Interview with the Kaiser Chiefs ahead of their concert at Aintree Racecourse
by Northern Life
You’re back again this year playing the Jockey Club Live shows and you’re coming to Aintree. What keeps bringing you back to play the Jockey Club?
It was surprisingly good. So when we first got an offer, it was quite a few years ago now. 2014 I guess, maybe ’13 to play in York at the races and we thought, okay, it might be fine, we’ll see how it is. Y’know what I mean? And then we turned up and I think there was like 27,000 people there or something crazy, it was like a festival but only we were playing, so we loved it. So we did some more the year after I think and then the year after and we’ll do a couple more this year. I think everyone has a good day out and it’s just a different thing. I think we’re lucky as a band actually that we can do lots and lots of different things and our fan base is kind of diverse enough so we can play Glastonbury and we can play a traditional rock festival or whatever that is. And then we can also play at a racecourse to loads of people.
Do you approach the racecourse shows any differently to your normal kind of tours?
It’s more like a tour than it is a festival I think because obviously when you play at a festival there’s loads and loads and loads of bands and loads of things going on and this is only us basically, supported by some horseracing! So we just sort of try and put on a good show for everybody really. At the end of the day everyone’s had a good time, hopefully they’ve won some money and they’ve got drunk so then we just try and put on a good show to sort of end it all off really. Play some hits, get everyone there bouncing and loosening their ties and kicking off their high heels.
With so many huge songs to choose from and obviously your new material from the new album. How do you go about choosing your set list?
I don’t know really, it’s got a little bit harder. I sort of, generally write the set list and I think it sort of writes itself, really. There’s songs that everybody wants to hear and then we’ll play some new songs from the new record and then we’ll try and dig out a couple of things that maybe are a bit unusual which I think keeps us interested and some of the people who come see us a lot obviously will be there as well so we play a little bit of that but y’know, just try and… As you say, we’ve got quite a lot of songs that everyone knows so it makes it quite easy.
Are there songs that you just dare not leave out of the set?
‘Dare not’ is an interesting question really. One of the things about our band and I think it’s kind of unique in a way is that we are a band really where we like to play a gig and we want everyone to have a good time. I think y’know, not playing big songs is sort of a bit selfish really for the people who have got tickets to come see us. So I don’t think we’d ever do it. I don’t think it’s a matter of not daring to, I think we feel like we’ve written some songs, some great songs that everyone likes and we love the reaction to y’know, still when we play ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Ruby’ and other songs the reaction is still amazing, do you know what I mean? Even for those ones that are quite old now y’know. We love that reaction, so why would we not play them?
And what song do you think does get the best reaction? Over all the years with all the songs that you’ve played, is there one particular one that just stands out that you can just see the crowd going nuts for it, loving?
I think there’s a few obvious ones really. I think different places, different things. So when we go into Europe, ‘Ruby’ was a much bigger song than anything else really in sort of like Germany or places like that. That’s our number 1 biggest hit. I think in the UK ‘I Predict A Riot’ is our sort of like our trademark and then also ‘Oh My God’ ‘cause we finish with that so that’s one with a great reaction. I think in the UK, the song we play and we absolutely know that it’s gonna be fine is ‘I Predict A Riot’.
You guys are now a proper permanent fixture on the British music scene whilst so many of your contemporaries have kind of long since called it a day, why do you think you as a group of friends from Leeds have succeeded whilst so many have not? Is this something that you think about?
We don’t really think about it too much. I mean like, the album’s called ‘Stay Together’ and I think one of those things is we have stayed together and we are all still all very keen to be in a band. Y’know even when Rickys been off doing tele y’know, people go and do other things, we always sort of, get back together and it feels like the thing we’re meant to do. I think that helps really and we’ve always said y’know, I think we’ve had a few ups and downs but on the whole try and write some great songs that we like, the people like, that connect to the audience and play great gigs. I mean, I think one of our strengths, even probably more than the albums is just the fact that I think people come and see us live and they know they’re gonna have a good night y’know. And I think, we’ve played a lot of festivals before and get booked for festivals that y’know, maybe people don’t buy the ticket perhaps to come see the Kaiser Chiefs specifically at I don’t know, Glastonbury or Leeds and Reading or whatever festival we’re playing at, but they know if they can come along and they know they’re gonna have a good time and they’re gonna know the songs and they’re gonna sing and run around and Ricky’s gonna be entertaining, so I just think it could… Sorry, I’m gonna answer the question now! I think being a good live band and being a good group of friends and I think still wanting it and still doing it after all these years. I think that’s the reason that we have managed to stay around.
These shows, the Jockey Club events are very much for friends and family to come and watch an early evening of racing and then party the night away with acts like yourself. Have you guys over the years when you have been doing these shows, have you brought any of your friends and family along to them just for a day out?
Yeah, definitely, yeah. My mum and dad have been. Everyone’s mum and dad have been and lots of friends. I mean, I feel guilty… Actually, I don’t feel guilty. Whenever my mum comes and my sister as well yeah, they always go home. Last time my mum came to a gig, I can’t remember which one it was, she won. She picked the winning horse in every race but one in which it came second. I can’t remember what she did, she wasn’t betting much, which is a shame. I’d of doubled or quadrupled her money. Very lucky, she’s a lucky person
So she didn’t suddenly go off on a nice holiday did she or something?
No, probably not. I think my dad probably pocketed it. No, definitely she had a very good day out at the races, so yeah. Lots of friends and family have come and I think it’s sort of more what its about isn’t it? It’s a bit more, it’s just a day out really isn’t it, a big day out and I think the races have always officially been sort of everyone get dressed up and go for a day out and I think that adding music to the end of it is a really, really great idea because you’ve got a load of people and they’re all in the mood in a similar way to a festival. Like, you’ve got a load of people who are there to have a good time basically. I guess it makes our job, what’s the word for it? Easier ‘cause they’re already sort of, ready.
You’re saying that your mum has been quite lucky before. What about yourselves? Anyone in the band have a little flutter on the days and done quite well?
We’ve all done well and we’ve all done badly I think is the answer. I think the first time we played the first ever gig, I think me and Peanut put money on a horse and won our first bet ever of the Jockey Club Live events and since then we’ve been trying to have another winner. You don’t really study the form too much, you just go basically on name. It’s not very scientific.
This year you’re gonna be playing Aintree which is the home of the Grand National obviously just outside of Liverpool. Have you got an interesting story at all of just playing in the north-west or Liverpool at all?
We’ve played Aintree before, but it was quite a long time ago. Played Liverpool, Manchester quite a few times. Actually, one of our favourite ever, ever Kaiser Cheifs gigs was in Manchester at the arena there on a Saturday night in about 2007, where it just sort of, I dunno, just seemed to click. Everyone’s football team had played, everyone’s football team had won. It was just the best gig ever in terms of the crowd reaction, it was just phenomenal. Like I said, last time we played up there we were playing a Jockey Club Event at Haydock. Alex Ferguson was there.
Did you get to meet him?
No, we just booed him.
Are summer holidays a thing of the past for you now you just play festivals in the UK and Europe throughout the summer?
The people in our band who have chidlren, which is not me, definitely definitely hate the fact that fundamentally, summer holidays they do not get to be at home or go on lovely vacations with their children. I just said to another guy who was fairly disbelieving of this fact. Apart from I think it was like 2010 when we had a year off, we have played festivals every single summer since 2004. The first one was a little on the light side, but after that, we play about I dunno, 20 or 30 between summer festivals y’know.