And this time it's war

And this time it's war

Chris Lau speaks to Kaiser Chiefs about fighting for another shot at the big time

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Kaiser Chiefs feel like a new band despite releasing their fifth album.
Kaiser Chiefs feel like a new band despite releasing their fifth album.

The last few years have been an uphill battle for British indie rock band Kaiser Chiefs. The five-piece group became stars in Britain when their debut album was released nine years ago. But they have struggled to replicate that success since.

"[Our first album] Employment was massive," says the band's bassist, Simon Rix. "But our last two albums weren't so much so. Most bands often make a sell-out record, and afterwards, disappear. We didn't want that to happen to us, so we were fighting for the band."

Formed in 2000 in Leeds, northern England, the band was originally known as Parva, and made up of then drummer Nick Hodgson, guitarist Andrew White, singer Ricky Wilson, keyboardist Nick Baines and Rix.

After a few years with no success, the band was renamed Kaiser Chiefs after a South African football team. Their first album, 2005's Employment, reached number two in Britain's album chart and included successful singles I Predict a Riot and Oh My God.

Despite a successful follow-up, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, in 2007, the band's last two releases haven't been as popular. They hope to change that with their latest album, Education, Education, Education & War.

"[Former British Prime Minister] Tony Blair gave a speech in 1997, saying: 'My three main policies are education, education and education'," recalls Rix.

But Blair also took his country into an illegal war in Iraq. Rix says this shows how politicians will, "say one thing and do another".

For the new album, the band had to deal with the departure of drummer Hodgson. But regardless of this setback, they are confident they have produced some of their best work.

"We already heard people say this is the best album we've had for a while. Some even say this is our best album ever," Rix says.

"Musically, we've become a lot more expansive, I think. Normally we're more influenced by a lot of new wave, or sort of New York sound. British sound, too, obviously. This time, we are more influenced by The Flaming Lips and Pink Floyd. They are more rhythmically rich."

Edgy lyrics have always been the band's signature.

"[Opening track] The Factory Gates is sort of [about] the pointlessness of life, just having to go to work every morning," says Rix.

Another track, Cannons, is about the horrors of war. At the end of the song is an anti-war poem read by actor Bill Nighy, which raises the idea of waging war on hell.

"If we won, there'll be no hell. And then what's next?" asks the bassist, philosophically.

In some ways, the album is a response to Hodgson's departure from the band. Hodgson was a childhood friend of Rix, but decided to leave after 15 years in 2012. He was replaced by Vijay Mistry.

Despite being sad to see his friend leave, Rix saw it as an opportunity to start from scratch. After all, the band's first success came after a change of name.

"It was a positive thing because the band needed a shakeup, and Nick helped kick start the shake-up by leaving," says Rix.

"We're sort of able to have a clean [slate] … or a rebirth, you know?"

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
And this time it's war

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