Kaiser Chiefs dig deep after their main songwriter leaves band

Kaiser Chiefs comprise (from far left) Nick Baines, Andrew White, Ricky Wilson, Simon Rix and Vijay Mistry. -- PHOTO: DANNY NORTH
Kaiser Chiefs comprise (from far left) Nick Baines, Andrew White, Ricky Wilson, Simon Rix and Vijay Mistry. -- PHOTO: DANNY NORTH

After their main song- writer left, the indie rock band wrote an album that has earned good reviews

Most bands might have crumbled after losing a founding member who takes charge of writing all their songs.

Not British indie rock band Kaiser Chiefs.

When their drummer and principal songwriter Nick Hodgson left amicably in 2012, it forced the rest of the band to step out of their comfort zone.

They stuck together, wrote and recorded their latest album, Education, Education, Education & War, which has been receiving warm reviews.

The band's lead guitarist, Andrew 'Whitey' White, tells Life! over the telephone from Hamburg, Germany, that it all worked out in the end.

The 40-year-old says: "We had to retreat as a four-piece. We just got into a room and bashed out as many songs as possible and we tried to see if we could do it on our own because we thought we couldn't do it without Nick. But it turned out that we could."

Kaiser Chiefs, which also comprise lead vocalist Ricky Wilson, bassist Simon Rix, keyboardist Nick Baines and new drummer Vijay Mistry, was formed in 2000.

The band, inspired by the New Wave and punk rock music genres, shot to fame with their debut album, Employment (2005), which sold more than three million copies and chalked up a nomination for the lauded Mercury Prize for Album of the Year.

That record was followed by the equally successful Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007), which reached No. 1 on the UK album charts.

The band put out two more studio albums - Off With Their Heads (2008) and The Future Is Medieval (2011) - before finally releasing Education, Education, Education & War, this year.

White says the new record works off Wilson's idea of war themes, given that "there's a lot of war in the world at the moment and it's been 100 years since the start of World War I".

But White adds that the album is by no means a political statement, even if its title is a swipe at British politician Tony Blair's famous speech in 1996, in which he said: "Ask me my three main priorities for government and I tell you education, education and education".

White says: "We historically sing about what we think people are feeling at the time and there's a lot of discontent with politicians saying one thing and doing another, which lends itself to the Tony Blair speech.

"He had three main priorities - education, education, education - but then, he took the country down a kind of different war in the Middle East, which is just a lie basically."

When the band are not touring or recording new material, White says each member does his own thing and spends time with his own family.

Wilson is also a judge on reality singing competition The Voice UK, a move that once made the band very uncomfortable. But his role on the show has helped boost the band's profile.

White explains: "We do think we're kind of an indie band so there's an element of selling out there. I'm still uncomfortable with it, but I can certainly see why it needs to be done.

"In the UK especially, there's no music on TV anymore and no way for a band to be exposed. You have to play talk shows, you have to do the crappy radio bits to get your music out there.

"Ricky's good on The Voice, which helps. I mean, we'd rather not do it but it needs to be done."

melk@sph.com.sg

Kaiser Chiefs' Education, Education, Education & War is sold in all good record stores.