Interview: Kaiser Chiefs at the O2 Arena
James Gilmore gets the latest gossip from the Kaiser Chiefs
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Kaiser Chiefs are one of the most successful punk rock bands of the 21st Century. Consisting of lead vocalist Ricky Wilson (who can be spotted alongside Tom Jones, Rita Ora and will.i.am on The Voice), guitarist Andrew White, bassist Simon Rix, keyboardist Nick Baines (AKA Peanut) and drummer Vijay Mistry, there music has topped the charts with all five of their LP’s reaching the Top 10 UK Album Charts.
Following the huge success of their latest effort, “Education, Education, Education and War”, the Kaisers embarked on an arena tour around the UK and our very own Arts Editor James Gilmore paid them a visit backstage before their gig at the busiest arena in the world, the O2 Arena.
JG: Your new album, “Education, Education, Education and War” was released in March last year to huge acclaim. Why did you decide to go with that name for the release?
KC: We like to think of ourselves as current and in touch with the news. The title of the album is a reference to a famous line that Tony Blair said when he emphasised the importance of education, but, he’s now best known for his controversial decision to go to war. Similarly, we think that sometimes, as artists, our messages get mixed up and there is a chance that the thing that we want to become known for won’t be our legacy.
JG: Did the name of the new album carry any reference to your first album title, called “Employment”?
KC: Oooh I see what you did there Jamesy boy! Smart, but we can’t take credit for that, no.
JG: The album was released last March but you’ve waited until now to do the tour? Any reason behind that?
KC: It wasn’t planned this way. We should have done this tour a long time ago, it’s a scheduling thing. We didn’t expect the album to do as well as it has. We certainly didn’t expert it to get to Number One. So we didn’t plan much of a tour when it was released.
JG: And then, when it did get a huge response…
KC: Well, we did a few shows and then it was into the festivals and then we found ourselves off on tour with the Foo Fighters. The fastest we could it in the shows was now. I don’t want you to think we weren’t confident about Education. We were. We always are. We have a lot of belief in what we do. But if you look at the state of the music industry, things have changed. It’s all got a bit weird and guitar bands are just not in favour at the moment. There are no guitar bands in the charts. If you look back 10 years ago when we were at our height, guitar bands were everywhere. These days, there’s hardly anyone.
JG: Did you feel any pressure when recording this album following the success you have felt over the past few years?
KC: I think you do always feel an element of pressure when you do anything, because people have expectations about you, naturally, and that will never go away. Having said that, we’re just having fun when we record music so it doesn’t lurk in our minds that much. You can’t bog your head down too much with pressure or the music will feel it.
JG: Ricky, The Voice is back on TV now. What’s it like working on that show?
KC: It’s great, it’s some of the most fun I’ve had in my career. You get to do things that you don't usually get to do when you’re touring the world or sitting at home. It’s very real when you’re in the chair, it's only a handful of people who get to press the button and swing around. I mean we all did it at home trying not to look and swearing at the coaches when they make the wrong decisions or make a different decision to you, but when you’re actually doing it yourself it's a mad experience.
JG: What’s it been like with Rita Ora on the show now? Has it sparked up an unlikely friendship?
KC: Definitely! I think it’s fantastic that she’s joined the show, she’s new and fun, and she's pretty cool. If I was like a teenage girl I’d probably want to go with Rita, she looks pretty fun and she knows what's going on in music and around town but, obviously, I am still the best judge.
JG: Your UK tour ends tomorrow night at the Leeds District Arena. You’ve been touring with the insanely unique Public Service Broadcasting…
KC: They’re definitely different but they get an amazing response. Their music is so unique, we’ve never heard anybody else like them and we just had to get them on the tour. We’re happy they’ve been with us on the journey.
JG: I stepped out into the empty O2 Arena a little bit earlier whilst Public Service Broadcasting were finishing their sound check. It’s huge, as have many of the different arenas on your tour. Do you like this environment or do you prefer more intimate performances?
KC: They each have their time and place really. I love small venues because you really get a sense of who your true, dedicated fans are and you can perform to people instead of crowds. But, at the same time, there’s nothing better than that feeling when you hear 20,000 people singing your song back to you.
JG: My last question before I leave you alone – what can people expect from your set tonight?
KC: Hopefully an amazing show from an amazing band. The Kaiser Chiefs, that is.
JG: Thanks for chatting.