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29 October 2014

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Music Feature

The Kaiser Chiefs.
The Kaiser Chiefs

Kaiser Chiefs interview

The Kaiser Chiefs visited Norwich on the NME Awards Tour 2005 with The Killers, Futureheads and Bloc Party. It was the first time the group returned to the city since clinching their American record deal at the Waterfront.

Bloc Party

  • Bloc Party will be signing records at 4.30pm on Monday 31 January 2005 at HMV, Gentleman's Walk, Norwich.

Leeds band the Kaiser Chiefs brought their summery indie pop sound back to Norwich on the sellout NME Awards Tour which called into the University Of East Anglia.

The Kaiser Chiefs opened the show, re-treading the now famous footsteps of Coldplay and Franz Ferdinand. The quintet of Ricky Wilson, Andrew White, Simon Rix, Nick 'Peanut' Baines and Nick Hodgson shared the bill with Bloc Party, the Futureheads and The Killers.

It was the Kaiser Chiefs' first visit back to Norwich since they signed their US record deal with Universal off the back of their warm-up set for The Ordinary Boys at the Waterfront.

Drummer Nick Hodgson caught up with Zoe Applegate to tell her why Norwich holds such precious memories and what it's been like working with Blur producer Stephen Street.

Where does the name Kaiser Chiefs come from?

Someone suggested the Kaiser Chiefs while we were looking for a band name. We had so many ideas ourselves, at least one of us had said no to every idea except Kaiser Chiefs.

Then we found out about the fact that they were a South African football team and Lucas Radebe used to play for them. He moved to Leeds United and is one of their most famous players and we're from Leeds so we put it all together and thought, 'Let's do it' and now we're here.

How did you get together?

Three of us met at school: me, Simon and Peanut. Then the other two we met in various nightclubs in Leeds playing '60s stuff.

It hasn't been a direct route because we've known each other a long time. We've been playing together as a five-piece for about five years.

We only came up with the Kaiser Chiefs about a year and a half ago when we scrapped every song we'd ever done. It was a complete change of direction, songs, outlook and everything.

In your previous band, Parva, you had a record deal and then lost it. Did it force you to look at what you were doing?

Yes, it took us about six months to try and get another deal and a lot of record companies gave us a little bit of attention but then they weren't interested.

I think there was a mass murmur in London where everyone said, 'Hey, let's not go anywhere near Parva.'

Kaiser Chiefs
Kaiser Chiefs' drummer Nick Hodgson

Everyone was dead keen to hear what the Kaiser Chiefs was because we had the demo played at the NME Stereo and there was quite a buzz.

Then everyone found out we were Parva, I think, and I know that one person was quoted as saying, 'They're too old and they used to be Parva.'

So we stuck to it and kept writing better songs and made sure no-one could ignore us.

But it introduced you to the way the music business is and it must make you appreciate this even more.

Yes, we're quite proud of ourselves. We don't want to shout about it, but it proved us right. We remark on it when we're by ourselves.

You're now heading out on the NME Tour, what did you do when you heard you'd been picked?

We got into a van and travelled somewhere else. I remember when we found out we were in London and we were mid tour.

We get excited about these things but we take it quite easily. We're not arrogant about it but we just thought, 'Great, let's do it.' There was a race on at the time because there were other bands who wanted to do it.

We were relaxed and we got it in the end. We do our part: we make sure we write the best songs and perform well and be everywhere on time and we let everybody else do their bit.

You're opening the show. How much pressure do you think that will put on the band?

We honestly don't feel the pressure. We're just looking forward to it. People have heard us, and especially I Predict A Riot, so people will give us a bit of a chance. There will be a certain amount of fans who are fans of all four bands and I think there will be some fans who are mainly fans of our band.

What do you think of the line-up for this year's tour?

Like everybody, I think it's the best line-up there's been. It's great because I've met all the bands before and they're all very nice people and they're all bands that I like. I think it's the best line-up ever and I'm on it so I get to see it every night!

You last came to Norwich with the Ordinary Boys, how did that gig go?

That wasn't our best gig but out of that we got our American record deal which was good. It was the first time the guy [Universal's American A&R Andrew Kronfeld] from the label we're signed to in America was there.

That was very successful for us that particular gig. It wasn't our best gig - I don't know why not - but obviously he saw the potential.

They are nice people in Norwich and there's a very nice branch of Boots that I went into and got a meal deal!

What's your favourite song to play live?

It's I Predict A Riot at the moment because everyone goes the most beserk for it.

Last year that song was playlisted by one of America's top radio stations, so what interest has that generated out there?

It's still on the playlist and it's getting more and more playlists around the country on different stations every day. We did a week of gigs and it was brilliant because people were singing the words of I Predict A Riot.

Your album, Employment, is out in March and it's been produced by Stephen Street. What was he like to work with?

Yes, and another guy as well called Steve Harris. Half of the songs are by Steve Harris and half of the songs are by Stephen Street.

We worked with Stephen Street in London and we've done all the singles with him. He's very professional - you go in and it just sounds great.

Steve Harris is great as well but it's a different approach. He's much more - and I say this and try not to be a hippy - vibey. It's much more live and jamming things out.

Your single Oh My God is re-released in February but the first version was recorded in your bedroom, so how has it changed since Stephen's got his hands on it?

We didn't want to change it that much because we really liked what we'd done. It was me and Peanut who produced the first demo and we were very pleased with how it sounded.

We tried to keep it similar but just record it much better and record each instrument much better than we were able to at the time. Overall, the sound is much better but the sound effects at the beginning and throughout are the same which we use in the demo.

I've read that all the girls go for Peanut and not for front man Ricky, so is there much rivalry?

No, because Peanut is the only one who hasn't got a girlfriend. Peanut's very popular. I don't know whether they want to kiss him or mother him - I think it's mainly mothering, so I'm not jealous.

What's next for the band after the tour?

The next day after the tour we're going to America - we're extremely busy! I think we're going to take our girlfriends - actually scratch that!

We're going to New York, Toronto, then we're coming back and going to the NME Awards where we have a table.

Basically, going to America a lot - and England! We're doing a massive tour in April which is going to be announced soon.

last updated: 07/03/05
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