This article is from 2006.
It might not be too clever, reckons Henry Northmore, but Kasabian’s amalgam of chemical beats and brutish rock is a force to be reckoned with.
‘The only pressure we felt was the pressure we put on ourselves by telling everyone in the studio we were going to make the next Dark Side of the Moon,’ laughs guitarist Serge Pizzorno on Kasabian’s forthcoming second album, Empire. It’s a grand statement and certainly there’s a fair amount of tongue in cheek but it’s these bold proclamations of true greatness that have helped Kasabian work their way into the public’s heart. Kasabian rock, no matter what some po-faced critics may have you believe. Once you have bathed in the light of their unreconstructed live shows you will become a believer. Sampling the lad rock of Oasis and mashing it together with the lysergic big beats of The Chemical Brothers, the swirling organs of The Stone Roses and the crunch of XTRMNTR-era Primal Scream, they have created a swaggering amalgam of dance beats and indie rock.
There’s nothing clever about Kasabian, just an astonishing self-belief and instantly infectious anthems. They’ve struck a chord with the people, and you can see why; it’s their heavy hooks, deep, throbbing grooves and echoes of Britpop and Madchester. No wonder it was the fastest selling gig at this year’s T on the Fringe.
Named after the getaway driver for the Manson Family, their eponymous 2004 debut was bristling with anthems like ‘Club Foot’, ‘Processed Beats’, ‘Reason is Treason’ and ‘LSF’. And Empire is back to business as usual for the Leicester outfit.
‘It’s a fucking good record and we’re all very proud of it,’ says Pizzorno. ‘I think it sounds like Kasabian; it’s got roots in places but it’s got our tint on it now. In the same way The Stones came from blues and made Rolling Stones music; I think we’ve taken from many different types of music and made it sound like our own.
‘’Empire’ is definitely this album’s ‘Club Foot’. I think ‘Shoot the Runner’ is the new ‘Processed (Beats)’.’
And he’s right: both are hard, direct stompers. It’s a more considered album, kicking off strongly, frenetically, with ‘Apnoea’ as a ferocious centrepiece before going on a more psychedelic trip while never losing its rock edge. It’s the heartfelt slow burner ‘British Legion’, however, that may help secure their place as quality songwriters. Unusually it is Pizzorno who takes on the lead vocals rather than frontman Tom Meighan.
‘It was never meant to go on the album, but I played it to Tom and he said “let’s record that, it’s fucking great.” The first bit is about your Mrs and the next bit is about your best mates; it was the first time we’d written about the simple things that get you through life.’
It’s been a crazy couple of years on the Kasabian roadshow. They slayed T in the Park not once but twice, toured the US with Oasis and they’re set to support the Rolling Stones in Europe later this summer. Their success must in part, be attributed to their sheer brass balls.
‘We’re just a gang of outlaws man, pirates. In our first ever interview Tom said we’re going to be the biggest band in Britain. Obviously he’s taking the piss slightly, but we could do this for the next 50 years, I mean we could if we want to; we deserve to.’
Their music has undoubtedly tapped a nerve. ‘The songs are definitely structured in a way that dance music is, the drops and style of beat,’ says Pizzorno. ‘For a while rock lost its dance origins. Going back to Zeppelin, Bonham was a proper jazz drummer, so was Mitch Mitchell with Jimi Hendrix; they have this back beat and flow. DJ Shadow is a massive, massive influence and I’d say Syd Barret and Bowie and how they can write pop tunes with a psychedelic edge that can take you to another world.’
In recent weeks they’ve been hitting the headlines in the music press for other reasons, as founding member, guitarist/keyboardist Chris Karloff left the band. ‘We just walked along different paths and before making the record we were too far away from each other,’ adds Pizzorno philosophically.
And it is Pizzorno that sums up the rock’n’roll circus that is the Kasabian live experience so succinctly. ‘Just a cracking night man, bring all you’re weapons to the table whatever they may be, and just fucking have it with us. Scotland seems like our spiritual home; everyone just fucking gets it man. Without wanting to sound like a hippy twat, it’s a kinda spiritual thing.’
T on the Fringe, Corn Exchange, 477 3500, 14 Aug, 7.30pm, SOLD OUT.