KASABIAN GO CRAZY

Band Hope New Album West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum Will Be Best Yet

SERGE Pizzorno almost drove himself crazy coming up with the songs that could make Kasabian’s third album their biggest and best yet.

The 52-minute West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum promises a mash- up of sky-scraping melodies, electro-punk riffs, Morricone-esque symphonics, Mariachi stomps and psych-pop lullabies.

Serge locked himself away in a spare bedroom at his home dismantling musical instruments and listening to loops and samples for hours at a time in his quest to produce the best British rock album of 2009.

“I put together more than half of the album at home,” Serge recalled. “At times it was mad. I have this tiny little bedroom that I sat in for hours in the dark. That’s when it is at the most mad, with me on my own in there switching on synths and takingapart keyboards and putting them back together again. It was mental.

“In the tiny room, there’s a computer, a couple of synths and a guitar. I’d spend hours working on tunes. I’ve always liked concept albums – Sgt Pepper’s, The Small Faces’ Ogdens Nut Gone Flake, The Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow, and I realised I wanted towrite songs which worked together as a whole. The buzz you get at 3am when you’ve got a beat going and the verse and chorus come together is what it’s about for me.”

The album includes new single Fire, out on June 1 and live favourites such as the chaotic Vlad The Impaler, released in March as a free download, as well as a batch of brilliant new songs, such as Where Did All The Love Go?, which addresses a violentBritish subculture with the lyrics: “The rivers of the pavement are now flowing now with blood/The children of the future are drowning in the flood.”

Serge explained: “I had these chords and the song wrote itself. I sat down and wrote the melody and the first line and chorus came to me. I’m not trying to give anyone the answers and I’m not trying to preach but I feel and have felt for a long timethere has been a loss of innocence.

“You don’t see your mates any more. You just respond to them via these networks. It’s all a bit crazy with kids posting horrible videos on YouTube and trying to outdo each other. Maybe I’m a romantic, but I do think, ‘Where has all the love gone?’

“The internet blows things up, but that is the world we live in with 24-hour news stations and kids on the internet all the time. When we were kids we hung around the park playing football and listening to music and chatting. We weren’t locked away inbedrooms on computers.We were together. There’s been a loss of community. There is this instant culture where everything has to be now. You don’t wait for anything any more, which was what made things special. I felt like I needed to say it.

“The politicians have won. They have turned us into a zombie nation. It is getting that way. When we play we give everyone an escape. Our shows are electric because people come to escape it all.”

Serge believes the album will put their contemporaries to shame when it is released on June 8. “In the mainstream music scene, there are no characters,” he said. “There is no one with any opinions whether you agree with them or not. There’s not as manybands who can divide opinion. You either love us or you hate us. That’s the way it should be with bands. You don’t see many people standing up for the band they love, which means it’s a good time for us because there’s no one around.

“There’s a big wave of bands like us that are on our third record who have not made very good records or have nothing to say. They have given up and are part of the establishment, almost. It’s very sad and I can’t imagine it is exciting for people. A lotof bands get there on selling singles, which is fair enough. But if you stop writing good singles, you lose your fans. With rock and roll bands, fans buy albums and tickets for the gigs and stick with them.”

Paying praise to Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan, he added: “Tom is incredible. He is so unique in a generation that has no frontmen any more. There is no one I believe in. Love or hate us, we are in your face. I couldn’t name you one decent frontman fromanother band. That says it all.

“The album release is three weeks away and we just can’t wait so that people can live with it and it can become part of their lives. We want kids listening to it. It means when people come to see the live show it’ll make more sense.

“We want to encourage people to listen to it as whole,” Serge added.”At the moment people are being encouraged to pay 79 pence to download one song.That really underestimates what genuine music fans want to listen to. We wanted to make an album whichtakes the listener on a journey.

“I’m really proud of the risks we took with West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum, and that we still have the balls to do something different from everyone else. We’re not giving people what they expect. We’ve given our fans something completely unique.

Explaining the title, he added: “I don’t know what people call their albums these days. They have boring names. We wanted something that reflected the way the album was put together. It’s like an insane film soundtrack at times.”

Other songs on the album include the techno-pulsed Swarfiga, Kinks-influenced Thick As Thieves and anti-TV game show ode Take Aim – as well as West Rider Silver Bullet, a duet between Tom and Sin City actress Rosario Dawson that came about after a chancemeeting at the Isle Of Wight festival. Inspired by rock ‘n’ roll duets by the likes of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra, Serge Gainsburg and Jane Birkin, the Sin City actress was persuaded to lay down vocals while filming Seven Pounds with Will Smith.

“I flew out to Los Angeles for her vocal session,” Serge recalled. “I was nervous, thinking that if she couldn’t sing, we’d be screwed. I had my fingers crossed. She came in and looked really beautiful, sat there. Then she hit the first note and I knewwe were going to be all right. She did it in two takes and I was there half and hour. Then she had to go because she was filming with Will Smith. I thought, ‘My whole life has gone pretty weird.’

“Getting a Hollywood actress to do it was quite wild and it is a beautiful song. I was blown away.”

The album is preceded by the band’s upcoming single Fire, which is released on June 1.

Meanwhile, he has revealed the band’s sights are set on headlining the main stage at next year’s T in the Park festival. “It would be great for us because we followed our hearts, ” Serge explained. “If this gets us onto the next level, it will be a realmoment in time for us and a special time if bands get together through hearing this record.

“If we are big enough to headline the main stage at T in the Park, it would be the most euphoric night in rock and roll of the decade.

“We have done T in the Park almost every year and we thought we would do it next year rather than this summer. The record will be out and people will have taken it to their heart so it will be a special event.

“A lot of bands just now are doing every festival they can and it means they lose a bit of the magic. We tried not to do any festivals this year but Glastonbury came along.

“It was hard to turn down because going on before Bruce Springsteen on a Saturday night is a once in a lifetime event.”

Also on the Glasto bill are Spinal Tap and if any band is likely to have had their Spinal Tap moments, it’s Kasabian, I suggest. “Every day that passes there is a Spinal Tap moment,” Serge admitted. “We got lost on the way to the stage in Colorado. Wewere saying, ‘We’re going to smash it tonight,’ then opened the door. It was a fire exit and we were outside in the car park. We ambled onstage in tears of laughter.

“Having stage props like dwarves and a recreation of Stonehenge is probably coming. With an album title like West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum, we’ll need to come up with something pretty special for the shows. We might wear straitjackets and find one ofus can’t get free.”

Scots fans will get the chance to hear the new songs soon. They head to Scotland as special guests of Oasis at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield stadium, on June 17, along with The Enemy and Reverend & The Makers.

The band then go on to play their own gig at Glasgow’s O2 Academy, the following night.

“I can’t wait,” Serge said. “The crowd in Scotland blows my mind. When we play Glasgow it is going to kick off.”

http://www.californiachronicle.com

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