"This album is going to reignite rock n’roll" – Kasabian
They’ve sold over two million albums in the UK alone, headlined just about every festival you can think of (they’ll add Glastonbury to that list in a couple of weeks) and sold out arenas all over the world, and now Kasabian are back with a new album named 48:13.
We chatted to mainman Serge Pizzorno about making the album, their big summer plans and why this is the band’s definitive album.
The record’s out next week, any nerves at all?
“I always think if I’ve got a record to the point where I’m ready to give it away then I just relinquish all nerves. If that’s the case then I can’t be nervous, people will get it or they won’t. I’d be nervous if I wasn’t happy with it, but at this stage in my career, I wouldn’t put it out.”
How long did this album take to make?
“From start to finish about a year. It was in blocks of time, there were gigs, it was a month here and a month there. I like to work from home, I’ve got a studio there, I like being there, I like putting it together in that environment.”
Did you have lots of material to choose from?
“There was a lot this time, I had a really clear vision on what I wanted the record to be, there were great tunes, but they didn’t make it. I’ve got lots in the bag to go back to.”
When did the other guys from the band get involved?
“I’m a producer as much as I am a songwriter. I produce as I go along. I create a canvas, a big canvas, and then the boys come along and throw their little bits of paints on.”
You produced this one on your own for the first time, why did you decide to do that?
“I learned a lot from working with other people, but I was ready to do this a long time ago. It’s always nice to have someone to bounce off, but I worked quite closely with Tim Carter (engineer and Kasabian’s live guitarist), who engineered the record, so he was there for me to bounce off, he was an incredible partner to have. I know the Kasabian sound, I’ve been working on it for a long time.”
What did you want from this album?
“I wanted it to be futuristic rock and roll. I wanted an ultimate direct powerful record. This album is going to reignite rock and roll again. I want this to be the spark that inspires people to start bands.”
Velociraptor! was a punchy album too, but this is more stripped back…
“I think I’ve distilled Kasabian perfectly, I think this is as good as Kasabian can be. This is our sound. Electronics have always been in our sound, but now they’re leading the charge.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“It’s very honest, very direct. Simple things, like ‘Bumblebee’, which is a song for the fans. ‘SPS’, could be for your missus or your best friend, it’s a celebration of a good night together, ‘Doomsday’, dancing on graves, ‘Bow’ is about a friend splitting up from his girlfriend and you telling him it’s going to be alright. Simple things.”
You’ve experimented with concepts in the past, are you ever tempted to go back there?
“This is a different period. When you look back at the legacy of the band, you can find different chapters, everyone has their favourites. You don’t want to make the same record over and over, many bands do and they don’t survive.”
When did you settle on the title?
“Very early on. This album is the sum of all its parts, the tracks adds up to this number. It’s not clever or cool, it’s just what the album is.”
The cover is very stark…
“Pink, very pink. We wanted to own a colour and we wanted everything to be pink. The conception of this band is very masculine and very laddy, it’s the opposite of that.”
You’ve railed against the title of ‘lad rock’ in the past, is this another part of that?
“What is ‘Lad Rock?’ You tell me. I don’t know what it means, I never have. If it’s music for lads, then yeah we are. But it’s music for everyone.”
With a title like 48:13, it makes it clear that you see this as one body of work, the album is still the most important thing for you, when the emphasis with the public has really shifted individual tracks…
“It’s always been that way with me. I know it’s an old-fashioned concept, but I think in terms of albums. I put everything in every song, not just a couple of good singles. An album is who you are.”
You’ve got some big shows coming up, you’re headlining Glastonbury, was your new record written with big crowds in mind?
“I think so. We’re a big band and we play massive shows and as much as I’d like to make a four-song album that’s all instrumental and avant garde, that doesn’t go down well in front of 100,000 people. Our band brings people together, we get people singing in unison, we need to make albums with that in mind, we can add bits of experimentation, bits of hip-hop and electronica, but still unifying.”
When can we expect a full UK tour?
“Before the end of the year, we’ll be here before then.”
Do you have a big stage show planned?
“We don’t need tricks or fireworks or trapeze artists. The tunes are big enough to carry the show on its own. It’s all going to be pretty spectacular though, we know how to put on a show.”
This is your first tour without guitarist Jay Mehler, who’d been with you since 2006, has that changed anything?
“Tim’s been incredible, he’s a brilliant guitar player, and Jay’s having a brilliant time with Beady Eye, it’s all worked out for the best.”
What would make this album a success for you? Would it be sales or something else?
“I think for me it’d be inspiring the next generation of rock bands, success for me would be in 10 years’ time someone coming out and this album made me want to be in a band.”
What did that for you?
“DJ Shadow – Entroducing. That changed everything for me. When I first heard that, the loops, the production, I’d never heard music like that, it was everything I wanted music to be.”
Have you heard any new records recently that you’ve loved?
“The Money Store by Death Grips and Malachai’s new album, they’re both great.”
Were there any albums that inspired you during the making of the record?
“Madlib, the production of that album inspired me so much, I’ve got obsessed with loops, I love the way he brings things together. I’ve been trying to incorporate loops into the music since we started, loops are what I love best, loops and drops.”
Must be interesting incorporating guitars into that…
“It is. It’s very much like a canvas, you chip away and chip away, it can take months. It’s not traditional in any sense. I remember writing ‘Processed Beats’ and thinking ‘Fuck, that sounds like Cypress Hill’, it’s got this weird rock groove. It’s got the weird vibe.”
Finally, if you were starting out in a band now, how do you think you’d go about it? Would you do things differently?
“I wouldn’t know where to start now. You’d have to be online. You have to learn how to write tunes, that’s the main thing, it doesn’t matter how big you are or how big you think you are, you have to be able to write tunes. That’ll never change.”
Kasabian’s new album 48:13 is out now and can be previewed by clicking on the icon on the right-hand side of the page.