gig at Beat Generator later this month.

Georgie Pelc couldn’t believe she played Edinburgh Fringe Festival just one month after joining the band. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.
Anna and Georgie being just 14 years old means they can’t gig in 18+ venues. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

But the musicians admit that between school, work and their spread-out locations, finding time to practise is a struggle.

And that without Anna’s home studio – a kitted-out summerhouse in her mum and dad’s Ceres garden – they’d be scuppered.

“You’re practising mainly at home on your own, so if you didn’t have a supportive family, you’d struggle,” says Adam.

Moreover, gigging has been difficult locally due to Anna and Georgie being under 18.

“Because we’re a bit younger, there might be some times where Adam and Logan just have to go and do some gigs just the two of them,” admits Georgie.

The Naebodys won’t stay unknown for long

For Monifieth High band The Naebodys (Rory Robertson, Lucas Burns and Calum Grant), being too young to get into venues is a big barrier to gaining experience on stage.

“That is a big issue, getting venues that allow us in,” explains frontman Lucas. “We’re all 16. Church Dundee is quite good for letting us play, and we’ve got a headline there in July, but apart from that it’s hard.”

The Naebodys (formerly known as The Unknown until they “Scottish-ed it up”) were formed when the three long-time school pals decided to enter a school Christmas concert together in 2022.

The Naebodys: Rory Robertson, Calum Grant and Lucas Burns sneak in a practise at school. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.
The Naebodys on stage at Church. Image: Lucas Burns.

“Calum phoned me on the New Year’s Eve after the concert,” Lucas recalls. “It hit midnight and he was like ‘happy new year, let’s write a song’.”

Now the Arctic Monkeys-influenced three-piece have recorded their EP, Neverending Love.

“We try to get away from the love songs, but it’s hard,” admits Lucas.

“The minute you strum a chord, you’re like: ‘So I met this girl…’”

Band practice in ‘half deaf’ gran’s garage

And the trio are working on building a following, both online with daily TikTok updates, and in real life through gigging.

But again, space is a constant negotiation – especially with a full-size, full-volume acoustic drumkit to contend with.

Calum Grant on the drums. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.

“We used to practise in the school music room at lunchtimes and stuff, but then people started coming in and just trashing the place, so it gets locked up now,” says Lucas glumly.

“So we don’t really have that option anymore.”

Instead, they practise in Calum’s gran’s garage every Friday afternoon.

“She’s half deaf at least, so she can’t hear us,” Calum laughs. “Although these two said they can hear my drums from halfway up the street, so the neighbours must hate us.

The Naebody’s rehearse in Calum’s gran’s garage. Image: Lucas Burns.

“We started in Rory’s mum’s garage but we were too loud so she kicked us out.

“Maybe we could be the new View!”

Graduation will boot The Bampots from practice space

Meanwhile for Morgan Academy group The Bampots, school is their only available practice space – which will become a problem when the four S6s graduate this year.

“Having the school is great,” enthuses guitarist Liam Robertson, as the four friends effortlessly shred out a well-rehearsed Weezer cover in their school’s photography/music studio, a fair-sized wee room off the art department.

The Bampots: Olivia Ingram (drums), Blake Low (bass, vocals), Liam Robertson (guitar) and Isaac Vohra (guitar) rehearse at Morgan Academy. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

“We definitely have an advantage of having all this kit here, whereas some people might not have a drum kit, or be able to afford amps,” he continues. “So we’re really lucky.”

Currently, Bampots drummer Olivia Ingram only has an electric drumkit at home, so is saving up for her own acoustic one.

And after school, the band – comprised of Liam, Olivia, bassist and singer Blake Low, and guitarist Isaac Vohra – will split the cost of studio time at one of the city-centre studios.

But until they turn 18, they’ll have no way to earn that money back.

‘We can’t get started’

“Bars are where most people start gigging, so we can’t really get started,” observes Isaac.

“And we can’t really play anywhere else right now,” adds Olivia. “We’ve had chances but usually around exam time, so we’ve not been able to take them.”

However, the four are hopeful that when they leave school and splinter off to college and university, they might get to know more bands their age – something which hasn’t happened in the two years they’ve been playing together.

“We’ve still not come across bands that are our age,” says Liam.

“I think there were definitely more bands back in the day with The View and all that.

The Bampots met at school, but want the band to go beyond the music room. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

“The music industry’s just all about knowing people, so knowing more people would only benefit us.”

But without a communal space where they can meet up, how can all these fledgling bands get to know one another?

Social media, for all its perks, hasn’t allowed these bands to break out of their bubbles and meet one another.

Lucas, of The Naebodys, reveals he’s going to all the way to Spain with the hopes of making Dundee music connections at Kyle Falconer’s songwriting camp.

Bampot Blake suggests “more competition events for young bands” to a chorus of yeses from his bandmates.

And over in Angus, there is hope.

Open mic nights ‘few and far between’

Kyle Richardson is a musician and youth music leader hailing from Kirriemuir.

And the problem of space and resources for young musicians is one he is passionate about tackling.

Rock Band music leader Kyle Richardson. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“I think there are a number of factors that make it more difficult for school pupils to form bands now, but first and foremost would be things like the lack of places to practise and the cost barriers they can come up against when learning an instrument,” he observes.

“Plus local band nights and open mic nights where they can see others playing music, network and showcase their own talent seem to be few and far between, whereas previously they were everywhere.”

But with his Forfar Academy based Rock Band project, which operates much like Soundbase but on a school-by-school basis, former DD8 Music volunteer Kyle has seen how life-changing it can be for kids to play music together.

Forfar Academy potential band members, Shelby Hayes (15), Carrie Wilson (15), Karyn Laird (15), Lewis West (13), Aaron Bruce (12) and George Bone (12) with music instructor, Mr Richardson. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson

“I’ve never forgotten my first time playing in a band at school, or the rush of my first time of playing music on stage,” he says. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to have that feeling.”

Making school cool for Dundee bands

Fifth years Carrie Wilson and Karyn Laird have formed a guitar-playing duo through the project, where they help one another learn Motley Crue and Black Sabbath covers.

“Without teaching yourself, there weren’t many places like this, so this was a good opportunity,” says Karyn, 15, of Rock Band.

“Playing in a two, especially when you’ve got similar music taste, can be fun because you can find out new songs from someone else.”

And fellow Rock Band participant Shelby Hayes, also 15, is excited about where the project could lead.

Shelby Hayes is excited about the Rock Band project. Image: Steve Brown/DC Thomson.

“I definitely wanted to be a band before I heard about this and didn’t know how,” she says. “I’ve been learning to play Jason Mraz on the guitar. I love it.”

Until a new community space like The Doghouse arises for young musicians, Kyle reckons schools could serve as practice and performance space for school-age bands who could, for all we know, go on to become the next View – if given the chance.

“It’s hard to say for sure, but hopefully with the growth of projects like this one, we’ll see a whole new generation of Dundee bands.”

Adam and The Observers are playing Dundee’s Beat Generator on March 31 2024. 

The Naebodys play their first-ever headline gig at Church Dundee on July 6 2024.