Stepping up as singer was a test but I am learning and loving it, says Kasabian’s frontman Serge Pizzorno

“PLAYING Glastonbury and our Leicester show coming up this weekend, the stars are aligned,” says Kasabian frontman Serge Pizzorno.

“It’s been ten years since we last played Glastonbury — that’s a long time to wait, and playing the Woodsies stage in the secret slot is iconic.

Stepping up as singer was a test but I am learning and loving it, says Kasabian's frontman Serge Pizzorno

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Stepping up as singer was a test but I am learning and loving it, says Kasabian’s frontman Serge PizzornoCredit: Neil Bedford

“We did pretty well to keep it a secret, as every now and then someone would say, ‘Are you doing Glasto?’ and I’d say, ‘Nah not this year’, so it was murder, but we managed to do it.”

Anyone who witnessed the Leicester band at Worthy Farm or on the TV could see it was a spectacular set in the rammed-to-the-rafters tent playing banger after banger, old and new.

Chatting over drinks in a London hotel bar, the singer is recalling high points from the sensational set.

He says: “I think Call, the first single off our new album, was massive. It was the first time we’d played it in England, and it just went off. Then the last four songs of the set, I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

“So if you’re coming to Leicester this weekend or to another one of our shows, get ready to get stuck in. I want chaos.”

Kasabian’s live shows have hit another level since 2020 when Pizzorno took over from disgraced original frontman Tom Meighan, who was fired for assaulting his now-wife Vikki Ager.

The new frontman says: “Our show has got wilder. I wrote every one of these songs. I know every single word — they are in my veins, so it means more that I’m singing them.

“More people are getting involved. The connection feels stronger than ever.”

And the band’s re-energised show has inspired their eighth album Happenings, a record of which Pizzorno says: “It’s a joyous, psychedelic pop record, and it’s happening.

Watch Peter Crouch get on stage with Kasabian at Isle of Wight Festival with fans loving ex-England star’s dancing

“I wanted it to take people from the mosh pit to the dancefloor then from the dancefloor back to the mosh pit.

“What came out of it in the end with those shows were pure joy and are what informed making the new album.

“Playing festivals and arenas and seeing a whole new generation of Kasabian fans made us ready to go and make this new album.

“I went straight back into my studio and could feel the energy flowing through me.

“Our sets are littered with big live moments — it’s exhilarating. I can see why playing shows drives so many people and why The Stones are still doing it.

“Paul McCartney is 82 and he is still headlining Glastonbury, touring and smashing it. If you can still get up there and knock out a tune then I don’t know why you never would.

“The new album is just 28 minutes long, so it’s in and it’s out — bang! I wanted it to feel like an explosion where you go, ‘Whoa, how much has happened in that time?’

“I made every song to hit you. No verses, choruses or bridges — I wanted every song to start with the chorus and be super-tight, in- your-face and melodic.

“I co-produce every Kasabian record and for this one I worked with Mark Ralph [Clean Bandit, Jax Jones and Years & Years], who has a pop sensibility, together with my weird stuff from my studio — it’s a perfect combination.

“Happenings bangs like a really good modern record but it’s still got my weirdness and eccentric side of Kasabian.” The dad-of-two, 43, says his youngest son Lucio, 11, with wife Amy White, inspired one of the album’s standouts tracks, the anthemic G.O.A.T. watching a video of footballer Lionel Messi.

He says: “My son came up to me and showed me Messi scoring some amazing goals but the music to the montage was awful, so I wrote down the Greatest Of All Time and this beat for that song just came.

It would make a great Olympic anthem.”

Call is another standout, and was the first song Pizzorno wrote for Happenings.

Edgy and frenetic

He says: “Call was the first song I was excited about. It’s a weird punk banger that felt like the blueprint of making every song hit you. That song set the tone. I think it’s a beautiful way of making a record and defines the era.”

The edgy and frenetic Hell Of It is another knockout track which Pizzorno says “feels like a little step into the next record”.

He adds: “There’s something special about that song, it can only be made by Kasabian. It’s a ‘what the hell is going on there’ track. I was thinking of early noughties Timbaland, N.E.R.D, and then it goes into Parliament-Funkadelic. I always love to switch a genre within a song.”

Coming Back To Me Good is a synth pop, arms-in-the-air smash which Pizzorno is particularly proud of.

He says: “It feels beautiful. It’s been played so much and is a real radio hit, which is great. It’s proper mainstream.

“It’s almost like a Motown song, really. It’s soul and it’s got a lovely festival feel to it. It’s a feel-good tune and the message is ‘don’t give up, it’s not too late’.”

According to the frontman, every Kasabian record has been a reaction to the previous one.

He explains: “Our 2009 album, West Ryder, was a reaction to Empire in 2006 and Happenings is a reaction to The Alchemist’s Euphoria in 2022.

“They are all snapshots of where my brain was at that specific time because the writing process now is exactly the same as it was for the first album.

“I go to my studio and look for anything from beats, samples, guitar, piano, anything to write a song.”

Kasabian’s live shows have hit another level since 2020 when Pizzorno took over from disgraced original frontman Tom Meighan

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Kasabian’s live shows have hit another level since 2020 when Pizzorno took over from disgraced original frontman Tom MeighanCredit: Neil Bedford

It has been 20 years since Kasabian emerged with their self-titled debut album, and the idea of looking back to celebrate this anniversary was not on the cards for Pizzorno.

“The best way to celebrate 20 years is with new music,” says Pizzorno.

“We’re in our third decade and we have something new to say. We don’t need to look back at memories of writing LSF.

“We can talk about this new album and how we have explored new music. It’s amazing that we’ve got this legacy, but songwriting is what I love.”

Kasabian’s last album The Alchemist’s Euphoria was like a litmus test for Pizzorno as frontman and whether the band — including bassist Chris Edwards, drummer Ian Matthews and guitarist Tim Carter — could survive the upheaval that came with Meighan’s sacking.

“It’s been nice for us all to move on. We’d never go back — I know too much.”

Pizzorno adds: “Alchemist was a hard record to make.

“It was hard for so many reasons, but not many bands this century have had six number ones so it was a nice thing to happen with Alchemist after everything we’d been through.

“We went in at Number One and just carried on.

“Of course it was also a test, yeah. It was a tightrope and that was the fear that this could go horribly wrong.

“My path was written and then I was something else. I don’t think I ever gave myself enough time to think about it as it was just about getting through the night.

The best way to celebrate 20 years is with new music.

“Afterwards, when we finished touring, then I did have a moment of letting out a big breath of ‘I can’t believe what’s just happened’.

“I am on this new journey that was never meant to be and I am learning and loving it. I have a lot of respect for frontmen and the audience as well. People pay money to come and be entertained so you’ve got to entertain them.

“I like that simple transaction.”

It’s not just Pizzorno’s music that is entertaining. The singer has worn some outlandish outfits at Kasabian shows, including a bespoke frilly denim suit at Glastonbury last week.

He laughs: “My clothes are like armour. It’s all part of it.

“My Glastonbury outfit was a collaboration with Levi’s. It was based on a Ghillie suit that one of my sons wanted for Christmas. It looked cool so that was my inspiration.

The album Happenings is out today

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The album Happenings is out today

“Dressing up is all part of it — I grew up loving Iggy, Bowie, Prince and Karen O. That is who I aspire to be.

“This guy is not getting up there in a pair of jeans and a hoodie. The outfit becomes this beacon of ‘F**k it’.

“Since I’ve been a kid, fashion has always been a big part of my life. And my boys are loving it too.

“My oldest boy [Ennio, 13] is about as big as me now so he’s rocking all kinds of gear. They are down the park wearing all my old gear.”

On Sunday when Kasabian take to the stage in Victoria Park, Pizzorno says he has promised himself he will enjoy it and remember it, unlike their last big outdoor gig there a decade ago.

“I didn’t take it in last time as we were headlining Glastonbury the weekend after.

‘Underdog mentality’

“This time I’m going to stand on the stage and take it in.

“I remember fans singing for hours and hours as they were leaving — it was a huge celebration.

“It’s a celebration of Leicester, too. We’re not a band from London, Liverpool or Manchester but Leicester and it’s got that underdog mentality to it.

“It’s going to be very special and unbelievable. I can’t wait.”

  • The album Happenings is out today. Kasabian play Victoria Park, Leicester on Sunday.
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