Kasabian: Building Their Lunatic Empire [****]

“In 20, 30 years’ time, no one’s going to give a f**k about mediocre bulls**t radio bands – they’re going to look to us in the same way we look to the boys, back in the day,” says Serge Pizzorno, the confident, cocksure guitarist with Kasabian. It is an astonishing claim for anyone to make – much less a band who have never had a number one single. None the less, the Leicestershire rockers remain undeterred in their belief that history will find them a place among the rock greats and are convinced that their forthcoming album – the spectacularly titled ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ – can catapult them to the stadium rock status their previous LP ‘Empire’ set them on their way towards three years ago.

Emerging in 2004, the ‘Club Foot’ stars pledged to join “the guardians of rock ‘n’ roll… the Stones, Zeppelin, the Pistols, Oasis, we’re next in line” and have yet to see their self-belief waiver.

Singer Tom Meighan’s appraisal of their career thus far is pretty simple – they’re great. “Our first album, it’s f***in’ massive, mate. A couple of months ago I had some people over and I put in on full blast,” he said recently. “Then I put the second one on. That’s a f***in’ unbelievable record, too.”

In 20, 30 years’ time, no one’s going to give a f**k about mediocre bulls**t radio bands – they’re going to look to us in the same way we look to the boys, back in the day,

The group are set to play alongside their friends and fellow rock giants Oasis at the latter’s series of stadium shows this summer and Kasabian are confident that they are up for the challenge. “We’re doing loads of stadium shows with Oasis – 900,000 people, you can’t argue with that. They’re Oasis’ gigs but Noel Gallagher will expect us to try; that would have been why he called us up.”

” It’s like Mick Jagger recruiting The Who or the Small Faces,” boasts Serge. “Musically, we’re nothing like Oasis,” he adds “and even Noel would admit that. What we share is the same set of values. There’s a realism to what Oasis do and it’s the same with us. Liam is a loopy frontman, but he’s also amazing. Tom is the same. I think he’s the greatest frontman of his generation. He is Bowie, Jagger and Freddie Mercury rolled into one. With us, it’s about the euphoria of playing live. When Oasis do a gig, they win over the crowd with their big anthems. We do it by taking our fans on a journey. It’s more about creating and building a mood, the way you might do with great dance music.”

Despite their confidence, the band are not about to get complacent and say they thrive on performing live, regardless of the size of the crowd – and they are still astonished at the response they receive.

Serge said: “I created this stuff in a bedroom in Leicester and now it’s all over the world, and it keeps going. I wrote the new album in my house, in a little room. We’ve got a studio in Leicestershire as well where we did some of the recordings. We finished it all in San Francisco and that was the perfect way to finish it really. People everywhere know the old tunes and are starting to know these. What really excites me is that it’s not your average music. I believe it’s really quite special, and for other people to dig that, it blows my mind.”

The group may come across as being filled with self-belief but they do have moments where they let their guard slip and admit to having some reservations about their new album and its “psychedelic fancy dress” cover art. Despite their bravado, the band still fret that their concept album about “this f***ing mental institution with different characters in it for different songs” could ultimately bring about their undoing. There’s a lot of times when I look at the album cover and think, ‘Fucking hell, this is going to bomb.’ If people don’t get it, it’s going to be like …” sighs Serge. “Still, it’s going to be a beautiful explosion.”

None the less, despite their risky ideas, the band – also comprising of bassist Chris Edwards, drummer Ash Hannis and keyboardist/guitarist Chris Karloff – are proud of their work. “I’ve bored my next door neighbour half to death, and my lady. If people like it half as much as I do, then I’ve won, because I f***ing love it!” says Tom.

tackle the explosion of violent crime in society, while ‘Swarfiga’ – which seems to takes its name from a heavy duty British-made hand scrub – clearly references ‘XTRMNTR’ period Primal Scream.

‘West Ryder Silver Bullet’ features Hollywood sex symbol Rosario Dawson on vocals reaffirming the group’s superstar status, however, it is current single ‘Fire’ which is the album’s stand-out track. Different time signatures, two sets of lyrics for the chorus, a hypnotic bassline, the song builds to an infectious groove-heavy climax. As Serge sings “You’ve got to get it to the level and get your shake on,” you can imagine thousands of fans getting their groove on to Kasabian at countless concerts and festivals this summer.

Anyone prepared to dismiss Kasabian as ‘Lad Rock’ tag will be eating their words. And the boys themselves agree, insisting they are bringing experimental rock back to the masses.

Serge says: “I think people are excited that we’re trying to do things differently. We’re not your average band. We’re like nothing else out there and we’ve continued down that road. We’ve not stopped. We’ve pushed ourselves and tried to change things. It’s been really good. I just like the whole album, the whole sound of it all. I think it’s a modern day, 21st Century rock ‘n’ roll record, and I don’t think there’s been one like it in the past decade. It’s a different sound.”

Typically, the group can’t help but reference themselves among music legends when talking about their own work, with Tom noting of their new album, “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.”

Despite their bravado, two million plus record sales, sold-out concerts, headlining festival appearances and their position – in their own heads for the time being – as one of the world’s biggest rock bands, it seems the boys from Leicester have still not grasped just how massive they actually are until recently. “It’s weird, man,” recalls Tom. “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 … About time though.”

The early reviews and fan responses to the new material suggest Kasabian are one of the few bands who can live up to their own hype and take their places in the annals of rock history once their psychedelic experiment finally hits the shelves – but first they want to win over a new set of fans, thanks to Bruce Springsteen.

Unlike many acts who would be terrified at the prospect of sharing a stage with the ‘Born In The USA’ icon, Kasabian are relishing the opportunity.

“We’ve got a new audience to hit there. I don’t want to sound silly, but it is going to be a spiritual moment. The energy in the place is going to be electrifying. It gives us an unbelievable opportunity. We weren’t going to do any outdoor festivals this year, but playing Glastonbury with Springsteen is something different and we’re going to revel in it,” said Tom.

Bold words, but the band are convinced they have exactly what it takes to compete with Bruce – known as ‘The Boss’. Tom explains: “I think the album shows how beautiful we are as a band. How beautiful we’ve become. It was an ugly duckling, but now it’s grown up. It’s kind of flowered. We’re a proper rock band. Too many groups just churn out pop hits to make money. Not this lot. We’re one of the last groups on the planet with real enthusiasm.”

Coming from anyone else, Kasabian’s bold proclamations and belief in their own ability would come across as deluded arrogance, yet with ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ proving they can walk the walk as well as they talk the talk, it looks like their extravagant plans could well come true sooner, rather than later.



One Response to “Kasabian: Building Their Lunatic Empire [****]”

  1. observant Says:

    oh dear oh dear oh dear. such lazy journalism. As much as I want Chris Karloff back in the band, he ain’t in it no more, no matter what this article says.

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