Kasabian re-open Serge's songbook - the challenge is to make it even better than the last
With the county band’s fourth album on the way, writer-guitarist Sergio Pizzorno faces a now-familiar challenge: to make it different to the last one – and better
It has been a busy winter for the Leicester boys from Kasabian, flying backwards and forwards from San Francisco to Los Angeles, recording and mixing their fourth album.
As yet untitled, it will be released in October. That's the so far/so good plan, says the woman from their record label, Sony/BMG.
"They're still working on it," she said, "although it's nearly finished. They're mixing it. I can't tell you who's producing it – it's secret – and I can't even give you a clue about what it sounds like because we haven't heard it."
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
But it will be out in October, after they've played two summer festivals in Scotland and the Isle of Wight.
Depending on which Sergio Pizzorno interview you read, the new album will possess elements of punk, Radiohead's The Bends, Jackson 5, epic or a mixture of everything you've ever heard.
Whatever, it will sound better live, says Serge. "I just want people to come away from it going 'Yep, great album. It's different, I love it. Let's go and see 'em live. Thank you'."
And then, he says, the huge musical process of recording and gigging will start again.
The Kasabian ambition is that every album should be different – and better – than the one that came before.
"I know the third record is the important one, the one you're judged on," he says, referring to the band's West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum release.
"That's the one where you establish yourself and people find out who you really are."
Now, he says, is the tricky part. Keeping it up. Sustaining it. Serge is confident they have the songs to do it.
Strip it all away and that's all that matters. The songs.
Earlier this week, Serge and the band were featured on Sky Arts' Songbook programme, talking about their music, how they make it and what it means to them.
"We got involved because I'd seen the Jarvis Cocker episode of Songbook and I thought it was fascinating," he says.
"I thought it was really good TV, and most TV is pretty rubbish. So when I got a call asking if I wanted to do it, I said, 'Yes, of course'.
"There have been certain people on the show whose music I'm not really into, but you can still watch it and appreciate what went into their records."
It's a tricky thing, though, analysing the songs you write. What can mean one thing to the author can mean something entirely different to the listener.
"I see myself as a sort of vessel, I don't even think the songs have anything to do with me," he says.
"I don't really know how or why it works, but every now and again something happens and I just seem to be able to write a song. You can explain what you like about music and why you got into it but it's hard to say how you do it yourself."
Eight years and (almost) four albums into a successful musical career, there's a different kind of pressure on the band today, and on Serge, Kasabian's songwriter, in particular.
"It's only the pressure I put on myself," he says. "I try to stay well clear of other people's expectations because you'll just do your head in trying to second guess what other people want.
"With the first album, no- one's waiting for it, so you've got the luxury of working on it if you don't think it's quite right. I think that's why you get bands who have great debut records but then as they years pass, their albums tend to get worse.
"The people who stick around are the people who think, 'I've learned something from doing this album, so next time I can do something else."
So what is the next one like?
"Well, it's epic. It's big songs that make you feel like anything's possible. It's a really positive record. I suppose it's a combination of all three records but we've just taken it a bit further.
"I'm really excited about it, because after the last record, people really liked it and wanted to know what was next, and I'm happy to say that it's got better. I'm excited about playing it live – there are tunes on there that are going to take people to a new place."
It's a long way from Countesthorpe College in the mid-90s, a gang of scruffy herberts with a bagload of Britpop albums.
"The first song I wrote was just such a blatant Oasis-Beatles rip-off," he laughs.
"I think I found my own sound through a combination of learning from the greats – Oasis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead – and then going back to what got me into music in the first place, which was electronic music, then trying to bring the two together."
Serge gets recognised a lot these days. It's never a drag, he says. His recognition rating increased after the last record, the multi-platinum West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.
"Everyone's very sweet, there's no real animosity," he says. "I live in Leicester, so I just get on with my own thing."
Yet for all of his talents as a songwriter and guitarist, it's a moment on Sky's Soccer AM that he's most remembered for – shooting a ball through a gap in an inflatable Wembley sign.
"It's crazy – I'm more famous for that than for the music! It's amazing what kicking a ball through a hole can do. That is the most frequently asked question.
"I was drunk and that's all I remember. I also think that's the only reason it happened – you know what it's like when you're drunk. You think you can do anything!"
● See Serge before he was famous in the new edition of the Leicestershire Chronicle. It's got photos of Martin Johnson, Mark Selby, Julie Etchingham, Richard Attenborough, Parminder Nagra and more when they were only household names in their own households. It's on sale now, priced 65p.