After wrapping up their tour in England last month, Kaiser Chiefs are gearing up to bring their latest record Education, Education, Education & War to Toronto’s The Phoenix Concert Theatre tonight. Having been fans since the release of their debut record Employment (2005), A Music Blog, Yea? were thrilled to pick up the phone last week and give the band’s Nick “Peanut” Baines a call. Itching to know more about these Leeds indie-rockers? Dive into our conversation below as we discuss little tour trips, curating setlists, writing for a new record, industry tips for new bands, and the wonder of Leeds.
AMBY: Hey Nick. Thanks so much for your time today! My staff and I absolutely love Kaiser Chiefs and are psyched that we could make this happen.
Kaiser Chiefs: Thank you and no problem at all.
AMBY: You’re currently touring North America and will play Toronto on May 17th. I’ve been waiting to see you guys for years and can’t wait for this show. What do you look forward to most for what’s to come on this tour?
Kaiser Chiefs: We’ve been to Toronto a few times before, but there are few places on this tour that we haven’t been to before. It’s kind of cool when you’re playing new places and meeting new people. We had played in Arizona recently and some guy told us that he’s been waiting ten years for us to come to Arizona. It’s pretty cool to still be doing what we love doing and still meet new people and make new plans.
AMBY: You mention how there are still some cities which you’ve yet to play in. Out of those that are left, are there any that you look forward to finally getting to the most?
Kaiser Chiefs: For sure. The other day we got to go out to the Arizona desert which was cool. We’ve driven to all of these places before but have never had any time to stop. When we were out in California, we actually got to go through and stop by at Joshua Tree. Little trips like that are fun. We try to do as much as we can, but at other times, we end up just sat in a dressing room or eating sandwiches.
AMBY and Kaiser Chiefs: [laughs]
AMBY: The band seems to have a great wit about them, which has been shown in your records’ through some tongue and cheek lyrics over the years. How do you keep yourselves busy while touring? Do you have any running gags or fun touring rituals between yourselves?
Kaiser Chiefs: Yea, we do. We finished our big arena tour recently in the UK and then didn’t really do any touring until now. It’s kind of… we’re all really enjoying being back on the road, so when one tour ends it’s almost as if we don’t want anything to stop. We want our tour to keep going. Sometimes you get bored on tour, but at the moment, we’re not very bored. Sometimes we’re exploring the city, some of us go for a run, sometimes we try to see if there’s a good diner here or restaurant there, or sometimes a big ‘ol flea market. We kind of take things day by day. Days fly by very quickly on tour; weeks can go by and you think “shit, I haven’t really been doing anything”.
AMBY: [laughs] You once said that creating setlists, especially with a five-record back catologue, can be a slightly tricky task. Which songs do you currently enjoy performing in North America the most?
Kaiser Chiefs: When we go away from the UK and to different countries, we kind of look at which singles did well over the radio. Some singles didn’t come out in the UK but came out in America. There are different levels of success all over the world, so we try to take that into account. I think any band probably enjoys playing songs from their latest record, because that’s kind of what you do as a band; you release a new record and you go and tour it. The stuff from Education & War at the moment is the stuff I want to play because we know there are people in America who haven’t heard those songs before played live. That makes it quite fun.
AMBY: I’m glad you brought up Education & War there – it’s such a fantastic record. As it’s been more than a year since Education, Education, Education and War’s release, have you had any time to start writing more material for this forthcoming album?
Kaiser Chiefs: We’re had a couple of writing sessions here and there and on our downtime. Stuff is coming together and we have a lot of time put aside in the summer to write a new record.
AMBY: That’s exciting! I know that you recently unveiled a new video for your song Falling Awake which is apparently first song to be taken off of a new record?
Kaiser Chiefs: We released that as a standalone single and I think that was the UK music press getting overly excited and stating that it’s off of a new record. It’s not at the moment.
AMBY and Kaiser Chiefs: [laughs]
Kaiser Chiefs: We’re taking care of that groundwork and we’ve got a DropBox thing with loads of ideas in it. I’m quite excited to get back to those.
AMBY: The video for Falling Awake gives fans a look into the life of a Kaiser Chief – playing shows, meeting fans, and tour life. Being that you tour many cities, we must discuss where you’re from. There’s a song on the record titled Coming Home. What’s one of your favourite things about your hometown, Leeds?
Kaiser Chiefs: My favourite things about my hometown… we were talking about this, me and the band, the other day. A lot of us spend time in London now since it’s easier to be in a band in London sometimes. We were talking about driving back into London from the airport and how it isn’t that exciting; it’s just waiting in an hour of traffic here. When we drive up to Leeds, there’s something about finally recognizing the skyline of your home city. It feels very homey and safe and comforting.
AMBY: It must feel great for a band, especially after being away for so long.
Kaiser Chiefs: When you tour every day and you come home to recognize something, there’s a very relaxing feeling of finally being there. I know where people are, I know where things are, and it kind of helps to come down from the tour.
AMBY: What would we need to put on our to-do list if we were to visit there?
Kaiser Chiefs: If you’re off to see London, then there are a ton of touristy things to do. If you’re in Leeds, we do good food and good beer. There are lots and lots of pubs and nice places to go on the edge of Leeds since we’re surrounded by countryside. You can get some nice green hills and forests and twisty roads just by driving around. It’s very much like Game of Thrones [laughs].
AMBY: I really admire how over the years, Kaiser Chiefs have managed to find a nice balance of viable popularity while still sticking to your guns and artistic freedom. For fans of yours who are in up and coming bands, what advice would you give them in regards to the music industry?
Kaiser Chiefs: Part of me thinks that there’s a lot of change in the last ten to twelve years in the music industry, but I think it’s about what you said – it’s about sticking to your guns. If you believe that you’re making something that’s good enough for the public, then you should probably stick to it. You know? People will try to change you, but having some kind of integrity or artistic vision for what you want or how you want to be perceived is really important. If you stick to that, then people stick with you as well. You’ve got to remember that.
AMBY: Absolutely. Well, to conclude everything here today and for all of your fans reading this: what’s something about Kaiser Chiefs that most of your listeners don’t know yet?
Kaiser Chiefs: I’m not sure [laughs]. We’ve been around for a while, so I think most people know the stories behind names and those kinds of things. A lot of people don’t know that the song Ruby is about a dog, not a girl. There you go!
Thank you Kaiser Chiefs, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout