Kasabian continue to build their Empire

Tom Meighan and Serge Pizzorno
Tom Meighan and Serge Pizzorno
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As Kasabian prepare to headline the closing night of the Isle of Wight Festival and release a fourth album, frontman Tom Meighan talks to JODIE JEYNES about the new material and his ambition to get his mum on a record

When Kasabian last played at the Isle of Wight Festival, a collaboration came out of it.

Rosario Dawson

Rosario Dawson

They met Sin City actress Rosario Dawson backstage when she came to see them perform at the festival in Seaclose Park, Newport, four years ago and ended up recording a song with the American starlet.

West Ryder Silver Bullet was a duet between Rosario and frontman Tom Meighan which featured on the band’s third album, the chart-topping Mercury-nominated double platinum West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

‘We met Rosario at the Isle Of Wight when she came to see us. Our manager knows a friend of hers, so I said “hello”,’ explains Tom.

‘We wanted a proper rock’n’roll duet – like Lee and Nancy, Serge and Jane, so she was perfect.

‘It’s about two lovers racing towards the sunset – a total crazed acid vibe,’ he continues.

Tom says there are no collaborations on Kasabian’s fourth album, due for release in September/October. But there was one person he was really keen to get on the record.

‘I wanted my mother on it,’ laughs the 30-year-old singer. ‘But it was a last minute thing and she couldn’t. She’s a nurse so she’s got to take care of people. Maybe I’ll get her on the next record,’ he adds.

For the time being, this fourth record is all fans and music press can talk about. It’s just been mastered and was officially unveiled on Wednesday, when the title and track listing were announced the morning after a sneak peek of track 10 of 11, Switchblade Smiles, on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show.

Following the sky-scraping melodies, electro-punk riffs, Morricone-esque symphonies and psychedelia of West Ryder, the new album has a much heavier sound.

‘It’s different,’ agrees Tom. ‘It’s a completely different record from West Ryder. It’s really heavy. There are some amazing heavy songs and a heartbreaker, which we’ve never had before.

‘I suppose I’d say that it’s very grown-up.’

He continues: ‘The first record had some really big anthems and the next two had a few more experimental tracks.

‘This one has got experimental songs and anthems. It draws from the best of our whole three,’ he concludes.

As they did for West Ryder, the band decamped to San Francisco to work with Dan The Automator (Gorillaz) on their new release.

Of why they chose to work with the same producer again, Tom says it was ‘just because we got on so well’.

He adds: ‘Serge [guitarist and songwriter Serge Pizzorno] takes the basics of the track to him and he gets our vibe. His input sounds great. He’s a hip hop producer at heart but it works really well with us.’

Tom is also a fan of Dan’s base on the US West Coast.

‘San Francisco is a really cool place to record and go and do the vocals,’ he says. ‘It’s a beautiful part of America and really laid back,’ he tells me from the car park of his Leicester apartment.

We’re speaking the day before a series of intimate warm-up shows, which ran from Saturday to Wednesday, ahead of the festival season and Kasabian’s headlining shows on the Isle of Wight and in Scotland.

‘I’m just about to leave for Sheffield for the first warm-up gig tomorrow,’ says Tom.

‘Of course I’m looking forward to it, if I wasn’t there would be something wrong,’ he explains in his brusque manner.

‘It’s going to be good to get back into the little venues, the tiny ones, the baby venues,’ he adds, more enthusiastically.

Unfortunately for us, the band haven’t planned a Portsmouth warm-up show. Their last Isle of Wight preparatory gig at the Wedgewood Rooms, was among the best night’s the NME-nominated venue has seen.

As anyone who has seen the quartet perform at gigs such as their dates in Portsmouth and Southampton in the summer of 2009 can attest, they are ideal festival performers, worthy of their closing headliner slot on Sunday night on the island.

Their anthemic songs and crowd-pumping stage presence recommended them for numerous awards last year, including a BRIT, two NMEs, a Q Award and a Mojo Award.

But the boys are equally famous for their hard-partying lifestyle at ceremonies and out on tour.

Tom admits that things have changed a bit since his bandmate Serge became a dad last year.

Serge and his wife Amy welcomed son Ennio Silva into the world in August, Amy having given birth a month early while Serge was on a flight back from Australia.

Tom says it has changed the dynamic of the band.

‘We’ll, you know, back when we were younger, we were a lot different. There was no kids and that. Don’t get me wrong, we have a party, but not like we used to,’ he owns. Then he adds: ‘Well, actually, I probably do!

‘It’s just a thing in life. Everyone goes through it, having children and slowing down.’

But Serge still seems to be living up to the band’s reputation for madcap antics, telling Scottish papers he plans to hire a submarine and search for the Loch Ness Monster, when he plays Rock Ness Festival tonight.

Tom plays along with the idea for a while when I ask him, before admitting that it’s all talk.

‘I’d like to do it, but I can’t see it happening,’ he owns.

But Tom maintains that he does believe in the legend of the lake monster. ‘Yeah, of course there’s one in there. I know there is. There’s got to be,’ he affirms.

After the festivals and the album release, Tom says the band’s plans are to get back on the road.

‘We’ve been off for about seven months, so I can’t wait.’

Kasabian headline the Main Stage at the sold-out Isle of Wight Festival, Seaclose Park, Newport, on Sunday.

Watch out for details of their coming tour on kasabian.co.uk.

Tom on...

...playing Terry Graham in the British Wrestling sitcom pilot Walk Like a Panther

I did this sitcom pilot with Steve Graham and Sean Pertwee. It’s just something I did in my spare time. It’s still early stages.

...bands he’d like to see at the Isle of Wight Festival

Pulp – Jarvis Cocker is a genius. I’d like to see Plan B, but we’re going to get there too late. We don’t get to hang around all weekend. When you’re on last on Sunday you just turn up, you know?

...the best new band he’s come across lately

The Black Keys are not new but their last record was awesome. I like Daft Punk and the soundtrack they did for the Tron film was amazing. I was listening to a funk band from LA on Jools Holland, but I’ve forgotten their name [we think he might mean Warpaint]. And Aloe Blacc – he’s cool.