Kasabians Serge Pizzorno: The boys needed me to step up as frontman

- BBC News

Kasabians Serge Pizzorno: The boys needed me to step up as frontman

After Englands Lionesses won the Womens Euros last month, in front of a TV audience of more than 17 million, rock band and football fans Kasabian found themselves sharing the spotlight.

A performance of their new single The Wall, skilfully spliced with action from the tournament, brought the BBCs coverage to a close.

The defiant piano-driven track features on the groups seventh album The Alchemists Euphoria, their first since the departure of long-time frontman Tom Meighan after was he charged with domestic assault in 2020.

While some fans tweeted their delight at the finale montage, others questioned the booking given the circumstances.

Kasabians main creative force Serge Pizzorno tells us it was "so beautiful to be a part of" such a historic moment, especially with a tune that began life as an in-joke about overcoming a hangover on tour but evolved into an ode to not giving up.

The album, he says, is the sound of him and his bandmates working through the "many emotions" of the turbulent time around Meighans departure, while preparing themselves to go again with Kasabian 2.0.

"I knew I didnt want to write specifically about the band and what had happened," Pizzorno explains. "But I knew the subject around what had happened would relate to everyone.

"Its not really about what went down. This is more about, these are the emotions that I was going through, and people all over can relate to forks in the road, survival, dealing with loss, grief, getting to a point [of] being present and letting go."

Meighan admitted assaulting his fiancee and was fined and ordered to carry out community service and rehabilitation. He publicly apologised, married his partner Vikki and launched a solo career.

Pizzorno says it was "completely and utterly heart-breaking" and "devastating in so many ways" to part ways, but "there was nothing else we could have done".

Once the decision was made, the group had to "sit down and decide what we were going to do", he explains.

"We couldnt let the story end like that. We still want to play the songs. Were a band. Its not fair that we have to stop."

Previously, Pizzorno sung a couple of songs on each album and released his own avant-garde side project in 2019, but fronting Kasabian full-time, he says, is a total "switch-up".

Hes been channelling some of his rock n roll heroes for his new role, as well as artists from the hip-hop world like Kendrick Lamar and Tyler, the Creator.

"Its something that I never thought I would do. Its something that I never wanted to do," he says. "I was very happy being Keith [Richards, Rolling Stones guitarist] and I had to become Mick [Jagger, frontman] to carry on. The boys needed me to step up.

"Im attracted to things that scare me, and once I accepted that this is how it was gonna have to be, then I was always only going to do it my way - fully immerse myself, commit to trying to entertain and bring the ruckus. Get on that stage and own it and just become... the indie Kanye!"

The new album, co-produced by Pizzorno and Stormzys producer Fraser T Smith, fuses rock with rap/trap, psych folk and Detroit house - sometimes within the same short track.

The Guardian said the LP was "rarely dull, and often hugely entertaining", while The Sunday Times said it was a "more experimental and nuanced" album "that dares to do things (slightly) differently".

Another recent single, SCRIPTVRE, finds Pizzorno declaring: "I dont want to stop." He describes it as "a boxing walk-out song", akin to US rapper Eminems Lose Yourself with its sense of "like it or not, youre here now and its up to you".

Pizzornos second outdoor gig as frontman was the first of two nights performing to more than 160,000 people at Knebworth, in support of Liam Gallagher in June.

"Its do or die at that point," he says. "We absolutely buzzed off being on that stage and the size of it. It wasnt frightening, we just embraced the day.

"That was one of the biggest crowds, if not the biggest weve ever played in front of and it was just absolutely insane and pure joy. It has a lot to do with people not having the chance to go and see shows and missing music for a couple of years. It was amazing."

The next generation of Kasabian fans were led this summer by seven-year-old Spencer Kubon, who went viral for throwing out shapes in the mosh pit at the Tramlines Festival in Sheffield. Pizzorno says he "absolutely loved it" when somebody showed him the footage.

Another stand-out moment of his summer involved friend of the band, former England footballer-turned-podcaster/presenter Peter Crouch, joining them on stage for a rave as they played their hit Fire at the Isle of Wight Festival.

"Youve got to watch him, man, hell be definitely forming a band after that," Pizzorno jokes.

The surprise cameo, it seems, was a long time coming.

"There was some loose talk of him taking a year out and learning bass, and then us doing a gig and him coming on stage and dropping the maddest bassline anyones ever seen," he reveals. "But he was too busy, so I was like, One day, Ill just grab you when youre not ready and he was like, OK lets do that.

"I gave him a little side smile, like stay close tonight. When he saw me come down off the stage, he was ready.

"Hes one of the most talented English footballers of his generation, hes always ready to perform."

Crouch may have crossed over into entertainment effortlessly, but Leicester City fan Pizzorno has scored memorable goals himself at Soccer Aid and on Soccer AM.

His wife Amy was an amateur footballer too at a time when "it was difficult because there wasnt that many teams", he says. So their family, which includes two football-playing boys, appreciate the legacy the Lionesses have created.

"She was playing all over the Midlands to get a game, so obviously it was a very different generation," he says. "But now with England winning, its so much better because its just all blown up, its phenomenal.

"You know what impact Euro 96 had, and its like, theyve actually won it! Its so exciting for generations to come."

Kasabians album The Alchemists Euphoria is out now and they tour the UK from October.

Read it all at BBC News