Kasabian – Empire Biography


Stardate: Summer 2006. As these words are being written, Kasabian are jetlagged, but happy. Three days ago, they returned from Mexico City, where a disused supermarket full of saucer-eyed devotees treated them like returning heroes. “They even sang along to the keyboards in Processed Beats,” exclaims Serge Pizzorno. And then when we did the new stuff. It was…” Pizzorno is rarely lost for words. When he is though, here’s Tom Meighan to pick up the baton “…legendary. I’ve never felt a force like it.”

Can a record be legendary before it has even come out? You might think you know Kasabian. After all, the dissolute Glimmer Twins of the post-Britpop firmament made no secret of their sources on that eponymous first album. A couple of years after Meighan and Pizzorno met in Leicester, aged 11, it was 1993 and Oasis were making the rock’n’roll dream seem like a goal attainable to a generation of schoolkids. Recorded at the now-mythical farm where they arrived for a party and never got around to leaving, Kasabian’s eponymous debut bypassed most critics and connected dramatically with an audience that recognised them as one of their own just as Oasis had done with Meighan and Pizzorno in 1993.

Kasabian sold over 700,000 in the UK and the band were the undisputed victors of last year’s festivals, putting in bristling performances at Glastonbury, Reading/Leeds and T In The Park. But if a debut album is all about showing your influences, this is the point where Kasabian truly show us who they are. The first thing you’ll notice about Empire is that no other band in the world could have created it. The confidence is perhaps understandable given the lack of fanfare with which they managed to instantly shift 8000 tickets for their Ally Pally show last year. But the scale of its vision though is something else entirely.

Asked a while back to describe the album’s eponymous opener, Meighan’s instant response was, “Marc Bolan smoking crack with Dr Who.” “No other band apart from Radiohead would have the balls to put in a tempo change like that,” adds Pizzorno. Under the circumstances, you decide it’s impolite to tell him that Radiohead didn’t get actually around to it until their third album. This time around the demonic amyl throb of Serge’s electronic soundscapes feed into the very core of Kasabian’s music. The flood of ideas is unstoppable. Propelled along by handclaps and Ian Matthews’ inspired Studio 54 style drum fills, the filthy analogue glambience of Shoot The Runner will be inescapable between now and Christmas. Last Trip, appropriately, comes on like a postcard from the furthermost outpost of a 4am bender Meighan’s brittle, anxious exhortations leading the way over an arrangement which recalls a beefier version of Suicide’s primitive electro-pulse. Three songs in and Empire already sounds like an index of rock’n’roll possibilities.

When it comes to taking the credit for their music, Kasabian rarely need to be encouraged. In this case though, they’re swift to acknowledge the invaluable input of producer Jim Abbiss who, according to Meighan, “was very good at dealing with situations in the studio.” Was that necessary? One imagines that when a double act like Meighan and Pizzorno disagree, they must really disagree. “Actually, we bicker,” says Meighan, “But it’s only ever when we’re drunk. You know that Hot Chocolate song, It Started With A Kiss? Well, with us, it ends with a kiss, but starts with a bottle. But Jim kept our heads clear, so that there was no anxiety, like ‘what the fuck are we gonna do next?'”

Empire is the second album by English rock band Kasabian, released on 28 August 2006 in the United Kingdom. The album went onto #1 in the UK Albums Chart upon its release and was preceded by the release of new single “Empire” on 24 July 2006 (see 2006 in British music).

The album was recorded over two weeks after touring with Oasis.[citation needed] According to Tom Meighan in an interview on the album with the NME in early 2006, Empire is a word used by the band to describe something that is good. To date the album has sold 895,000 copies worldwide, including 556,400 in the UK.[when?]

The song “Stuntman” was used in the film Green Street, and was also played during Sky Sports’ Premiership coverage in the 2007-08 season. The song “Sun/Rise/Light/Flies” appears in the last scene/closing credits of episode 101 of the HBO show John From Cincinnati. Several songs from the album have been used in the BBC television show Top Gear. “Sun/Rise/Light/Flies” has been used for the video highlights of the 2008 Hungarian Grand Prix on the official Formula One website. It was also used on the BBC TV programme Horizon, broadcast on 17 February 2009.

Track listing

All tracks written by Sergio Pizzorno, except where noted.

  1. “Empire” – 3:53 (Pizzorno, Chris Karloff)
  2. “Shoot the Runner” – 3:27
  3. “Last Trip (In Flight)” – 2:53
  4. Me Plus One” – 2:28
  5. “Sun/Rise/Light/Flies” – 4:08
  6. “Apnoea” – 1:48
  7. “By My Side” – 4:14 (Pizzorno, Karloff)
  8. “Stuntman” – 5:19 (Pizzorno, Karloff)
  9. “Seek & Destroy” – 2:15
  10. “British Legion” – 3:19
  11. “The Doberman” – 5:34

Bonus tracks

  • “Ketang” – 2:12 (U.S. iTunes)
  • “Heroes” – 2:40 (U.S. iTunes)
  • “Empire (video) – 9:44 (U.S. and UK iTunes)
  • “Shoot the Runner” (live from XFM – UK iTunes)
  • “Reason is Treason” (live from XFM – UK iTunes)
  • “Empire” (live from XFM – UK iTunes)
  • “The Doberman” (live from XFM – UK iTunes)
  • “L.S.F” (live from XFM – UK iTunes)

Bonus DVD

The Limited Edition included a Bonus DVD:

  • “Empire” video – 4:55
  • Documentary – 22:01
  • Making of “Empire” video – 10:00

Release details

Country Date Label Format Catalog
United Kingdom 2006-08-28 BMG, Columbia Records CD PARADISE37 / 8 2876 88499 2 7
10″ vinyl PARADISE38 / 8 2876 88502 2 0
CD / DVD PARADISE39 / 8 2876 88499 1 0
Japan 2006-09-06 BMG Japan CD BVCP-21481 / 4988017642092
2006-12-20 CD / DVD BVCP-28067 / 4988017645901
United States 2006-09-19 Sony BMG, RCA Records CD 8 2876-88323-2 5
CD / DVD 8 8697-01459-2 3
Australia 2006-10-14 Sony BMG
CD / DVD 82876898182
Canada 2006-09-14 Sony BMG
CD / DVD 88697002262

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