Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno gives festival picks and tips


Kasabian are surely the ultimate festival band, Leicester lads whose roaring big songs were designed to be delivered al fresco and who famously told the NME that if you cut their veins they would bleed rock’n’ roll. They grew up loving the singalong anthems of Oasis and are now best mates with them, compadres in the art of playing loud music in fields. This summer, Kasabian release their third album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, and they play Glastonbury festival right before Bruce Springsteen, which they’re pretty excited about, especially when they think about how far they’ve come since first playing there in 2005.

Sergio Pizzorno, the band’s guitarist and songwriter, explains: “We were first on, not expecting many people there, but when we walked out on to the stage at noon it was full! I remember thinking, things are gonna be okay for us, we’re not just gonna be in a band for two weeks and then have to go back to work.” The rest of that weekend is a bit of a blur, though — he saw it through until Sunday afternoon “and then finally collapsed in my tent in a real state. I’ve never been back into a tent since. I’d been up for two days just wandering round in the mud — never even got to the Stone Circle or any of the best bits. We’re staying around to watch Bruce this year and then we’ll do it properly.”

The partying continues when they tour with Oasis — the two bands spent five weeks together playing America on one trip. “Everybody’s really easy to get on with. Tom [Meighan, Kasabian’s frontman] breaks the ice really easily ’cos he just doesn’t care. He’s not affected by any of it, he’s just Tom, and that makes everyone feel at ease. One night in South America we took over this hotel and we were in this one really tiny room, about 50 of us. I remember being in the bathroom, and we sang She Loves You, with Noel stood in the bath with his guitar. It was carnage, a real South American carnival, only in a bathroom with the shower on.”

Pizzorno describes the new album as “a melting pot”, and says he feels blessed to have 50 years of incredible music to be influenced by: “All these things from 1960s psychedelia to soundtracks by Ennio Morricone, then maybe the Stones in their New York period, to Silver Apples. It’s 2009 and all this amazing music has already been made — back in the day they had maybe John Lee Hooker and a bit of rock’n’roll. I don’t think it’s a retro record, but you can see what kind of music we’re into.”

The Kasabian sound is one that that works best in a live setting. “It’s quite tribal,” says Pizzorno of their festival gigs. “Oh, I sound like Spinal Tap! But people pay a lot of money for those tickets, and a festival is your one weekend to be free and do what you want. It’s euphoric. We’ve never had an album out in the summer. We’ll have the single out when the sun’s out. I’m buzzing.”

— Top festivals

T In the Park in Glasgow 
It’s always been incredible every time we’ve played there: the crowd has gone mental.

Summer Sonic in Japan 
We’ve played there a few times, along with Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys. That’s one that always sticks out because you’re playing in a huge baseball stadium.

Lollapalooza in Chicago 
Normally you think of a festival being near cows and fields but this was in a park in the centre of Chicago.

Big Day Out in Australia and New Zealand 
We did five of those in three weeks! Nice pace. You do one and then get three days off.

Reading Festival 
We played our last song and the crowd were still there about an hour later. It was amazing — one of those great moments when you’re in a band.

— Festival tips

iPod speakers 
So you can sit round a campfire with your mates having some tunes. Don’t bring a guitar because somebody will take it over and play really horrible tunes on it all night and you’ll just want to smack them over the head with it.

Suitable clothing 
Obviously you need your wellingtons and a coat. If you go to a festival you should be very practical in your approach to what you wear — the cool people are the ones who know what they’re doing. Keep warm.

The backstage toilets are bad enough so I can’t even imagine what the ones out there are like — I can’t even begin. Anyone who goes to a festival and braves that — so much respect, man. People still have a good time so God bless ’em.

How to get to the front 
You’ve just got to be a bit of a bastard — get your head down and push. Knock people over.

Rock’n’roll heroes

I was in the Oasis camp with all the boys at school — Liam is Mr Rock, he’s a rock star. He reminds me of a young Marlon Brando, or De Niro. He’s got that real old Hollywood star quality. His presence is quite frightening.

Keith Richards 
The way he talks, his whole being is amazing. We played with the Stones and he said to me afterwards, “It’s really nice to meet a working musician.” What a GREAT thing to say. After all he’s been through it’s still about the fact that you can get paid for playing your guitar. It’s a reminder — we thank our lucky stars we get to do this.

Kurt Cobain 
A song, Fast Fuse, on our new album is about the idea of burning out and dying young. Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison. We’re 28 so we’ve just missed it. I had an unexploded bomb in my garden so I could have died at 27 and taken the whole street with me. Could have been one of the great rock’n’roll deaths. No, blowing my own brains out is certainly not for me.

Ray Davies 
I remember my dad playing the Kinks a lot. The massively under-rated craftsmanship in Davies’s writing is unbelievable. There’s definitely some Kinks inspiration on our new album.

Dream festival line-up (alive or dead)

Because I never saw them. From the Soundtracks period. Damo Suzuki is amazing.

The Beatles 
Got to have the Beatles because they never played with the new PAs.

DJ Shadow 

Gogol Bordello 
They performed one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. That gypsy thing.

— Kasabian play Radio 1’s Big Weekend on May 9 and Glastonbury on June 27


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