It’s 9:01AM when my phone rings. Unfortunately it’s not every day a British rockstar is dialing my line, but then again it’s not every day Kasabian is set to come stateside to rock a sold out 9:30 Club crowd. The band, super successful across the pond, hasn’t seen American soil in over five years. And despite sickness (and the cancellation of a couple of recent tour dates), the boys from Leicester promise they’re still up to their old in-your-face antics.
What transpires for the next fifteen minutes is a thoughtful dialogue with the man behind the music of Kasabian, Sergio Pizzorno, about everything from dinosaurs to tour fatigue, side projects, being a better soccer (I mean, football…) player while wasted and of course their new album, Velociraptor! (which William waxed poetic about here – Ed.). Go check it out Velociraptor! on Spotify here.
Hey Serge! How are you? Thanks for taking the time to talk!
Very good thanks. How are you?
We’re all quite pumped that you’re coming Stateside… to play a sold out show at the 9:30 Club no less.
You know what, we played there about… five years ago? It always amazes me the places you remember and that’s one of them.
Yeah, yeah… I mean they recently won best venue in the country or something like that for the 4th or 5th time in a row.
Yeah, they absolutely know what they’re doing.
So as you just said, this is your first tour across the US in five years. What made you guys decide to focus on America this time around?
Well, we got a bit screwed over by our record company.. It’s sort of in the grand tradition of being in rock and roll music, the record label screws you over. It’s the label… the whole routine And it kinda, like, out of our hands.
Well we’re happy to have you back and congrats on the NME Award you guys just received the other day for Best British Band. It seems like in recent years, Kasabian has been really cleaning up in the awards department. How does it feel to still be on top with your fourth album out?
Yeah, it’s great… it sort of feels… you know you get lost in the record and you get on tour… it’s just nice, it’s really nice.
About the fourth album, Velociraptor! it seems more direct, and in my opinion, cinematic than previous efforts. Was that a conscious decision? What was the atmosphere and inspiration for the album?
Yeah, I mean.. Cinema is a big influence always on what I start with. I’ve always seen albums as a sort of journey, you know? I’ve always bought into records where the whole thing is a body of work with headphones on. I really like the kind of album that can transport you to another realm.
Yeah, it’s certainly more melodic and direct than others. Was it a conscious decision? It’s just the mood that came out of the time. I work on instinct, so whatever it is that I’m feeling at that time that’s what goes. And then the next record… will be about whatever, but it’ll be an album as a whole.
Speaking of that inspiration, you guys have been a band for over ten years. How do you keep both tour life and the creativity process of recording fresh?
I think you’ve got to have a very open mind and never stop searching or looking for new ideas. I’m quite reactive, if I see something that interests me I need to know about it. I mean if I see something I like, when I wake up in the morning or hear a tune.. that’ll have the ability to completely change everything I thought prior. It’s kind of weird.
On tour, I suppose you’ve got to be built for it. You’ve got to have a real mindset to live like a gypsy. I think, you’ve just got to remember why you’re doing this in the first place. Music is full of ideas and you’ve just got to keep that energy going to convey those ideas.
Circling back, tell me more about the new album. How did it get it’s name, Velociraptor!? And the exclamation point, was that a conscious decision?
Yeah, the velociraptor thing… Tom was sort of knocking around the idea of another band called velociraptor and we always thought that was really funny. But what’s incredible about the world… dinosaurs were here first and —- we couldn’t really coexist. It’s quite incredible. And when you research the velociraptor, you find out that they hunted in packs. They were sort of like a little band and they survived only like that. The exclamation mark, well it just screams it you know?
Yeah, and on the track Velociraptor!, it certainly screams! You could certainly say Kasabian is like a pack of velociraptors taking over the music world.
Yeah! Exactly! As soon as you look deep into that, we just knew.. we knew we had to call the album that.
Stepping away from Kasabian for a minute, is it okay if we talk about your side projects for a minute? Being across the pond, it’s a bit hard to get some information on some of the other things you’re working on.
Yeah, of course.
Tell me how you and Noel Fielding (of The Mighty Boosh) met. He was in the video for Vlad the Impalor and now you’ve written all the music for his new show, Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. Was the video how you began this creative relationship together and subsequently let flourish?
Noel and I met when Kasabian played the Isle of Wight festival. And when we met, we felt like we had known each other for years. You know every now and again, you just meet someone like that. Shit, you know from there we came to a mutual respect. And he’s a fan of the band… and once you meet him, well once we knew him we knew he had to do the video. He was the only one. So now with Noel’s show, it’s been really good for me because it’s totally free. It’s comedy so I can kind of just do whatever I like. We just put out a little record… we call ourselves The Loose Tapestries. But it’s more like a little soundtrack for the show than a proper album. It’s really cool.
I believe that album just came out last week in England… unfortunately it isn’t out in the States yet. Neither is the show, which is a travesty. Hopefully soon. Are their any significant details about this tour I keep hearing about? For The Loose Tapestries?
Oh [laughs] I mean… maybe… not now though. I mean one day, maybe way down the line. It’ll be interesting to see how all of that grows first.
It would have to be the right moment, so to speak.
Exactly! Yeah, it has to be organic.
Now that you’ve been collaborating with others… is there anyone out there you’d love to work with in the future? Not necessarily with Kasabian.
[Unfortunately the recording didn’t pick up Serge’s first answer] Jack White as well. I’ve never met Jack White, but I really really respect what he does. How he reaches his fans and the way he rolls. It’s all very interesting. Yeah, Jack White.
I think we’re almost out of time, so just a couple of questions left. I think anyone who’s a fan of Kasabian has heard about or even seen that incredible Soccer AM goal. Do you find time to play on tour? I’m sure you get asked about this all the time, but it was… legitimately incredible. I mean D.C.’s got a decent football team. I’m sure they’d be willing to kick a ball around with you….
You know what? That was so long ago, years and years… but I was very drunk when I did that. Very, very drunk.
Really? Wow. That’s some aim, or maybe… luck.
Ha, yeah. When we’re in America… when we’re away from home, you find a bit more time to do those sorts of things on tour.
So give me the inside tip on who you’re listening to right now. What bands are on your radar from your home?
Yeah, go for it.
Okay… um, let me think… well, there’s a band called Toys that are really good. They’re from Brighton. I mean, I really like this band called Death Grip but I don’t know if they count. They’re not English. But they’re really heavy, dark music. They’re really incredible.
Sweet. We’ll definitely check them out. So my last question, I gotta ask…. The last time you guys were in D.C., and even with your smaller shows at venues like DC9… you’re known for live shows that pack a lot of energy, a lot of punch. Now that you guys are a little older, and some of you have families [Serge laughs] are we going to see that same kind of vibrancy on stage? I know as a band, you’ve made some noted decisions to grow up, so I’m just curious if the performance is still going to be there.
Yeah, if anything — and I’m not just saying this, we’re tougher and rawer because of what we’ve been through and what we’ve seen. Yeah, I genuinely think you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised. What’s exciting about being away for awhile, the anticipation is…. it’s sort of amazing. Sometimes it’s great to just shut the fuck up for a bit and not worry about all that shit. The fire is still there more than ever.
Awesome. I can’t wait to see the show. D.C.’s pumped to have you. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me.
Thank you.. and take care.