Kaiser Chiefs | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, May 29th, 2024  

Kaiser Chiefs

Apr 02, 2005 Kaiser Chiefs Bookmark and Share

The Kaiser Chiefs may “Predict A Riot” on their hit single, but don’t expect drummer Nick Hodgson to start swinging if the band ever gets in an actual fistfight. “I’m not capable of punching someone,” he says. “I think it’s a horrible thing to do. The last fight I was in was four years ago at a disco. I was dancing with this girl, and these lads started saying things to her and we ended up fighting in the middle of this massive dance floor. I think it’s the younger brother syndrome, where scrawny guys get tough and learn to take a hit.”

Hodgson and his band have been getting a much warmer reception as of late. Their debut album Employment burst through the notoriously tricky Anglo-American rock and roll trade barriers in March, largely on the strength of “Riot,” an out-of-left-field hit on influential radio stations like KROQ and Indie 103. Employment is a joyful, noisy and substantially intoxicated mess of four chords, cheap keyboards and shout-a-long melodies that beg for a sunny freeway and a day off from school. We talked with Hodgson after Kaiser Chiefs’ sound check at Carling Liverpool Academy about life in Leeds, BBC sitcoms and Graham Coxon’s motorcycle.

Under the Radar: [Singer] Ricky Wilson recently tore up his ankle at a show in Seattle and had to walk with a cane and leg brace. Is he okay?

Nick Hodgson: Yeah, he’s fine now, no problems.

UTR: Do you consider Kaiser Chiefs a part of a second wave of Brit-Pop bands like Bloc Party, Futureheads, Franz Ferdinand, etc?

Nick: We definitely consider ourselves to be a part of it, and we like it. Ten years ago when I was in school, Brit-pop was everywhere. I loved it, I wanted to be in bands, I was in bands. We were all into Brit-pop except for our guitarist [Andrew White], he was the exception. Now ten years later we talk about being a part of it, and it’s really exciting. But we’re just being what we are. We’re in a band and we’re British, but we’re not copying anybody, we try to be more ourselves.

UTR: What was it like growing up in that generation of exciting, really relevant British rock music?

Nick: I was sixteen, seventeen years old when I first started going to gigs and clubs and pubs, and it was a great time to be sixteen. There were so many good bands. If I had been sixteen at the same time as my brother (who is 39), there would have been nothing there.

UTR: Why do you think you’ve already done so well in America, when it’s usually much harder for British bands to break in the country?

Nick: One big factor was the song [“I Predict A Riot”]. It got on KROQ before we even submitted it to playlists, and the song really grabbed a lot of people that way. I guess they thought it sounded like The Clash, and a lot of people liked it. But they also liked the rest of the songs [on Employment], they liked the band in interviews, all of that helped.

UTR: What’s the difference between American and British audiences?

Nick: There’s very little difference, much less than I expected. I thought there would be a difference, but you could be in Boston or Chicago and it could just as easily be London or Manchester. But the size of the venues has been going up to where it would be one a second album. It’s not like The Strokes, where they had one album and were headlining festivals. That’s immense, that’s a bit too much. We’re at a nice medium. The longer people have the album and listen to it, the shows get better and better.

UTR: Are you worried about being over-hyped and becoming a flash in the pan after such a successful first single?

Nick: No, we’re not worried at all. The other songs on the album are definitely as good as the singles. We’re not one of those bands with one hit and the rest of the album is rubbish.

UTR: [Former Blur guitarist] Graham Coxon guests on Employment by revving his motorcycle at the beginning of one of the songs. How did that come about, and what was that like for you, as Blur fans?

Nick: We knew we would be recording with Stephen Street [Blur, The Smiths], and we asked if we could get [Coxon] on the album, and he said yes, he could bring him up. We wanted to start a song with an engine noise, and Stephen said “let’s do it with Graham’s motorbike.” We’ve met him a few times since then, and now we chat normally, much more so than we did at the beginning.

UTR: What was it like at the beginning?

Nick: It was like meeting any of your heroes, you’re not very good at talking and you laugh at everything he says. We thought it was amazing, I’m sure he thought it was average.

UTR: Do you know if Coxon likes your album?

Nick: Honestly, I have no idea.

UTR: I hear you also met Damon Albarn recently.

Nick: Yeah, that was really special. We were in a bar in Texas, with Zane Lowe [of BBC Radio One], and he said that he had brought a special guest to meet us. We ended up talking and drinking the whole night, and the next night was the same thing.

UTR: What did you talk about?

Nick: What it was like for Blur at this point in their careers. It was really similar for them, lots of hard work, you wonder when you’ll get a day off. But they were in the same situation, and everything turned out all right.

UTR: The new class of Brit-rock and grime [Dizzee Rascal, Lady Sovereign, The Streets] are two kinds of British music taking off both within the UK and abroad. Are you fans of grime?

Nick: Yeah, it’s a very different type of music. I like Dizzee Rascal, and I like The Streets because I think he sounds a bit like The Specials. It doesn’t mean a lot to the country as a whole, but it means a lot to the people involved in it, the working-class people in the city. It helps a lot of kids who are uninspired by work or school. There’s a lot gritty, real music coming out of these places like London and Leeds.

UTR: Is “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” written about a particular person?

Nick: It started as an idea. I came up with the phrase, and Ricky wrote some lyrics about an ex-girlfriend of his. I have no idea if she knows, I never see her. I don’t even remember her name.

UTR: “Caroline, Yes” is a fairly obvious nod to The Beach Boys, and many of your songs have their same kind of playfulness, like “Na Na Na Na Naa.” Is that part of your personality as a songwriter?

Nick: Yes, that’s what we are, we’re not depressives. It strange, all these little decisions we made in my bedroom at Leeds, when no one even cared about the band, it’s very unusual when people ask us questions about things like that. We didn’t think twice about it, it was just an amusing idea, and now you’re asking these interesting questions about it. We were just writing to amuse ourselves. A lot of the lyrics are really bitter and Smiths-y, and they sound miserable, but they’re not, they’re really upbeat once you get into them.

UTR: So do you think your lyrics are misunderstood by critics?

Nick: When people talk about the lyrics, they either like them or they say they’re shit. But we never write to please anyone but ourselves, even if people slag off on the lyrics. I remember writing lyrics and laughing, thinking “that’s brilliant,” and a year and a half later they’re showing up in reviews. There was this TV show Birds of a Feather, everyone knows it in Britain. There were these two characters Sharon and Tracy, and one was the fat one. We came up with the lyric “we’re birds of a feather, and you can be the fat one,” and I thought it was hilarious. But in reviews people said it was a reason to not like the band. They need to let go of their pretension.

UTR: You’re opening for U2 on some stadium shows this summer. How did you react to that?

Nick: We’re very pleased, but we’re all very down to earth about it. On that day I’m sure we’ll be out of our minds, playing for 100,000 people, I’ll be sick. But it’s not our gig, it’s U2’s gig, we’re just playing first. Right now it’s totally abstract. I don’t know what it’s like for Bono and The Edge and Adam and Larry, I hope they’re still excited about it. I used to have a U2 poster on my wall. Just talking about it is getting me excited. I’ve never really talked about it before. I hope it’s amazing.



Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

PMS Relief
February 10th 2010

if you need to lose weight in one area, you have to lose it everywhere else, too. So, keep up the regular exercise and try making healthier food choices. You don’t have to starve, just make smarter choices.

electronic cigarette
May 1st 2010

Kaiser Chiefs is the best - I love them so much -  I am a fan for life for sure!

Jessica Jameson

June 16th 2010

Kaiser Chiefs is super! I like their drummer Nick Hodgson - his drumms like a heart bits!

January 9th 2011

Kaiser Chiefs, are a relative unknown in the United States and surprisingly less popular in the UK, where they hail from, than I would expect. Not that they aren’t popular, I just would think they’d be more popular. But that’s the Brits for ya. Beyond their #1 hit “Ruby”, they’ve only managed a smattering of Top 20 hits on the UK charts. “Rolex Prices