Kasabian: Brit Rock Riot (Chris Edwards Interview)

“We’ve just got big balls,” proclaims Kasabian bass player Chris Edwards, speaking via phone from New York on the eve of his band’s first full US tour. “A lot of the other bands are scared. We’re not something we’re not. We’re not contrived. We’re not manufactured. We’re just, it’s in our veins, it’s what we do. We don’t try to be anything we’re not.”

It’s a bold statement from a relatively unknown outfit from Leicester, England, one that has come to characterize the four-piece electro-rockers in their short two-year existence. Since breaking into the UK mainstream this past summer with their self-titled debut (set for release March 1 in the US), Kasabian (vocalist Tom Meighan, songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist Sergio Pizzorno, guitarist Chris Karloff and Edwards) have been outspoken proponents of their aggressive, confident blend of beats and guitars, taking their homeland by storm and administering what they believe was a much-needed shot of honesty and ambition into their country’s soundscape.

Attitude and swagger is one thing, but without the music to back it up, these words run the risk of falling on deaf ears. Lucky for Kasabian, they have the talent to make good on their self-promotion. From the opening notes of Kasabian, it’s obvious the music is unique, a sterling, kaleidoscopic journey of psychedelia, electronica and pure sixties hedonistic excess that blends and blurs the boundaries found in today’s modern rock landscape.

But perhaps more than any other era in rock, it was the changing of the guard in mid-nineties British music that had the biggest influence on Kasabian. It was only a matter of time until the bands of Brit Rock spawned kin, but of those bands that saw success, Kasabian is most often compared to the Stone Roses and Oasis, two of the most popular of that era.

“I don’t think we sound a lot like them (Stone Roses and Oasis),” Edwards explains. “It’s just the way we are. We’re a British rock band that just don’t really give a fuck. We just do what we do and make music. We kind of connect with the public, and people seem to feed off us, like they did with those bands. I think that’s why we are connected with them quite a lot. It’s just cause the way we are, confidence and attitude I suppose.

“But everything is an influence. We picked up our guitars and started learning our guitars after the Britpop boom of 1996. That kind of did inspire us, that era in the UK. But music in general is our influence. Cause we listen to hip-hop, we listen to DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, the Beatles, the Stone Roses, the Who.”

The funny thing is, you can hear all those influences in Kasabian’s music. “Butcher Blues,” screams psychedelic-era Beatles and Rolling Stones. “I.D.” could come right off DJ Shadow’s turntables, and “Lost Souls Forever” could double for a classic flag-waving, Brit Rock anthem. And if one characteristic permeates all those tracks, it’s the passion by which they are performed, something that made their debut a number 1 album back in the UK, but not before surprising the band with the rapid speed of their ascension.

“We always knew we were going to be this big,” Edwards admits, “but not this quick. I suppose we were kind of ready for anything but I don’t think anything can prepare you for something that you don’t know. We’ve never done it before, we didn’t know what to expect. We’re sort of on a rollercoaster at the minute.”

So on the heel of their success back home, Kasabian has set their sites on America. After concentrating on Britain for the past year, where they have gone from playing to 50 or 60 people a night in pubs to playing in front of twenty thousand at last summer’s Glastonbury, and now selling out large theaters and ballrooms, Kasabian is looking to duplicate their success across the Atlantic.

“We’re just going to branch out to as many of the American people as we can,” Edwards says. “If America loves us, or America wants us, then we’ll come and play and blow the people away.”

But Kasabian knows breaking in America is no easy proposition and can look at the struggles of some of their compatriots for inspiration. Bands like Franz Ferdinand and Keane have seen quick success, while others like Muse or even the Stereophonics have had to work for everything.

So what differentiates Kasabian from these bands?

“We just got belief and balls and confidence,” Edwards answers. “You look at some of the other bands and it just seems a bit weak. It just doesn’t seem that they got anything about them. They play some good tunes and they’re doing well, but I don’t see people connecting with them.”

Connecting with people is what Kasabian do best. Liam Gallagher is said to be a fan, as well as Stone Roses bassist Gary Mountfield, but it’s more than just famous musicians Kasabian strive to impress. They already have a dedicated legion of fans called the Movement with their own active online community in the UK, but Kasabian wants to break in America and last.

“We’re prepared to put in all the hard work,” Edwards says. “We’re doing a month tour now and then we come back in May. We’re playing South by Southwest and Coachella, and overall we’ll probably be over in the US four or five months this year.”


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