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Indie-Rock(et) Scientists: Kaiser Chiefs

2008-03-20 15:50
The British music tabloids are infamously fickle…how do you handle Liam Gallagher labeling Kaiser Chiefs "a bad Blur." Or Damon saying that your last CD, Yours Truly, Angry Mob is a knock off Blur's The Great Escape?
We don't, not really. If you’re a new band coming out, then you always kind of look at these people as your peers and it kind of bothers you. But we’re kind of established and we’ve got our own fans who like us. We kind of know where we are, so it doesn’t really bother us to be honest. And half the time they don’t really say that kind of thing anyway. It’s tabloid stuff that’s made up to make a story out of nothing really… I mean we’ve met Liam and Damon multiple times and they’ve both been nothing but complimentary to us. So it’s just something we brush off really. When you kind of get to a certain stage you expect people to try to knock you, do you know what I mean? It’s kind of the British way really.

Indeed. British 'indie' rock musos are often stereotyped as illiterate lager louts, making music for football hooligans, it might be cool to explode that myth…so, what’s the best movie you’ve seen this year and why?
The best movie I’ve seen this year? To be honest I don’t think I’ve seen any movies this year. Oh sorry, just yesterday I watched a film and it was about air guitar – it was a documentary on the world air guitar championships. It was quite touching really. It was quite a nice film.

Magic. How about the best book?
Did you say the best book? Uh…I don’t read. To be honest I’m not really going to explode this myth. I think I’m one of these lager louts! (laughs). There’s nothing out there that really inclines me to pick up a book and read at the moment. I prefer to write stuff, listen to stuff, that kind of thing.

Right, how about the best album?
It’s pretty early on this year, so let’s do last year, um…probably a band from America called Midlake. They’re kind of an alternative band. Their album The Trials of Van Occupanther is just a beautiful record. It’s very kind of West Coast, Beach Boys-y, Fleetwood Mac kind of thing. I recommend anyone who loves music buy that album ‘cos it’s really amazing. I listened to it solid for about 3 or 4 months.
Thanks for the tip, what else inspired the new CD?
The thing that inspires Kaiser Chiefs the most is the fact that we want to be different. We always want to change – especially now – we want to do something that people aren’t expecting, either musically or visually. The second album was very much a kind of classic album for us. It sounded classic. It was recorded in a big country house, the classic rock way of doing an album. The first album feels obviously sort of quite juvenile, young and exciting. This time we just want to keep ourselves interested. We just want to do something different because we’re in a privileged position really, we don’t want to just keep churning out the same kind of stuff. We want to be inspired ourselves ‘cos, you know that’s what it’s all about I think.

Sounds like you’re in a similar space to the White Stripes or the Queens of the Stone Age – bands who are desperately trying to take rock somewhere new?
Um, we’re not trying to take anything anywhere. To be honest we don’t feel as though we’re spokespeople – ya know, we don’t feel as though we’re pioneering – we just want our own little corner. And we want to make really good, interesting kind of rock/pop songs. We don’t wanna be tabloid fodder, we don’t wanna be super indie. We want to be a bit of everything. We want to have songs that when people come to our gigs or buy our records they feel an emotion. Do you know what I mean? For the past couple of albums that emotion has been happiness, or enjoyment, excitement. But now it’s kind of – I dunno – we don’t feel part of any movement. What the Queens of the Stone Age do is – and the White Stripes – we don’t feel as though we’re at that level, really.

Emotion, eh? Has there been any pressure – from your label, or yourselves – to tailor the sound of the new album – to making it big in America?
No, definitely not. I mean, I think that’s the last thing we do. We don’t think of any specific place. We definitely don’t tailor our music towards anyone. We just tailor our music towards ourselves - do ya know what I mean? America’s not like a big priority to us. The last two records were really successful in America. But we think there’s more – for example, South Africa, Australia, we’ve been to Japan, South America. The rest of Europe. There’s a lot more out there than America. We just want everyone to get into us.

That’s good news for South Africa. Do you have any expectations of our country and its rock audience?
It’s all of our first time including management and crew…so I’ve absolutely got no idea. We’ve honestly got no idea. We know we’re playing two festival sites – CT and Johannesburg. We don’t know what to expect. We know it’s the South of Africa (laughs), we know that! We hope people get into us and have a good time. We just hope that they kind of get us over there. It’s quite good we’re coming over because obviously we stole our name from South Africa so it’ll be quite good to see what people think of us. I mean I don’t know if people expect the football team to be playing - to do some kick offs on stage or something - or if they actually know the band is playing?

Anything special prepared – perhaps a football anthem for the Amakhosi fans?
Amakhosi? Okay. Well, we’ll definitely do something special. But hopefully just the fact that we’re there – it is quite a bit of effort for all the bands to get there – we’re not coming for money. We’re coming just because we want to. So we hope people feed off that and we capture that in the gig really.

Are you a fan of Muse, Korn and Chris Cornell?
Yeah, we see a lot of the bands play the summer festival circuit. So yeah, we look forward to seeing them – and blowing them off stage hopefully!

- Miles Keylock

Are all British indie rockers really 'lager louts'? With Kaiser Chiefs in SA to play My Coke Fest, we figured we'd find out. We started by asking guitarist Andrew 'Whitey' White whether he'd read any good books lately. Relax! There's a bunch of other cool stuff about being in a rock band too.

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