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)
Before we move on to Foster The People, let's begin with the local alternative/electro/indie opening band, Auditory Effect. It's not common practice to have local opening bands but the response from the crowd was welcoming. And when the music began, the quality of their compositions and performance just spoke for themselves. Kudos to Chugg for taking this initiative to provide talented local musicians with exposure.
And after a lengthy wait, Foster The People finally took the stage and the crowd just went crazy! Even more so as Mark Foster dashed to the front! The band, which was formed just 2 years ago are now halfway round the globe and performing to capacity crowds.
Bless the Scissor Sisters' bellies, for the Sisters - excluding Babydaddy - were struck with a bout of food poisoning from their previous stop in Bali. Thankfully, that didn't stop the quintet of Jake Shears, Ana Matronic, Del Marquis, Randy Real, Babydaddy and two female back-up vocalists from churning out an astronomical show at Fort Gate at Fort Canning Park on Monday night.
Despite the 90-minute hold-up that left many a punter irascible, any bad mood was swiftly disposed of when the band took to the stage. Flanked by the rest of their team, Shears and Matronic pounced into the arena - in all their shredded denim and yellow polka-dot glory - with opener track Night Work. Unfortunately, their introductory ditty didn't quite hit the ground running, with the sound system drowning out Shears and Matronic.
Later, Matronic called out to the sweaty 2,500-strong assembly. "We are all feeling a touch of a Bali belly ... The louder you scream, the better we'll feel," she rallied, before she and Shears launched into T*** On The Radio, replete with high falsetto sing-a-longs, rapturous cheers and wolf whistles from an adoring crowd.
Gloriously shameless, Shears peeled off his jacket to reveal not very much else and joined Matronic in Running Out, a fast-paced piece of glam pop introspection. Later, the front woman whipped out her tambourine and slipped into Pink Floyd gear with Shears in the band's rendition of the gorgeous Comfortably Numb.
The evening was a winner - but not just because the Sisters belted out popular numbers like I Don't Feel Like Dancing, Take Your Mama Out and Filthy/Gorgeous (even though there were one too many languid numbers from the third album on the set-list).
Success came from the way Shears and Matronic delivered a mellifluous harmony that shows just how hard they've worked over a decade; their dedication and perseverance despite having their own country (that would be the United States) under-appreciate them terribly. It's their adoration for the music that places them on a pedestal far from the reaches of the pretenders. ZHANG WEIFANG
Lamb Of God frontman Randy Blythe has announced that he will make a bid to become President.
In an extraordinary rambling blog post, Blythe says the present candidates lack "balls", before making an unusual promise for when he is finally sworn in:
"My first act as President of the United States will to be
shot. That’s right, SHOT. With a high-powered assault rifle.
Immediately after taking the oath of office, I will be escorted
about twenty yards away and be shot publicly in a non-lethal area
of my body by a highly trained Navy SEAL sniper. It will hurt
Blythe says he will do this because he doesn't expect anyone in the armed forces to do anything he wouldn't.
"Me being shot will be broadcast live world-wide via satellite, with no bleeping out of the incredible string of curse words I will undoubtedly let fly with. I will be required to walk/limp/crawl on my own power a minimum of 50 yards through the mud to an ambulance that will take me away to patch me up. If I can’t make it on my own, I’m not tough enough to be your President.
"After all the nations in the entire world witness America’s new President, an insane looking heavily tattooed freak, getting shot ON HIS OWN ORDER as soon as he takes office, then crawling all bloody to an ambulance, cussing the whole way and screaming pure hate in a monstrous voice tortured by years of touring and Marlboro Reds, they will think twice before f--king with us," he adds.
Among his impressive list of promises are to:
- Take 13 weeks of Marine Corps training
- Kill an enemy prisoners in hand-to-hand combat
- Kill the first enemy of any war
- Change the rules of engagement so troops can shoot before the enemy strikes
- Kick some a--
- Drink beer
- Get laid
- Bless America
Blythe appears to focus on foreign policy rather than discuss economic issues, suggesting he may be better suited for the role of Secretary of State.His slogan? "F--k the dumb s--t. Let's get real here."
Ke$ha claims she will "resurrect" rock with her new album.
"People say that rock and roll is dead, and it is my mission and my goal to resurrect it in the form of my pop music," she told MTV News "That's the goal. We'll see what happens."
A foray into the rock world for the pop singer seemed inevitable
after a run of rock-related stories through 2011. In May,
sheclaimed to be obsessed with rock n'
roll, and later joined Alice Cooper on
stage for the second time to perform "School's
"I’ve been pretty much in this 70’s rock and roll kick and I want to capture some of the true essence of what rock and roll is, and that’s just irreverence and sexiness and fun and not giving a f--k, so we’ll definitely put a bit of rock and roll in it," she said in May. She added that there may be some collaborations with her rock heroes, though the official tracklisting is yet to be confirmed.
Ke$ha is not the only pop princess to have made steps towards the world of rock. Lady Gaga has also been snapped backstage alongside Iron Maiden, later claiming that the band changed her life. It's almost as if the pop industry saw U2's record-smashing 360 tour revenue and decided to arrange a concerted move towards live rock performances so they can get a slice of the pie.Cynical? Perhaps, but you might say that the signs are pointing towards a rocking 2012, both on and off the charts.
by Christopher Toh
If 2011 was anything to go by, the local music scene is slowly but surely sparking along. So what will 2012 bring? Well, we've picked a few artistes you might want to check out. Some have been around the block, some are fairly new, but all have the potential to be leading lights in the local music scene.
They released their debut album, Masters, Wives, Daughter, and rocked audiences not just in Singapore but in China and Korea, too. Musically, they are probably one of the brightest lights in the local music scene, with singer Renyi Wang's vocal style ably supported by the band. The latest word is that the band are recording a new album and you can expect to hear new music from them on March 30 when they play their first headlining gig at the Esplanade Recital Studio. 2012 could be the year that the Sons actually establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Visit https://www.facebook.com/cheatingsons for updates and videos.
Siti Zahidah is best known for the slightly cutesy The Make-Up Song, but as she showed throughout her performances in 2011, she's no one-trick pony. She won the The Next Big Thing competition organised by MediaCorp Radio's 987FM (earning herself an ambassadorship with Maestro, and the S$10,000 prize money), and we're all looking forward to seeing what fruits she'll bear. Could she really be the next big thing? We hope so. Hear more at www.youtube.com/user/pcdlovesg.
What we like about Seyra - who performs with Trip Circle - is that while she performs somewhat cutesy folky pop songs, there's also a depth to her performances that others lack. "It's exciting to not know where the melody will take me," she writes on her Facebook page. "And I'm here to tell you that I am truly committed to continually search for that source of inspiration, that moment in between moments, the wrong notes at the right time, and to share it with everyone - that shall be my dream and my New Year's resolution." We can't wait. Visit www.facebook.com/Seyratune for more updates.
Amanda Tee has been around for a bit, but she's somehow always found herself on the fringes of the musical radar, rather than right smack in the centre of it. Her performance on her album Take It Or Leave It isn't quite award-winning material just yet, but it's a great start, and we'd love to hear and see more of her in 2012. "The rawness of these tracks paired with somewhat quirky songwriting styles will definitely make you want to listen more closely," she said. We agree. Hear more at http://amandatee.com.
One of the more outstanding finalists of the Next Big Thing competition, Shimona Kee, only returned to Singapore last year after six years abroad. She has since been a regular musical fixture in the live music circuit and is currently putting the final touches to her first full-length album of original music slated for release in early 2012. She has already released a song, Sweet Company, which you can find at Bandcamp (http://shimona.bandcamp.com). Hear more at http://tdy.sg/shimonaurl.
He's a Singapore Idol alum currently starring in Voyage De La Vie, as well as a Political Science graduate and ex-national fencer. And late last year, Jonathan Leong released his first album, Mysterious Hero. "(The album) is my work, so it does have a lot of me in it, but I'm not saying that this is me and that's all. Everyone evolves as you go through experiences and you change - hopefully for the better." It's taken a while for Leong to get to this point and the album does show a different side of Leong. For starters, it's in Mandarin, and writing songs in Mandarin was a process that Leong described as "an uphill climb". (For the record, half of the songs were co-written with actress Rui En.) And he can't wait to do more. "I guess (my songs are) one aspect of who I am," he said, "and I hope to have a career long enough to explore all the other aspects and bring it to the public." Check out more at www.jonleong.com.
Obedient Wives Club
It is said on their Facebook page that Obedient Wives Club - YinQi Lee, Keith Tan, Lennat Mak and Sulaiman Supian - intends to "bring fuzzed out girl group indie pop that is missing from the Singapore indie scene". The band was formed last year because "I've always wanted to play the music I love, which is fuzz pop meets (Phil) Spector", said guitarist Tan. They have released a self-titled four-track EP, which, according to Tan, was recorded in three weeks and is "very unorthodox both in recording and mixing". Well, if tracks like the infectious This Is It and That Boy are anything to go by, they've definitely achieved their goal. Hear more at www.youtube.com/user/ObedientWivesClub.
Rapper ShiGGa Shay first came to our collective consciousness on the TV series Live And Loaded in 2009. But his journey into the world of hip-hop and rap started when he was nine years old. Since then, he has been performing at club showcases, as well as at the National Day Parade 2010, and has collaborated with the likes of Electrico, Sylvia Ratonel and acapella group Budak Pantai. He was also featured on the popular hip-hop site, WorldStarHipHop, as the "Unsigned Talent Of The Week" for his music video, On My Grind. (Incidentally, the video received over 100,000 views.) In Oct 2011, ShiGGa released his single, Let's Roll, and expects to drop his upcoming album, They Call Me ShiGGa, early this year. Hear more at www.youtube.com/user/ShiGGaShay.
Despite being fairly new - the band's full line-up was only completed last year - Catalogue V has managed to carve some impressive notches on their post, not least being in the finals of the 2011 Asia Beat competition held in Seoul, with bassist Mal and drummer Matt edging out other players from Asia to win the Best Bassist and Best Drummer awards, respectively. Said singer Razil Razil Razil: "We had been told that the Korean crowd was hard to please, but they actually stood up and danced and sang along during our performance. At the time we thought that the crowd was … going to do the same for the other bands, but they only did it for us!" Sure, the Koreans dug 'em, but the band isn't about to rest on its laurels. "I think we are going to promote Catalogue V as a product globally and locally. We are currently going to studios to work on our stuff," said guitarist Hans. Check them out at www.facebook.com/cataloguev.
Thunder Rock School
Thunder Rock School has been going from strength to strength ever since it opened its doors last year. Sure, they're not a band, but with the likes of Amanda Ling (In Each Hand A Cutlass), Martin Kong (Caracal), Brandon Khoo (The UnXpected), Deon Toh and Ian Toh (Flybar), Esther Low (Monster Cat) and David Tang (The Synth Experience) within their ranks, they might as well be. Thunder Rock School opened a second branch late last year in Upper Thomson Road, and the plan is to have more schools rockin' to the Thunder beat in the future. "There will be at least two more … but at the moment we are trying our best to concentrate on the Thomson side," said Toh. They're also equipping to become a full-fledged music store, and producer Leonard Soosay and Snakeweed Studios have also set up a small recording space in the school. Find out more at www.thunderrockschool.com.