It's not often a band name themselves after a football team, but Kaiser Chiefs did just that with a nod to the first club of Bafana Bafana star Lucas Radebe, who was starring for their beloved Leeds United at the time. FIFA.com caught up with their bassist Simon Rix ahead of the release of their new album, Education, Education, Education and War, to discuss the FIFA World Cup™, playing a gig at his beloved Elland Road and following football while on tour.
FIFA.com: We all know the that the band were named after the South African club, but you’ve met Lucas Radebe who played for them, as well as your own side Leeds United, haven’t you?
Simon Rix: Yes, and he’s an ace person. We’ve met him a few times. Even before anything really happened when we got the band’s name, we we’re thinking: ‘What is the football team going to think about this?’ Lucas was still the captain of Leeds at the time, so he invited us up to the training ground. We had some pictures, we had a chat, we got into Leeds' magazine and he got our video played at half-time. He couldn’t have been more supportive and more into the idea of us being named after the team. We’ve met him a few times since then. We went to South Africa and I think what shows what kind of guy he is, despite the fact his wife was dying, he still took the time to come and see us. He took us into Soweto. We played football in the streets with the kids. It was amazing to see everyone’s reaction to him. He’s like a figurehead of South Africa. It was totally amazing for us.
What did you make of your experience in South Africa?
It was for the football, for the World Cup. It was great and we had a good time. We had no problems out there. We were welcomed by everybody. We went out on the pitch at half-time at a Kaizer Chiefs game. They played Ruby when they scored. We couldn’t have been more welcomed. They made us feel at home.
Your new album’s name is Education, Education, Education & War. Why does the title fit the music so well?
That’s what we felt like the album dealt with personally. We learned a lot last year when we were making the record. Nick left, our old drummer. We had to make some changes, and I think we felt like we were the underdogs again. We felt like maybe not everyone was looking forward to the next Kaiser Chiefs album as we were. People weren’t expecting it to be that brilliant, so it was up to us to surprise everyone and make a great album. We felt like the lyrics and the mood of the band was summed up by education and war.
I think Italy are a good bet. I think if [Mario] Balotelli is on his game, they’ve got a great team.
In football, people say when you’re the underdogs, that’s when you're at your most successful, that you have a point to prove. Is that true of the band?
Definitely. We were always at our best when we first started. We felt like we had to be twice as good as everybody else to make it. I think that’s the case with this album as well. We read a few articles about us which got us motivated. It’s a bit like when the manager puts the pressure on the team in the dressing room. I think we felt like we had some experience, and the last album we were very proud of. Creatively, in terms of how we did it, it was an interesting thing that we did. We liked it, but commercially it wasn’t very successful. I think we also wanted to get back to writing songs, picking up where we started. It was just all about writing great songs. Thinking about people at festivals, singing along. We wanted to get back to that, because no matter if people buy music, steal music or stream music, good songs are always good songs.
Can you hear your new single, Coming Home, being sung at festivals this summer?
Hopefully! It’s the wrong message for England at the World Cup though!
How do you think England will do in Brazil?
I’ve been saying that I think we’ll get out of the group and lose in the next round. But then I remember to look at the group. It’s a very tough group. I think if a European team win it, which is unlikely, I think Italy are a good bet. I think if [Mario] Balotelli is on his game, they’ve got a great team.
Who did you grow up admiring in the England team?
I think Gary Lineker had a great England career. I was at the right age when he was in his peak. From a Leeds United point of view, there was obviously David Batty who played for England, so that was always good, but the least said about his penalty at France 98 the better – at least he had the courage to take one!
What’s been your strangest experience of watching football while being on tour?
I think mainly when we’re in Australia or something like that. We were watching the game and it’s four in the morning in a terrible sports bar in Australia. There were about 50 Leeds fans watching too, it was the first game of the season and we were losing 4-0 after 70 minutes. Someone changed the channel, and usually I would have changed it back but everyone was thinking, ‘It’s 4.30 in the morning and we’re losing. Thanks! See you later!’ And we all left.
As a Leeds supporter, what was it like playing a gig at Elland Road?
It was amazing. Leeds were playing in a final the day after, so everyone in was buzzing about the whole thing. We were lucky enough to be in Leeds a few days beforehand, and everyone was excited and singing on the street. It seemed like everyone was coming to our gig. There were 40,000 people there but it seemed like there was going to be five million! It was really exciting. My favourite memory was sitting in the stands looking at our stage, which was all set-up. The pitch was gone but the stage was there and I was thinking about the amazing moments that have happened in the ground. And now it was ours. We had taken it over. Becoming a part of that history was the biggest moment for me. I love an empty football stadium, too. I used the moment to reflect on how well we’ve done as a band. Going from playing to 50 people to that moment as we were going to play in this stadium with all of this history. That's one of my favourite moments in the band that.