Exclusive Kasabian Interview/Photos [Shortlist.com]

CHATTY

The kitchen of Kasabian’s Buckinghamshire farmhouse is already buzzing and it’s only 10am – an early start by rock’n’roll standards. A tour manager jabs at his laptop. A housekeeper takes orders and trades banter. Still in boxer shorts, guitarist Serge Pizzorno butters toast, while notoriously vocal frontman Tom Meighan competes with the racket of a smoothie maker. And ShortList? We keep our head down and try not to provoke the pit bull on the window ledge.

An hour later, the band is ready for business. Striding down the lane to the bluebell field where our photographer is waiting, Meighan, Pizzorno, bassist Chris Edwards and drummer Ian Matthews are relaxed but have a point to prove. It’s a long way from the Leicester club circuit to the top table of British indie, and while most agree the band’s swaggering ascent is deserved, others dismiss 2004’s Kasabian and 2006’s Empire as mere mash-ups of every lad-rock outfit from the Rolling Stones to Oasis. This summer, they hope third album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum will end the debate, as Serge and Tom explain…The album name is a bit of a mouthful…
Serge Pizzorno: It was a real asylum, from back in the 18th century. But the album ain’t nothing about the place. The idea of madness was what attracted me. There’s a fine line between genius and madness. It only takes a twig to snap and you’re gone, y’know?
Tom Meighan: We wanted to come back with something mind-boggling. We never make it easy on ourselves. I like the dangerous side of this band. We’re f*cking rebels – our music and everything about us. I still believe we’re semi-underground. I think we’re the coolest underground band out there.
SP: You wouldn’t choose a f*cking album title like that if you wanted to sell records. We’re doing it for the f*cking love and the art, not just to join the club.

Did you ever consider giving the album away free like Coldplay are about to do?
TM: Well, they can afford to, can’t they? No. Not in a million years. Do you go to a toy shop, pick up a Scalextric and say, “Is this free?” Do you go into a bank and ask for free money? How do you want people to feel when they listen to it?
SP: This album is like being in a f*cking boxing match. It batters your head around. It’s a lot of information. It’s a real headspin as a piece of music. But it’s uplifting. It drags you out of your f*cking seat and makes you do something. It’s in your face and confrontational. It gives you those ups and downs, that euphoric rush.

It sounds like you’re trying to get people dancing…
SP: Good rock’n’roll is dance music. For the last few years, it’s been all this jingle-jangle indie that you can’t get down to. It doesn’t do anything for me. All my favourite bands you can move to, from the Stones to the f*cking Wu-Tang Clan. 

The third track – Swarfiga – almost sounds like drum’n’bass…
TM: Well, it is. It’s 21st-century drum’n’bass psychedelia, like Doc Scott or something. It’s hypnotic dance with rock’n’roll guitar on top – and a scream at the end, like my b*llocks have been pulled off.

Should you encourage British men to dance, though?
SP: I like them having a go. They don’t give a f*ck and I much prefer a gig where people are getting loose and ain’t trying to be cool. Even if you can’t dance, I prefer that to someone scratching their chin.

You’re about to go on tour. What’s been the maddest moment on the tour bus?
SP: You put 12 blokes on a bus and it’s all going to kick off. In the back lounge, it’s usually just people watching The Wire or something – a spliff and a film. But downstairs is debauched nonsense, a f*cking jungle of people going insane. I remember getting up on the roof one night, out of the sunroof. I was out of my mind. I’m not proud of that. It could have gone horribly wrong. Yeah, the bus was moving – along a motorway in Germany.
TM: And then we have our special guests, like Lars [Ulrich] from Metallica. Serious amounts of f*cking narcotics. You name it, we’ve done it. We used to be right little terrors towards the end of Empire. It was brilliant. But we choose our battles now.

You’ve been quite open about drugs in the past – do they fuel your songwriting?

TM: On the first record, we smoked dope and took mushrooms – it weren’t like we were freaking out.
SP: I’ve never been into taking drugs and writing music. I’ve always written music to take drugs to, if you know what I mean. I don’t need to be anyone else when I make music. I don’t need to be f*cking ‘wacky’ or ‘psychedelic’. You either are psychedelic or you’re not, and the people who pretend to be, you can hear it in their music. If you’ve got it in you, then you don’t need to take anything to find it.

How are you handling fame?
TM: The way we’re perceived is f*cking hilarious. Nothing fazes me. We laugh about it. That’s the way we deal with it.
SP: Life gets better when you stop taking it so seriously. It’s that simple. Who gives a f*ck? We’re a tight unit, and that makes a massive difference. We’re quite insular; we keep to ourselves. If you were doing this on your own, it’d be f*cking weird, but as long as you’re with the boys… We can be in São Paulo and Tom can make me feel like we’re back home.

So what do you miss about Leicester?

SP: Red Leicester.

What would you be doing if you hadn’t formed 
the band?

TM: I’d probably be in a tea advert – you remember them chimps in the PG Tips adverts?

Serge, they say you could have been a pro footballer…
SP: [Half-serious] The English game didn’t really suit me. I wasn’t that quick, so I was perceived as being lazy. I would never have made it, because 
there’s a certain type of player that gets through the system.

What about your famous goal on Soccer AM, Serge – you fluked it, right?
SP: Nah, I meant it! It was only luck that it was being filmed. If some band went on and bettered it, then I’d do it again. I’m waiting.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

SP: I did in 2004 and it brought up a few sh*t pictures and some bullsh*t. I was like, f*ck this, I don’t need this in my life. I don’t read anything any more.

Apparently, you request a cheeseboard on your backstage rider…
TM: [Incredulous] A cheeseboard? An actual board? No. But it wouldn’t surprise me if the f*cking drummer ordered that. He likes his cheese.

OK then – have you ever heard a rumour you wished was true?
SP: There’s loads. The Arnold Schwarzenegger one always makes me laugh. Apparently, he used to listen to Club Foot while he was working out in his gym. There’s no proof, but I hope it’s true.

What do you do before a gig?
TM: Regurgitate. It’s not like I’m sh*tting myself, but I just want to get on. 
SP: We’re old-fashioned men. There’s no slapping or hugging. Deep down, you’re thinking, “F*cking hell, 600,000 people at Glastonbury…” But it’s like, come on, f*ck it, we’ll be all right – let’s do it. 

What sort of women do Kasabian attract?
TM: Lesbians.
SP: The percentage [of women] is going up. When we came out, we were perceived as a proper geezer’s band. Which is great, it makes for a better show, because you get the energy, but you’re kind of thinking, “Come on, let’s have some more birds out there.” You go in the first 20 rows, man, you’ll get crushed. Stamped.

This summer is Blur vs Oasis: the rematch – who did you support in 1995?
TM: I bought Roll With It. Serge bought Roll With It. When he was at school, he had this Umbro jacket and this f*cking amazing bowl haircut like George Harrison. I can see it now…

You’re mates with the Gallagher brothers now. That must be strange…
SP: That first American tour with Oasis, there were some f*cking surreal moments. You’re sat there having a few beers, thinking, “F*cking hell, this is weird.” Now they’re really good friends.

What has been your strangest night with Liam and Noel?
SP: The one I always think of was in Japan. There were about 50 of us in this tiny little hotel room. We were singing She Loves You in the bathroom, Noel was stood in the f*cking bathtub with a guitar and the shower on, and we were all going wild.
TM: There was f*cking water everywhere. We were all soaked. We were doing somersaults. Jumping on the bed, like proper kids. I was wrestling with Liam…
SP: …Then somebody said, “Let’s throw the f*cking telly out of the window.” But we were on the 50th floor. We’d have killed someone. Noel is the king of leaving early. He knows when the night is over.

You also supported the Rolling Stones – do you think you’ll still be going at their age?
SP: If we can still play Club Foot at 65. Mind you, Jagger still bounces around. But he’s a f*cking health freak…
TM: And I’m not.

Does it frustrate you when critics dismiss Kasabian as ‘lad-rock’?

TM: If you hear the album, it’s ridiculous to call it lad-rock.
SP: You either love us or hate us. And that’s the only place I’d ever want to be in life. I can’t just be ‘all right’. I’d like there to be a heated conversation in a public house somewhere, with someone saying “I love ’em” and someone saying “I hate ’em” – and there being 
a passion about it.

Finally, any festival tips for ShortList readers?
TM: Stay out of trouble. That’s from RoboCop. You listen to him and you’ll be all right.

 http://www.shortlist.com/

Photos: Jude Edginton

Kasabian met up with ShortList for a frolic in some fields scattered with flowers to tell us about dancing, tour busses and Red Leicester cheese. But for now take a look at some of the exclusive photos we couldn’t squeeze in the magazine this week.

 


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