AFTER seven studio albums, too many tours to count and a stint as a judge on The Voice, Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson is in ebullient mood. Tonight, the band start their huge arena tour of the UK and Europe.
‘I’m very pleased that we still get to do this and that shows on our faces on stage. We don’t take any of it for granted,’ Ricky says.
He’s certainly down-to-earth when it comes to his stage get-up. ‘There are no costume changes. I might take a jacket off, but that’s it,’ he laughs. ‘I’ve had forays into showbiz outside of the band but I don’t think the lads would allow me to have a change. They do draw the line somewhere. I’ve trimmed the tassels down a bit.’ Elton John can rest easy for now, then.
‘I’m nervous,’ he admits of the tour, in which the band will play 12 venues across the length and breadth of Britain, before they head to Europe. ‘I’ve got to learn the words to the new songs. We like to put on a show; we’re not bothered what anyone who isn’t going to be there thinks.
‘All bands go through a period after you’ve written some songs, got big and then start worrying more about the people who aren’t coming to see them live or aren’t buying their records, more than the people who are. We’re over that now.’
It’s more than 15 years since the release of I Predict A Riot and the Employment album that launched them into the stratosphere, and Ricky refuses to conform to the stereotype of troubled artist.
‘We live in a time where it’s almost a pop star’s job to pretend like they don’t care. When we came out we wanted to do that rock-star posturing but we went bounding into award ceremonies,’ he laughs at the memory. ‘We must have been so annoying, but I just don’t see the point of behaving like you don’t want to be there. We can’t pretend. We love it.’
The band’s success opened up new opportunities for Ricky, including a two-year stint as a coach on TV talent contest The Voice, appearances on BBC’s Never Mind The Buzzcocks and a cameo in the film St Trinian’s 2 as the rock star boyfriend of Sarah Harding’s character, Roxy.
‘Being in the band has meant I can do things that I would usually not be first in line to do. I’m under no illusion that I do these things purely on merit but I’ve managed to pull them off,’ he says, honestly. ‘If someone offers me something fun, I’ll do it! The older I get, I realise I have loads of free time. I spent a lot of my youth in the band thinking that if I had a day off I should be in a dark room somewhere, almost playing at being this romantic view of a troubled pop star,’ he laughs. ‘I do quite enjoy showing off.’
The band previously curated an art exhibition in York, a particularly ironic experience for Ricky. ‘I used to be an art teacher years ago and I was terrible at it,’ he laughs. ‘Nobody would even contemplate giving me the keys to an art gallery back then. You write some pop songs and they’re throwing them at you, I took full advantage of the opportunities I Predict A Riot gave us.’ After all this time together, how do the band get on these days? ‘We have refused to give up, and there was nothing else we could do! We never talk things through, that’s the secret,’ Ricky jokes. ‘The moment you air things, that’s when they become a problem. We just let them fester, get bigger and hope they go away.’
He presses tongue into cheek firmly.
‘Denial is fabulous,’ he says. ‘On a serious note, the moment you step out onstage, trivial stuff or disagreements don’t matter. It’s all worth it for that moment, getting to do these shows and having people loving it almost as much as we do. We’ve put our hearts and souls into this.’
Anyone who has seen their energetic live act will testify to that.
■ The Kaiser Chiefs kick off their tour of the UK and Europe at Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, tonight, kaiserchiefs.com