Kaiser Chiefs1 are a five-piece rock band from Leeds, and are often categorised as new wave, pop punk or Indie. 't'Chiefs', as their Leeds-based fans call them, are one of the more successful bands of what the music magazine NME refers to as the second wave of Britpop and first came to the attention of the British public in 2004.
The story of Kaiser Chiefs starts considerably earlier than 2004 as the band originally formed under the name Parva in 1997. However, Parva were never picked up by a label so after recruiting singer Ricky Wilson from a Rolling Stones tribute band, Parva re-invented themselves as Kaiser Chiefs2 in 2002 and began a career that would see them become one of the new millennium's most popular British bands, enjoying considerable success on both sides of the Atlantic.
Why Kaiser Chiefs?
The band are named after a South African football team, the Kaizer Chiefs. The reason that a band from West Yorkshire would call themselves Kaiser Chiefs lies with one Lucas Radebe, former captain of Leeds United Football Club. Ardent Leeds United fans, the band renamed themselves in honour of the legendary African's former club. The connection between band and football club runs deeper than that, with the Kaisers sponsoring Leeds forward Tore Andre Flo and making regular appearances in the official Leeds United magazine.
Legend has it that Kaiser Chiefs were signed to the B-Unique label on the recommendation of the lead singer of The Ordinary Boys, one Samuel Preston3. To date, the Kaisers have released two studio albums. The band's debut album, the keyboard driven Employment, released in 2005, showcased the easily remembered lyrics4 the band have become famous for. This was followed up by Yours Truly, Angry Mob in 2007, which began to showcase the talent of Kaiser's guitarist Andrew White. As lead singer Ricky Wilson pointed out in an interview with NME, the band 'weren't afraid of guitar solos any more' and had begun to pursue a slightly heavier, guitar-driven sound.
We Are The Angry Mob - Kaiser Chiefs Lineup
Ricky Wilson (born Charles Richard Wilson, 19 January, 1978) is Kaiser Chiefs' energetic and stylish5 lead singer. Wilson is noted for his charisma and movement on stage, performing numerous acts of crowd surfing leading to a gig in Edinburgh where drummer Nick Hodgson had to ask the crowd if the band could 'have their singer back'. Wilson has a first class BA and Masters degree in Graphic Design and worked as an art teacher at Leeds College for Art and Design before finding fame as a singer. He has also made numerous appearances on BBC 2's Never Mind The Buzzcocks, including one appearance as a guest host.
Andrew 'Whitey' White (who mysteriously refuses to impart his date of birth) is the Kaisers' guitarist. Much like Oasis's Noel Gallagher, Whitey is left-handed yet plays the guitar with his right hand. One of the founding members of Parva, White has a guitar-playing style described as 'kinetic' and has been described as the most mature member of the band. When not playing guitar, White can be found driving around on a scooter with the York Scooter Club.
Simon Rix (born 18 October, 1977) is t'Chiefs' bassist and is easily distinguished by his distinctive curly mop of hair. Another founding member of Parva, Rix met Hodgson and Baines at school and is possibly the oldest member of a band decryed as 'too old to make it' before they were signed by B-Unique. Rix is also a fully qualified barman formerly employed at the same Leeds venue that the Kaiser Chiefs played some of their early gigs.
Nick 'Peanut' Baines (born March, 1978) is the Kaisers' eccentric keyboard player. Famed for his distinctive hat, his quirk of wearing two ties at gigs and his collection of Converse trainers, Peanut is currently the only member of the band without a significant other. Wilson attributes this to the fact that Peanut attracts ladies who 'don't know whether to kiss him or mother him' and claims not to be jealous that Peanut is seen as the band's 'ladies man'.
Nick Hodgson (born 20 October, 1977) is the band's drummer, chief songwriter and backing vocalist, although he did perform lead vocals on the track 'Boxing Champ' from the album Yours Truly, Angry Mob. Unusually for a drummer, Hodgson has a fansite set up in his honour which provides interesting facts, such as the fact that he once played the Scarecrow in his school's production of The Wizard of Oz.
Thank You Very Much - Critical Acclaim For the Band
The band's debut album, Employment, was released in 2005 during a resurgence of British rock music reminiscent of the 'Britpop' scene of the 1990s. Along with bands such as Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight, Bloc Party and later Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs would find success not only in Britain, but in the USA too. With fun, pop tunes containing insightful lyrics, the Kaisers were touted in some corners as spiritual successors to Blur right up to the point where the band were insulted by Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher6. However, the critics were much more supportive of the band, labelling Employment as fun, lively, and hugely entertaining.
Employment did not go unnoticed in the United States either, with its limited success landing Kaiser Chiefs a part in the biggest gig in history, as they were chosen to open the Live 8 Concert in Philidelphia.
The band's follow-up, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, marked a slight change in direction for the group when it was released on 28 February, 2007 and its heavier, grittier sound with slightly bleaker lyrics received more mixed reviews than Employment. The album was derided by an NME reviewer who didn't seem to know that Nick Hodgson is the Kaisers' principal songwriter and attributes the band's change in tone to Ricky Wilson's supposed mid-life crisis. However, the British record-buying public seemed to disagree with the British music press as both the album and first single Ruby reached Number One in their respective charts.
- Mercury Prize 2005 Nomination
- Brit Awards 2006 - British Rock Act Winner
- Brit Awards 2006 - British Live Act Winners
- Brit Awards 2006 - British Group Winners
- 2006 Shockwaves NME Awards - Best Album Winner (Employment)
- 2006 Shockwaves NME Awards - Best Dressed Winner (Ricky Wilson)
What Did I Ever Give You? - Kaiser Chiefs Discography
Released 7 March, 2005. Peaked at Number 2 in the UK album charts.
- 'Everyday I Love You Less And Less'
- 'I Predict A Riot'
- 'Modern Way'
- 'Na Na Na Na Naa'
- 'You Can Have It All'
- 'Oh My God'
- 'Born To Be A Dancer'
- 'Saturday Night'
- 'What Did I Ever Give You'
- 'Time Honoured Tradition'
- 'Caroline, Yes'
- 'Team Mate'
Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Released 28 February, 2007. Peaked at Number One in the UK album charts.
- 'The Angry Mob'
- 'Heat Dies Down
- 'Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning)'
- 'Thank You Very Much'
- 'I Can Do It Without You'
- 'My Kind Of Guy'
- 'Everything Is Average Nowadays'
- 'Boxing Champ'
- 'Learnt My Lesson Well'
- 'Try Your Best'
- 'Oh My God' - Released 17 May, 2004, peaked at number 66 in the UK Charts
- 'I Predict A Riot' - Released 1 November, 2004, peaked at number 22 in the UK Charts
- 'Oh My God - Re-issued 21 February, 2005, peaked at number 6 in the UK Charts
- 'Everyday I Love You Less And Less' - Released 16 May, 2005, peaked at #10 in the UK Charts
- 'I Predict A Riot/Sink That Ship' - Re-issued 22 August, 2005, peaked at #9 in the UK Charts
- 'Modern Way' - Released 7 November, 2005, peaked at #11 in the UK Charts
- 'Ruby' - Released 19 February, 2007, peaked at Number One in the UK Charts