On this fine Wednesday morning, we feel very fortunate to be meeting Kasabian because these days, they are constantly in a hurry. Seen from the outside, anyway, that particular moment could look like a very nice conversation between people quietly chatting around a nice cup of tea and hot chocolate. We’re in a patio, sitting on wooden chairs, the sun is shining bright and the birds – and Tom – are singing. Kasabian have just finished recording an acoustic session, while Serge is modelling a new skeleton outfit. Now everyone has left the improvised studio, and is busy giving interviews.
The promo thing is always a complicated machine but this time it seems particularly crazy for everyone, including some extraordinary long promo sessions, prompting a comment from Tom just before he gets his coat from the PR (“thank you, my darling, ‘ta!’ “) : “Actually, we had a fucking long day yesterday.” Meaning (not necessarily in that order) a very long soundcheck, Berlin, a day of promotion, all before a concert that same evening at Le Bataclan.
First, we chat about schedules, weather and all the fine things you discuss over coffee, then of course it’s time to talk about the gig.
A special gig indeed, as it was announced as a very special showcase, in Paris, not in the UK and of course, teasing that new songs would be performed. That is not exactly the first time Kasabian have played new songs during a gig before they were released : they played several gigs including La Maroquinerie in Paris before Empire came out (see our pictures there), they also played Fast Fuse (in a different version) and Thick As Thieves in the UK long before West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum came out (some pictures from Lincoln there), and Fire a bit later as well. Speaking of France, apart from very first live performances (like the magnificent Secret Alphabet in Lyon at the Radiant), Julie & The Mothman was premiered at Le Bataclan in 2009 before the single was out. So we are lucky indeed, but this time, it is a different story as Paris will be the first for everything, for what promises to be a very special event. To say that we are as happy and proud as mothers is not far from reality. And yes, of course Tom, we’re coming tonight for the show.
Album version, live version
Tom, at that moment, is a bit upset and confused, because he is afraid people will be hearing crap recordings from the gig before they can properly hear the new songs : “The only thing that fucking maddens me, you know… we’re playing 3 new songs and people will fucking record them. That’s what angers me. I said to Serge ‘I want people’s phones confiscated’. I’m serious, you know… I mean, it’s not on, the album’s not out till June, you know, I don’t like it, it’s too early for that… They’ll fucking record them, for fucking sake, man… I know, I said to Serge, but what can you do? It’ll be on YouTube tonight, in about 5 minutes. No one has got no patience.” Maybe if they said it clearly to people? “You think people would listen? There will be one…” Tom seems very upset indeed and we try to assure him that yes, some people would listen, out of respect for the band. Maybe not everyone, but of course some people would not share everything. Tom adds : “Because you want to hear the record before you hear it live, you know what I mean? That’s the whole point, you know. It’s unbelievable.”
Tom describes the new album 48:13, track by track
About the album, apart from what we heard, we really would be grateful if Tom could describe every song of the album in a few words. “Right, so basically“, he sums up, “we wanted to call the album 48:13 because it was easy.” At that moment, Tom funnily pronounces “easy” as Londonians do, to distinguish it from eez-eh, and then switches to this particular Leicester accent that drives everyone crazy at first, before you love it. “It’s so simple, because with Velociraptor, West Ryder, we were sick to death of people asking us about the title of the album, you know, ‘why ?’, we couldn’t handle it. I wanted to call it Volume 5 and we nearly called it that, but Serge said no, so it’s the length of the album. That’s the first point, that’s done. ’cause it makes sense, doesn’t it ?”
“Right, it’s just basically a… a fucking volcano waiting to explode. Build and build in intensity… and ‘bang!’. It’s an interlude, we ain’t been doing interludes since the 1st album, which is good.” “It’s a bit like I.D.“, he adds, “do you know what I mean? This record has got a lot of references to the first album, electronic and stuff and interludes…” A bit like Kasabian old school, but not only : “it sounds like we’re a brand new band, though not like it’s our first album again, but it sounds like we have no fear anymore, do you know what I mean?”
“…is for the people who have grown with us, and how people have made us feel. ‘We’re in ecstasy’. You heard bumblebeee?” Yeah. “It’s mad, it’s wild, it’s my favourite. It’s cool, melodic, so melodic. On this album we double tracked the vocals, never done it before, so it made them warm. It sounds really thick. bumblebeee was a thank you to the fans, for everyone being with us for the 10 years , you know, like a feeling of admiration, you’ve grown with us, we’ve grown with you…”
Were you already thinking of the 10 years anniversary when you were writing it?
“Not really, no. But it seems like that, yeah.”
It was called ‘Kid’, right?
“Yeah. I think stevie sounds better, because it could be anyone. Now my friend thinks it’s about him. Well, it could be about him… That is probably one of my faves on the album. It’s fucking… you heard stevie, yeah ? That’s the biggest anthem we’ve got, probably bigger than Fire. That catches will be so big. ‘And all the kids say they will live to find another day’, it’s just intense, it’s about him. About that guy that needs help, he needs medication, you know what I mean ? Tomorrow’s another day and you will live to find a way… Kids all glued to their fucking medication… There you go, it’s pretty huh … One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest.”
(He sings the melody). “Now, when Serge showed me that… well that’s an interlude, it sounds like an old Disney’s 40s cartoon. There’s no vocals in it, it’s just a little interlude, with a scratchy guitar. I can’t describe it to you, it just sounds… it sounds great, if that makes any sense.”
“It’s a little bit like the Doors, but it is fucking so good, the lyrics, the chorus goes : ‘What you see is what you get from me / What you see is what you get’. Again, it’s a kind of dancing on the graves of people, you know what I’m saying? It’s the last day of our lives, so it’s quite a bit eccentric, you know what I mean, but it is great.”
“…is about my evil twin, me and Serge facing each other in the mirror. It’s got big electronic beats and the chorus… and bridges… everything about that is… you have to fucking hear it… Treat is about my evil twin. It’s really cocky and it’s quite funny. It’s got a character to it. There’s a bit where Serge says ‘I think we separate deep in Leicester / How could you ditch me in the state I’m in?’…it’s about me and him, looking at each other, it is good.
“…is exceptional, ‘Glass‘ is quite… When Serge showed me that, I thought the chorus was beautiful, fucking amazing, I think that is so good, that (he sings) ‘Save me, oh come on and save me / In this world’ and when it comes back in with the drums, it’s ‘Wow’…. That’s one of the best songs we’ve ever done.”
Who’s the person that talks at the end?
“He’s a poet… You must ask Serge about his name though cause I can’t remember what it is.” (it’s Suli Breaks)
“glass is… again, there is very much sentimentalism in there but, when I first heard it, Serge had showed me on piano ‘Are we made of glass ? / Tell me, I wanna know I’m not alone’ it sounds… yeah it’s beautiful. I think we’re doing that live at the end of the year, probably get a piano and Serge does it… glass is amazing. ”
“…is like… how can I explain it to you? Sick of all… sick of everything, tired…I’m fucking sick of information, loads of information in my head. That’s pure electronic, that sounds like… I don’t know, it sounds like an aftermath… (he imitates the sound) It rumbles and cracks, with hip hop beats and feels very, very, insecure you know? Not very sure about what is happening, you know. The lyrics are very ghastly, quite haunting lyrics, not very nice lyrics actually… it’s quite dark, that tune.”
“That is another interlude…”
So you have 3 interludes
“It’s psychedelia. In a little interlude, like a mini psychedelia.”
“I don’t know how I can describe it to you… It fucking kills me. It’s kinda David Bowie.”
Really? what era?
“70s, yeah… kinda like Diamond Dogs, that’s 73-72. The chorus is brilliant, beautiful… (he sings) ‘ ‘Cause where else do you go / When you’re underneath the rainbow’. That’s fucking fantastic, you’ll love that. Kinda Bowie touch to it. Kind of Nirvana verses y’know, and the chorus is all Bowie.”
“You’ve heard eez-eh, haven’t you? That was like a cheeky fucking electronic pisstake of ourselves, y’know? And… That’s gonna be huge, that’s it. It’s electronic, aggressive. People are ‘What the fuck is that?’ We’ve got an amazing response though. It’s catchy. In a few words, putting out a single like that which is catchy… it’s 3 minutes and it’s instant, ‘bang bang’. Have you seen the video? It’s out, it’s out today. It’s everywhere and it’s on Kasabian.co.uk”
“…which is beautiful.” One of our personal favourites, yeah. “It’s about letting go of a friend… it’s quite deep. You’ll have to ask Serge more about it because I can’t answer for him.” ” ‘Scissor Paper Stone’ It is lovely, it was written about me. So yeah… Bow, again, is a very, very serious song… beautiful.. it’s about a brother he’s saying goodbye to… so you have to ask him about that.”
” ‘Scissor Paper Stone’ is like crickets in the background, is like you’re sitting on… I don’t know, in a ranch or somewhere… by a river or a lake at nighttime and looking at shooting stars. Really, he’s written it for me, it’s about me and him. Which is nice.”
Kasabian, bees and the future
We also ask Tom what songs they will play in the evening. bumblebee, eez-eh. Actually, people were worrying it would be only a showcase and not a proper gig : “It will be a normal gig, yeah, yeah… with the inclusion of new songs. It’s a normal show, yeah… We’ve revamped our old songs, we’ve done new things to them, which will be fun. We’ve done loads of different things.”
“Yeah, we’ve had to because it gets boring. We get bored of it, we were joking. I swear to God, it will be fucking amazing. But we’re playing bumblebee and eez-eh tonight… 2 new songs, I think that’s fair enough, d’ya know? Imagine if we’d play 5, that would be crazy. Two is perfect, two is fine… And we’re playing Me Plus One, we’ve put that back in, we’ve put Running Battle in there as well… from the first album.”
Yeah, we know, and thank you very much (we’re very keen on this one, actually). Spoiler time. Anyway, let us still talk about the songs they will play and Tom announces : “When we do Glastonbury we’re gonna play 4… 4 new ones… No, 3 or 4. We’re playing stevie in Glastonbury, eez-eeh and bumblebee. We might do one more, I’m not sure… But the album will be out then… I think we’re gonna be doing ermm… No, we might be doing treat as well. Can’t tell you.”
Thanks, now we hope they will also play these at Le Rock Dans Tous Ses Etats, but we keep this to ourselves.
Tom : “Maybe it’s better to discover bit by bit on stage… not too much at the same time. Yeah, constantly adding or changing… Two for the first night is fine. And the fact that you’re doing it here…”
Thank you very much for doing that.
Tom : “Cool. Oh, that’s our thank you for being here, you know…”
The French audience was really grateful to have that first gig here.
Tom : “Yeah, it’s nice, yeah… You know, that’s a good venue in there, isn’t it?”
Tom : “Did you see lots of shows in there? Yeah, of course you did“.
Indeed, as Kasabian played the Bataclan in 2007 and in 2009.
The PR has come back but before we check for the time or say anything Tom asks gently : “May we have 5 more minutes?” So let’s quiz him about about the cover art : “The pink? That’s it, yeah. The Itunes thing, yeah. Then again, we did not want to… we did not want to do a white record or a black record with ‘Kasabian’ on it. Fuck it, we got pink and we fucking wanted it to look like a punk record. All the songs are one word and we thought, fuck it, that’s it. The inlay is amazing, you’ll love it. That’s what we thought. It stands out and… The inlay is amazing.”
And it’s all pink?
Tom : “It’s all pink. All pink, yeah. Pink and black. There’s got some great shots in there.”
We can’t help but joking : And will you be dressed in pink and black on stage?
“No. No.” Serious, before looking at us and smiling back, seeing that’s it’s a joke.
Sorry, I had to ask.
Tom : “So, that place we’re playing tonight, it can get quite hot in there, innit? You have got to be careful…”
Tom : “I’ll probably have my coat on…”
On stage? Oh no, no, no. You’ll die!
Tom : “No chance… Anyway, got to stand and be brave.”
So the inlay is still a secret, of course, and the cover is not a decoy : “It is real. It does look like a decoy. There’s more in it, when you open it you will see, you will see for yourself.”
As he is still talking to us, Tom begins a drawing for the ten years anniversary of the website (which will be next year, actually). He laughs : “I think you’ll like this… I think you will anyway.” As we chat about friends and drinks, he describes what he’s sketching : ” (Gestures at the drawing) It’s me and my long coat, you see, trying to… there’s me and my overcoat… and tie…” We inquire. Sometimes, he still paints : “I kinda do, when I got time, because I have a young one, you see… (shows us the drawing) ET is standing on a chair… or a stool, cause he’s a shortass…” A pause. “Yes, I was going to say… if you tell people not to film they will do it anyway, so what can I say?” We go on for a while, Tom still being fatalistic about it : “But it will happen.“, then finishes his drawing : “Hold on… (laughs) Oh, my goodness… I tried my best… You’ll put it on the website, yeah? It’s me and ET, chilling.”
Here is the art piece (thanks, Tommy) (click on it to see the large version) :
We exchange thanks and hugs, then Tom leaves for the stars. No “alligators in the sewers” tonight, but a crazy alchemy that works perfectly as well.
Découvrez les photos prises pendant l’interview de Tom :
Découvrez aussi les photos de Kasabian au Bataclan et la review :