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So Say The Kaisers
As well as enabling us to use a painful Usual Suspects pun, catching up with the Kaiser Chiefs at Oxegen meant we could quiz them about U2, Live 8 and becoming filthy rich rock stars
Steve Cummins, 05 Aug 2005
If we were the sensitive types, HOTPRESS would be seriously upset with Kaiser Chiefs’ keyboard player Nick Baines. Hard as it might be to imagine, he has failed to recall our conversation in January of this year – a snatched five minutes on his tour manager’s mobile phone during the NME tour. Then again, a fair bit has happened since they propped up that particular bill – hit singles, hit album, world touring, a Mercury Music Prize nomination and, when we speak, their most recent engagement at the Live 8 show in Philadelphia.
“We thought it was a mistake”, admits bassist Simon Rix. “We got told we were doing it, which we thought was brilliant but it was going to be difficult to arrange because we had a gig with U2 the same day. Then it got announced that we were doing the Philadelphia one. I think they asked us because there were a lot of American acts on and they were looking for us to bridge the gap”.
Despite the mixed reaction to the initiative, Baines is glad they did it.
“We were six or seven when the original Live Aid happened so I don’t really remember much. I’m sure in years to come we’ll look back on playing Live 8 the way people look back on 20 years ago. Hopefully there won’t need to be another one”.
Such extraordinary career steps are now becoming familiar for a band who’d only released one single at the turn of the year.
“The album coming out was the big change”, agrees Nick. “We hoped but we didn’t realise how many people were waiting for it. We seem to be winning over more people with every gig, support slot or festival that we do.”
To Simon's surprise, Employment has kept selling and selling.
“If there’s a band that I like then I go and buy the album within the first few weeks and then that’s it,” he says. “Our record’s been in the top 10 in the UK since it came out, except for one or two weeks. It’s just kept on going and I can’t understand why it is”.
Perhaps part of the reason is that the Kaisers’ reputation as a live act precedes them, despite the fact that they’ve only got one album to draw on – something that doesn’t worry Nick.
“We’ve still managed to put together a good set. You get some bands who play the whole album and the B-sides and you’re really bored by the end of it. You think that it was an alright gig but they could have played five less songs”.
Surely that’s based on a desire to provide value for money?
"Value for money isn’t good if you bore people. You need to give them a good experience, whether it lasts 45 minutes or an hour and a half. You don’t go back to your friends and say, 'I got really good value for money at that Kaiser Chiefs gig'. That’s not the way it works. You want to knock their socks off.”
A band who suffer from the opposite problem are U2, who the Kaiser Chiefs supported on a few European dates.
“On the NME tour we were going on early and winning people over and it was a bit like that again,” says Simon. “We were going on at six in the evening when people were still arriving. The first few songs were a bit difficult but by the end it went really well
“Apparently we were hand picked. I got to walk down one of Bono’s walkways during ‘Modern Way’. No one stopped me walking down so I kept going. That was a moment, I enjoyed that.”