Gig preview: Kaiser Chiefs’ Christmas charity gig at O2 Academy, Leeds

Kaiser Chiefs. Picture: Danny North
Kaiser Chiefs. Picture: Danny North
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It’s a couple of months since Kaiser Chiefs’ last gig and guitarist Andrew ‘Whitey’ White admits that while he’s enjoyed spending the intervening time with his young family he is missing the lure of the stage.

“You’re always on or you’re always off,” the 41-year-old notes. “September was our last show touring the album [Education, Education, Education & War] that we released a couple of years ago. It’s a little bit boring, I must admit, [not performing].

“We’ve all got our different projects or commitments – I’ve got a family, I’m a dad of two so that’s what I’ve been doing, I’ve been changing nappies and picking people up from school. It’s good but I’m kind of getting itchy fingers and desperate to play.”

It seems his bandmates Ricky Wilson, Simon Rix, Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines and Vijay Mistry have felt the same. White reveals that “for the last month we’ve been starting to get together and write new material and try to talk about where we’re going to go next”. Gatherings have taken place in London, Castleford and at the Old Chapel in Leeds.

Last week the band announced a Christmas show, in aid of Leeds Children’s Charity and CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.

“We’ve done charity gigs [in the past] but we’ve always been asked to do them,” White says. “This time we thought we’re not doing anything, we can do good by trying to raise some money for some underprivileged kids or kids that are poorly.

“We thought what charities are we close to or passionate about and we chose these two.

“We’re really looking forward to it, we can’t wait. It will be nice to be around Christmas, we’re desperate to play and if we can do a little bit of good then so be it.”

Simon Rix has a connection with CLIC Sargent, having done mentoring work with the charity. “He did some kind of musical workshop with them earlier in the year,” White explains.

The Kaisers originally intended that to gain admission to the show fans would be asked to bring wrapped presents to give away to children. “But it was logistically a nightmare,” White says. “What would people bring as presents? We had no idea.”

Instead they settled on a conventional admission charge. “We thought let’s raise some cold hard cash and give it to people that can do good with it.”

The band have long established links with the O2 Academy Leeds, having opened it back in 2008. “Funny you should mention that,” says Whitey. “We did open it but we did have a support act called Club Smith, so they technically were the first people to play it. The drummer from Club Smith at the time [Vijay Mistry] is our current drummer. He constantly reminds us that he was the first person to open the O2 and not us.

“It’s a cracking venue,” he adds. “I remember it from the old Colisseum, Town and Country Club days. It’s a place close to our hearts.”

While Ricky Wilson’s television commitments to The Voice and the new Sky1 panel show Bring The Noise mean that “he’s a busy man” White says the Kaisers’ singer has been playing his part in writing new material. “I don’t know how he does it,” he jokes. “I don’t know how old he is now, he must be 50, I don’t know how he does it for such an old man. [TV is] not my bag, but fair play to him because he works really hard.”

Though no date has been set for completing the next record, White expects that musically they’ll be ringing the changes. “We always try to do something different, there’s always an element, whether it’s from the first album being quite sort of alternative and punky and spiky to the fourth album being released in a weird format where you can choose your songs – we released 22 songs out of the blue – to the fifth album we feel was a bit of a concept album.

“I don’t know where it’s going to go, to be honest. We like to pride ourselves on strong melodies, we start with a melody and work from there, but we honestly don’t know [beyond that]. Hopefully it will be good. We won’t release it if we don’t think it’s good.”

Kaiser Chiefs play at O2 Academy Leeds on December 10. For details visit https://www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academyleeds/events/781156/kaiser-chiefs-tickets

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