The Kaiser Chiefs tell reporter Sam Casey about their special one-off gig at Kirkstall Abbey.
FROM the twelfth to the sixteenth century Kirkstall Abbey was strictly reserved for quiet monastic prayer and reflection.
For one night in 2011 the Cistercian ruin will be shaken to its foundations as devotees flock to worship Leeds’s rock gods, the Kaiser Chiefs.
The boys are back for the first time since they played to 30,000 disciples at the city’s cathedral of sport, Elland Road, in 2008.
This time a congregation of 10,000 will get the chance to hear them in a more reverential setting on September 10.
Front man Ricky Wilson can’t wait.
He told the YEP: “A big outdoor event in the ruins of an old abbey is something pretty unique.
“As for coming back home, you can’t put your finger on it but there is something special about doing a gig in the place where you grew up.
“Ambitions are a weird thing because they change all the time, but we’ve already blown all our ambitions apart.
“I’m made up and I can’t wait to play some new stuff and do another one of those things I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
The Kaisers have played virtually every other venue in Leeds, from the Cockpit to the town hall, Millenium Square and the O2 Academy.
Their constant search for venues they’d never played posed a challenge for the tour promoters, who were tasked with suggesting somewhere new.
“Once we’ve played somewhere, we never want to do the same thing again,” Ricky said.
“When we did Elland Road, no one had done that for a while,
“We want to do something different every time, so when Kirkstall Abbey came up it was perfect.”
In March the abbey proved its credentials as a mass audience venue when it played host to 12,000 people for the live TV performance of Frankenstein’s Wedding.
Kaisers drummer Nick Hodgson said it had a natural sense of theatre that would add an extra dimension to the gig.
“When I think about it I think about long dark shadows, epic lighting and these songs and the crowd and I think it’s going to be very special,” he said.
“It’s impressive, it’s epic. All the things a rock band can take advantage of.
“It suits the music. Our songs are more epic and it will really suit the venue.”
The Kaisers haven’t played live since 2009.
Since then they’ve been working on tracks for their as-yet untitled fourth album follow-up to Off With Their Heads.
Their new single, Little Shocks, had its first radio plays this week.
It has been described as moodier than their previous songs, with a darker, creepier sound.
But the band say there has not been a conscious change of direction.
Ricky said: “We just write songs, we don’t have thoughts about being more downbeat. I’m still the same person, still excited about being in a band.
“Songs are about different things. If you look at our first four singles, I don’t think any of them were ‘hip hip hooray’.”
Nick added: “There’s a certain energy that comes through darkness. Little Shocks is perhaps more claustrophobic and a bit more spooky.
“But we used to describe I Predict a Riot as spooky and then, when we went to record it, it was more upbeat.”
Before they come to Leeds, the band are preparing for tour dates in Falmouth, Newport and London, as well as Glastonbury and V Festival.
Ricky said: “I’ve missed it. I’ve been to watch other bands and got a bit jealous.
“Every time I watched a festival on TV last summer I thought, I wish I was doing that.
“But you just need a break. I don’t want to moan about it. We have had an amazing time and we will have an amazing time again. You just don’t want to get used to it.”
Nick said: “We toured for six years non-stop then took two years off.
“With some of the old songs, I couldn’t remember how they started, but as soon as I started playing them my hands took over.
“We’ve got a set we have been drilling ourselves with – a choice selection of new ones and some proper tunes from the old days.
Nick joked that the band needed an “understanding” audience for their first return gig, in Falmouth next week.
But both he and Ricky are in no doubt about the date that is generating the most excitement.
“The best gig of my entire life was in Leeds, at Elland Road,” Nick said.
“It was just unbelievable. United were in League One at the time. We came on with this backing track with commentary of Jonny Howson scoring against Carlisle and we were absolutely pumped up and when we came out I was holding back tears.
“There is something completely special and tribal about Leeds, it’s brilliant.”
Ricky added: “Playing gigs in your home time is special and if you’re allowed to play these venues that are really familiar to you, like Elland Road and Kirkstall Abbey, it makes it more special.”
Gig promoter Craig Oliver said: “To have the abbey all lit up will provide an amazing backdrop.”
* Tickets for the September 10 gig go on sale at 9.30am next Friday, June 10.
Call 0844 811 0051, 0844 826 2826 or 0844 888 9991 or visit www.gigsandtours.com, www.ticketmaster.co.uk or www.ticketline.co.uk