“I also love the idea of sitting in a room with all your enemies heads on spikes.” – Serge Pizzorno
Kasabian are the latest addition to the long line of swaggering Brit rockers pioneered by Mick Jagger. The band is a stylish ensemble of Sergio Pizzorno (vocals), Tom Meighan (guitars), Chris Edwards (bass) and Ian Matthews (drums). Chums with the Gallagher bros, they have been compared to The Stones Roses and Oasis in terms of rockstar attitude.
Formed in late 1999, the band took their name from Linda Kasabian – the infamous pregnant getaway driver of the Sharon Tate murder and member of the Manson family. Dark and gritty, Kasabian was hailed by the British press as the new Primal Scream due their electronica-indie rock fusion. However the band has denied the comparison and instead labeled it lazy journalism.
Their self-titled debut album came out in 2004 but it wasn’t until they released their 3rd single ‘Club Foot’ that Kasabian finally hit the big time, scoring a spot at the Glasto 2005. Proving that they were more than just narcissistic rockers, ‘Club Foot’ was dedicated to Czech student Jan Palach who burned himself alive in 1969 in political protest against the Soviet-invasion of his country.
Kasabian followed up their debut success with Empire, an album which had strong undercurrentsÂ of war horrors and the problems waging it. The band was promptly rewarded with the Best Live Act award at the 2007 NME Awards. Guitarist Tom said modestly after accepting the award that “This is the first award we’ve ever won, so about f*cking time! Thank you NME!” Watch out, Kanye.
After 4 years on the road, playing “everywhere from baseball stadiums in Japan to supermarkets in Mexico”, the bandÂ had begun to feelÂ “like vampires, feeding off the road,” said Tom. The insanity of touring and constantly trying to top themselves culminated with the recording of their 3rd and latest album, the conceptual West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. Recorded at home and in the band’s own studio in a disused shoe factory – stocked with “mad amps, guitars with three necks and ancient synths”- the band set about getting the symphonies to their soundtrack-ish album down on tape.
At the 11th hour, vocalist Serge decided to ask Dan the Automator aka hip hop legend Dan Nakamura if he could beef up the album. “For me, DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing was a massive record, so I knew I could trust his opinion,” said Serge. And rempit it up did the Dan do. The finished product is now in the running for album of the year at the Mercury Prize.
Perhaps Kasabian’s story can be summed up best in ‘Underdog’, the opening trackÂ on West Ryder. As you listen to the rest of the album, you’d find a mix of styles all bound together with Kasabian’s own brand of electronic darkness. ‘West Ryder Silver Bullet’, a duet between Tom and Sin City /Clerks II / Grindhouse actress Rosario Dawson exemplifies this mix with it’s laidback spaceyness, while ‘Vlad The Impaler’ is a turbo-rock anthem.
“Vlad is a total chaos tune,” enthuses Serge. “It’s a call out to all our people, the ones who are tuned into our radio station. I also love the idea of sitting in a room with all your enemies’ heads on spikes.”
Catch Kasabian at the 2009 MTVÂ World StagesÂ “Live in Malaysia” on 15 August 2009 at Sunway Lagoon Resort.