Sally Hayden talks to Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan about touring with Oasis, drugs, The X Factor, and rock and roll
Kasabian are the type of band where it’s hard to distinguish the projected image from the reality. The self-proclaimed “guardians of rock and roll”, they look rock. They sound rock. They certainly talk rock. The band are at the top of the world right now, having made the breakthrough from continual supporting everybody act, to headlining Glastonbury this summer.
Singer Tom Meighan has no doubt about the Somerset festival being the highlight of his summer. “Glastonbury was fantastic. It was wonderful, just wonderful you know. I thought we had a really good show and we played really well.”
Meighan has no uncertainties about the condition of the modern music industry. otwo asks if there’s truth in the rumour that Kasabian consider themselves the last rock group standing. “Well it’s all pop music at the minute, isn’t it, it’s just… everything’s so pop. Muse are a great rock band, and there are bands like the Arctic Monkeys, but as true rock-and-roll values go I think we are the only rock band left. But I hope there’ll be a wave of new bands soon.” And any suggestions for the heirs of this rock-and-roll legacy? “Oh god, don’t give your record away for free.”
Kasabian have been reputed drug-users in the past. otwo asks: does rock and roll really need its lyrical comrades, sex and drugs? This time Meighan’s denial is unequivocal.
“We don’t take drugs, man. Drugs don’t even come into the studio. Drugs is a personal choice, you know. We’ve been quoted saying that years and years ago. Drugs don’t work in the studio; there never has been, and we never will do, drugs in the studio. People say it’s a creation, recreational thing, but we don’t bother with it. Drugs ain’t a massive part of my life, never has been.”
Touring is the name of Kasabian’s current game, as the promotional tour for West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum continues. Though Meighan describes the band’s live sound as the musical version of Quentin Tarantino’s films, he also claims that their background antics, in rock-and-roll terms, don’t quite live up to their music anymore, given that the band are seasoned enough to have reached a sensible phase in their careers. “We’ve been really good this tour, there’s nothing really crazy, we’re not like Nicky Sixx and inject heroin into our fucking knees or elbows. Sometimes we have a fight. The only thing this tour that’s crazy is winning the [Q Magazine] Album of the Year, I mean that’s the only moment I can recall which was just fantastic.”
Though let’s not lose face here. The other tours were crazy? “Yeah yeah, include that, yeah.”
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum was released in June of this year, and spent two weeks at number one in the UK charts. “Oh my God, what can I say about the record? Well, I think we made our best record yet, it’s a great piece of art, and it’s a fine rock record as well, and we just decided to go all out on this album and make the best album we could, and make it as diverse as we could compared to the other two records we did.”
Onto questions about the wider world. otwo asks Meighan what he makes of the break-up of Oasis, who have acted as short-term friends and long-term inspiration. “I think it’s horrible, but things happen in life and that’s the way it is. No one’s died or anything, and I think Liam will carry on doing music and so will Noel, and [Liam’s] got his clothes company going and he’s got a whole fashion thing going on, so I’ll support both of them, whatever they do, but it is really sad.”
And how about his views on The X Factor? “X Factor? No sorry, I don’t participate in that. I thought you were going to ask me about them idiot twins. Glad you didn’t. There’s no point, is there? My opinion doesn’t matter does it, my opinion doesn’t really matter about X Factor or the twins, it’s just not worth it.”
Bono? “I think he’s a saint. He’s rock and roll. I think he’s great. U2 are real rock and roll. You’ve got to remember what their roots are and I think, you know, Bono’s the institution, no matter what.”
Posers or not, longevity or not, today Kasabian are living the dream, and long may it last for them. “We try and take each day as it comes, and each week as it comes. We’re always doing something silly, or playing somewhere across the world or doing some promo. We feel good man, we feel like kings at the minute, it’s great, we’ve hit a peak in our lives. We just wanna keep making records.”