Kasabian Rock and roll sent us insane

Artwork by Astrid Ana Jansen and Joe Kang

Celine Dion once mentioned of Andrea Bocelli and said “If God had a voice it would sound like his”, and when two music greats have compliments to give about each other, you best listen. But was there a better way to have God’s voice grace the Leicester City faithful at King Power Stadium after their surprise Premier League win?

I’ll explain for those who don’t know, and for those who do because it’s still fucking unbelievable. Leicester City aren’t supposed to be that good at football to have finished as Champions in a top flight football league. The better clubs in the league spend millions (and billions) trying to achieve what Leicester City did with just belief and unity.

Andrea Bocelli added his share of romance to the underdog narrative, but Leicester City supporters Kasabian took it upon themselves to give the blue hue of King Power Stadium a proper day out. After all, they knew what it took to be Underdogs themselves.

“Rock and roll is dead” is a gossip that just springs up every now and again on boring media and fuckboy t-shirts. I wouldn’t say it’s dead. It’s dormant at best; awaiting an anarchical stimulus. Societal differences, political confusions, or everyday reasons to rebel – so what better time than Britain 2017? No shots fired, and neither am I implying that Kasabian picked the politically-incorrect time to release their sixth time album, but thank to all of fuck they did.

For Crying Out Loud came at very pivotal times for the band’s one and a half frontmen, Tom Meighan and Serge Pizzorno. Tom had split with his girlfriend and mother of his child, whereas Serge had just gotten married. Tom really needed good music, and Serge knew just how to write it.

“It feels like being reborn. I say it on every album but I think this is our best record, bar none. I think Serge is with me on that too. I just said to him, ‘Let’s write a f**king rock’n’roll album with big songs’,” was what Tom had to say to NME about the album that Serge took just the six weeks to write. I’m not going to agree that this one’s their best record, but Tom may just be on to something. You’re In Love With a Psycho came as the first single to mirror the passive-aggressive summer rock anthems they’ve previously had. Club FootEmpireFireDays Are Forgotten, and even eez-eh all accounted for the confrontational starts to their traditional summer record releases. Are You Looking for Action? provided the eight-minute centrepiece that extends into a groovy lick, much like 48:13‘s treat, sans the synthesisers and samplers.

Serge Pizzorno insisted he “fell in love with the guitar again,” and it was all he wanted to play and Put Your Life On It was arguably the result and the quintessential track off the record; a summer-daze sing-a-long love track, the band’s first. 

After finding love, after losing love, after Leicester City’s Premier League win, and after being troublemakers at a massive celebration in the heart in their hometown, out came an album that didn’t necessarily aim to please the masses, but cried more as a call to arms to those who stuck around.

Kasabian remain one of the very few left in Brit rock and roll – an opinion openly discussed by Noel Gallagher, and the other Gallagher for that matter. And if the brothers said it, it’s meant to stand for something. You don’t resent what they say if they’ve bothered to present you with some of the best rock songs ever released. Live Forever, Morning Glory, and even fucking Wonderwall; they all stand, for, something. Besides, Oasis and Kasabian go way back.

Roger Sargent, photographer for NME, shared some of his favourite shots, and in the middle of that album laid this photograph:

Image credit: Roger Sargent, NME

“I had a spell as Kasabian’s official unofficial photographer. I would tag along to various gigs and shoot away. This was after their V headline show – Liam was mid brilliant rant, pointing to me and telling Tom, ‘This fucker knows it, he knows it.’ Not sure what I knew but I agreed, of course.” 

And therein lays the narrative of rock and roll; a genre that sang more about mates than lovers, and a mentality that is lived and not groomed by a panel of judges that includes “talent manager”  Louie Walsh. Louie isn’t rock and roll, Liam is rock and roll. Cocktails aren’t rock and roll, beer is rock and roll. Cricket isn’t rock and roll, football is rock and roll.

Football is so rock and roll, the biggest sport in the world has Kasabian’s imprints all over it. Fire, the lead single from the band’s third album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, was the official song of the Premier League for three seasons from 2010 through to 2013. If that wasn’t enough, Kasabian have consistently featured on FIFA’s well-renowned soundtracks for a while now, starting with L.S.F. from way back in 2004.

Lana Del Rey, as it turns out, is pretty rock and roll. She covered Kasabian’s Goodbye Kiss, a track that brilliantly reeked of melancholy and naturally it found its way to Lana’s list. Kasabian, in return, covered Lana Del Rey’s Video Games and did it very nicely too.

You know what else is rock and roll? Sesame Street; as brewed to liquid perfection in a cover Kasabian combined with The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations.

Kasabian made it down to Singapore a little over 5 years ago, with The Vaccines opening for them on a night that quickly turned into a 2-for-the-price-of-1 delight. The Velociraptor! Tour gave a much-needed respite to my 21-year-old schedule and habits by means of downing pints in quick time, and sharing shots of whiskey with the queue to get into the venue. By the time the music came on, I was on my toes and obeying Serge’s orders from Vlad the Impaler‘s confrontational lyrics. Get loose, get loose!

Credits: Me

Tom Meighan spoke to the crowd whenever he got the chance, and dedicated Goodbye Kiss, the heartwrencher off the record, to Singapore. I remember vividly him dedicating the track to the 6,000 strong crowd after sharing that his mother and her brother spent big parts of their lives in Singapore. True or not, we took it.

“Rock and roll, sent us insane, I hope someday that we will meet again,”
Goodbye Kiss, Kasabian

In 2004, Kelefa Sanneh, music critic at The New York Times, wrote a significantly influential piece on “rockism“, that went on to be defined as:

“A rockist isn’t just someone who loves rock ‘n’ roll, who goes on and on about Bruce Springsteen, who champions ragged-voiced singer-songwriters no one has ever heard of. A rockist is someone who reduces rock ‘n’ roll to a caricature, then uses that caricature as a weapon. Rockism means idolizing the authentic old legend (or underground hero) while mocking the latest pop star; lionizing punk while barely tolerating disco; loving the live show and hating the music video; extolling the growling performer while hating the lip-syncher.”

We’re all still giving each other our best intelligent guesses on just what rock and roll is, just as I’ve given you mine, and Kelefah Sanneh has.. But I suppose as most things, this one too comes down to perspective. Rock and roll could’ve given an introvert the liberty to skip down the city in skinny jeans, or it could’ve given 2 blokes a reason to start a bar brawl. In the alt-rock era that I along with most 90s kids grew up in and with, shit like pop music was the complete opposite of cool. In the same way we hate anything that got popular – like cross-fit, veganism, or Katy fucking perry.

Just the manner those things are popular as well; all trying hard to be flashy plastics trying to deliver the right notes whilst forgetting to deliver the right words. Alex Turner, Julian Casablancas, Pete Doherty and even Serge Pizzorno are some of the most iconic rock and roll frontmen who would get nowhere close to X-Factor and American Idol stardom with their voices, but they will write you a fucking tune.

In the time gone by that had seen the likes of The Libertines, Razorlight, The Maccabees, and even Oasis, stop making records and race their way towards obscurity, Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys remain one of the very few giving meaning to Brit rock. They won’t be celebrated like Kanye’s rap-verses or Taylor Swift’s “who was she writing that song about” murmurs, but maybe they never needed to be. Who wants to be popular, right?


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