In a style that’s not common fare for American radio these days, Kasabian’s exciting new direction of danceable beats, chunky basslines and swirling guitar frames loops, orchestrations, and world beats are presented on their self-titled RCA debut in unforgettable, original ways.
Facts are facts, baby: Kasabian rules. The last time the English rock group were in the US, they entered the Billboard Top 100 with their self-titled debut album, delivered one of the most-talked-about performances at this year's SXSW, brought down the house at Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late, Late Show , Late Night with David Letterman, and announced that they're heading out on the road with Oasis this Fall. Kasabian also blew everyone away at this year's Coachella Festival. Nighttimes.com pulled aside Kasabian’s sexy singer/guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Sergio Pizzorno and bassist Chris Edwards to check in on the action:
“Letterman was good,” says Serge enthusiastically. “Back home, we know what Letterman is. And that’s probably the only thing we do know that’s on the telly! Do you know what I mean? It’s kinda big. We are famous back home, whatever that means, but we haven’t been back home enough to feel it. We get in a lot of tabloids, like The Sun andThe Mirror, which is strange, because bands don’t usually get in the tabloids and papers.”
Formed in 1998 by school pals, Sergio Pizzorno, Tom Meighan and Chris Karloff, the band cut their chops playing locally in their hometown of Leicester, England, 100 miles north of Liverpool. “Everything we do is democratic,” says Chris Edwards. “Over time, you learn how to read each other. That’s the way you don’t get into arguments.”
Has success gone to their heads? Not if you listen to Sergio: “Coachella was insane. The tent was full. The last gig we played at home was in front of 5,000 people in Brighton.” He then contrasts it to the gig before that, with just nine people in the audience. “Tonight, [at St. Louis’ Creepy Crawl] it reminds us of starting again, which is quite nice. And I suppose we are in America. We shouldn’t expect anything other than that, it’s the first time we ever have played St. Louis as a headline band. This is where you play.”
Do the Kasabian guys ever get nervous, performing in new countries and in front of audiences who don’t necessarily know what to expect?
“No, no,” says Serge. “None of us really get nervous because [things to be nervous about are] …monsters, you know, and going to the dentist. You know, playing a gig and strutting around for a few hours is fun for us. It’s what we enjoy.”
The magic combination of Sergio’s and Tom’s voices are the perfect complement to this musical democracy; adding spice to the meat of Kasabian’s music. Serge sounds at times like George Harrison, other times as if he’s adding a Middle Eastern element (which also works with the George Harrison-vibe). Meanwhile, lead singer Tom Meighan is more of a rapper when you get down to it, but he’s got that demon-possessed, frontman fervor to keep the audience’s adrenaline high. And why shouldn’t he? The band named themselves after Charles Manson’s get-away driver.
“It’s not as if we are condoning him or anything, and we’re not really into the story,” says Chris Edwards. “Chris [Karloff] was reading a book, saw the word, and said, ‘how ‘bout this?’ We later found out it’s Armenian for ‘butcher’ as well.” The guys that that was kind of a cool coincidence, and taking a cue from the football (soccer, to us Yanks) teams they love, they had a logo made of a sinister, Middle Eastern face to wave upon a “massive flag,” says Edwards. The record label’s marketing department took it from there and now that face is on their album, the website, and all things Kasabian.
The band eliminated the usual problems of the music industry trying to control their art, says Edwards. “We took a much smaller deal to maintain control over what we do. There’s no point in doing your music if you can’t do what you want to do. It doesn’t matter about the money, they could offer you two million pounds, but if it’s like, ‘we’re gonna put you all in white suits,’ and ‘you’re gonna be a boy band,’ well, you can stick that money up your arse,” he says in his oh-so-British way that somehow makes this come off as sounding polite.
“This is the funny thing [about the accents],” says Sergio. “Because, back home, well, what is a really bad accent in America? Maybe down South?” He says that while we Americans hang on to every aristocratic annunciation and softened syllable, back home in the UK, their accents get them no respect. “We probably sound like we are from Dallas,” he jokes.
Kasabian, Condensed [an insider’s view]
We asked Sergio and Chris Edwards to sum up the personalities of themselves and those in the band. Here’s what they had to say:
SP: “We’re like The X-Men, then, right? I’ll be the geezer with the light, you know, the Indian guy... Ian, the drummer, would be [the one that] electrocutes people. Tom would definitely be the kinda Japanese, kung-fu [guy].”
Chris Edwards (bass), 24
CE: “I’m composed, but I can go a bit mad every now and then. I kind of do it in phases. For a couple of days I’ll be mad, then quiet and on my own. I tend to drink a lot, like for three days solid. I’m a Jekyll and Hyde.”
Tom Meighan (lead vocals), 24
CE: “Tom’s got a lot of passion, a lot of anger, a lot of energy. Don’t give him Skittles. Don’t give him Red Bull. That’s just going to send him wild. He’s got such a strong voice for a small guy. His lungs are unbelievable. If I did that every night, I’d just pass out.”
Chris Karloff (guitar, keyboards), 25
CE: “He’s kind of methodical. He’s got his girlfriend on tour so he keeps to himself a bit. He’s calmed down a lot.”
Ian Matthews (drums), 32
CE: “He’s our charmer. His nickname is ‘Steak,’ the ‘Steak-Charmer.’” says Edwards. “He’s got this way of talking to people. He’s 32, but bringing him into this band with a bunch of 24-year-olds has made him the same age again.”
Serge tells us an anecdote about Ian that will not soon be forgotten—by Ian, anyway: “We left our drummer in Baltimore. He went off his phone card, and the bus left. We arrived in Philadelphia before realizing, ‘where’s Ian?’ And then we got this phone call from the manager cause he didn’t have any of our numbers. It was a bit of a nightmare, and it was a laugh. It is always nice to leave a drummer, you know.”
Sergio (vocals, guitar, keyboards, songwriter), 24
CE: “Serge is on a bit of a roller-coaster. I think he’s just realizing what we’re doing and the possibilities of what we can do. He’s having a good time—a bit of a party animal. He hasn’t been like that long, but the last year he’s just been enjoying himself, letting life lead him rather than trying to lead life.”
SP: “To please a girl you just have to be a gentleman.”
Are you a gentleman, Serge?
“I am before eleven,” he replies with a smile.
Read NT's Kasabian show review.--Ed.1>