The Kasabian Cult [Article]

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Kasabian are having the time of their lives, launching their UK tour tonight, about to release their new album, and being courted by the likes of Oasis and Bruce Springsteen. They share the love with Andy Welch.

Kasabian have had an epiphany. Despite having sold nearly two million records and been invited to tour with good friends Oasis, the band have only just realised they’re huge.

“It’s weird, man,” begins frontman Tom Meighan, with puppy-dog enthusiasm.

“We were doing Jools Holland the other week and we were the biggest band on it. Before, we’ve been on with big names — Smokey Robinson, Jarvis Cocker and people.

“We were looking at the list for this one, and those names weren’t there — we were the biggest band. It’s funny …” he says, chuckling, pleased with himself. “About time.”

Kasabian’s star will shine even brighter come June 8, the day they release their cryptically titled third album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

“It was a real hospital in Wakefield,” explains Tom. “Serge (Pizzorno, guitarist and songwriter) saw it on a documentary and thought it was a cool name and that was about it.”

While that might seem a simple enough explanation, the reason the album is so titled actually has deeper roots.

This third effort from the Leicester quartet is a homage to the psychedelic albums of the 1960s, albums with ludicrous titles and equally preposterous contents.

The Kasabian Cult
Friday, 29 May 2009

Kasabian

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Kasabian are having the time of their lives, launching their UK tour tonight, about to release their new album, and being courted by the likes of Oasis and Bruce Springsteen. They share the love with Andy Welch

Kasabian have had an epiphany. Despite having sold nearly two million records and been invited to tour with good friends Oasis, the band have only just realised they’re huge.

“It’s weird, man,” begins frontman Tom Meighan, with puppy-dog enthusiasm.

“We were doing Jools Holland the other week and we were the biggest band on it. Before, we’ve been on with big names — Smokey Robinson, Jarvis Cocker and people.

“We were looking at the list for this one, and those names weren’t there — we were the biggest band. It’s funny …” he says, chuckling, pleased with himself. “About time.”

Kasabian’s star will shine even brighter come June 8, the day they release their cryptically titled third album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

“It was a real hospital in Wakefield,” explains Tom. “Serge (Pizzorno, guitarist and songwriter) saw it on a documentary and thought it was a cool name and that was about it.”

While that might seem a simple enough explanation, the reason the album is so titled actually has deeper roots.

This third effort from the Leicester quartet is a homage to the psychedelic albums of the 1960s, albums with ludicrous titles and equally preposterous contents.

“That’s it, brother,” asserts 28-year-old Tom. “All those mad records, like The Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, or Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake by The Small Faces … None of the titles really make sense, and that’s what we wanted, in a way, but to make it modern and for the 21st-century.”

West Ryder’s sleeve continues that tip of the hat too, with the Kasabian boys getting out the dressing-up box. Tom looks particularly dapper in a Nelson-esque military costume.

“It’s like an English heritage psychedelia front cover, but it’s pretty evil-looking too. That’s what we wanted, that was our concept,” he says, pausing. “That, and to make it really, really good.”

A swaggering frontman from the simian school of Liam Gallagher and Ian Brown, Tom’s never been short of confidence. Now, however, with their best, most ambitious album in front of them, he’s positively brimming with emotion.

Thankfully, that cocksure streak doesn’t manifest itself as arrogance — he’s too likeable for that. Instead, it’s his boundless enthusiasm that comes to the fore.

“I’m so excited at the moment,” he says. “As well as confused, on edge, you know, all these emotions are coming up before the album comes out. I’m not sleeping properly, neither is Serge.

“I don’t know if other bands get that pattern, but I just can’t switch off, it’s bizarre. I go to bed for about two hours, but I can’t sleep. I’m just waiting for things to happen. It’s what we’re like when we’re on tour as well,” he says.

The band have been away from the public eye for around a year, although nine months of that was spent recording what would become West Ryder.

After getting to a point with the album, “about 70% done”, Kasabian decamped to San Francisco to seek out the services of renowned producer Dan ‘The Automator’ Nakamura, highly acclaimed for his work with Beck, Gorillaz, DJ Shadow and various hip-hop artists including Busta Rhymes and Kool Keith.

“He’s not a natural choice, I guess,” admits Tom, “but Serge has wanted to work with him for a while. “It was amazing to get him, and to have another pair of ears on the album, to guide us through. He’s brought out the big beats and the album sounds amazing.”

Being out on America’s West Coast clearly suited Tom. Having only been there while touring before, he says it was good to be in one place for a length of time, and feels the city energised his singing.

“You don’t get more psychedelic than Haight-Ashbury,” he says, referring to the district of San Francisco synonymous with 1967’s so called Summer of Love and fledgling hippy scene.

“I think being there improved my singing 100%, gave me more of an edge. Dan’s studio is underneath his house, which was lovely. I escaped for four weeks or so.”

Back in Britain, there’s going to be no escaping Kasabian over the coming months. With a tour kicking off in their home town tonight, a support slot with Oasis on their summer mega-shows and more festival appearances in between, it’s a gruelling few months for the band. Factor in their reputation for hard-living while on the road, and the prospect would make all but the hardiest of folk wince. Tom however, can’t wait.

“I climb the walls when I’m off,” he says. “I’ve started painting – I’ve had a portrait of Brian Jones on the go for ages but I haven’t finished it – and I catch up with friends when we’re not busy, but I miss touring. Having time to yourself is great, don’t get me wrong, but there comes to a point when I have to get back on the road and start playing rock shows again.”

Kasabian play St George’s Market, Belfast, on June 22. Tickets £22.50, from Ticketmaster outlets or 0870 2434455

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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