Event talks to Newmarket Racecourse bound Kaiser Chiefs

Kaiser Chiefs play Newmarket July 31. Photo: Danny North

Kaiser Chiefs play Newmarket July 31. Photo: Danny North - Credit: Archant

Kaiser Chiefs play Newmarket Racecourse on July 31. The band’s Ricky Wilson and Simon Rix sat down for a Q&A

Playing live is what it's all about for the band. Photo: Danny North

Playing live is what it's all about for the band. Photo: Danny North - Credit: Archant

Q: You’ve obviously done some race course shows before, do they differ much from your normal kind of tours you do or like the festival performances?

Wilson: People are very drunk.

Rix: They are different, but that’s not to say it’s bad different, just different different. There’s only us that’s the thing. So there’s racing and drinking and everyone’s quite dressed up and they’re all on a big night out and it’s all very good, but there’s no support band, it’s just sort of, we’re kind of the main event I guess, which is nice.

Wilson: It’s kinda like a wedding, because you’ve got guys with their ties around their heads going mental. I really enjoy it, it’s a different vibe to anything else we’ve done but we’re coming back to do more so we must enjoy it.


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Rix: I think we just did it because at that moment we were sort of doing some different things... I honestly expected it was gonna be like in a marquee, even more like a wedding, like a thousand people in a marquee or something, it’s gonna be a little affair. We got there and it was like 20,000 people in a field.

Wilson: A festival basically.

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Rix: It was like wow, this is more people then have turned up to other gigs and that was ace, that was in York, that was the first one we did and they’ve all been good since then. So we always do a few.

Wilson: It’s like a festival with good toilet facilities and a dress code. But it’s got the same vibe, I really like it, it’s good.

They're looking forward to entertaining crowds at the racecourse. Photo: Danny North

They're looking forward to entertaining crowds at the racecourse. Photo: Danny North - Credit: Archant

Rix: I still think it’s a different kind of audience in a way, where you get people who wouldn’t go to a festival or maybe even a gig but they like our band. They see it and they go ‘oh, that’s a great day out’ you know, racing and then music.

Q: Do you catch any of the racing while you are there?

Rix: Yeah.

Wilson: Ah it’s hilarious, I’m watching this lot all day betting and I don’t bet because I know it would be a problem if I started I’ve got to do the (five). So yeah, it’s funny and they keep popping out and putting bets on and it is funny.

Q: Are you normally into your horse racing?

Rix: Not at all. Not every single one but most of them just go and put a couple things on, see what’s going on, try to win some money because that’s part of the fun. One of our crew guys, it’s his favourite gig of the year because he loves it. He stayed out doing all sorts of things all day, not setting anything up just betting.

Wilson: Everything becomes very serious about the betting and like you’re getting paid for the day and you’re in danger of losing it.

Rix: My favourite thing is when you’re on tour you get something called PDs, it’s like money for like food, toothpaste.

Their latest album Education, Education, Education and War was widely praised.

Their latest album Education, Education, Education and War was widely praised. - Credit: PA

Wilson: Betting.

Rix: So we got our PDs for everything on that day, a decent amount of money and I said we should put our money on a horse that’s PD. So there was one that was called, I can’t even remember now, you know Pearl Diamond or something. So we all, me (Peanut), this guy Andy and we all put quite a lot of money, like £50 each or something like and it won and it was like a long thing.

Q: You must have been buzzing all night off of that?

Rix: But then by the time we done all that, we spent it all. You win and then you lose it all.

Q: Obviously done some race course shows before, do they differ much from your normal kind of tours you do or like the festival performances?

Wilson: people are very drunk.

Rix: They are different, but that’s not to say it’s bad different, just different different. There’s racing and drinking, and everyone’s quite dressed up and they’re all on a big night out and it’s all very good. But there’s no support band, it’s just sort of, we’re kind of the main event I guess, which is nice.

Wilson: It’s kinda like a wedding, because you’ve got guys with their ties around their heads going mental. I really enjoy it, it’s a different vibe to anything else we’ve done but we’re coming back to do more so we must enjoy it.

Rix: We just did it because we were trying some different things out. I honestly expected it was gonna be like in a marquee, even more like a wedding, like a thousand people in a marquee or something, it’s gonna be a little affair. And the we got there and it was like 20,000 people in a field.

Wilson: A festival basically.

Rix: It was like wow, this is more people then have turned up to other gigs and that was ace, that was in York, that was the first one we did and they’ve all been good since then. So we always do a few.

Wilson: It’s like a festival with good toilet facilities and a dress code. But it’s got the same vibe, I really like it, it’s good.

Rix: I still think it’s a different kind of audience in a way, where you get people who wouldn’t go to a festival or maybe even a gig but they like our band. They see it and go ‘oh, that’s a great day out’ you know, racing. And then music.

Q: Do you approach these shows differently, I guess it would a lot more of a greatest hits rather than trying to focus on a lot of the new material?

Wilson: We’re not daft, we can judge what we need to do at certain times and thing is, it’s becoming weird because now the greatest hits are, I mean we’ve got a song on the radio at the moment and Coming Home was a big song in my life, and people generally love the new stuff. It’s becoming like we had a blip in the middle where we don’t really play anything off the fourth record even though it’s got some of the best stuff we’ve ever wrote on it but it’s just...

Rix: No-one (knows it)?

Wilson: It was that it was quite self indulgent, we kind of forgot about the people we actually care about, which is the people that care about us. That make sense?

Q: Your fans?

Wilson: Yeah, I mean I don’t like to use the word fans because it makes me seem big-headed. We want everyone to have the night of their lives... There’s 20,000 people out there and I’m worried about one of them going to the bar, because I don’t want the venues to make any more money out of us than they’re making he laughs.

Q: Newmarket, obviously has a bit of a catchment area of like Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich and Essex. Have you got any good memories from these places, like in the early days of the band? You know obviously you had the DVD around in Southall in the little cinema there.

Rix: We did go to Norwich with (the Ordinary Boys) on that first tour and it was good. We haven’t been there that much to Norwich, I don’t think we’ve ever been to Ipswich. We played at Cambridge though at the Corn Exchange, that was good. We haven’t been enough, we didn’t go to that area at all in the last tour. So it would be good to go and play to the people, hopefully they’ll all turn out.

Wilson: It’s a brilliant idea actually, it’s a great place to go, to visit... I was there on a stag-do last year, I hate stag-do’s. They’re awful.

Q: Where abouts?

Wilson: Osea Island, it’s quite nice. You can only get to it at certain times of day because it floods and then you know, it’s on an estuary. So we couldn’t get off and there were 16 men on this island who couldn’t get off for 24 hours. And so I was like there’s gonna be murder or worse.

Q: With a number one album and the arena tour just finished, does it seem like you’re in a better place after all the doubt that kind of surrounded you guys when Nick (Hodgson) left?

Wilson: Are we in a better place?

Rix: Yes is the answer and it’s too simple though. I think the arena tour, I mean, Ricky has been continuously busy but the rest of us, since the arena tour, have been lazing about for three weeks. For me, because I knew that break was coming, it seemed like the end of a really, really like long and sort of hard but good time. So we started off in, say, January 2013, getting Vijay and started to write the songs for the record, writing the record and doing gigs with Vijay and getting all that worked out - recording the record, finishing the record, it coming out, it being number one, touring it and whatever else. Then the arena tour seemed like the full stop, but in a really great way. Exclamation mark actually because it was like, triumphant I think and it just really felt like we done what we wanted to do, which was just sort of put ourselves back on course as I think we sort of definitely meander around a bit around the fourth album. With Nick leaving and with various other things I think we lost our way a little bit and definitely felt like the tour and everything like, we went to South America with Foo Fighters just before that, which was great and all touring festivals over the summer like Glastonbury and all of it combined, but obviously the arena tour was ours. It’s like we used to always do arena tours and then we stopped, then we did one again and it was like ‘yes, we’re back’.

Wilson: It is funny though because, although it’s brilliant and we understand it’s brilliant and we’re all very excited and every show we do is getting bigger and bigger and again it’s like the graph is turned around a little bit. It’s weird because, you know how you said it was an exclamation mark, the arena tour, and it’s funny because everyone around us is celebrating and clinking glasses. When you’re in a band it’s the realisation it’s all about the next thing, it’s like you never really stop and enjoy the moment and have that kind of like ‘we did it guys’ because you always go ‘yeah, we’ve turned the ship around, now we have to set sail’.

Rix: Almost immediately, well obviously anyway, but you’ve got to start thinking about the next album and actually got to do all of that, that he’s described, again and try to do it even better.

Wilson: It’s funny because on nme.com they had a little article about the fact we’d a new single Falling Awake out and it said ‘Kaiser Chiefs unveil first song of their next record, which is out later in the year’ and I was a bit like ‘whooh, aye’. Yeah, it doesn’t stop for a sec.

Q: With Hodgson leaving, he was widely credited as being one of the main songwriters, has your confidence came back as a band with the fact the album that you guys wrote went to number one?

Wilson: It was a new kind of confidence because we never individually and together as the four remaining members and then when Vijay joined, we never had that kind of confidence in the fact we could do it. When we first had our first rehearsal without Vijay we didn’t know we could do it, it was ‘lets see if its possible’ and it was. So it’s not like we got our confidence back, it was like we grew it from scratch really.

Q: So how confident were you guys with your own song writing abilities?

Wilson: We didn’t know we could do it, honestly, I’ve never written a song without Nick being in the room and I don’t know if you have, but nothing you’d ever bring.

Rix: No, exactly. I think it was the confidence of like, I always felt we would do it, we just had to work out how we were gonna do it and you know, it would work its self out because I felt we had the talent. I also felt that, you know sometimes when you’ve got a football team and you’ve got a star player, like for instance Ronaldo, but then he gets injured or he can’t play. Then the team play amazingly wthout him and you realise that everyone steps up and everyone fills the gap because that’s how life works. So that’s what we did basically, we just did it, I mean we wanted to do it. I think actually, we said this before, but Nick leaving gave us a new sense of motivation and new energy. When we first started the band we were all desperate to be in a band and we were desperate like, I don’t know, to get signed or play a certain venue like Brixton Academy or Glastonbury, there was lots of things. We’ve done lots of things in our career, then we sort of get complacent. Not in a bad way, but just because some things you’re used to. Then suddenly this thing where its like, we had to positively decide we wanted to carry on and we had to positively be better and write better songs and do all this stuff. So it made us hungry again, basically.

Wilson: You forget how hard you worked in the first place, you know nostalgia makes it feel like it’s luck and right place right time but you forget the van journeys and all the gigs to go on - all this kind of stuff and the fact we didn’t give up when there was no promise of anything. So why would you give up when you’ve already got a name people know and albums people love and it’s just a matter of pushing it over the edge. So we started working as hard as we did at the beginning and not just taking it for granted.

Q: How’s the album, how’s the new material going down on tour, any fan favourites sticking out whenever you play them live that perhaps you wouldn’t of thought would of?

Rix: I don’t know about if we wouldn’t of thought about it. On the arena tour because we felt, even though it was a long time after the album, we felt like that was the tour for the album because we didn’t do one. So we played a lot of new songs and it was noticeable how they went down very well. I think a lot of people highlighted in reviews, which I try not to read, and other people, family and all that telling you, that Coming Home and Falling Awake, which is the brand new song, were like highlights of the set along with the classics. But I’ll always want to play Ruby and I Predict a Riot but it’s great, you’ve got to have new stuff coming in there.

Wilson: I was gonna say, from the fans, the only criticism we really got was not playing some of the new ones. It was like ‘why aren’t you playing One More Last Song, why aren’t you playing, you know all those ones off the record. Why aren’t you playing Bows and Arrows’ and it’s like ‘woah’.

Rix: There was so many songs off the new album that we wanted to play and also we felt like, say if it’s a song like Roses which is a sort of poignant moment, we can’t really play that in a festival, so it was a chance to play it at arenas when you’ve got your own fans there. We didn’t play the second single off this record, we didn’t play it in the set because there just wasn’t enough time unless we played the whole record, which felt a little bit too much.

Q: Do you think that was a benefit, essentially doing the album tour near enough a year after the album came out?

Wilson: It was an indication of everything we’d done and what we wanted to achieve, which was basically not sit on the laurels of the first two records for the rest of our lives and create something new that people felt in their hearts as much they probably did with the old two and we’ve done that. I don’t think many people do that or get away with it.

Q: It’s 10 years since Employment, what do you reckon it is that’s got you guys still here 10 years on while others have fallen by the wayside?

Wilson: I think it’s because we can’t do anything else and we’re too scared of doing anything else so we just, all we wanna do is be in a band because anything else seems like a compromise. This is what we all, I think all five of us, wanted to do since we could comprehend wanting to do something.

Rix: I think the band is spoilt for two reasons, one is like, it sort of stops working, which we’ve always even at our lowest points, we’ve still always had some good songs and we still always put on a good show. I think even a few years ago when it wasn’t as good, maybe, we were still putting on great shows and still had lots of people wanting to come see us just because they knew it was a great night out. Festivals especially, I think people know they can depend on us to show them a good time. I think that we want to do it still, so some bands do it for a bit and then decide they want to do something else and we still, as Ricky said, want to do it, want to play our music, want to try to keep going and keep making it better. I think it’s a sort of thing in your head. I think it’s interesting in these management offices and there’s lots of discs and posters of big gigs we’ve done and all sorts of stuff. I don’t have any of this stuff in my house. I think if I came in here every day I would be like ‘ oh yeah, we’ve done really well, we’ve nailed it. We can turn back and switch off now’. I never feel that, I always feel like ‘okay, lets write a better song’.

Q: So you don’t have the Brits in your bathroom and things like that then?

Rix: No. Actually, I found one. I moved house and I found one and I was like ‘I thought I had these’ but I didn’t, it’s really bad because I don’t like that. Another band, someone cleared out their locker, you know like a rehearsal room or whatever, and there’s like all sorts of broken Brits and NME Awards and all that kind of stuff and tapes.

Wilson: Not us, someone else.

Rix: Someone else. I think that’s really disrespectful because I do like all the stuff, I just think it’s sort of unhealthy to surround yourself with it, get big-headed. Dunno, it’s for studios isn’t it?

Wilson: It’s weird because the last year, if we’re nominated for a Q Award, it means more than winning one eight years ago. I just think because, now there’s more of a sense of achievement about it because although it took us a long time to get going, once it got going, everything escalated pretty quickly. So we weren’t really in the mood to appreciate it as much as we should have done because we were just thinking about what we were doing the next day. Now, chart positions and award nominations and people saying nice things about you mean a lot more, I don’t know why. I think it’s probably because we felt like we put a lot more input into making the record. We felt a lot closer to it.

Q: Do you think, as a result then of you being on The Voice, this opened the band up to a lot more of a mainstream kind of audience?

Wilson: No, because when we first started we were allowed to go on other TV shows because there was a lot more TV to go on. When we went on Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeway and played it opened us up to a bigger fan base. When we were on SM:TV every other week, Top of the Pops, it was the same thing. Nowadays, there isn’t as much that boys with beards and guitars are allowed to go on.

Rix: I think we’ve always had quite a wide fan base of like, I think you know pure chin scratching musos never liked us but everybody else I think, from kids to pensioners, mums and dads, teenagers, everyone. I think we’ve always had that at all of our shows and we’ve always like that we’ve had that at our shows.

Q: Have you any rituals or anything before you go the stage or during the day?

Wilson: There’s hundreds of them.

Rix: It’s getting ridiculous.

Wilson: I’m gonna have to have like a watershed moment with all of them.

Rix: A cull.

Wilson: We’re all very superstitious but we’re all musicians so we’re all weirdo’s anyway. As rituals go, we usually have a disco before we go on.

Rix: Nothing crazy, we just like to be on our own, be just the band, no other strangers. Play some music, get you know, pumped.

Wilson: It’s funny though, I mean it’s a room full of late 30- somethings, all dancing like it’s a kids disco.

Rix: It’s like a school disco.

Wilson: Yeah, it’s like a school disco, no girls.

Rix: We should get like a proper school disco DJ.

Wilson: Like with the red light and stuff, okay. They’re really cheap though, we can probably get one for £50, let’s do that. No, we need a proper person there with a mic, what he needs doing. You know with like those, you can win half a bottle of cava if you can blow up a balloon really fast. First person to win the other half. I’d love that, that would be great.

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