Kaiser Chiefs brushes off the loss of a founding member to score its first number one album since 2007.
Despite predicting a riot and proclaiming that every day they love us less and less, British band Kaiser Chiefs has never missed a beat in the 13 years it has been together.
In fact, fans seem to be loving the band more and more these days, thanks to frontman Ricky Wilson’s high-profile gig as judge and mentor on Britain's version of The Voice. Shortly after the final of the show aired, the band scored its first British number one album since 2007 with fifth album, Education, Education, Education & War.
What’s even more remarkable about Kaiser Chiefs' return to the top is the fact that it has had to get over the departure of one of the band’s co-founders and key songwriters, drummer Nick Hodgson, who left the band in 2012.
Hodgson, together with childhood friends Simon Rix (bass guitar) and Nick "Peanut" Baines (keyboards), formed the band Parva with Wilson and guitarist Andrew White in 2000, which was renamed Kaiser Chiefs (after the South African football team Kaizer Chiefs) in 2003 in an attempt to recover from the ignomity of being dropped by their then record label.
The band’s debut album, Employment (2005), hit number two on Britain's album charts, and included British top 10 singles Everyday I Love You Less And Less and I Predict a Riot. It then went one better with 2007’s Yours Truly, Angry Mob, which not only became its first ever British No. 1 album, but also scored its, and so far, only number one British hit single, Ruby.
While subsequent albums Off With Their Heads (2008) and The Future Is Medieval (2011) were also equally successful, the band was dealt a blow when Hodgson announced on Twitter that he was leaving after 15 years to concentrate on “other projects”.
During a phone interview from Britain, Rix explained that the loss of Hodgson – who was not just an integral part of the band but also their lyricist – initially left a big hole in the band, but it also helped bring the remaining members together.
“It’s funny, but Nick leaving actually made our band more ... ‘band-y’. We’re doing more things as a band now, not as individuals,” he said. “Nick was the leader and was leading the way, making decisions, and all sorts of things. When he left there was a big hole, so now, we have to do things together. I kind of like the idea of us being a gang again.”
Education, Education, Education & War is also the first album involving the band’s new drummer Vijay Mistry (formerly of Club Smith), who joined the band as Hodgson’s replacement in 2013, and has been a positive influence on the rest of them.
“Vijay’s a great drummer, and he comes from a different place (than us). He’s got more of a rock background, and is a good, positive person,” said Rix. “Some of us can be quite negative at times, and always look at the worst of things; he is the opposite of that.”
According to Rix, the new album is a return to the formula that made their first two albums such huge
“It’s like our third album again – we’re continuing (from where we left off) from the first two,” he said. “We went a different direction with the third and fourth albums, so this feels like we’re returning to the form of the first two.”
First single Coming Home does seem more melancholy than most of the songs on those two albums though, which Rix puts down to the fact that they’ve pretty much grown up since the release of Yours Truly, Angry Mob.
“We’ve changed a lot actually – back then, we listened to a lot of new wave and The Clash, but today we’re older and wiser and have listened to more music. We’re more sonically educated now,” he explained. “Our music is wider now, and songs like Coming Home, Up In Heaven and Roses are songs where we explore sonically – yes, there’s melancholy, but there’s always hope in the end.
“But the big choruses are still there, and a lot of the songs (on the new album) are classic Kaiser Chiefs songs that could have been on any album we made,” he concluded.