Interview: Nick Hodgson of Kaiser Chiefs

April 19, 2007 12:10 PM
by Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
LiveDaily Contributor

Earlier this year, the Kaiser Chiefs were accused of making "provocative hand gestures" at fellow Brit popsters the Arctic Monkeys during the NME awards. The problem? It never happened. The Kaiser Chiefs were victims of their own song, "Angry Mob."

"It's kind of a reference to British newspapers and how they kind of build up a story that's not entirely true and try to encourage the public to get overexcited and jump on the bandwagon," said Kaiser Chiefs drummer and principal songwriter Nick Hodgson. "It lasts about two weeks in the paper--the story--and then everyone forgets about it. Then the next one comes along.

"With us, there was a thing at the NME awards this year, where we were playing, and the next day in the papers, it said that we had stuck our fingers up at the Arctic Monkeys and they had thrown everything they could get their hands on at us while we were performing on stage. None of that happened."

"Angry Mob" appears on the Kaiser Chiefs' new set, "Yours Truly Angry Mob," which debuted at No. 45 on The Billboard 200 album chart. It's the follow-up to 2005's "Employment," which spawned the hit "I Predict a Riot."

Hodgson--who is joined in the band by singer Ricky Wilson, guitarist Andrew White, bassist Simon Rix and keyboardist Nick "Peanut" Baines--talked to LiveDaily about the album, the relentlessly addictive new single "Ruby," and how to cool off on stage during daylong festivals.

LiveDaily: Congratulations on how well "Ruby" is doing.

Nick Hodgson: Thanks. It's hard for us to know what's really happening. You hear about--like, certain radio stations have added it--but it's hard to keep up with it all. There's so many radio stations out here. We're not familiar with all these radio stations. In England, there's one station; it's Radio 1.

Was Ruby written for somebody specific?

No, no. It's one of those songs that just came out of nowhere really. You just start singing. There were quite a few songs like that where I play the piano and just come up with things. I had this verse, and suddenly it went into the chorus. I like it when that happens.

Is that the way most of your songwriting happens?

Yeah, sort of. You have to feel it. You get in a good mood because you're writing something good. It's hard to explain, really.

Did you know when you wrote "Ruby" that you had a hit?


What was it about the song?

It's just unusual. I was playing on the piano--on my mom and dad's piano, quite a lot of our previous hits were written on that piano. I kind of got a good feeling about it. I knew it was a good one. I played it for the band. I brought it to rehearsal the next day. It took us about a half hour to finish. Those are the best ones.

Is that your favorite song on the album?

That's one of them. I like them all.

Was there a lot of pressure to follow up your successful debut, "Employment"?

Yeah, of course. You don't want it to do worse. You're really striving to make the best new album, the best album, because it means you haven't lost it. You need that to be creative. We didn't want people to be at the gig and kind of hanging around while we played the new album, or they all kind of want us to play the first album's songs, like "I Predict a Riot," which is what can happen. It hasn't happened like that. Some of the new ones that we play live are getting the same reaction as the old ones.

How has the response been to the new material?

"I Predict a Riot" always gets the biggest reaction. But then "Ruby" and "Angry Mob" from the new album get, you know, as big as some of our first. It's always nice.

I read a review that said Americans can't really relate to your music because it's too British-centric. Do you think it's true?

I don't know. I'm guessing [the writer means] it's in the lyrical content. I mean, when I listen to songs, I just listen to the songs. I listen to the sound it makes and the feel of it. And if I like it, I like it. That's it, really.

I think that people could relate to especially "Angry Mob" and "Ruby." We have sensationalistic newspapers here, and "Ruby" is just a fun song.

I think people overanalyze those things. Music's just music isn't it?

Did touring in the US inspire any of the songs on the album?

There was one song, "Learnt My Lesson." The beginning of it, the verse of it, was written in the back of an American tour bus. I don't know whether it was inspired by America, but it must have been, in a way.

How long did it take to write the album?

Took about eight months.

Was that part of what was documented with the DVD that comes with the CD?

That was the recording for seven weeks, and that's what you got on the DVD--some of that footage. But there's none in our rehearsal room. We have this rehearsal room in which we pay by the hour. We've been using it for 10 years. We went back there and just got right back into the normal way of life again and started writing.

I see you're doing kind of a short US tour. Are you going to come back?

For us, it's a long US tour. We're trying to spread our touring across all parts of the world. We're doing four weeks here.

Are you excited about playing Coachella?

We never played it before. I've never been or seen it. I don't really know much about it, but a lot of people are asking, "Are you excited about it?" It must be a big deal.

You did Lollapalooza last year. Was that fun? What kind of advice can you give to new acts who are playing daylong festivals?

It's going to be pretty hot, temperature-wise. We did Austin City Limits in 2005. It was ridiculously hot--110 degrees I think. We were on in the outdoors. I'll tell you what, here's my advice: have some ice-cold towels in a bucket next to the stage for when you come off. I'm going to try to situate a fan on stage and have a bucket of ice behind the fan and that draws the cold air toward me.

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