‘Kaiser Chiefs’ world is beyond any imagination’ says drummer Vijay Mistry

Kaiser Chiefs. Picture: Danny North
Kaiser Chiefs. Picture: Danny North
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Vijay Mistry is holed up in a dressing room in Bournemouth for the second night of Kaiser Chiefs’ national tour when the Yorkshire Evening Post catches up with the drummer.

As Storm Doris blows its way across the country, he’s mindful of a previous occasion when the band were due to perform at the South Coast resort.

“Last time we were here it was a bit mental because we were supposed to play at a festival on the beach and gradually the waves were coming in,” he recalls. “We were already backstage doing our warm-ups ready to go for our pre-gig routine and the tour manager came and said ‘we’re going to have to pull it because half of the stage is under water’. It’s nice to be back to make amends for that.”

Hopefully the weather will be a good deal calmer by the time the band roll up at the First Direct Arena in Leeds for their big homecoming show this weekend.

Having released their sixth album, Stay Together, last autumn, Kaiser Chiefs have been weaving several songs from it into their live set. Mistry is pleased with how well audiences have reacted to them.

“Routinely since the album’s been released – and just before, actually – we played Parachute and Hole in My Soul and they go down better than almost every song in the set. It’s crazy. I think they have that vibe about them.

Kaiser Chiefs. Picture: Danny North

Kaiser Chiefs. Picture: Danny North

“Ultimately live we just like everyone to have a good time and that’s what people get from our gigs, they know they’re not going to get disappointed; regardless of size or place of show they know that it’s going to be good because we always put everything into it. These new songs fit into the mould great and everyone likes to jump about to them and have a bit of a pogo, which is cool.”

Stay Together signalled a change in approach to song writing by the five-piece band. Working with a pop producer, Brian Higgins of Xenomania, they built songs up from tracks up from extensive jam sessions.

From Mistry’s perspective it was refreshing. “One of my favourite albums of all time is Thirteen by Blur and I’ve always liked the way they recorded that,” he says. “We did a very similar thing with this.

“We’ve always been in rehearsals rooms and wherever else and you’ll play something and everyone will say ‘That’s great’ and then you’ll keep playing and keep playing and 15 minutes later you’re like ‘Do you know what? It’s gone rubbish. What did you do 15 minutes ago?’ And everyone will go ‘I don’t know’. This way round, having somebody recording all of our jams and all of our rehearsals, we were just left to play and there were moments of spark and points where everything came together and those were captured and were the starting point for each of the songs.

Ultimately live we just like everyone to have a good time and that’s what people get from our gigs, they know they’re not going to get disappointed.

Vijay Mistry

“With regard to groove and feel and everything else, it might not be like everyone’s influences at that point but then it’s almost like a photograph of time. What we were thinking as a band and what we were playing naturally at that point in time, that’s what was recorded and that’s what was captured and that’s what was built.

“In that respect it’s a totally different way to how I and the rest of the guys have ever recorded. When it gets to Album Number Six it’s cool to try something different, just a new experience and see how it goes and as far as the technique is concerned – the method of recording – there’s a load of great things we’ve learned from that, things that we’ll definitely use in future for sure.”

It’s just over four years since Mistry joined Kaiser Chiefs as replacement for the departed Nick Hodgson. He admits to initially feeling a culture shock, having previously drummed for Leeds indie band Club Smith.

“The first time I went to a rehearsal just playing songs that everybody knows globally,” he says. “I’d done a lot of rehearsing on my own and then played with everybody and I thought it went really well and I went home and I remember saying ‘hi’ to my wife and my daughter who was I think three weeks old at the time then I went upstairs and then apparently I passed out and they woke me up five hours later. Everything must have just come to a head. I think it was just such a crazy idea to be thrust into this world – and that wasn’t even in front of an audience.

“Then one of the first things we did we went to South America and we played Lollapalooza in Brazil and that was my first experience of a real festival. Your bus drives you backstage and you’re like ‘This is a free drink, wow, I’m allowed to take this? That’s cool. And these are all our dressing rooms?’ That’s all good but you don’t really see anything. The first time you see any crowd is when you’re walking on stage. The main stage at Lollapalooza in Brazil you’ve got steps at the back of the stage then it’s quite a long walk before you get to where the drum kit is. I was walking up and you could hear the crowd then you could see them and you’re walking and it feels like a lifetime. The crowd’s getting bigger and bigger then you realise you can’t see the back. At that particular gig I think the audience was 70,000 and that was my first gig – and I’m not kidding you, I can’t remember a minute of it, I must have just gone to my happy place, I could probably just see puppies running around or something, playing with them all, I think that’s where I went.”

He describes the experience of being in the band as like being in “two different worlds”. “When I’m at home in Leeds with my family it’s all domestic greatness and it’s nice to be able to do a bit of music and play with my kids but the second you’re launched into the Kaiser Chiefs’ world it’s beyond any kind of imagination. It’s nuts but it’s great.”

Kaiser Chiefs play at First Direct Arena, Leeds on Saturday March 5. www.kaiserchiefs.com

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