Leicester's groove-rockers look to prove they're
more than the UK's "next big thing"
When the British music press gets frothy at the mouth about
a band, it's time to think twice. With a penchant for
crowning young acts as rock 'n' roll saviors
on a weekly basis, rags like NME often seem driven more by
a need to sell magazines than present good music. Lately the
press has been in overdrive about young Leicester quartet
Kasabian, who seem on top of the world right now.
Having just completed a summer that saw them release their
much-hyped first album, and play England's legendary
Glastonbury and Japan's Summer Sonic festivals, Kasabian
return in the beginning of November for their first solo Japan
tour. With this kind of tailwind behind them, tickets had
already (at this writing) sold out for the second of their
two Tokyo gigs.
Kasabian have been complicit in the hype surrounding them,
showing plenty of 'tude and openly declaring their
plans for world domination. "Music needs a kick up
the arse at the moment," singer Tom Meigham said at
Glastonbury this June. "It needs to be slammed in the
microwave and put on 20. It's crazy, all these bands
who are famous and can't play. We were lucky-we
were all born with talent."
So what is the formula with which Kasabian would deliver rock's
salvation? A listen to their self-titled debut reveals it
to be a large dose of early '90s Madchester dance-rock,
cut with a helping of '00s Pro Tools production techniques.
Kasabian, released on Paradise and distributed in Japan by
BMG, is a condensation of the experiments in merging the groovy
rave esthetic with guitar rock that Primal Scream, the Stone
Roses, and the Happy Mondays undertook in the late '80s
and early '90s.
Tracks like "Club Foot" and "Processed
Beats" are danceable to the extreme, with the throbbing
bass and drums out in front and the guitars surging in the
back. Meigham's vocals are a menacing undercurrent
that fill the album with the sort of foreboding that Death
In Vegas excel at. And Kasabian, like many of the younger
bands of the moment, have a well-honed stage act, approaching
their shows with a professionalism lacking in many of the
bands of yesteryear.
Formed in '98 by a bunch of Leicester schoolmates,
Kasabian didn't even adopt their current name until
they were signed 18 months ago. With marketing muscle behind
them, it's since been a quick ascent, with their song
being included in this year's FIFA 2004 video game.
Their signing also brought them a heavyweight producer in
the form of Jim Abbis, who's worked with UNKLE and
DJ Shadow as well as producing The Music's new album.
Is this truly Kasabian's moment? "Fingers crossed
with a bit of luck," Meigham said in a Snakebite.com
interview. "There's a hole in British music
now...British music sank a little bit and it's just
trying to get back up now, trying to get its head above the
water. Look at Franz Ferdinand. With a bit of hype, some media
and a good tune, it's fucking bang, they're
in at No. 2. I think that's good for bands like Kasabian.
If Franz Ferdinand can get to No. 2 then it's opening
gaps. Is it time for bands to start coming back and flooding
the charts? Bands have been making credible music again. These
things happen in cycles, they go round and round. So yeah,
Kasabian play Shibuya AX Nov 6-7.
See concert listings for details.
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