More about: Kaiser Chiefs
The Kaiser Chiefs are a household name, they’re as British as tea, anxiety and the BRIT Awards themselves, of which they have three hallowed Britannia trophies.
Where bands have come and gone in the previous 15 years, Kaiser Chiefs have remained steadfast in writing music, producing albums and selling out tours. They played at the Olympic Closing Ceremony in 2012, they’ve headlined three 20,000 capacity gigs at Elland Road and consistently sold out tours, year on year. 2019 sees the release of their seventh studio album, Duck, and a four-show weekend-residency at the iconic Brudenell Social Club in their home city. We chatted to bass player Simon Rix to get the low down on the band’s successful longevity, amazing live shows and Boris Johnson.
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Gigwise: Your album Duck comes out on 26 July, can you sum the album up in one sentence?
Simon Rix: A new album with Kaiser Chiefs’ DNA.
GW: Can you tell us a little bit about the writing process?
SR: The last couple of albums we’ve done there’s been a lot of jamming going on, that’s where our ideas have come from, but this time round it didn’t really work like that. This time it was more people bringing in ideas that were a bit more finished and then we finished them off. Whitey (Andrew White, Kaiser Chiefs’ guitarist) did a really amazing job of bringing in a chorus or a verse and then we’d work on it. But Ricky always does the lyrics, that’s his thing - if he doesn’t write them then he can’t remember them, so it’s beneficial to get him to write the lyrics.
GW: So that’s changed in the 15 years you guys have been working?
SR: Yeah, like I said it used to be a lot more jamming. But from all the albums, Employment to this album, Ricky has always been writing till the very last minute. Ricky writes words in the studio right up to the final moment that we’re in the studio. He’s still writing new verse till the last day that we’re recording.
GW: How did Ricky going to work on The Voice affect this?
SR: We had to speak about that a lot at the time, it was a big decision for us. We all thought of ourselves, well still do think of ourselves, as a little guitar band from Leeds. So, for your singer to go off and be on prime-time Saturday telly, that was weird. We’d get all sorts of questions about whether we’d ‘sold out’ or whatever, but at the same time, music’s also changed how you promote your album. You go on the radio stations and everything, but in our career, there’s been less and less avenues to do that. You used to be able to go on Saturday morning TV and play your new single and it was all very music-y, it felt like a great place to be. But in 2014, when he started on The Voice, it seemed like the best opportunity for the band.
GW: Can you pin point any one thing that’s given your career such longevity?
SR: Internally, we’re still friends. We’re very lucky that as five individuals we can still get along, it’s quite a stressful and close environment in a lot of ways, and I think most bands break up because someone falls out with someone or someone steals someone’s girlfriend, but we’ve managed to avoid that. But externally, the thing that everyone knows us for is being good live. Each album we’ve brought out has a couple of good songs that you can play live and everyone will sing along to in a field. I think that’s the secret to our longevity, at festivals people see our names on the bill and think ‘I’ll go and watch that because I know I’ll have a good time’.
GW: Definitely, have you got anything exciting planned for the 15-year anniversary of Employment next year?
SR: Nah, we were just talking about that the other day actually. There’s lots of people touring old albums at the minute, like Bloc Party doing Silent Alarm, but we don’t feel like we want to do that just yet. Maybe when it’s 25 years old or something. We’re still focused on doing new stuff and just enjoying writing and playing songs. We’re doing four gigs at Brudenell Social Club next week and my idea is that we’ll just do four sets that are different, and just play lots of lots of old and different songs. I’m looking forward to it, I really enjoy playing the old songs, it’s really enjoyable to bring those out. But we’re definitely not ready to tour an old album, I think it makes you feel like a bit of a historic band.
GW: Are there any songs that you are absolutely, hands down, sick of playing?
SR: Obviously, in rehearsal, playing ‘Ruby’ is boring because we can all play it, we play it at every gig. But when we play it live it’s always special. I think we’re very lucky, we’ve got to the stage now where we’ve got enough songs that we can sometimes not play some songs, not play ‘Modern Way’ or whatever, and still have lots of songs that people love.
GW: You guys are the kings of the big home coming gig, which I love, how was the Elland Road gig last year.
SR: It was great, much better than the last time and I don’t really know why, we were just really on it. We had great support acts, and everyone just seemed in the right mood for the gig. We played ‘People Know (How to Love One Another)’ first, despite the fact that no one had heard it yet, and we were just really confident that it was really good. I think, like on Employment, there are songs on the new album that even if you don’t know them, you can still get into them. So, playing a new song to 20,000 people was pretty great and everyone got into it. And it’s always going to go well at Elland Road Stadium because that’s our spiritual home.
GW: And how do you feel that a politician who once described you as ‘weeds from Leeds’ is more than likely about to become our prime minister?
SR: Kind of weird. He also said that ‘In my day, bands were causing riots, not predicting them’, so he seemed to have a bit of an axe to grind there. But I don’t agree with anything he says, so it doesn’t surprise me that I don’t agree with him there. I think it can only be positive that he thinks that.
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More about: Kaiser Chiefs