"We were born to do it. It's as sim­ple as that

Kasabian are head­lin­ing Glas­ton­bury. They tell Lauren Mur­phy where it all went right

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FRONT PAGE -

They have spent most of the past decade pegged by many as lad rock­ers, bar­rel-scrap­ers, knuck­le­drag­ging mu­si­cal ne­an­derthals not fit to lick Oa­sis’s boots – but whether you’re a fan ornot, you can’t deny that Kasabian have come up in the world.

The day be­fore we meet Tom Meighan at a posh Gen­tle­man’s Club in cen­tral Lon­don, we’re part of a group of Euro­pean jour­nal­ists who’ve been fer­ried to Abbey Road Stu­dios – Abbey Road, no less – for the first play­back of the Le­ices­ter quar­tet’s new al­bum, 48:13. Meighan shuf­fles onto the small stage and clears his throat, meekly in­tro­duc­ing him­self to the room as if we had never laid eyes on him be­fore, and tells us that he hopes that we en­joy the al­bum. “And if you don’t,” he dead­pans, “you can just leave.”

It’s hard to fig­ure Meighan out. He seems, in many ways, to be two people rolled into one: tip­ping a bal­ance be­tween-self-con­fi­dence and-ar­ro­gance, chest-thump­ing bravado and in­se­cu­rity. He has a Gal­lagher-es­que talent for in­sults, once re­fer­ring to Ju­lian Casablan­cas as a “posh skier” and Justin Tim­ber­lake as a “midget with whiskers”, but when we sit down to talk to him about the al­bum the next day, he is warm and sin­cere, a like­able bun­dle of manic en­ergy that has no doubt been en­hanced by the wine that he’s been quaffing for most of the af­ter­noon. He bar­rels head­long into an­swers with­out wast­ing much time think­ing about them, doesn’t hes­i­tate in whip­ping out his iPhone to show us pic­tures of his (ad­mit­tedly adorable) two-year-old daugh­ter Mimi, an­dis clearly proud of the quar­tet’s fifth al­bum, which is bol­shier, louder and more in-your-face than ever be­fore, if that’s even pos­si­ble. And that’s just the gar­ish neon pink art­work.

“We’ve gone full cir­cle,” he says, nod­ding en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. “It feels like it’s our de­but al­bum, hon­estly. It’s weird; there’s no fear in it. It’s just very di­rect. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done, with­out a fuckin’ doubt. I know I say that about ev­ery record, and ex­cuse me – but it is.”

Once the band stopped tour­ing their pre­vi­ous record, Ve­loci­rap­tor!, about 18 months ago, gui­tarist Serge Piz­zorno – who writes all the lyrics and took sole con­trol of the pro­duc­tion reins for the first time on 48:13 – be­gan writ­ing new demos.

“He’s al­ways be­ing cre­ative, bless him – he can’t stop,” Meighan laughs. “He’s Pete Town­shend, he’s fuckin’ Paul McCart­ney. He’s got so much shit, com­put­ers, num­bers and words go­ing through his brain. So I lis­tened to some of the demos last sum­mer and sang on some of them, and we took them to the stu­dio and just did ’em. It was pretty straight­for­ward, in that re­spect. I let him get on with his stuff and then I sing. That’s pretty much it.”

There is an un­de­ni­ably dance-ori­ented as­pect to many of the al­bum’s songs, which Meighan claims is a re­sult of tap­ping into the mu­sic of their child­hood. At other times, it harkens back to their epony­mous de­but with the ad­di­tion of pace-calm­ing in­ter­ludes. Both he and Piz­zorno have pre­vi­ously men­tioned The Prodigy as an in­flu­ence, a sound that is par­tic­u­larly au­di­ble on lead sin­gle Eez-eh.

“I love The Prodge and I love Liam Howlett,” he says, nod­ding. “It’s weird, be­cause when rave was dy­ing out – around ’91 or ’92 – we were around 11, and rave was like a mas­sive, mas­sive cul­tural punk thing; ev­ery­one go­ing into a field, tak­ing drugs, what­ever. I was only 10 or 11 years old and I re­mem­ber hear­ing The Prodigy’s Ex­pe­ri­ence; my dad was like ‘turn it down!’, ’cos it did his head in. But we grew up with that cul­ture, so some of it’s stayed with us. Eez-Eh is an elec­tronic, punk, cocky, funny sort of state­ment. There’s a lot of char­ac­ter to it, that’s why I like it.”

It’s cer­tainly a ballsy first sin­gle to put out there; was at­tempt­ing to catch people off-guard a de­lib­er­ate move?

“Well yeah, of course it is [ballsy],” he shrugs. “When Ra­dio­head re­leased Kid A, ev­ery­one shit them­selves. But we had to keep mov­ing, y’know? A mas­sive thing was when Ser­gio got the Kanye West record Yeezus and played me Black Skin­head. The pro­duc­tion on the whole record – but par­tic­u­larly that song – he re­ally kicked it around. So we thought ‘That’s pretty cool; if he’s do­ing that with hip-hop, we could do that with rock ‘n’ roll.’”

Their stream­lined, no-non­sense sound goes hand in hand with the al­bum’s ti­tle, a sim­ple ref­er­ence to the run­ning time. He had wanted to call it ‘5’ ini­tially, he said, in the same man­ner as Led Zep­pelin’s IV or Black Sab­bath’s Vol. 4.

“I had to ex­plain Ve­loci­rap­tor! so fuckin’ much; ‘why’d you call it this, why’d you call it that’,” he says, shak­ing his head. “We’d name an al­bum and then we have to dig our­selves a hole to ex­plain it, and I can’t be both­ered with all that. What I love now is that I don’t think any­one can fuck with us now, and I love that. ‘Cos all these years, there’s been sneer­ing and all this,” he says, stick­ing his chest out and mak­ing a rude ges­ture. “So now it’s like, ‘Put that in your fuckin’ record collection and shut your mouth’. It’s true, that’s how I feel. We’ve

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