After the staggering success that was 2005’s Employment, many feared that the Kaisers would soon be facing unemployment, with decreasing popularity year on year since then. However, after several stunted attempts at attaining once again what they did when they first broke onto the scene, the band is back stronger than ever. Losing their key songwriter and enigmatic groovemaker, Nick Hodgson, prior to this release only seems to have granted the Chiefs a newfound focus and energy, with which they’ve bounced straight to the top with a new album that has been stamping its mark all over the UK charts. So, what’s the secret of the band’s prosperous rebirth this time around? JUICE speaks to the man holding down the fort for the Chiefs on his bass, Simon Rix, about music, music, music, and politics.
On the album title.
I think we work best when we’re trying to make a point, and Education. Education, Education & War would prick up a lot of people’s ears, make people listen and wonder what we were talking about and think that the album has something to say, which it does. Also it sort of is about politicians, who tell you one thing, what they think you want to hear, but they also always have other agendas.
On the tone of the album.
There’s definitely been a change [in tone], but I’m not quite sure if you can say that it was more serious. I think in our best moments, we always have a serious topic, but we have a little bit of wit, I think because we’re from the north of England. Something like ‘Everyday I Love You Less And Less’ is the most exemplary of something that’s serious, but mixed with a little tongue in cheek. With this album we tackled some bigger issues. Some politics, military, a bit of war, and some social stuff. Underneath that though, it’s still tongue in cheek. We don’t want to be too serious, don’t want to be too boring. But I still think that on this record, we wanted to say something about life. I think, on the first and second album especially, it was more about what was happening with us and in the world. On the third and fourth album maybe less so, and we were trying to get that back on this album. I think we were trying to be more of a social band. I don’t think we’re a political band though, we’re a band that’s inspired by stuff around us. Not just relationships and stuff that happens, but also about life, and the world.
On the new songs.
I think that when we thought about carrying on, we sort of realised that the most important thing for a band to do is having no gimmicks or no nothing. You’ve got to write good songs because people react to good songs. It seems obvious, but we just tried to write really good songs, that people would sing along to at shows. Some are fast, some slow, some sad, and some are happy, but we think they would really work well. These are ten songs that you really can connect to. Ten that you can love, and sing and sing.
On Nick’s departure.
The best person to ask would be him, obviously. He felt like he wanted to do something else. We were at a stage in 2011, on tour in New York, and it felt like we were doing the same things that we had done before. Up till that point we had always been moving forward, and he felt like we weren’t anymore, so he went off to do something else.
Nick was more than a fifth of the band, and the four of us knew that. One of the things that we talked about when he left was whether we were all completely committed to the Kaisers, because we knew we all had to give more, to step up and fill the whole. It’s a whole band effort now. It’s not one person leading and the rest of us following. It’s everyone doing everything in a team effort.
On finding a new drummer.
We had a tour that we booked on purpose, because in the past we always needed a goal, something to aim for. So, I remember before we started doing this again as a band, we didn’t have any songs or a name (of a replacement drummer) or anything, but we still booked a gig about six months ahead. Nick’s last gig was in September ‘12, so we booked a tour in February ‘13. We started writing songs as a four piece, but we knew we had to get a drummer eventually. It wasn’t very hard, really. There was one guy, who was Vijay, good drummer. We were also friends. It was just a matter of getting him into the room, playing with him, and seeing if it worked out. Which it did.
On his taste in music.
It changes every day really! I think one of the things that happened with the new album, and the changes in the band, is that we started listening to a lot of new music again. When we first started the band, we used to listen to loads and loads of music, and I think we stopped for a bit. But right now, I’m listening to Cloud Nothings, I think they’ve got a new album this week, and it seems good. I listen to everything that’s big and new. So that includes stuff like Rudimental and Disclosure. As well as this band which I heard in the morning, that I wanted to listen to again, but just can’t quite remember (laughs).
On working with producer Ben Allen III (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective).
It was good. It was very different to previous experiences. He was the most hands on producer I’ve ever worked with, in terms of being a member of the band. I’ve had many producers who take control of the desks and the sort of the things Ben was so involved in, like opinions on everything. He was going off and coming back with keyboards, noises that he liked, and ideas and directions for the songs. He had a really massive overview. Before we even started it seemed like he knew how he wanted to map out the songs, and the whole album. It was a really cool experience.
Simon’s favourite songs from the new record are ‘Misery Company’ and ‘Meanwhile Up in Heaven’. Education. Education, Education & War is out now.