Kasabian: We were ‘a band with our backs against the wall’ (2022)

For 48 hours, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno thought it was all over. “It was heartbreaking. I had no idea what was going on,” says Pizzorno over video link from his spare room. “I likened it to seeing your house burning down and going back and kicking around the fragments of your life.”

In July 2020 the one-time Glastonbury headliners and Mercury nominees sacked their singer Tom Meighan after learning he was about to be charged with assaulting his then-fiancee (now wife). Their charismatic leader gone, the assumption was that the curtains had come down on one of the biggest British rock bands since Oasis. That’s how it looked to Pizzorno, the group’s guitarist and songwriter.

“It was unsteady ground,” he says. “We felt like we were sifting through ashes.”

But as he rummaged through the burnt-out ruins of Kasabian — the outfit he had started in Leicester as a scrappy 17-year-old — he had second thoughts. So did bassist Chris Edwards, whom he met for an emergency powwow the day after Meighan’s exit.

Pizzorno has said that the group had no choice but to show Meighan the door and that Kasabian have zero tolerance for domestic violence. Today he would rather draw a veil over the affair

“We sat down and decided there was no way the story could end like that.” Two years later, they are about to share with the world the physical manifestation of their refusal to fade away: their juddering monster truck of a new album, the Alchemist’s Euphoria.

Kasabian had considered recruiting a new frontman. In the end, they decided Pizzorno should step up. He was the songwriter. It was not as if he was unfamiliar with material such as Club Foot and LSF — hits that existed equidistantly from Oasis, a backwoods rave and a fancy dress party where everyone is done up like the Mad Monk Rasputin (Pizzorno’s go-to look even on days off).

Despite looking the part, Pizzorno was not a natural-born showman. That was what the over-the-top Meighan had brought. The idea was that he would learn as he went. If he didn’t, it truly would be all over for Kasabian.

(Video) Kasabian - L.S.F.

“It’s hard to describe,” he says, contemplating his new job as face and voice of Kasabian. “It’s a shift. It’s consuming. And a weight. When I was growing up, there was no way I thought I’d up where I’ve ended up.”

Kasabian: We were ‘a band with our backs against the wall’ (1)

Where he’s ended up is with The Alchemist’s Euphoria. A volatile cocktail of electronica, rap, krautrock and stadium indie, it’s the sound of musicians with batteries recharged and cylinders firing. It is also Kasabian’s strongest record since 2009′s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, the Mercury-shortlisted million-seller that forced even their detractors to admit there was something to these scuffed-up townies from the English East Midlands.

“Seven albums in, a band with their backs against the wall,” is how he characterises their situation. He reveals that he took inspiration from the Last Dance, the Michael Jordan documentary in which the basketball icon keeps going when everyone is telling him he’s too old, too tired, too irrelevant.

Not that it needed conforming but the Alchemist’s Euphoria proves all over again that Kasabian are no Shakermaker wannabes. And that, with the mercurial Pizzorno on vocals, there is life after Tom Meighan

“Jordan would create tension,” says Pizzorno. “He would make up stuff in his head about people saying stuff about him, as motivation. There’s definitely an energy in proving to yourself and to everyone that there is still something to be said.”

Kasabian have been reluctant to delve into the ins and outs of Meighan’s departure. In a statement the day before he was up in court — he pleaded guilty to the assault — they said he had stepped down “by mutual consent” after struggling with “personal issues that have affected his behaviour”. In fact, they had asked Meighan to leave upon hearing of the charges against him.

(Video) Kasabian - THE WALL (Official Lyric Video)

Internal band strife of course pales compared to the gravity of domestic assault (for which Meighan was sentenced to 200 hours of community service). But the singer had been cause of concern to the rest of Kasabian for some time.

There had been several stand-offs down the years and earlier in 2020 he had let it be known he was considering a solo career. On the several occasions on which I spoke to Meighan, I found him affable yet hyperactive. He seemed to struggle with his focus and with maintaining a single line of thought. It came as no surprise to discover that he had later been diagnosed with ADHD.

Pizzorno has said that the group had no choice but to show Meighan the door and that Kasabian have zero tolerance for domestic violence. Today he would rather draw a veil over the affair. Kasabian’s business starts and ends with Kasabian.

“What happens in our band stays in our band,” he says. “That is respect for everyone. And there’s been a lot. And when you take that line [of not airing dirty laundry] people are going to come to conclusions. There’s a lot of history in this. A lot has gone on. You know what, this is where we’re at now. We’re super positive and happy. We’re happy because we thought we’d never see days like this. We thought that would be over. It’s heartbreaking.”

Kasabian: We were ‘a band with our backs against the wall’ (2)

Kasabian’s debut album was released in 2004, when the British music press still could make or break new acts. The band were named after Linda Kasabian, a member of the Manson family present at the murder of Sharon Tate in 1969 (she is played by Maya Hawke in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s fantastical chronicling of the Manson killings). And yet despite that streak of darkness, journalists were quick to pigeonhole Kasabian as Noel and Liam wannabes — and characterise their fans as football hooligans.

(Video) Kasabian - L S F Live @ Malaysia 2009

“I saw an Orson Welles interview [where he said], ‘Never pull a critic on something. Keep your mouth shut’. That resonated with me,” says Pizzorno. “If you complain you can end up sounding ... eventually the work will do what it’s done. I also think that sometimes, you can say the ‘lads’ or whatever. Don’t underestimate the lads.”

How foolish, he says, to write off an entire demographic as knuckleheads and lager louts.

While Pizzorno is no stranger to the spotlight — at live shows he and Meighan often seemed like joint frontmen — the step up to the official lead singer was tough

“That’s a dangerous thing to say: ‘lads are just into this’. Well, hold on a minute. We weren’t making lad music. But the lads were into it. Throughout history, for want of better words, they’ve chosen some f**king amazing music. They’ve got behind the best bands. Be careful when you think that is something that is not to be proud of. We were proud of anyone coming to see us. And we were like, ‘you’ve made the right choice. You’ve made the left-field choice’.”

Not that it needed conforming but the Alchemist’s Euphoria proves all over again that Kasabian are no Shakermaker wannabes. And that, with the mercurial Pizzorno on vocals, there is life after Tom Meighan.

The spirit of Prodigy is conjured on single Scriptvre while songs such as Stargazr. and Alygatyr (apparently Meighan took all the vowels with him when he left) suggest Pink Floyd gone rave. The music is cathartic and ecstatic — lifetimes removed from Noel Gallagher rhyming “doctor” and “helicopter” against a backdrop of recycled Beatles riffs.

“Alchemy is prevalent in our band, especially with this album,” says Pizzorno, explaining the title. “A bit of trap, ... hip hop, a bit of psych rock. Bit of 1960s pop. Using these different ingredients to then trying to create something new. I’ve loved that. This Alchemist’s journey — I thought it was a nice place to set the story of the record.”

(Video) Kasabian - Lost Souls Forever (Jagz Kooner Mix)

The Alchemist’s Euphoria indeed tracks a pop pilgrimage, from a place of deep despair to joy and relief. It begins with the narrator on a beach staring out over the waves. That is a reflection of Pizzorno’s experiences as Kasabian were on the brink. The day after the Meighan firing, he visited his sister and they took a walk along the coast. He gazed at the sea, trying to catch sight of his future on the horizon.

“It’s a great way to turn a s**t situation into something beautiful,” he says. “It was like, ‘let’s set these songs in an order, where you start by the sea and hear the waves crashing in’. And you hear this guy or this woman — about to make this decision. ‘What am I going to do?’ It is about the band in some respects. But it’s way broader than that. It’s relatable to anyone who has that moment in their life, where things are completely obliterated. And you’re like, ‘where am I going?’ We’re all searching for meaning or happiness. It’s about that: the search.”

He is open about the shift to lead singer not being effortless. While Pizzorno is no stranger to the spotlight — at live shows he and Meighan often seemed like joint frontmen — the step up to the official lead singer was tough. He was “bricking it” when Kasabian played their first post-Meighan concerts last year.

Those butterflies were still there as they opened for Liam Gallagher at Knebworth recently. Yet as the performance went on Pizzorno started to relax into the job. And when he looked out at the thousands singing his lyrics back to him, his nerves melted away. For the first time in forever, he felt as if he had come home.

“Knebworth was our second outdoor gig. Obviously, I’ve done it before. But it’s not until you’re standing in the middle with the microphone ... it’s a whole other thing. When it’s like, ‘right, I’m going go and do this ...’ the only way I could do it would be to do it my way. It sounds silly, I know. I was not going to play a guitar and hope for the best. If you’re going to do it, then I’m going to dedicate everything I’ve got to becoming a frontman. Every single song — because they’re my words, my tunes, I can deliver them in a way that’s from the heart.”

The Alchemist’s Euphoria is released on August 12

FAQs

Who was the lead singer of Kasabian? ›

Kasabian (/kəˈseɪbiən/ kə-SAY-bee-ən) are an English rock band formed in Leicester in 1997 by lead vocalist Tom Meighan, guitarist and occasional vocalist Sergio Pizzorno, guitarist Chris Karloff, and bassist Chris Edwards. Drummer Ian Matthews joined in 2004.

What songs Kasabian sing? ›

Kasabian

Why did Kasabian sack their lead singer? ›

Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno has discussed the band's decision to sack their former frontman, Tom Meighan, after he was convicted of assaulting his fiancée Vikki Ager. The band's former frontman left the rock group in 2020 one day before appearing in court to plead guilty to assaulting Ager, his partner of four years.

What does the word Kasabian mean? ›

The name Kasabian is primarily a male name of Armenian origin that means Son Of The Butcher. Band name.

Has Kasabian got a new singer? ›

The band's new lead singer Sergio “Serge” Pizzorno has opened up about reluctantly taking on the role as frontman, the “horrendous” experience of having to tell Meighan he was being let go and what the band's new music is all about.

How do you play Fire Kasabian? ›

Kasabian-Fire-Acoustic Guitar Lesson. - YouTube

Why did Chris Karloff leave Kasabian? ›

The statement reads: “Karloff and the band experienced certain creative and artistic differences during the writing and recording of their second album. These irreconcilable and diverging approaches resulted in the band asking Karloff to leave the group. Karloff will pursue a musical career elsewhere.”

Can Tom Meighan sing Kasabian songs? ›

Tom Meighan

Who is the new member of Kasabian? ›

Kasabian

Who is Kasabian front man now? ›

Pizzorno, 41, stepped up as frontman in July 2020 after singer Tom Meighan was fired for assaulting his now-wife Vikki Ager.

Kasabian were written off when singer Tom Meighan was sacked, but they’re not done yet

For 48 hours, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno thought it was all over.. Pizzorno has said that the group had no choice but to show Meighan the door and that Kasabian have zero tolerance for domestic violence.. When I was growing up, there was no way I thought I’d up where I’ve ended up.”. “Seven albums in, a band with their backs against the wall,” is how he characterises their situation.. “Jordan would create tension,” says Pizzorno.. He seemed to struggle with his focus and with maintaining a single line of thought.. Pizzorno has said that the group had no choice but to show Meighan the door and that Kasabian have zero tolerance for domestic violence.. Kasabian’s business starts and ends with Kasabian.. We’re happy because we thought we’d never see days like this.. That resonated with me,” says Pizzorno.. We weren’t making lad music.. They’ve got behind the best bands.. “It was like, ‘let’s set these songs in an order, where you start by the sea and hear the waves crashing in’.. ‘What am I going to do?’ It is about the band in some respects.. He is open about the shift to lead singer not being effortless.

For 48 hours, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno thought it was all over. “It was heartbreaking. I had no idea what was going on,” says Pizzorno over video link from his spare room. “I likened it to seeing your house burning down and going back and kicking around the fragments of your life.”In July 2020 the...

For 48 hours, Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno thought it was all over.. Pizzorno has said that the group had no choice but to show Meighan the door and that Kasabian have zero tolerance for domestic violence.. Not that it needed conforming but the Alchemist’s Euphoria proves all over again that Kasabian are no Shakermaker wannabes.. And that, with the mercurial Pizzorno on vocals, there is life after Tom Meighan. Pizzorno has said that the group had no choice but to show Meighan the door and that Kasabian have zero tolerance for domestic violence.. Kasabian’s business starts and ends with Kasabian.. Kasabian’s debut album was released in 2004, when the British music press still could make or break new acts.. The band were named after Linda Kasabian, a member of the Manson family present at the murder of Sharon Tate in 1969 (she is played by Maya Hawke in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino’s fantastical chronicling of the Manson killings).. While Pizzorno is no stranger to the spotlight — at live shows he and Meighan often seemed like joint frontmen — the step up to the official lead singer was tough. They’ve got behind the best bands.. Not that it needed conforming but the Alchemist’s Euphoria proves all over again that Kasabian are no Shakermaker wannabes.. And that, with the mercurial Pizzorno on vocals, there is life after Tom Meighan.. That is a reflection of Pizzorno’s experiences as Kasabian were on the brink.. While Pizzorno is no stranger to the spotlight — at live shows he and Meighan often seemed like joint frontmen — the step up to the official lead singer was tough.

Kasabian were written off when singer Tom Meighan was sacked, but they’re not done yet

When I was growing up, there was no way I thought I’d up where I’ve ended up.”Where he’s ended up is with The Alchemist’s Euphoria.. A lot of our game idea was about our full-backs and him in particular.. That’s how it looked to Pizzorno, the group’s guitarist and songwriter.. “I felt this was a time we would need to improve, but I respect the club’s position.. And a weight.” Rodgers remains hopeful the club can fend off interest from rival clubs in key players Wesley Fofana, James Maddison and Youri Tielemans.. “Seven albums in, a band with their backs against the wall,” is how he characterises their situation.”.. And that, with the mercurial Pizzorno on vocals, there is life after Tom Meighan “Jordan would create tension,” says Pizzorno.. Kasabian’s business starts and ends with Kasabian.. We’re happy because we thought we’d never see days like this.. We weren’t making lad music.. They’ve got behind the best bands.. “It was like, ‘let’s set these songs in an order, where you start by the sea and hear the waves crashing in’.

Kasabian's new album ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ finds a band reborn, with guitarist Serge Pizzorno stepping up to the mic

“[It was] a continuation of me on the same tip going, ‘Well, I’m not just gonna stand there with the guitar and sort of hope for the best – I’m gonna try and become a frontman’,” Pizzorno says.. It’s only been a handful of weeks since Pizzorno and his bandmates (Chris Edwards on bass, Ian Matthews on drums and newcomer Tim Carter on guitar and backing vocals) played their first live shows as Kasabian reborn.. ‘Scriptvre’ , a brash, hip-hop rock crossover from ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’, in which Pizzorno provides a searing pep talk on self-belief (“ You’re fucking with the best now ”) sees him reference being on the precipice of that live environment: “ On a roll, gotta reach for the light / Gotta reach for the mic as I walk from the shadow.. ” Prior to the album’s release, Pizzorno vowed not to write any songs about the band.. “ You get back up, you get back up again, ” Pizzorno sings on the emotional slow-burner, which began life as a simpler song about feeling defeated by a hangover but, in this context, morphed into an anthem for overcoming adversity.. T he momentum that Pizzorno sings of, excavated from emotional depths after the band almost imploded in 2020, is very much the nub of ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’.. So the idea of having ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ is like this sort of stopping in time, a moment that he [the alchemist] feels.. Referencing the sound of lapping waves that open the album, Pizzorno continues: “And then in terms of the record, I sort of imagined… almost this album being the big ‘fork in a road’ sort of decision.. When NME asks Pizzorno how long the band chewed over a future without Meighan and whether they felt any guilt about ultimately moving forward, the mood shifts noticeably.. Pizzorno calls the immediate aftermath of Meighan’s departure “horrendous” and “completely heartbreaking on so many levels”, both for the band and for his own family.. “You’ve got to understand [that] within a band, it’s deep,” Pizzorno adds.. Asked about the impact of no longer having Meighan in Kasabian and how that’s affected the overall songwriting, Pizzorno appears to be deliberately vague in his answer, as if trying to avoid tainting Meighan’s legacy.. When Liam, a long-term friend of the band, invited Kasabian to support him at his massive Knebworth shows in June, it felt extra special for Pizzorno and co. – not least because the request came before they’d even played publicly in their new incarnation.. “[Liam’s] always been absolutely beautiful – and from day one,” Pizzorno says warmly.. Pick it up; march on.” Pizzorno reflects for a moment, then adopts his Mancunian counterpart’s catchphrase, “D’you know what I mean?”, before stoically summing up Kasabian’s mindset in 2022: “March on – business as usual.”

Where is the line between self-belief and delusion, confidence and arrogance? Where do you have to ban borderline banter and chatty becomes simply catty?

Kasabian (despite claiming to hate whingeing bands) have a history of demanding other bands square up musically with them.. While the world’s leaders are fucking everything up it’s music’s job to keep the people’s spirits up and our job to give all the people a really fucking good night out.. Naturally, as Serge talks of Rome’s Coliseum, the title of the band’s new album, ‘Empire’, seems to make perfect sense.. Clash discovers that before the band recorded this, their second LP, they became obsessed with recording a “classic British rock album”.. Produced by Jim Abbiss, of recent Arctic Monkeys fame and who co-produced the band’s first LP, it was recorded very quickly for a classic British rock album; just five weeks.. A telling fact of the band’s spontaneity is that around half the album had been written before the recording whilst the other half was cooked up actually in the studio during the time set aside for recording.. Bassist Chris Edwards revealed that Chris only made it to four days of the five weeks of recording, which continued at the usual velocity of Kasabian mayhem; with each day’s labours getting turned up to 11 whilst the band went mental to the soundtrack of the day just spent: trying out the party tunes with an instant party.. In a recent interview, Serge called your debut LP “sketchy nonsense” yet when you released your debut Tom told Clash that it was “going to put a hole in rock ‘n’ roll”.. Calling me a rock ‘n’ roll star in my own mind is bollocks but to other people I am perceived as a rock ‘n’ roll star but all I have ever wanted to do is sing and so obviously I must be a rock ‘n’ roll star.. As long as we keep making good records and keeping people interested in us then we’ll make a few more albums.. Serge: I think that it’s an important point, that while the world’s leaders are fucking everything up it’s music’s job to keep the people’s spirits up and our job to give all the people a really fucking good night out.. Tom: I love the fact our band makes people happy, as long as we are happy in what we are doing.. Infuriatingly in July, Serge was quoted as saying: “Dance music was on its arse before we came along”, whilst Tom chimed in: “And we turned it round and made it our own.” During our chat Serge impressed on me that in fact he didn’t exactly say those words and claims his words were slightly twisted, but having spent an afternoon with them you would not put such crass overstatement past the two of them nor ignore Serge’s cheeky glint whilst defending his patch.. Their over-hyped boasts, their winding up of other bands, their stupid claims to have saved dance music and “made it their own”, their bizarre inability to recognise any of the heritage of electronic rock bands such New Order, Primal Scream, Depeche Mode, The Rapture, Fad Gadget, Throbbing Gristle and more latterly the diversity of Hot Chip or the DFA to name only a fraction of their successful peers.

very early interview with the band...

In 1994 I interviewed a very new band called Kasabian .. They talk the walk like the Gallaghers, they are big chums with the ever hip to beat ex Roses bass hero Mani, they have the Primals electronic scuzz mixed in with their Oasis attitude and big chorus attitude, they may come from Leicester but they feel like a late eighties Manchester crew updated into the ultrasonic new millennium and they rock.. Its the way that we are honest and if people don’t like it we don’t care.’ laughs Tom who oozes the kind of confidence that makes this kind of schtick work effortlessly.. The band who formed four years ago, rented a farmhouse near Leicester and attempted to write anthems like their heroes Oasis, and then on getting blown away by Primal Screams astonishing electro rock n roll they bunged a computer into the mix- giving their sound a neo Krautrock flavour, they also took note of Primal Scream bassman Mani’s driving bass attack and got into Joy Division’s bass driven assault.. ”˜People need a band like ours.. We need bands from the streets.. Big time.”. The love affair between the two bands has been reciprocated by the Gallaghers, Liam has been bigging up Kasabian since he saw them play Alan McGee’s pocket sized Death Disco club in London last year and Noel has been dropping their name all over the place.. Kasabian, though, don’t sound like Oasis.

Their lairy songs brought them fame – and their lairier antics made them the Gallaghers' natural heirs. Can their fifth album and a headline slot at Glastonbury transform Kasabian's image? Caspar Llewellyn Smith joins Tom and Serge in Leicester

The first time I meet Sergio Pizzorno, the thin-as-a-rake, bearded-and-black-leathered guitarist from Kasabian , I tell him how terrible his band is.. It's very much the sort of kitchen you'd expect the 33-year-old Pizzorno to have – flat-screen telly showing an old Doors documentary, Easter eggs (or rather Thorntons chocolate bunnies) for his two young children by the Aga – as is the large barn outside that he has had converted into a Boy's Own studio, which is where he largely wrote and made the band's new album.. It wasn't just the lairy sound of singles such as Club Foot (although a more alert critic might have noticed its video was dedicated to Czech student Jan Palach, who killed himself by self-immolation in protest at the end of the Prague Spring) or the corresponding behaviour of the band's singer Tom Meighan (pithily, from Wikipedia: "He became well known for his insults, such as calling Julian Casablancas 'a posh fucking skier', Pete Doherty 'a fucking tramp' and Justin Timberlake 'a midget with whiskers'").. And I love the honesty of that time, how bands would just say: 'We don't give a fuck, mate.'. Click here to watch the video I ask Meighan about the point at which he is brought into the creative process and he replies: "It's pretty simple, Sergio is the Pete Townshend of the band – we're very much like the Who – and when we break up off tour, we go off to do our thing, and after a while I'll get a call to say: 'Thomas, I've got some demos,' and it's like, 'Yes!. – but the famous strain of touring the US was felt the last time the band were on the road, prompting Pizzorno to write SPS, the final song on the new record, a thinly veiled message of support for his childhood friend.. And perhaps my favourite moment on 48:13 comes when the band insert a reference to Leicester into the track Treat, just at the point of a monumental drop, which, as Pizzorno says, "sounds so wrong that it has to be right".. Pizzorno hopes the album summons "the spirit of a Midlands rave played by a rock'n'roll group from 1968" – bands such as Silver Apples, whom he learned about from Oasis.. Click here to watch the video Except I don't – because two weeks later I find myself on the fringes of the moshpit of the Bataclan in Paris as Kasabian launch into Eez-eh, less drunk than the last time I was in France, but in one sense equally intoxicated.

Once regarded as a poor man's Oasis, Kasabian are now one of Britain's biggest bands. Tom Lamont goes on the road with the schoolfriends turned superstars

The band are due on stage in 32 hours.. Boarding our flight to Vienna – 31 hours to go until showtime – the cabin crew definitely take note of Meighan.. How did Kasabian get here?. "If we hadn't known each other since we were 11 years old," says the bassist, "that would've been it, we might have been over.. Late to depart the hotel in Vienna, the band had been lured aboard the bus with promises of favoured food by both tour manager ("Ginsters in the fridge, lads") and driver ("Crisps in the third drawer down").. "Liam and Noel's faces!". "He's in a lot of trouble with the missus at the minute, Arnie," Meighan is saying.. It is the first time, in 32 hours, I have seen Tom Meighan stand completely still.

Videos

1. Kasabian - We're Back
(Kasabian)
2. Kasabian - Re-Wired
(Kasabian)
3. Kasabian - CHEMICALS (Lyric Video)
(Kasabian)
4. Kasabian - ALYGATYR (Official Visualiser)
(Kasabian)
5. Kasabian - Bless This Acid House (Official Video)
(Kasabian)
6. Kasabian - Days Are Forgotten (Official Music Video)
(Kasabian)

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