Kasabian’s new record is West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
As they gear up to release their third record, the quartet have just lobbed in Japan for a showcase gig and headed straight from the airport to Tokyo Disneyland.
Guitarist and songwriter Sergio Pizzorno says the adrenalin buzz from Space Mountain levelled out the lag.
The rock ‘n’ roll madness of the idea makes perfect sense from a bunch of blokes who have called their latest record West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. It is indeed a musical rollercoaster ride.
“Yeah man, it’s a mad old record,” Pizzorno says.
Pizzorno, frontman Tom Meighan and bassist Chris Edwards have been playing together for the past 10 years, firstly as Saracuse, before changing their name to Kasabian, the surname of a member of Charles Manson’s cult.
Their self-titled debut was released in 2004 but it wasn’t until they released its third single, Club Foot, that the band started to get noticed on the British charts and the alternative Australian airwaves.
That song got them into the Glastonbury Festival in 2005 and is still used to underscore sports broadcasts.
Kasabian’s second record, Empire, which introduced drummer Ian Matthews, started their inevitable crossover to the mainstream.
A searing live reputation – the band rocked the Big Day Out tour of 2007 – sealed the deal, with the album selling almost a million copies.
And now “The Third Record”, the one bands aspire to make their magnum opus even as the record label pressures them to deliver another one just like the last.
“The third album means it’s time to get serious. When people tell you that you need to do this or that, f—k it, we will do exactly what we want. We’ve climbed over every wall to get to this point, to be free rather than fitting in.”
Kasabian’s videos have always betrayed their love of film and Pizzorno agrees that West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum could be the soundtrack to a movie yet to be made.
“Soundtrack is always where my head is at. We love the idea of escape, of taking you away from wherever you are. I think from the very start our music has had that cinematic quality,” he says.
Movie stars were on his mind when he wrote the song West Ryder Silver Bullet, picturing Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin.
Pizzorno and his bandmates faced quite a dilemma trying to find the right person to sing duet with frontman Meighan. Enter Rosario Dawson.
The Sin City actor wasn’t his first choice.
The songwriter had originally envisaged more of an English rose – Keira Knightley – for the duet.
But Dawson popped into his head because she had come to see the band perform on the Isle of Wight.
“I thought she would be perfect for the role in the song which is the Bonnie and Clyde kind of story – she’s the prostitute from Sin City,” he explains.
Dawson blew Pizzorno’s mind when she told him she had played the track to director Quentin Tarantino at his birthday party and he loved it. You can just imagine it gracing the soundtrack of his next film.
While they may not be the superstar level of other Brit rockers such as Coldplay and their good mates Oasis, Kasabian are winning influential fans.
There have been reports that Jay-Z is courting them to sign to his publishing label and that Kanye West is keen to work with them on a song or two.
And Bruce Springsteen is reported to have personally requested they perform before his headlining spot at the legendary Glastonbury Festival next month.
But like every good Pom, Pizzorno is more impressed that Brazilian football champion Kaka rates their music.
One of the new album tracks, Underdog, was used for the latest Sony Bravia ad which featured Kaka doing his thing with a football.
“He’s one of the greatest footballers in the world. There’s been some talk of maybe having a kick around with him in June but you can’t look forward too much in this game,” Pizzorno says.
Songwriters and the companies who sign them love it when a song is picked up as the sound bed for an advertisement or television show.
Not only does it earn them royalties but those broadcasts are proving as effective in promoting a band to a huge audience as high-rotation airplay on a hit radio station.
“It’s always going to split you down the middle. How many people are we going to reach without leaving home? We are not the sort of band who gets a lot of radio play and Underdog is an out-there song,” Pizzorno says.
“I get excited about the idea of reaching that many people with a song so when you do go out to play it live, they are going to recognise it.”
The band members have proved their acting chops in videos over the years and return themselves to the small screen with the clip for the new single, Fire.
“I was robbing banks in 45C heat in South Africa,” Pizzorno says.
“I don’t know about acting; we’re better at taking the piss out of each other and dressing up. We still have a laugh for that – and teasing the make-up girls.”
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (Sony Music) out tomorrow. Kasabian will tour Australia in August.