Ready to rock
Ahead of Kasabian’s Belsonic concert next week, Maureen Coleman caught up with frontman Tom Meighan to see if the band are still rock music’s biggest party animals
The last time I spoke to Tom Meighan, he was a little bit worse for wear. Kasabian were in Belfast to record a short set for Channel 4's Transmission with T-Mobile and a free bar was made available to the show's guests, selected media and one or two hangers-on.
To be fair, it would have been rude not to accept such hospitality and when the programme had finished recording, the party continued at the Europa Hotel, where the free booze flowed well into the early hours. Tom, the band's swaggering, charismatic frontman and his partner-in-crime, the shaggy-haired, softly-spoken Serge Pizzorno (guitarist/backing vocalist), were last seen tumbling out of the hotel at some ungodly hour and disappearing into the night after hijacking a taxi.
Tom laughs: “Yeah, that was some night. I was wrecked, we all were. I remember bits and pieces of the night, but I had the fear the next day.”
That was the summer of 2006 and surprisingly, given that Kasabian have been around since the start of the noughties, their first appearance in Belfast.
Since then, they've been back several times, playing Tennents ViTal in 2007 and St George's Market last year.
Funnily enough, Tom wasn't feeling too hot that night either, but he says — with only the slightest hint of melodrama — that he has the Belfast audience to thank for keeping him alive.
“I was really dying that night you know, very poorly indeed. But that gig saved my life. So yeah, I have the people of Belfast to thank for saving me.
“The crowd was well up for it that night, very rock ‘n' roll. I remember they all really got into the gig, which was great.”
The Leicester lads are renowned for working hard, but also for partying hard. In 2008 Serge was given the dubious title of the Sun's “Caner of the Week” award, in honour of his avid socialising, taking the crown from Kasabian's friend and fellow geezer, Noel Gallagher. I ask Tom if the latest addition to the Kasabian family will curtail the band's exploits. Just last week, Serge's girlfriend Amy gave birth to the couple's first baby, little Ennio Silva.
“Yeah, it's been a happy summer,” says Tom. “That's a nice thing that's happened to Serge. But it's kinda weird when your friends grow up and start having babies. I don't think people stop doing what they've always done though, it just means things will be a bit different.”
It's also been a busy summer for the Brit winners. As well as a number of key festival dates, including Ireland's Oxegen, they've just returned from a tour Down Under, and as we speak, are on a motorway in Italy, gearing up for a support slot with U2 in Turin.
Thankfully, for Serge's girlfriend, the band were between dates when she went into labour. But the hectic schedule means there will be little time for nappy-changing. Kasabian make their first appearance as headliners at a major UK festival when they take the helm at V later this month.
“We've been doing festivals for years but this is our first time headlining one at home, so we're really excited about that,” says Tom.
Before the V Festival the boys will be back in Belfast, where they will open Belsonic on Tuesday.
“Eight nights is pretty impressive,” says Tom. “The Belfast crowds really do like their music!”
With three albums now under their belts, Kasabian have plenty of great big stomping indie-rock tunes to rouse the rabbles at Custom House Square when the ever-popular Belsonic festival kicks off next week. The band is planning to start work on a fourth album later this year, but Tom says that it is too early to determine its direction.
“We'll probably be back in the studio in November,” he says. “Serge has got some demos done but we don't know how far we'll get with them. It's early days.”
With festival headline slots, chart-topping albums, celebrity fans and countless awards to their credit — most notably a 2010 Brit for Best UK Band, it seems Kasabian have taken over from Oasis as Britain's best-loved rockers.
Speaking of Oasis, has Tom spoken to the feuding Gallagher brothers recently?
“I spoke to Liam a few weeks ago,” he replies. “I heard some of his new band's stuff, it's amazing. But whatever is going on between Liam and Noel is none of our business.
“We're just enjoying a great year and a great summer and looking forward to the future. We're playing really well as a band, everyone's happy, things couldn't be better. It's onwards and upwards.”
Kasabian play Belsonic on Tuesday, August 17, with support from Ash. See www.belsonic.com for details