With three No 1 albums to their name and various accolades and awards for being the best band across various categories, you'd forgive a band like Kasabian for feeling, well, just a little cocky. After all, these were the same guys who called U2 fans "cardboard cut-outs" and said touring with that Irish band was "boring".
Of course, these days, Kasabian have dialled down the cocky act. They're no longer the "loud-mouthed louts", as a critic once called them. In fact, singer Tom Meighan is positively polite during our interview - even when this writer asked inane questions that would bug lesser artistes.
"We did it because we thought we were being clever, but we made a lot of enemies in a very short space of time," explained Meighan, over the phone from Japan, about their attitude in the past. The band is currently on the Asian leg of their tour and will perform in Singapore for the first time on Feb 8 at the Fort Canning Park.
"The critics called us this Manchester loud-mouth band - they really believed what we said. And by the way, we're from Leicester, not Manchester. But we were bored, brash and young. We were just punks. We were only 21 or 22 years old. We've grown up now. We didn't mean to hurt anyone or create attention. But having said that, I do think it was hilarious!"
The simplest record they've ever made
Kasabian began life about 10 years ago as Saracuse. Former member Chris Karloff chose the new name, referencing Linda Kasabian, a member of Charles Manson's cult and getaway driver when they went on their 1969 killing spree.
The band hit their stride in 2004 with their self-titled debut album and entered the UK Top 5. The second album, Empire (2006), shot to No 1, as did their subsequent offerings, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (2009), and Velociraptor (2011).
Although the band seem to be turning what they do into music gold, Meighan admitted they felt a bit of pressure trying to top their previous releases when recording Velociraptor. "You want your record to do well, don't you? Bloody hell, of course you do! We put music out there and we see what happens. Listen, if this record flopped or failed or whatever, we'd just start making another record again. So far, we've been doing okay. It's been fantastic."
Kasabian is one of those few bands that can come up with a collection of songs that are in equal parts dramatic, sensitive, thrilling and eviscerating. And on Velociraptor, they offer more of the same. Unlike the previous album, the multi-textural and layered West Ryder, which, according to Meighan was more of a concept album, Velociraptor comes across as a great soundtrack to a film never made.
"Serge had a bunch of songs - and that was it, really. We never really thought about it," he said. "This is just a bunch of songs. It's quite simple, really. This is probably the simplest record we've ever made ... Everything really just fell into place. Working with (producer) Dan The Automator (real name: Daniel Nakamura) again, he's a good guy to work with, you know."
And fans around the world seem to not be able to get enough of the band's music - even if they have lyrics that sometimes seem to make less sense than one of Lewis Carroll's gobbledygook rhymes. Sample these lyrics from the title track of Velociraptor: "Shake down / Go get your suitcase / Call a director / Tell everyone in sight / This is an air raid / You wanna get laid? / But he is closing / He ain't toothless man".
Meighan explained: "It's a cartoonish thing. I suppose it's about being hunted down, or a gang mentality, that sort of thing. Yeah. I don't know. It's cartoon lyrics. It is what it is ... It's not about a dinosaur. It's just a cool song."
This time they're leaving the airport
But why waste time time trying to decipher what Kasabian is on about, when you can just head to their show and revel in the fact that it doesn't matter what those lyrics mean once they're added to cool pulsating beats and a high-octane show. That Kasabian have constantly been nominated for, or have won, various awards for their live shows says something about the band's commitment to their performances. The band put on an explosive performance the last time we saw them in Kuala Lumpur in 2009, and when they launched Velociraptor, they performed in a Boeing 747 airliner that had been hollowed out to accommodate a stage and their fans.
But even that doesn't even begin to aptly describe what the guys do onstage. So, naturally, we asked Meighan to explain why so many people love their live shows.
"Well, you're going to get a great rock 'n' roll show, because we're a great rock 'n' roll band," said Meighan. "And we're playing really well at the moment. We're very enthusiastic and energetic. I'm looking forward to it, you know, to playing in Singapore. Because we normally just stop off there and then get on a plane again. So it'll be nice.
"When you see us live, you'll understand it more. We really try and capture the record, but for the show we ... Oh, I can't explain it. You have to see it. I can't wait for you guys to see the show."
If what we've seen so far - both online and live - is anything to go by, neither can we, Tom. Neither can we.
Kasabian performs on Feb 8, 8pm at Fort Canning Park. Guest band: The Vaccines. Tickets at S$98 (S$110 at the door) from Sistic. For more on Kasabian, visit Poparazzi (http://blogs.todayonline.com/poparazzi)
SEOUL: Korean boy band BEAST's management agency Cube Entertainment announced at a press conference on Monday that the band will embark on a massive world tour next year, which will bring them to Europe, the US and Asia, including Singapore, reported Korean media.
The tour will see the sextet perform at 21 major cities like Berlin, London, Shanghai and Bangkok.
"I am proud that BEAST will get to perform not just in Korea but around the world," said BEAST member Yang Yoseob.
Cube Entertainment revealed that the company had invested 20 billion won (S$22.3 million) in the tour and said it will feature high production values along with special 3D effects.
A spokesperson for the company added that BEAST will be actively attempting to break into music markets across the globe in 2012, capitalising on the growing popularity of K-pop music today.
SINGAPORE: Cantopop diva Faye Wong has an otherworldly quality to her whenever she performs in concert.
Her performance at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday was no exception
Wong kicked off the evening with her classic hit "Promise", followed by the hauntingly beautiful "Red Bean" to the cheers of the 6500-strong audience.
She appeared to retreat into her own little world whenever she sang, closing her eyes and letting her voice ring through the venue.
Wong was in fine form. Her vocals were impeccable and brought the lyrics that pass her lips to life.
The brilliant lighting design and amazing sets, along with Wong's gorgeous costumes served to accentuate Wong's vocal prowess.
She went on to perform a medly of hits like "I'm Willing" and "Sky", with her performance of the latter being the absolute highlight of the concert.
Wong sat on an intricately decorate platform suspended from the ceiling of the Singapore Indoor Stadium and began to sing "Sky" even as the platform moved to the centre of the venue, just inches above the heads of her fans.
Seeing their idol up close caused a stir among the audience members and some literally ran down the aisle with their cameras to photograph Wong, who took time to wave to her appreciative fans.
Wong's detached performance style is well documented, and true to form, that segment of the concert was probably the only time Wong interacted at length with her audience.
The rest of the time, she mostly stood still, giving an occasional wave and saying only 12 words to her fans - "Thank You" in Mandarin five times and once more in Cantonese.
However, her fans loved her anyway, showering her with applause every time she spoke and even more so as the concert moved into its final minutes.
A mysterious end
Ironically, her fans could not give her a rousing sendoff after the show's finale, which saw Wong perform "Flower of Paradise" before a giant mirror.
They simply did not know it was the final song of the evening.
When the song ended, Wong slipped away wordlessly, like she had done after every song during the concert.
The only difference was that this time, she never returned.
The lights gradually went on, and a picture of a lotus along with words that translate roughly as "for them" appeared on the two video screens at either side of the stage.
It took the audience a good five minutes or so to realise Wong wasn't coming back and start shuffling out the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Some departing audience members believed that it is an esoteric reference, to how the rebirth theme prevalent in the last part of her concert is connected to Wong's own Buddhist beliefs.
Others did not read too much into it and expressed that it is just Wong's unique style.
"Don't care whether you like it or not, she just go, don't even want to say goodbye to you," one concert-goer said of Wong's wordless departure.
SINGAPORE: Korean girl group SNSD's upcoming S$1.8 million Singapore concert has pipped Shinee's S$1.7 million concert here, to become the most expensive concert staged in Singapore by a single K-pop act so far, said concert organisers Running Into The Sun (RITS) and Conceptual.
RITS revealed in a statement that SNSD's performance here will have all the bells and whistles of a large-scale K-pop concert and then some -- it will feature the standard massive LED screens and lasers as well as new elements like trapezes and two custom-built stages with three walkways between them.
The girls will move about on the walkways over the course of the three-hour show, allowing a little over 2000 concert-goers in the three mosh pits to see them up close, essentially making the mosh pits the place to be for hardcore SNSD fans.
Recent news that the nine-member girl group had brought forward their first solo concert in Singapore to December 9 had left their fans here in a tizzy, and sparked intense speculation over when ticket sales will begin and how much they will cost.
RITS said a total of 5500 tickets priced at S$168 and S$218 are available for sale.
Samsung customers and OCBC cardholders can get their tickets from October 29 while the public will have to wait till November 1 to purchase their tickets.
SINGAPORE: It's not a nightmare and more of a dream for rock fans as Alice Cooper heads to Singapore for the first time with his "No More Mr. Nice Guy" concert that coincides with the release of his album "Welcome 2 My Nightmare".
To say he's shaped the culture of heavy metal and made the name Alice anything but sweet, is an understatement to those still unfamiliar with the 60-something rocker who will descend with "Guitar Goddess" Orianthi in tow come October 5th.
"Singapore will get the Full Alice treatment," said Cooper of his show this week at The Coliseum at Sentosa's Resorts World.
It's not clear if the prop boxes being unpacked in Singapore will see electric chairs and guillotines for the executions and other shock-rock theatrical concerts that is trademark Alice Cooper.
As amazing and outlandish as his shows have been, Cooper did reveal that that he has never had one of his shows banned.
"There is nothing truly 'shocking' about my show these days. It's more like a circus- there is a certain amount of comedy. Comedy goes great if you mix it with horror," he said in an email interview.
Performing in Singapore for the first time, the rock legend is as excited to play here as his fans are to see the rock horror master in the flesh.
"We've travelled everywhere. It's rare for us to perform in a city we've never played in before so for us it's something new."
He'll be heading to Singapore from Australia with Down Under guitar prodigy Orianthi Panagaris.
"Orianthi is an extremely talented guitarist. It's refreshing to see young women own the stage like some of these girls do," said Cooper of his newest tour member.
Apart from Orianthi, who last performed here at Singfest 2010, Cooper has also collaborated with rock-chick Ke$ha who features in his latest album "Welcome 2 My Nightmare".
The sequel to 1975 multi-platinum album, "Welcome To My Nightmare" which was released in September has been described by the creator himself as having an old-school sound although everything on the album is brand new.
"The things that scare Alice are different now. A nightmare can go in a million directions… but mostly it's just insane and that's what we try to capture in the album," Cooper said.
At age 63, Cooper has no plans to slow down and one thing's for sure, fans and newbies alike will not forget for a long time, the one night of 'No More Mr Nice Guy'.
As if making a promise, Cooper said: "I do know that fans usually remember it as of the best shows that they have ever seen."
Popular singer-songwriter Inch Chua will play her last shows in Singapore on Sept 16 and 17. The first concert (Sept 16) is part of a weekend event called Spread The Love, which is organised under the Esplanade Presents: On The Waterfront concert series. The other gigs will feature bands from indie music company Aging Youth's roster, with veteran and upcoming acts, including Lunarin, West Grand Boulevard, Tacit Aria, Zero Sequence and B-Quartet.
The second show (Sept 17) is part of Rev Up @ Orchard 2011, in conjunction with this year's Singapore Grand Prix.
A statement by Aging Youth said that Chua will be relocating to Los Angeles to pursue and develop her music career and this will be her last public show here in Singapore. However, it added that she would be working in both Singapore and the United States. Incidentally, Spread The Love will also be the last free-to-public show for alternative rock band B-Quartet before going into indefinite hiatus.
Spread The Love happens Sept 16 to 18, various times, at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. Visit www.esplanade.com for more details.
Baybeats, surely one of the region’s top festivals when it comes to showcasing regional talents, is back this year, but with a little bit of a difference – no more international/non-Asian bands in the line-up. But, if you think that’s going to make the festival less interesting, think again for we honestly think that this one has got some pretty interesting bands lined up for your aural (and visual) pleasure this weekend. Happening at the Esplanade in Singapore from Friday 19th August till Sunday 21st August 2011, here are some of the non-Singaporean and non-Malaysian acts we’re most excited about:
One of the very few South East Asian bands to actually get some international seal of approval, this bunch of jangle pop and shoegaze heads from the Philippines set the blogosphere alight a few years back with their release Cut The World and their 7″ single for Still. They have even got themselves on Rough Trade’s Indiepop 09 compilation. Now that’s what we call impressive.
Turbo GothBeing a guy, one can’t help but marvel at how gorgeous the singer for this duo from the Philippines is. But that’s not the only reason we’re mentioning them here because if the music doesn’t cut it, we still won’t be too excited to see them. Luckily their brand of indiepop influenced electronica is very easy on the ears and combine that with the aforementioned pretty lady, consider us sold.
BangkutamanNamed after the song Di Bangku Taman by Indonesian indie pop legends Pure Saturday, it’s obvious where this band’s love lies in terms of their preferred musical genre. But in Indonesia’s endless sea of indie pop and twee bands, Bangkutaman has truly got the songwriting chops to rise above most of them, as you can simply hear in their lovely and poetic song Ode Buat Kota above.
Hollywood NobodyAnother Indonesian indie pop band to get your interest going, but with more of a bossa nova slant to their sound, this bunch should go down well with fans of Mocca and bands of that ilk. Come to think of it, this year’s edition of Baybeats looks to be quite indie pop friendly, and not as emo-centric as it has been for the past few years, which is something that the Singaporean crowd usually go for, and which makes this year’s edition seem particularly quite fresh, doesn’t it?
BuddhistsonTalking about emo, where would Baybeats be without some highlights from the genre, right? This year sees the return of one of the bands that played in one of the earlier Baybeats (we think), Buddhistson from Japan. They’ve already toured Malaysia and Singapore a few years back, so we’re pretty sure that a lot of kids are going to be excited to see them live again.
Noughts And ExesOne of Hong Kong’s most buzzed about independent bands, Nought And Exes’ brand of folk pop is quite simply a breath of fresh air, and with all that unusual (at least in rock bands) instruments like the glockenspiel, melodica and even a typewriter used in their songs, it should be interesting to see how they’re going to pull it all off live.
Pet ConspiracyAlso slated to play in Kuala Lumpur on 21st August, this much talked about electro act from Beijing has got some pretty impressive credentials, including MTV Band Of The Month in 2009 and Best Electro Band in China in 2010 and a 2009 European tour and appearances on Arte TV and the BBC to name a few. Should make for an interesting viewing if you ask us.
THERE is a popular misconception that British singer James Blunt is reserved and sedate at his live shows just because he is best known for mellow ballads such as You're Beautiful and Goodbye My Lover. Nothing could be further from the truth, the 37-year-old assures Life! in a telephone interview.
'People would be surprised by what goes on onstage. It's not the troubadour with an acoustic guitar - it's a band and it's upbeat, full of energy and the audience will have fun,' he declares.
His concert at the Grand Theater at Marina Bay Sands on Thursday will be his second show here. In 2008, he performed his first gig in Singapore to a 7,000-strong crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.This time around, he has a five-piece band to back him up, compared to the quartet that played with him in 2008. He also has a fresh new batch of songs from his third album released late last year, Some Kind Of Trouble, which he says 'are more rocking'.
I ADMIT, I wasn't a fan of Paramore until last year. I mean, I'd heard of them, but they didn't really strike a chord with me. Then I saw their show at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in March last year. Hands down, they were the most exciting show of the year. And they're heading our way again, with a show on Aug 21.
So, naturally, I was excited to talk to lead singer Hayley Williams - even if they only gave us 10 minutes of talk time. Of course, a lot has happened to Paramore since the last time they were on our shores.
"We've been through a tonne ... Life has basically taken a few turns, but now, looking back on it, it's been very positive," said Williams over the phone.
One of the turns was, of course, the departure of the Farro brothers, guitarist Josh and drummer Zac, last December. The brothers had been with Paramore since the group was founded in 2004, and there was a hint of bitterness when they left, with Josh blogging that the band was just riding on the coattails of Williams.
Williams sounded tired at having to dredge the whole issue again.
"We were all best friends growing up and playing music together, and it's kind of hard," she said. "It's like when people you know who are married just get a divorce. You've known them that way for so long and now they separate.
"It wasn't a shock. We knew that it was sort of brewing, we knew that it was coming, but nothing can prepare you for something like that," she added. "It was definitely tough, but like I said, now looking back at it, I feel so positive and that it was meant to be. I'm one of those people who believe that everything happens for a reason no matter how tough it is, no matter how hard or challenging, and this has been a test for us. I think that so far, we're trying our best to ace. We'll see what happens from here on."
One bright thing that happened was the release of their latest single, Monster, last month. Recorded last December, the song was featured on the soundtrack for the blockbuster movie, Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon. And like many Paramore songs, this one is a great blend of crunching guitars and singable choruses.
But of course, fans and netizens have already been commenting about the song, not for its musical content as such, but the implication that it's a "forget you" note to the Farro brothers.
Williams sighed: "I mean, I really think that everything that I needed to say about the situation is in the songs that we wrote - Monster or some of the others. Everything that I need to say is there, and it's up to the fans to interpret all of it, because honestly, there's been so much drama surrounding our band. Even though, yes, we did write songs that have to do with our situation, I'm just so over talking about it."
Williams said she didn't want to let the situation give the impression that being in a band wasn't fun at all.
"Honestly, I want people - especially young people who are starting bands and playing music - I want them to know that being in a band is so much fun," she explained. "It's not miserable, no matter how busy you get. It's always going to be tough, but it's tough if you're a waiter at a restaurant too. Everything you do is going to get tough at some point, but being in a band is so much fun. You know, I just don't want to keep going on about: 'Oh this song is about this or that'. I think our fans know how to interpret it."
But as anyone who's ever been to a Paramore concert knows, fun is one thing that you're guaranteed of at their shows. At last year's gig, Williams' energy, combined with the bands pulling out all stops, gave fans a night they wouldn't forget so soon. And Williams said that this year's show was going to be even better.
"If that was fun last year, this year's show will - well, hopefully - blow people away," she laughed, adding that it was a little scary for the band when they toured South America earlier this year.
"It was our first time going on stage, with just the three of us, and we didn't know how people were going to take it," said Williams. "Then I turned around and saw Jeremy (Davis, bass) and Taylor (York, guitar), and I was going: 'Oh my god', they were more intense and unstoppable I think than they've ever been. It was as if someone fed them Pixy Stix (a powdered candy high in sugar) or something! They were absolutely out of their minds," she laughed.
"I'm excited, you know," she continued. "It's still new for us and I want to get out there, because we've been home for months now and I want to pull my hair out!"
The band has already performed on the Vans Warped Tour and Williams said they've been hitting their stride.
"The first three shows coming back from being at home were really tough. If you looked closely at me, I was like choking for air. It really hurt! But I love it, and once I power through it - like about the fourth show on - my body gets used to it, and it's just like, here we go!"
Of course, if you're on tour with Paramore, you might just want to bring some fire retardant along. Because when you're on the road with Paramore, anything can happen, like, say, setting fire to a restaurant in Japan.
"This was in the middle of Tokyo," recalled Williams. "It was so rock 'n' roll ... We were at a restaurant like a Korean barbecue, where you know, you cook everything yourself. And for some reason, in this restaurant, above the grill, there were these hanging cloth lanterns.
"Anyway, the flame on the grill was too high and one of the guys tried to turn it down, but we actually turned it up! And the lantern caught on fire and there was smoke everywhere and the alarm was going off," she continued.
"We were laughing because we thought it was hilarious at first, and the next thing we know, the building starts shaking and then no one was laughing any more, and we're like: 'Get out, get out of here', running and screaming out into the streets. We counted nine fire trucks out there. I'll never forget it."
Williams also said that she was looking forward to being back in Singapore, calling their last visit to our shores "exciting".
"We're definitely coming back to Singapore a different band, a new band, and we're really excited. We can't wait to see you in Singapore!"
We can't wait to see you too, Hayley. Although I'll probably stand near the fire extinguisher, you know, just in case.
Paramore performs Aug 21, 8pm, Singapore Indoor Stadium. Tickets at S$80 to S$145 from Sistic.