Kaiser Chiefs Want a Revolution

Published March 6, 2012

ABOVE: KAISER CHIEFS. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANNY NORTH

Leeds-based Kaiser Chiefs are full of surprises. Last summer, the band surprised fans by releasing a fourth studio album, The Future is Medieval, after a three-year hiatus. The Future is Medieval was uniquely released in Europe via a digital platform where fans could create and sell their own versions of the album with their choice of album art, designed by lead singer Ricky Wilson.

The album is finally being released stateside today, under the title Start The Revolution Without Me and including a combination of songs from the online and physical releases of The Future is Medieval. And there’s plenty unexpected about it, with a rough-around-the-edges sound complemented equally by punk and classic-rock influences. Its first single, “Little Shocks,” proves the Kaiser Chiefs haven’t lost the same passion that first surfaced with “I Predict A Riot” back in 2005. Following the release, the band will be touring the US beginning this month with Walk the Moon and Transfer.

We spoke with Andrew White about the evolution of the music industry, and how technology has changed the band

ILANA KAPLAN: How is Start The Revolution Without Me different from your previous albums?

ANDREW WHITE: We released it in the normal way in the UK. It’s been out in the UK for a while now. We had fans choose songs for the official release of the album. We had fans choose the tracks that they wanted, which were ten songs. We gave fans the opportunity to do the work. It’s kind of unique in that sense. We created plenty of songs that were real. Usually albums have a lot of fillers. Our album is full of real parts.

KAPLAN: Will you guys be starting a tour in the US following this album?

WHITE: We’re coming over in March, in about 10 days’ time, to start a US tour. It’s going to be our longest US tour. We’re starting out on the East Coast, then finishing up in Vancouver. We’re pretty pumped about it.

KAPLAN: How do you guys think you evolved since your last record? You guys released one last summer, correct?

WHITE: Yeah. I think we’re a bit more relaxed now than with the last album. I think that with our decisions, our previous songs tended to have a certain amount of urgency to them. Now, you only see that in the background, with the newer stuff. They are more mature.

KAPLAN: Why did you guys decide to let the fans choose the tracks for this album?

WHITE: It was kind of borne out of boredom, really. After the third album, we took a long break. We didn’t really want to do anything. We had no drive to record a fourth album. So, Vicki came up with the idea, and that made it a bit more interesting for us. The idea was born out of, initially, boredom, and then obviously the idea evolved to let fans choose. When you buy a digital track, you tend to buy it and then forget about it. At least with our version, you thought about it a bit more. You can choose a bit more of an object. It makes digital music a “thing.” It was kind of an experiment.

KAPLAN: What were some of the influences behind the tracks on the album?

WHITE: I mean, everything. We are influenced by everything, you know? Like most people nowadays, we’ve exchanged a lot. There are not specific genres anymore. You can take from a bit of this and a bit of that. We listen to a lot of Iggy Pop, The Velvet Underground, The Who, dance music, Justice and hip-hop. We like a bit of everything. I think our music shows that. I think our music shows that we draw from a lot of influences. We’re not afraid of where our influences will take us.

KAPLAN: Who does the primary songwriting in the band?

WHITE: That would be Nick, our drummer. He always writes songs. He always has been. I’ve been in a band with him for 15 years now. He’s always been the kind of instigator. Nick is the guy. We have discussions and stuff; we all put our opinion in. At the end of the day, we all realize that Nick’s right.

KAPLAN: How far do you think you guys have come since “I Predict A Riot?”

WHITE: Well, we feel privileged to still be doing it. A lot of bands give up. We feel really privileged to come over to the States. It’s so expensive over there. I think we’ve come a long way. We’ve learned a lot. We were kind of innocent at the start. We’ve matured a lot. “I Predict A Riot” was written nine years ago. We’re older. The world has changed. Music has changed. We’re proud of that kind of period. We embrace it. We’re not scared to play all of the old songs. When we come on tour, we’re obviously going to play new songs, but we’re going to play old songs too. We’re proud of our music. We’ll play it.

KAPLAN: You guys have been in the game for a while; what is some advice that you’d give to musicians that are coming out today?

WHITE: I would say, “Don’t bother. Give it up, because we don’t need the competition.” I mean it’s hard now. Obviously the way technology is evolving. Music is very, very easy now. Getting it out to people is very, very easy. It also means that nobody is there to pick out the rubbish ones. There’s a lot of crap music out there. If you’re a musician and you genuinely believe that you’re talented and you’re going to get somewhere. Then, just keep trying. It took us 10 years to get a record deal. So just keep trying.

KAPLAN: What are some of your favorite tracks on the latest album? It’s a mix of old and new. They must be meaningful on a lot of different levels.

WHITE: I like all of them. Honestly, I really do. “Can’t Mind My Own Business.” “Little Shocks.” I like them all. “Things Change” is a good song. There’s a bit of everything in there. I’m extremely proud of all of the songs. I like the new songs. We put 110 percent into every song. I wouldn’t be in the band if I didn’t like the songs that we played. I’m very proud of all of them. I hope that people like it.

KAISER CHIEFS’ START THE REVOLUTION WITHOUT ME COMES OUT TODAY IN THE US. KAISER CHIEFS WILL BE PLAYING WITH WALK THE MOON THIS THURSDAY, MARCH 8, AT TERMINAL 5. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.