Kaiser Chiefs


Created with Xenomania’s Brian Higgins, Stay Together finds Kaiser Chiefs pursuing an unabashedly pop sound with ludicrously catchy results. Here, Ricky Wilson and Simon Rix from the band discuss the development, and explain how and why – six albums in – they’ve shifted their focus back on having fun.

First of all, tell us what we can expect from your new album.

Ricky Wilson: It’s called Stay Together, it’s out October 7th and we think it’s bloomin’ marvellous. But, then, we wouldn’t be putting it out if we didn’t. Yeah, it’s our sixth record, isn’t it Simon?

Simon Rix: We think it sounds a bit different this time. Hopefully, people have been hearing the two singles –‘Parachute’ and ‘Hole In My Soul’ – on the radio, and they’re kind-of representative of the direction, but also not. I think the album’s quite diverse in terms of the fact it has a lot of different moods. But I’m looking forward to everyone hearing it, because I think everybody will be surprised.

RW: Yeah, it’s weird. We’ve lived with it for quite a while and – I don’t want to sound too graphic but – it’s a little like an open wound that we can’t come to terms with until it’s actually been released. That will be, for want of a better phrase, fulfilling its destiny. I’m desperate for it to be out there because, personally, I poured a lot of emotional energy into it, and I’m excited about it. Until it’s out I don’t know what it is, really.

So you’ll get closure on that open wound feeling?!

RW: Closure. We’re using a lot of buzz words here in this interview. I don’t want people to think I’m pretentious about the way I think of it... It’s just that we’ve made something, it was hard and now I want it to be heard.

As you mentioned, the two singles do have a different, quite summery feel. Tell us about your new “pop” focus.

SR: Yes, it’s a really good summer album... that we’re releasing in the autumn. (Laughs)

RW: Well, we were aiming at the beginning of summer, but things happen. Maybe it’ll just remind people of the summer and they’ll want to keep the party going on. But more pop? We’ve always been a band that wanted to write hits. When we first started, we approached writing the songs thinking, “If we’re in a field at a festival, and there are 40,000 people watching us who don’t care about or know the Kaiser Chiefs, then how are we going to win them over?” And we’d do that by writing songs that we considered to be instant hits. It’s been 10 years since that, so the world’s moved on, and we’ve tried – and in some cases failed – to stay relevant. But that’s the reason we’ve had a long career; it’s because we still consider everything to get it right. Careers are built on ups and downs, mistakes and triumphs, and I deem this album a triumph, even pre-release.

SR: I think we were also trying to make people dance; get some groove. And also, there’s a lot of guitar on it, but it’s quite clean guitar, so that’s a thing that we haven’t really done before. And we’ve been using some more modern techniques, which is sort of why we got Brian [Higgins, Xenomania producer] involved; we were hoping he could teach us a few things.

How fun was the video for ‘Hole In My Soul’ to shoot? Simon you’re beaming the whole time in the back of that car.

SR: Yeah, it was good. I mean, traditionally, I hate making music videos; it’s my least favourite bit of being in a band. But the last two have been really, really good. Watching Ricky jump off high diving boards was a certain thrill, and driving fast. We had cars in the artwork for the album and the single, and we really, really loved the artwork so we thought it would be great to make it the star of the show.

RW: I don’t want to get over-analytical about us, because we’re in the eye of the storm so we don’t really see it, but when we first started we looked like we wanted to be there; we were having a good time. And somewhere along the way, you try to become more “artistic” about things and forget that what people like about us is we’re enjoying ourselves. So both of the videos for the new album so far – with the parachuting and high-diving and racing around the race track – we just wanted to bring back that idea. You know, why be miserable about doing the thing you’ve wanted to do all your life? So we just had good days out and filmed it, and that was basically it. You don’t have to be overly clever about it, you just enjoy yourself and that’s what it’s all about really.

It’s interesting to compare it to your older videos, like the one for ‘Ruby’.

RW: The ‘Ruby’ video – that was the one with the buildings, right? I don’t think we enjoyed making that video, did we Si?

SR: That was green screen or whatever, so it was quite a boring video. And some guy was blowing wind in my face... That’s all I remember about it.

RW: Oh yeah, he had a hairdryer or something, trying to make it look like a helicopter was flying past you. Yeah, I think that was a point where – even though it was one of our biggest songs and it went to number one – at that point we’d lost a bit of the enjoyment that we had before that, where we really were relishing every moment. And Simon’s right: it’s a great video – and it won awards for being a great video – but for us it was just standing in a big green room, playing a song and it wasn’t that much fun. So, do you know what, if someone asks what the next video is about, I’ll say, “We’re on jet skis,” and then we’ll do that instead, and it’ll be a lot more fun.

You’re going on a UK tour soon. How do you prepare for that?

SR: It’s still a little bit away, but I suppose we have to start thinking about it. Basically, we haven’t thought about it yet, is the answer. People have been buying tickets, which is really, really positive. Last time round we did a really good thing that was a bit more theatrical and had a bit of a storyline, even the section where we weren’t onstage. So we’ll have to think of some new ideas for the next time round.

RW: I think it will be a bit more rock‘n’roll this time round, rather than theatrical. But then that’s the good thing about our band: the fact that we’ve lasted quite a long time is because we always kick against the last thing we did. So if we were going down that avenue last time, this time I think we’ll try to put on a full-on rock show.

Who has the worst habits on tour?

SR: Everyone.

RW: Yeah, I think everyone has a bad habit. If it was just one person we’d have thrown them out.

SR: Peanut’s always late. But Ricky’s always early.

RW: Both equally annoying. I was asked this question the other day, about how we’ve managed to stay together and it’s because the alternative to that is just not worth thinking about. What else would we do? We took a year off once and that was the biggest mistake we made. And it was boring

SR: And also, quite an anxious time. We were sat thinking about our mortgages, watching ‘Murder She Wrote’.

And Great British Bake Off apparently.

RW: (Laughs) No, that wasn’t around that time.

SR: This is pre-GBBO.

The MTV EMAs are coming up – is that an event you enjoy going to?

RW: Never been.

SR: We were nominated once.

RW: I didn’t know we were nominated? Well done us, that’s a pat on the back. I’ve never been, but talking about awards ceremonies in general, I love them. I really do. It’s a good chance to have a nosy around and see what pop stars look like when they’re eating. It’s nice to see Jess Glynne eating a canapé.

Hopefully this year, then?

RW: Well, we’ll be nominated for everything this year because we’ve made such a brilliant album. (Laughs)

October 2016