Kasabian will tell you that they are the rightful heirs to the Rolling Stones and Oasis. Fans say their high-energy shows are the best in the world. So with festivals to headline, what’s left to prove?
Tom Meighan bounces from room to room backstage at the Ancienne Belgique like a hyperactive Cocker spaniel who can hear his favorite toy being rattled but can’t locate it. Eventually the Kasabian frontman loses interest in the hunt and flops down in a plastic chair, his eyes wide and a huge playful grin running riot over his stubbled face. He is affability personified; a charming and engaging host full of warm greetings and positivity.
Intermittently he’ll cock his ear as if receiving signals from the great beyond and then suddenly leap up, whooping and punching the air, to pace the room as a train of thought sprints away with his mind and mouth in pursuit. It’s tiring to watch, but the singer has energy to burn as he waxes lyrical about his band in paradoxes that reflect his own.
“We still have it as large as we always have, regardless of whether it’s a stadium or a small club,” he says, rearranging the litter on the changing room counter. “It’s like two titans fighting up there when we get going, like He-Man versus Skeletor... it’s the musical Masters of the Universe. It’s a battle; it’s dark and nasty but also beautiful, warm and full of life. Just like us, really.”
"We’re still the same as we were when we were driving our own van, playing a gig every night, trying to get noticed." –Tom Meighan
Kasabian have been fighting with darkness and light since forming in 1999. It took four years of playing dingy workingmen’s clubs and tiny venues before the band were ready to give their riotous music to the world. “Of course we wanted to make it big,” Tom says, getting serious for a moment. “But it had to be right. We wanted to shake people up and keep them shook up for a long time. We weren’t going to be able to do that if we’d rushed out a load of shite and then sank without trace. We wanted it so bad. We still do. We’re still the same as we were when we were driving our own van, playing a gig every night, trying to get noticed. We’re the same people.”
This everyman statement is quite a contrast to the one Kasabian made in the wake of last year’s Oasis split, when Tom and his lieutenant, guitarist Serge Pizzorno, announced that now that the Gallaghers’ partnership was no more, theirs was the biggest band in Britain.
“What we meant was that we’re one of the last great rock ’n’ roll bands,” Tom clarifies, getting to his feet as if he’s about to deliver a sermon. “There are so few real bands around these days that we feel it’s our responsibility to pick up that baton which was carried by the likes of The Beatles, The Stones, The Small Faces and Oasis and do our bit for the legacy. We owe it to Britain’s musical heritage.”
Read the rest of this feature in the August issue of The Red Bulletin.