Story: Jack Foley (using Tim Jonze biography)
IN TERMS of ambition, Leeds-based newcomers Kaiser Chiefs didn't
really have a world-conquering plan.
When they formed in the summer of 2003, the five members began
plotting a rather more modest plan.
In the shadowy corners of clubs and venues across the city,
Ricky Wilson (lead vocals), Andrew 'Whitey' White (guitar), Simon
Rix (bass), Nick 'Peanut' Baines (keyboards) and Nick Hodgson
(drums and vocals) decided to form a band that would harness the
awesome capability of being able to, erm, blag an early slot at
their hometown Leeds Festival.
Needless to say, they achieved it without breaking sweat and
thereby set about becomine one of the UK's most rapidly emerging
Eighteen months on and the boys have gatecrashed the UK singles
charts, thanks to singles, I Predict A Riot and Oh
My God!, laid waste to huge crowds as far away as Moscow,
played triumphant support slots with Franz Ferdinand, made waves
on US radio and signed to Universal Records.
So it seems that from little acorns...
Kaisers’ story actually begins some time before they’d
decided to name themselves after a successful South African football
School friends Simon, Peanut and Nick had been playing together
in various bands since the age of 15 before spying art school
graduate and restless-ball-of-energy, Ricky singing with a Rolling
Stones tribute band.
Initially, Ricky refused their invitation to join the ranks,
but eventually he relented.
"I don’t know why," laughs Nick. "We didn’t
have any songs at the time."
Of course, being at the core of the
UK's most vibrant local music scene the boys quickly agreed that
if they were ever to secure that Leeds Festival spot, they had
to start afresh.
They rapidly went about changing everything, which meant a new
name ('It was the only one suggested that we didn’t all
hate') and ditching all their old songs.
"It was like seeing the light," says Ricky. "We’d
been trying so hard to fit in that we’d lost sight of what
we were best at – not fitting in.
"We stopped singing about working on a railroad and going
to high school proms and started writing about being broke."
It struck a chord. First self-financed single, on UK indie label
DrownedinSound, Oh My God made number 66 in the British
charts despite the fact it was a limited release.
The follow-up, I Predict A Riot (their first proper
release after signing to another UK indie, B-Unique) shot straight
to the fringes of the UK Top 20.
They were then picked to open the NME Awards Tour 2005: a slot
that’s previously helped set bands like Coldplay and Franz
Ferdinand on their way to stardom.
Stateside, LA’s KROQ and Indie 103 had caught wind. How,
exactly? It’s still somewhat of a happy mystery.
But Kaiser Chiefs swiftly became the unassuming subjects of a
US label bidding war within three months of trying to find a home
in the UK. Universal won said war.
The ensuing interest this brought has attracted some key music
industry figures to the Kaiser Chiefs' cause.
Celebrated producer, Stephen Street (The Smiths/Morrissey,
Blur, The Cranberries), was so bowled over he offered his services
for their debut album, Employment.
So given that the path to success has been so sweet thus far,
what's left for the Kaisers? Have their ambitions grown?
"I won’t stop until I’ve got an apartment in
every major city in the world," reckons Ricky. "New
York. Helsinki. And Harrogate.
"Also, I want all my ex-girlfriends to recognize me on television.
But above all, I want to get a new filling for my tooth!"