Kasabian interview from 2004

In 1994 I interviewed a very new band called Kasabian. Their ambition has since been proven and they have made some of the best modern British rock n roll records with an ambition and swagger that can be all too rare. After Oasis split they have become the biggest band in the UK and are about to release their forth album…

With a Manc swagger and a Mancunian confidence not seen since the heyday of the Gallaghers or the Stone Roses Kasabian could easily be the latest export from the rainy city. Infact they come from Leicester; Britain’s tenth biggest city is not noted for its musical heritage – Engelbert Humperdinck and Showadywady and a smattering of grebo bands are its sum total in fifty years of rock n roll – till now.

Named after the getaway driver from the Manson murders, Kasabian are very much the product of growing up with music mad parents – a diet of the Beatles and The Stones leading onto classic band as gang British pop. Think back to the euphoric rush of the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays, think back to prime time Oasis, the gonzoid chemical dark rush of Primal Scream– its that street swagger and very British street rock n roll, music for the people by the people kinda thing. A tradition of bands that remain classic bands long, long after the media moves on zoning in on the next craze.

Kasabian are in this mould. They talk the walk like the Gallaghers, they are big chums with the ever hip to beat ex Roses bass hero Mani, they have the Primals electronic scuzz mixed in with their Oasis attitude and big chorus attitude, they may come from Leicester but they feel like a late eighties Manchester crew updated into the ultrasonic new millennium and they rock.

”ËœEveryone thinks that we are from Manchester and thats not a big problem, but we are proud of our roots – we support Leicester City and like coming from there. Its bang in the middle of the country its the north and the south mixed together.’ explains frontman Tom Meighan.

How come the band seems to have taken off so quickly?

”ËœI think its down to attitude. Its the way that we are honest and if people don’t like it we don’t care.’ laughs Tom who oozes the kind of confidence that makes this kind of schtick work effortlessly. ”ËœWe are not a London trendy band. We are real.’ he spits.

The band who formed four years ago, rented a farmhouse near Leicester and attempted to write anthems like their heroes Oasis, and then on getting blown away by Primal Screams astonishing electro rock n roll they bunged a computer into the mix- giving their sound a neo Krautrock flavour, they also took note of Primal Scream bassman Mani’s driving bass attack and got into Joy Division’s bass driven assault. Mixed together they make the kind of pop that sits in the top ten and looks really really out of place, its dark moody stuff but also uplifting and oozing that uplifting rabble rousing soul power that makes all this corner of British rock n roll so damn great.

”ËœPeople need a band like ours. They are getting bored of the latest shitty band getting hyped up from London’ sneers Tom adding ”Ëœoverall on the scene I think there are some good bands, but if you look at it all collectively music is pretty b**locks. I think it’s just a general lack of direction, people just want to get by from day to day, as opposed to making a f**king impact, ”Ëœ those Hoxton bands have got no use atall. There is no point in their existence. I’ve seen it all before. We need bands from the streets. Kids from the street. Oasis did the job ten years ago and now its us. Oasis were a brilliant group and they still have it. Big time.”

For Kasabian the unnecessary media destruction of Oasis is a non starter. They prefer to celebrate the band that has inspired them so much. The love affair between the two bands has been reciprocated by the Gallaghers, Liam has been bigging up Kasabian since he saw them play Alan McGee’s pocket sized Death Disco club in London last year and Noel has been dropping their name all over the place. Its the baton of classic Brit rock n roll been passed on again.

”ËœWhen we met Liam he was a lovely guy – not like the hooligan they always make him out to be but you could tell he would be trouble if he was pushed! When Noel was on the radio the other night saying how good we were, we looked at each other and shiver went down our spines. We grew up with Oasis. Can you imagine how good that felt.’

Kasabian, though, don’t sound like Oasis. Their debut album is made up of much edgier stuff. Its a darker take on the form and one that has seen them quickly grab a big disaffected audience in the UK their tent at the Reading festival and the album is currently in the top five. Their single mugged the top ten and a 8000 capacity show in Japan last month saw 3000 people locked outside.

The Japanese have always gone for this kind of stuff haven’t they?

”ËœMaybe they like a bit of rough!.’ laughs Tom, ”ËœIt was a wild gig. They went for us big style.’

Kasabian, like Oasis and The Roses before them are proof that the biggest bands come from the outside defying music biz expectations and avoiding media led trends. afterall in the middle of the so called garage rock era you would hardly expect a swaggering street band to run amok in the big time.
”ËœWe like being the underdogs. We don’t come from a particularly fashionable place and we have got this far without too much hype. We are not part of any Camden clique. Its between us and our fans. We love playing live, in Glasgow the other night the crowd was singing along to all the songs- we felt that we had really arrived. That felt really good. Thats what we are about.’

Kasabian are on the fast track to the big time. They are the real deal and the perfectly articulate that football/beer/rock n roll corner of British pop culture- that they also mange to do this with a dark artistic streak and some really ballsy fucked up computer twisted soundscapes makes it even better.

Looks like the Gallaghers have got some company.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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