“WHEN a band has to prove themselves, it’s really exciting and I like being in that position,” says Kasabian leader Serge Pizzorno.
“I’ve always loved being the underdog – I’ve written a lot of songs about it – and that’s where Kasabian found themselves.
“We knew what was weighing on it and we deserved our chance. The ‘new’ shows we’ve played have been really special and this album has given us a lot of confidence.”
Pizzorno is upbeat and has a lot to say as we discuss their seventh album The Alchemist’s Euphoria, the first without original singer Tom Meighan.
I sit with the musician in his office as a publicist and discuss two emotional years for the Leicester band.
Pizzorno, 41, emerged as the frontman in July 2020 after singer Tom Meighan was fired for assaulting his now-wife Vikki Ager.
Meighan pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service, but domestic violence charities criticized the order as insufficient after it was revealed in court that Meighan repeatedly punched Ager, held her by the neck and pulled her ankles.
However, fans were divided over the decision to sack Meighan over the incident, with many fans taking to social media to express their opinion that he should be given a second chance. “I was aware of the gossip,” says Pizzorno.
“But no one but us knows what happened. For me the band is something sacred and we made the decision as a band that everything stays within the band. Tit for tat? I’m not going there.
“Playing shows or making albums was the only way for me. I talk at gigs or on the record.”
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The future for Kasabian had been bleak. For 17 years the band was one of Britain’s biggest groups, but Pizzorno, bassist Chris Edwards and drummer Ian Matthews didn’t know what came next.
The songwriter admits he had been considering a new frontman, but they kept coming back to the fact that these were HIS songs.
“Those words are in my blood,” he tells me. “I know where I was writing each of these songs. That counts on stage when the words come from within. So I had to get up and step up. I really didn’t have a choice.”
Pizzorno says his decision to move on and become the band’s lead singer was supported by his friends and family.
He says: “Parking Kasabian’s songs for the rest of my life didn’t just touch me. It affected Dibs (Chris) and Ian, our crew and families.
“What else should we have done? Go and do something else? I have to pay off my frigging mortgage, so we had to do what made us happy.
“We made the decision as a band to continue with me as a singer. Tom knows we’re there when he needs us. We spoke to him and he knows it. But after that he moved on. He left on his own before we even knew what we were going to do.”
Pizzorno takes on the vocal duties and emphasizes that he never intended to be a frontman when he formed the band as a teenager.
“I didn’t want to be the singer. It’s not my calling. But out of necessity I am now,” he says.
“It hasn’t been that much time to think too deeply, which is good for me as I can overthink.
“I can go places when I’m on the sofa, but when I’m on this stage the concentration is absolutely insane. I just keep going. It’s like jumping out of an airplane.
“As long as you pack the parachute yourself, you’re fine. Once you have made the choice and entered this stage, there is no going back. You’re in free fall and I can’t worry about it until then.”
Pizzorno says he didn’t want to be “a guitarist trying to be a frontman,” and says he took inspiration from artists he loves like Tyler, the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger.
He says: “I want people to listen to the songs, come to a live performance and be a part of the moment – the experience and the fucking energy of our shows. I just want people to go crazy with our music. And that’s what happened – kids went nuts in the mosh pit.”
While sipping a cup of tea, the singer and father-of-two says: “Being the front man is a different animal though.
“I’ve always been good at when the suitcase is home, I left this guy on tour and he doesn’t come home, but it’s also about taking care of yourself before a gig.
“You have to prepare for a gig, be on top of it and watch your throat. It’s almost athlete level – and I suppose so.”
Kasabian returned in October 2021 with a UK tour that included two nights at London’s Brixton Academy. They also headlined the Isle of Wight Festival and supported Liam Gallagher at Knebworth in June and received some of the best reviews.
“Those shows at Knebworth were just amazing. I love Liam and thank him for giving us the confidence and support to play these shows.”
With new guitarist Tim Carter and accompanied live by The Music’s Rob Harvey on multi-instrumentalist and backing vocals, Pizzorno says, “There’s a new energy to our shows.
“There is also a new generation of people joining us for the first time. Combined with the two-year confinement, this means live music is needed.
“We have always been interested in the new. We’ve never been nostalgic. We’ve never made albums that sound like the last ones. And that’s why this new chapter works so well.”
I didn’t want to be the singer. It’s not my calling. But out of necessity I am now
Serge Pizzorno, Kasabian
Pizzorno had released a solo album, The SLP, in 2019, which also inspired the new record, but now he says, “My full focus is on Kasabian.”
He says: “I came up with the idea of The Alchemist because I love the idea of a guy in the studio bringing different genres together to make something new. The euphoria is that little bit of creating something special — where you get that damn feeling.”
Produced by Pizzorno and Fraser T Smith, The Alchemist’s Euphoria is an album that combines the musician’s love of hip-hop, dance beats and great Italian film scores.
“It’s a new chapter, but it comes from the same place all the other albums come from. I see it as the next phase,” says Pizzorno.
The album features some of the band’s best songs of their career. Chemicals and Scriptvre are already huge live, while new single The Wall punctuated Sunday’s Euro Final victory for the Lionesses.
Rocket Fuel is fueled by comments critics have made about the band, and TUE (The Ultraview Effect) is dreamy psychedelic escapism.
“Grief Takes a Time”
Pizzorno says: “And in terms of the idea and the vision of the record, the Ultraview effect is central. This song is basically three songs together – almost a folk intro, then it goes into electronica and then out into Italian cinema. It is exciting.
“The idea for the whole album was to get as much information as possible in a very short amount of time. Attention spans are what they are – mine is bad.
“This album will always be an interesting record. Even if you come back to it in the years to come.”
Stargazr is another highlight, a psychedelic club anthem that Pizzorno says will appeal to different generations and relate for different reasons. For some people it will remind you of The Hacienda, for others it will sound like Boards Of Canada and early 2000’s warp music. Others will refer to it because of The Chemical Brothers while now it’s like Bicep. It just depends where you are.”
He adds that the album closer is Letting Go: “Kind of the perfect mood for everything. Just let it all go, man. Don’t hold on to things and don’t keep going over things. We are reborn every minute of the day and when I think about it, writing this record was like therapy.
“In the end, Tom made his decision. And then we had to make our decision. And it’s that simple. We had to move on and it took time, but grief takes time, doesn’t it?”
Pizzorno says Kasabian are just looking forward now and have already started work on an arena tour in October.
“It was tough but we’re back and at our best. This music is my expression. That’s how I feel.”
- The Alchemist’s Euphoria will be released on August 12th
The euphoria of the alchemist
https://www.the-sun.com/entertainment/5933091/kasabians-serge-pizzorno-tom-meighan-kicked-out/ Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno on how he became the group’s frontman after Tom Meighan was sacked