The Session: Kasabian
It’s not every day you ring up a Paris hotel and ask for Thomas De Quincy. While the 19th century author of Confessions Of An English Opium Eater is long gone, one Serge Pizzorno from Kasabian who thought up the pseudonym is very much alive.
“I went on Amazon the other day and ordered it literally two days ago, so I’ve not read it yet,” he says of the book.
“It’s going to be my tour reading book. I find it tough to sleep in the bunk so I always take a book with me. I’ve got The Rum Diary (by Hunter S. Thompson) with me at the moment so I’m cracking on with that.”
Serge, 28, is an incredibly affable man whose voice sounds a little like a Leicester David Beckham. On stage his slender tall frame, coiffed barnet and red Rickenbacker 481 beam out a snarling rock ‘n’ roll cool. An image that sits oddly with the idea of him cramped in a bus bunk hunched over a book.
He’s just alighted from the Eurostar and arrived at his hotel. And while I’m imagining them hurrying on the train with a mob of baying fans hanging on their legs, he again dispels the rock ‘n’ roll image in my brain.
“With the demise of bands being on the telly no one really recognises us,” he says, “but we get the odd look from people on the train thinking ‘what are these guys doing in this carriage?’
You’ll be pleased to hear they travelled first class but spent the whole trip in the bar – yes, we’re back with my need for rock ‘n’ roll excess.
What is immediately apparent from Serge is that there is a lot of love in the band. He is the main songwriter yet not the frontman, and anyone even vaguely aware of band egos will know that limelight envy, as I shall call it, has been the cause of many a band rift.
“I’m not a frontman,” Serge says simply. “Tom’s the greatest frontman I’ve ever seen and I’m so lucky to be in a band with him. It’s not for me the frontman vibe, it’s a different breed altogether.”
“We’ve been together since we were 16 and we’ve pretty much rolled like that ever since, Tom is the greatest, that’s the way it is.”
Serge has known Tom since they were 12 and even back then he had an inkling of the greatness of his pal.
“We sat near each other at football,” Serge remembers.
“He was like a maverick and a really interesting character at school, everyone knew him, there was something really amazing about him.
“One night we were on a street corner and he sang some mad song and I was like ‘wow!’, and then when we got this band together he was the natural choice.”
Now you won’t get that sort of quote from the Gallagher brothers, or the likes of Simon and Garfunkel in the 60s. And speaking of the 60s, it’s not just the mohair coats Serge likes to wear, for it’s a veritable summer of love vibe with this band.
Despite a new album to promote and a stadium tours with Oasis, Serge effuses: “I’m doing a job where I’m making music with my best friends in the whole world, so I’m not doing it for money or success or ego, it doesn’t interest me.
“I’m continuing this journey so I can have a laugh with my pals and on the way be as free with my music as I can be, I don’t worry about sales or number ones. I want to blow people’s minds with my music.”
And for the benefit of those in a band, Serge dishes out some top advice:“My experience is having a really good demo, three songs that you think are your best tunes.
“We used to rehearse four nights a week and we were never late and in there for two hours, keeping to a strict regime of rehearsing and making sure that when you do play live, you know what you’re doing. It’s old-fashioned hard work really.”
Kasabian’s third studio album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, is out now and you can see the band in London in July.