Since 1999, UK rockers Kasabian have spanned the stylistic gamut of psychedelia, electronica and arena-blast rock that catapulted bands like the Foo Fighters to superstardom. Massive critical acclaim and chart-smashing success in their homeland led to the Autumn release of Velociraptor, their fourth and most accomplished album yet.
Despite a heavy international presence and a hearty reputation for ripping it live at their shows, they are still largely unfamiliar in America – due in part to radio resistance and limited touring. Velociraptor may change all that, with the seasoned collection making an impact in American markets that its predecessors didn't.
We tracked down lead singer Tom Meighan for a few words about the state of Kasabian today, among other issues.
How do I put this… What the f*ck is wrong with America? This country's lack of appreciation for you is embarrassing, considering that the rest of the world seems to be on board. Surely you must have a theory…
The theory is we haven’t toured America for 4 years, and our record label wouldn’t back us and we’ve parted company with them. We’re going to go to a new record label, we’re fresh, we’ve got new ideas, and we’ve got a new team backing us now. Basically we had no backing, that’s we haven’t been to America for a long time (since 2006). As for lack of appreciation, I think we just concentrated on other places in the world and we’ve been really busy, but our favorite place to tour is America. It makes you feel that rock and roll is not dead, and is alive, and we’re coming next March, which is going to be fabulous. I can’t wait.
You've moved up the bill for Big Day Out – aside from playing in the blasting sunshine to a crowd of unfamiliars, what's the worst part of playing the early slot at a festival?
Years ago when we were young, we’d play early. I suppose the worst part of it is that we’re not a daylight band, really, so that’s probably it.
Do you change your setlist or performance approach when playing festivals as opposed to your own show? If so, what's the thought process behind it?
If we want a full-on anarchy show, we’ll put a load of booming songs in, and if we want to slow it down a bit, we’ll put some mid-paced songs in there. It changes from time to time.
How many songs did you record for the record that didn't make the cut? Will we ever see a B-sides and rarities collection down the line?
There’s a load hanging around. We cut a song called “Pistols at Dawn” which I wanted on the album. I was screaming at Serge, texting him, going “this is going to make the album, I’m taking this record to war with you” – which was pretty funny – but it was one song too many, and it was a bit too long. I wanted it on the record, but it didn’t make it (it was a b-side). There are still loads of b-sides that we’ve written and that will be written in the future.
The media was all abuzz when Serge mentioned that he quit drugs for Velociraptor! and the new family addition – I'm curious to your thoughts on personal freedoms to explore our own minds. More specifically, what's your reaction to this recent quote from Graham Hancock: "I believe that the sovereignty of the adult over his or her own body and his or her own mind trump everything else, and we must have the rights to make our own mistakes. We already have laws in our society for punishing bad behavior. If somebody on drugs goes out and gets in somebody else's face and causes them trouble, then we already have laws to deal with that. We don't need new laws that control our consciousness and rigidly place it into a prison, and actually place us in prison."
I think he’s very right… (laughs)
I read that, among other influences, you listened to a lot of Pink Floyd going into this record. With all the tributes and bands playing late-night covers on TV this month, what songs of theirs would you take on to make a television impression to American kids?
The average American can get caught up easily in trying to understand what the hell you're saying in a conversation or during interviews at times. Are there any American cultural flares that you find peculiar? (Aside from our tendency to celebrate idiot whores in the media, of course)
No, not really. I mean, every country has their weirdos. I mean, obviously the Ku Klux Klan is fucking weird, and that’s mental, but I dunno really.
What advice do you have for a kid sitting in his bedroom with a guitar he doesn't know how to play, but the desire and dedication to follow his heart?
Pray. Pray to God every night.