Evolving with Kasabian

The first time Kasabian set foot on American soil, they packed the place. Back in November, the four—vocalist Tom Meighan, guitarists/keyboardists Sergio Pizzorno and Christopher Karloff, and bassist Chris Edwards—brought their blend of stadium-sized rock and dance club beats to a sold-out Bowery Ballroom in New York City.

The music—think Oasis meets Happy Mondays, if you need a comparison—has a larger-than-life quality, an insinuating infectiousness. Their debut self-titled album has been certified gold in the U.K. (it drops in U.S. March 8), where fans include Oasis’s Noel and Liam Gallagher, Primal Scream’s Mani, and The Stone Roses’ Ian Brown. The next few months find Kasabian largely on this side of the pond; currently on tour with The Music, they’ll return in the spring with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

The British invasion is upon us, and while Kasabian are happy to be a part of it, Pizzorno cautions against being over-zealous. “I think next year will tell more than this year. A lot of bands have got to make second albums, so we’ll really find out if it’s as good as everyone thinks.” What keeps them from being just another British buzz band? “I think we’re very different because we don’t really know what we are ourselves; we just make music.”

The four hail from Leicester, where, Pizzorno complains, no one’s gone on to greatness. Kasabian hope to change that. “We’re all waiting for our statues in the City Centre, ’cause there’s no one from Leicester [who’s] ever [made it] big. Seriously, no one’s from Leicester.”

Still, America is poised to embrace their sound; what’s Kasabian’s plan for U.S. domination? “We’re gonna pretty much go there and be ourselves, and if you lot like it, then we’ll come back. I think we’re going to bring a bit of sparkle back to the music scene, y’ know? Some cheeky boys from England getting into trouble.

“It’s very much a rock ’n’ roll show,” he continued. “I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people when we get to America, ’cause it’s really full-on and it makes you fucking wanna go mad. It’s almost like going to church to come and see our gig.”

In the press, Kasabian—who take their dark-tinged name from Linda Kasabian, Charles Manson’s pregnant getaway car driver—are billed as the second coming of rock. Part of that is blatantly self-perpetuated. They have an eight-point manifesto which reads, in part, “Music is our whore—Kasabian are not about making a living out of music. We live music.”

Kasabian? Pizzorno was ready: “I think you’ve got to listen to The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Who; that’s a must for everyone.” That’s all we need, then? “No, that’s the start,” he said. “This is gonna take a while. Then there’s some German music you need to listen to, Tangerine Dream and a band called Can, and then you need to buy Blackalicious’ album NIA and DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing. Then today you probably need to buy our album, and then you’ve got a real nice little range of music.”
Pizzorno writes Kasabian’s lyrics, sharing music-writing duties with Karloff. And what about Meighan and Edwards—what do they bring to the mix? Always willing to share the spotlight, Pizzorno demurred, “Themselves, really. Tom is seriously a devil Mick Jagger; he does bleed rock ’n’ roll. Chris, the bass player, is very methodical. Sometimes we need that ’cause we’re all a bit mad; he’s a bit calmer than the rest of us.”

Lyrically, Kasabian’s debut is about love and violence—“the two strongest human emotions you can ever feel,” says Pizzorno—but as for what the future holds, who knows? “We’re feeling quite lovey at the moment,” he tells me, “so I think it’s probably gonna be a bit less aggressive.” And though the call is transcontinental, I can still see the wink as he adds, “It will still be dirty, you know.”

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