An Interview with Kaiser Chiefs
Formed in Leeds in 2000, Kaiser Chiefs are fronted by Ricky Wilson, with Simon Rix on bass, Andrew ‘Whitey’ White on guitar, Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines on keyboards and drummer Vijay Mistry. The band were Mercury Prize nominated for their debut album, Employment and went on to win three BRIT awards, an Ivor Novello award for Album of the Year, and have sold over 8 million albums worldwide.
Here, as the band prepare for a November tour, Ricky and Vijay talk preparation, fashion choices and getting the setlist right…
How excited are you about the tour?
Ricky Wilson: So, we’re going on tour in November – next month. I’m pretty excited about it. We haven’t done it in a long time have we, Vijay?
Vijay Mistry: Not for a long time, no.
R: Do you think we’re still up for it? Cause, you know, sometimes you think “can we still do it?”
V: You do…
R: I can remember once, we played at a little place in Manchester – before (5th album) Education, Education, Education & War came out – and we hadn’t done a show in a while and I can remember being in the bathroom, looking in the mirror and thinking to myself ‘Is it gonna happen? Is it still in there? Is it still, like, in my ability to do this?’ And then you walk out on stage and it all comes back to you.
V: I have to do some training, I have to do some prep.
R: What does the training involve?
V: Well you start off small, so you gotta do finger exercises – I like to pick up a remote controller, and then turn the channels on the telly… that gets the fingers moving! Then 8 or 9 months later, you can do one song… And then you just keep building!
And in terms of your outfit can you give us any clues?
R: It all depends what Vijay is wearing – he is my fashion inspiration.
V: You’re MY fashion inspiration!
It’s like the chicken and the egg…
R: I think we’re getting baggier.
V: We are getting baggier! Eventually we’ll end up like 1970s Elton with two pianos facing each other.
R: It’ll be like Billy Joel and Elton John… Duelling Pianos… Duelling Outfits?
Will it be the same for the whole tour?
R: Always! I really liked school uniform because you didn’t have to worry about it. It makes me know that I’m now going to work.
V: I think it’s good yeah cause if you’re thinking about what you’re wearing every day that’s like, that’s crazy. It’s quite good because I guess it almost, in a strange way, it’s sort of like “that was that tour”.
V: I once made the mistake of wearing exceptionally baggy trousers. And after the first beat, the beater for the kick drum got stuck up the trouser leg! So I had to play the first song side footed!
R: And that’s why you always play in bicycle shorts
V: I have vowed never to wear shorts on stage – I just don’t like the way they look!
R: When you get to that stage where there’s more material in your gloves than there are on your body, you know you’re a professional drummer…
R: The thing is, we are a band, and we’re supposed to act like we don’t really care. But then you go and see someone like Kylie, who has like 15 outfit changes, and to be honest – I’m a little bit jealous! Literally outfit-wise, you have one shot for us! However, the moment that Vijay wears shorts and short fingerless gloves, and I have an outfit change, is when it’s gone too far.
You have support from The Fratellis and The Sherlocks. How long have you known those guys?
R: I’ve been aware of them ever since they started. I’m looking forward to seeing them both.
V: Yeah, it’s nice, you generally bond in catering…
R: We’re very timid people – we’re like squirrels! We need to be brought out of ourselves.
V: The only time you see us is when we come out to gather our nuts!
They should bring some good energy though.
V: Yeah, without a doubt. It’s gonna be lively any which way.
When you are planning the shows, who’s planning the setlists?
R: Simon always does the setlist. I usually do the set design. But I don’t have to do that every day – that’s the difference between me and Simon.
V: I think he obsesses about it a bit much. I think his thing in life is to find the perfect setlist. He needs some more songs though…
R: It’s funny cause we have a setlist, and then he’ll make the smallest change which will be greeted by the biggest upset from various band members *laughs*. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter – but we make it really matter on the day.
R: And if I’m not happy with the change then I’ll deliberately make it an awful show…*Laughing*. No I won’t, I’ve never done that!
V: He’s in charge of all of us to an extent really as well – the only reason we’re here today is cause he organized it for us.
I noticed you were playing a game just then – someone would name a TV character and you’d have to guess the TV show…
R: That’s just a game Whitey invented today, it’s not a game we always play!
It sounded well-rehearsed!
R: No, no, Whitey just invented a game. Name a character from a sitcom…
V: It’s an incredible skill you realise that you end up having because you spend so much time on tour buses and in dressing rooms, that everyone’s been able to immediately just be like: “Right, *clicks* this game” …
And you just get it straight away?
R: And that is the new game!
V: And then you never play it again!
R: No, never ever again!
What are some of the best ones you’ve played?
R: Well, it depends… It depends what’s to hand. I mean sometimes they involve props. Whitey – it’s usually Whitey… [As Whitey] “Do you think I can get that teabag through that hole?”
V: But you never play it again. I always remember once, you told me – this is nothing to do with games – but you told me once that Whitey did an impression of someone once, that was so perfect, that he vowed never to do it ever again and to this day he never has.
Kaiser Chiefs play Hull Bonus Arena Nov 10 & Leeds First Direct Arena Nov 22
For full tour details visit: kaiserchiefs.com