Entertainment & Arts

Kasabian: Why Serge Pizzorno is the new Tinkerman

Kasabian Image copyright Phil Knott
Image caption The band's sixth album is due out next month

Former Chelsea and, for the purposes of this interview, Leicester City manager Claudio Ranieri's constant experimentation with his starting 11, earned him the nickname 'The Tinkerman'. Now, Sergio Pizzorno - guitarist, professional Leicester City fan and creative force behind Kasabian could stake a claim to the moniker.

"Just a couple of days ago, I was like, 'I've changed one thing,' and they were like, 'You can't'. And I was like, 'Can you please make this happen because I need it,' and they said, 'OK'.

The "they" in this anecdote are his record label Sony and the "thing" he changed was a track on the band's new album For Crying Out Loud.

"I'm terrible," he admits. And the source of his frustration?

"I sped up a track by 1 bpm (beat per minute) because it was doing my head in and I couldn't figure out why. Maybe it's just madness, I can't even decide for myself.

"I get pretty obsessed making albums. I think a lot of people I respect are probably the same, I think it's what binds us."

While for many, this kind of attention to detail could reek of some kind of music megalomania, or even a bit of rock star posturing designed to prove his self-importance, it's this kind of attention to detail which, to the consternation of hipster tastemakers and serious muso critics, have made the lad-rockers one of the biggest bands in the UK.

Fewer than 10 years after playing second fiddle to Razorlight (where are they now?) on the Other Stage at Glastonbury, Kasabian joined Arcade Fire and Metallica as the top billing artists on the Pyramid Stage.

Image copyright Yui Mok
Image caption Kasabian headlined the Pyramid stage in 2014

That was three years ago and for many British bands, could be considered the peak of their career.

"It was like completing Mario," says Pizzorno. "I didn't get a lull afterwards, I just thought, 'What does this mean, getting from rehearsing in a shed to headlining Glasto?' It was a long old journey."

For anyone who has ever witnessed the raucous, sing-a-long atmosphere of a Kasabian gig - midway between a rock show and a football terrace - it would come as a surprise that it's only recently the 36-year-old has begun enjoying their live shows.

"Performing, for me, well I've always been a studio man but I got into the performing thing. Now, I feel excited about performing which is a new thing."

Which is just as well as the band are currently in the middle of a UK and European tour which will also see them headline this summer's Reading and Leeds festivals.

It also sees them on the verge of releasing their sixth album since 2004's self-titled debut album. In the band's Wikipedia page ("It's all rubbish, I don't know how they get away with it," says the musician), one fact which Serge says is correct is that they have now been together for more than two decades.

"Twenty years is a long time," he admits. "What keeps me going, is I'm obsessed with tunes and you can see it in the eye of other people with the same addiction. Even though you've got a bag of new songs that are ok - you always want one more."

Image copyright Columbia
Image caption You're In Love With A Psycho has been criticised by some mental health charities

The new songs, which the band have already played live, at a three-night residency in London's Kentish Town Forum include Comeback Kid, God Bless This Acid House and the already controversial You're in Love with a Psycho with its nonsensical lyrics - "The doctors say I'm crazy, that I'm eight miles thick / I'm like the taste of macaroni on a seafood stick."

"It's not the shower scene from Hitchcock," explains Serge. "I think in any relationship there are moments when one of you will do something and the other will think, 'Whoa... that was a bit weird, I only forgot to put the bins out, come on, is it that bad?'

"It made me laugh and originally it was, 'I'm in love...' but I looked at my wife and thought I can't do that. It could be about anyone but I have had a few texts from my mates asking is that about my missus?"

So, in that spirit, what do the new song titles from For Crying Out Loud tell us about Serge, we decided to have a gentle probe...


The first song is Ill Ray (The King) in it you sing about being king for a day but what would you do if you did indeed reign for 24 hours.

You know what, I'd abdicate and I'd go to a desert island with all the money that I'd stashed away and I'd go with a record player and a case of rum and sit there with no one else. That would be my day. I'd take a crate and have my favourite albums but then I'd have a mystery crate so I could dig away at that.

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Media captionKasabian perform You’re In Love With A Psycho on Later… with Jools Holland.

You're in Love with A Psycho - who is your favourite on-screen monster?

Paddy Considine in Dead Man's Shoes, that is the epitome. He's the best.

Twentyfourseven - what is the longest you have ever stayed up and how much do you still regret it?

The longest would have been going out Friday and going to bed Sunday night, which is not bad, two and a half days.

Actually, it did go into Monday so three days-ish but I would never do it again. The Friday was great and it carried on and the Saturday was okay but the Sunday was not good and it wasn't for want of trying to go to bed.

Good Fight - who would win in a fight between you and Tom?

Image copyright Laurence Griffiths
Image caption Serge versus Tom: Not happening any time soon

In a fight, it would be horrendous. Tom would win, well it depends. I think if Tom got in early, he'd get the knockout but if it went past eight rounds, I think I've got the stamina. But if he went in early, I think he'd do it. I'd probably do him on points.

Wasted - what is the most drunk you have ever been and what's your hangover cure?

One year, it was the Champions League when Arsenal played Barcelona and I went round the corner to watch it with Noel Gallagher and I had to catch a train and I was with Tom and so we got there before the game and I think we had maybe five or six pints of [generic beer brand] over the period, I mean it was ridiculous because we had to catch a train and I have never been so out of mind mind trying to catch a train and when we arrived in Leicester, there were a couple of coppers waiting for us. We weren't in trouble but it was just bad. I was so drunk but then an hour later, I wasn't too bad, it was this weird concentrated period.

And hangover cure? I wish I knew, I don't have one. There isn't one is there? It's your punishment for having such a good time.

Comeback Kid - who would you most like to see reunite?

There's the obvious one of course (we think he means Oasis) but I'm going to go for something else. It would be nice for the Floyd to get back together. So, Pink Floyd.

The Party Never Ends - what are the best (and worst) parties you have ever been to?

Image copyright KTB/EAGLEPRESS
Image caption Sir Philip Green during the good (pre-BHS) times

The best one, just because of the ridiculous situation, not because it was the best party but on the first album when we were kids, we got invited to Philip Green's yacht in Monte Carlo and it was just full of what you would imagine. Like, Bon Jovi were there. It was the oddest group ever and, as you can imagine, we were like 20, 23 so were trying to get into his helicopter and turn it on. It was just mad.

The worst? I can't remember. I've never had a bad party, I'd have a great party in here with just me and you.

Are You Looking For Action - we probably know this one - but what is your favourite sporting moment?

Us (Leicester City) winning the Premier League. We were playing two shows in the stadium in the summer and I remember leaving a game against Swansea and spoke to our manager and said, 'We've got to move those gigs'. It was impossible because we had six weeks to turn it around but we did. Every day, just taking the kids to school, it was just everywhere and it's one of those things in 20 years you'll be on a programme as one of these talking heads, talking about it. It's still too soon to understand what happened.

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Media captionBBC Music Backstage Pass: Kasabian, live on BBC iPlayer on Monday 8 May at 12:00 Midday.

All Through The Night - have you ever suffered from insomnia and how did you beat it?

Yeah quite a lot actually and I figured it out. I used to really struggle but audio books are my thing. It's annoying because you fall asleep and can't remember where you got to, so you listen to the same chapter over and over but that's the thing. I need not to think, silence doesn't work and music is terrible because I start writing notes. I'm on podcasts right now. Adam Buxton, he's so good.

Sixteen Blocks - what is your other favourite song with a number in the title?

Image copyright Jeff Gentner
Image caption Jack White's Seven Nation Army has been adopted by several top tier football teams

Oh man. Do you know what, I'm gonna say Seven Nation Army because it's the first thing that came into my head. How he's managed to write the sporting anthem of the world is hilarious because he had no idea that it would be.

When Italy won the world cup I think, and I could be wrong, but I think it started with the Italian fans because that was their song and they won the cup, which was amazing. If I hadn't said Leicester winning the league, I would have said that, so that song brings back happy memories.

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Media captionKasabian perform Bless This Acid House on Later... with Jools Holland.

Bless This Acid House - the UK has a housing crisis, we are short of social housing while young people can't afford to get on the ladder - how do we solve it?

Man, I could write a soundtrack but I don't know if I have the answers for that.

Put Your Life On It - what is the most expensive thing (apart from a house) that you own?

I don't really have anything worth much, I don't really go in for that. Probably my synthesizer collection and I had no idea. Apparently I made a good investment and, at the time, people asked, 'Why are you buying all this old gear that doesn't work?'. But over the years, it's better than buying red wine, I was told.

For Crying Out Loud is out now.


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