First things first: Kasabian have created a monster. One which will inspire awe in believers, strike fear into the hearts of enemies and seems set to bestride the world like a colossus. Only fitting, then, that it’s named after one of the most fearsome creatures to ever walk the earth.
“The velociraptor was the only dinosaur which could defeat the T- Rex,” explains the band’s songwriter/guitarist Serge Pizzorno. “They could do it because they hunted in packs and they always stuck together.
When I first met Tom he said if he ever had a band he’d call it The Velociraptors, and it felt right to use it now because we’re still the same band of brothers we were when we started out. And after the last one we wanted a title that was direct and in your face.”
The ‘last one’ was, of course, ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’. A psychedelic masterpiece which has sold almost a million copies worldwide (and a cool 730,000 in the UK), the band’s third album (and second UK number one) confirmed Kasabian’s place at British rock’s highest table.
As well as providing the new decade with its first de facto festival anthem with top three single ‘Fire’, it also brought some impressive mantelpiece clutter. Voted Best Album by Q and nominated for the Mercury Prize, the band also won Best British Group at The Brits, Best Album at the NME Awards and a host of other nominations. “The fact that we got kind of big off that record is amazing,” says Serge. “West Ryder was our Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake. Everything about it was perfect. But we’ve done that now and it’s time to move on. We’ve upped the stakes.”
If WRPLA saw Kasabian emerging from a cosmic swamp of influences with their own identity, Velociraptor! is the same beast fully grown. It’s the sound of a band who have absorbed the lessons of eighteen months playing stadiums and festival main stages and put them into practice.
“The success of West Ryder proved that people don’t want to be fed the same line all the time,” says Serge. “We haven’t changed as people, we’re still the same bunch of piss –takers whether we’re in a palace in Monaco or down the local boozer, but success means that musically we can go wherever we want now. I used to love that about The Beastie Boys, you never knew what they were going to do next.”
The final piece in the jigsaw came with the addition of strings at British Grove Studios in London. “That was an amazing experience,” says the guitarist. “I’d be giving all these mad directions to this twenty-piece orchestra like ‘I want it scary’ or ‘more horror’. The results were so beautiful, mind-blowing.”
Both suitable descriptions for Velociraptor! itself. Put it under the microscope and you’ll find musical DNA traces of everyone from Nirvana (turbo-disco juggernaut ‘Re-Wired’) to Led Zeppelin (stadium shaker ‘Days Are Forgotten’); from Karen Dalton (‘Goodbye Kiss’) to Boards Of Canada (‘Shelter From The Storm’). The end result, however, is a hundred per cent Kasabian. Except older, wiser, and able to hit the spot every time. As Tom sings in ‘Re-Wired’, “I flip the switch and make you feel electric.”
“The aim was to make a modern classic,” says Serge in conclusion. “One that people can take to their hearts and sing along to. It’s been fifteen or sixteen years since the last truly classic album, but I think we’ve done it.”
The best band in Britain have made their best album yet. One that’s perfect for house parties and headline slots; bed-sits and the Budokan. And 24-hour jukeboxes. And, as even the T-Rex discovered, opposition is futile.