Q&A: Nick "Peanut" Baines of Kaiser Chiefs
Kaiser Chiefs' keyboardist Nick "Peanut" Baines and the rest of his bandmates are pretty damn good at keeping a secret.
After the English rock band wrapped up its tour in support of "Off With Their Heads," the quintet "took a break" in 2009. But the muse quickly visited songwriter/drummer Nick Hodgson, so the holiday didn't last long.
"We finished [the tour] in Leeds in 2009," Baines told SoundSpike. "Leeds is our hometown. We finished on a big high. I think Nick got restless so he started writing a few months later. He couldn't stop. If it's there, it's there."
The Kaiser Chiefs, including singer Ricky Wilson, made clandestine trips to London to record an album. Baines didn't even give his parents a clue about what was going on. On June 3, 2011, the band spoke of its new U.K. album, "The Future is Medieval," for the first time -- the same day it was released.
"I wanted [Baines' parents] to discover and see the messages on Facebook, Twitter and the media on that morning," Baines said with a laugh. "I was getting these panicked phone calls saying, 'Why didn't you tell me what's going on? I'm at work now. I can't download it.' That alone made me realize it was right to keep it a secret.
"That's what you want -- that surprise and secret for every single one of our fans around the world. It was difficult. People were asking me, 'What are you guys doing at the moment?' We said we're just kind of writing and recording a little bit. Basically, we sounded lazy. But we weren't lazy. We were extremely busy."
The surprise didn't end with the release of "The Future is Medieval." Fans could visit the Kaiser Chiefs' website and listen to snippets of 20 new tracks, then select their 10 favorites in any order and subsequently create album artwork. Fans could then download their personal Kaiser Chiefs' album.
The album was re-issued March 6 in North America under the new title, "Start the Revolution Without Me." It includes the new track "On the Run," plus songs previously only available on the digital version of the album.
Kaiser Chiefs have released three albums statesid: "Employment," "Yours Truly, Angry Mob" and "Off With Their Heads." They have sold more than six million albums worldwide, according to a press release, and won countless awards, including three Brit Awards.
Baines spoke to SoundSpike about "Start the Revolution Without Me" and the Kaiser Chiefs' forthcoming Coachella performance.
SoundSpike: So I find this whole process surrounding "The Future is Medieval" fascinating. I just wouldn't be able to keep it a secret. How did you do it?
Nick "Peanut" Baines: I just shut my mouth. [Laughs]
It was cool the way you released it in the U.K.
It was a year of hard work that we really couldn't tell anyone about because we wanted to release it as a secret. When you're in a band, you always want some kind of edge or some kind of way to get into the music. You want people to say, "Yes, that's the best idea ever." Unfortunately, we couldn't talk about it because the plan was to release it as a secret launch -- 20 songs live on the Internet, one day in June last year. That alone was exciting enough.
What was the most exciting thing about it?
The night before was like Christmas. Waiting and waiting. You have these doubts: "Is someone going to come out the day before with the same system as this?" Obviously, nobody did because we were the first people to do it. It was exciting as well. We did three albums in four years, then we took this time off. Recording songs is the great part of being in a band. I can do that all the time. When you're three albums into your career, and an opportunity like this comes up and you realize actually have to convince the record label, you have to convince all the programmers and people who are helping you to do the website [that it's feasible], then you realize it's actually going to happen. It totally rejuvenates the band. It's like you're changing the rules or breaking the rules. It's quite nice to do that.
How did you come up with the title "Start the Revolution Without Me"?
That comes from one of the songs on the record, "Cousin in the Bronx." We realized -- after having the whole website that we launched last year inviting people to make their own albums, design their own artwork and play -- we could kind of change [the release]. There's no rule that says we have to release the same record over here. "Cousin in the Bronx" was a part of the 20 songs available for download back in June of last year. It's a lyric from that. I think it implies change. "Start the Revolution Without Me" is a strong sort of sentiment, isn't it? It says quite a lot.
Yeah it does. That's why I was curious about it.
It's a statement. We were going through lyrics and figuring out what to [name the album]. When you say it, it sounds good. When you write it down, it's quite a strong statement. Let's hope the fans like it when they go out and get it today.
So you're touring the United States now. Your tour kicked off the day that "Start the Revolution Without Me" was released. That's some good karma.
It's been awhile. Even in the U.K., we released the album last year. Then we were touring and doing festivals. It's actually quite cool when you get an album out on the day that you start a tour. It kind of glues it all together. We're feeling really good about it.
What can we expect from the tour?
We've been touring these songs a lot -- a lot of them since summer of last year. We've done big festivals all over the world. We did a European tour and then we just finished our U.K. tour last week. We worked really hard on the set, how it flows. We feel like we're just flying at the moment. You get all the hits, and bits and pieces of four records and then we've also got a brand new song, "Listen to Your Head," which came out of nowhere. It's not on any album yet or anything like that. It's so good. Even though we have a new album out today, we have an even newer song in the set.
Tell me the story behind "Listen to Your Head."
It just kind of flowed out. It didn't take very long at all. He [Hodgson] had this complete finished song. We started playing it live. The sound guys, the crew guys, the people who see us every day, obviously, it's gotten be pretty special if they all go, "It's amazing. Get it in the set. Play it." So we're playing it.
What else do you have planned this year?
[W]e're back over to the States for Coachella in April. Coachella's on two weekends now so we've got a lot going on. Snoop Dogg is playing. That's going to be fantastic. I can't wait to see that.
10 - Baltimore, MD - Rams Head Live!
12 - Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
14 - Indio, CA - Empire Polo Club
16 - Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix Concert Theatre
17 - Toronto, Ontario - Opera House Concert Venue
19 - Chicago, IL - House of Blues
21 - Indio, CA - Empire Polo Club
5 - Bendigo, Australia - Prince of Wales Showgrounds
6 - Townsville, Australia - Murray Sports Complex
8 - Brisbane, Australia - The Hi-Fi
10 - Auckland, New Zealaqnd - Powerstation
12 - Maitland, Australia - Maitland Showground
13 - Canberra, Australia - University of Canberra
15 - Moore Park, Australia - The Hi-Fi Sydney
16 - Melbourne, Australia - Palace Theatre
18 - Perth, Australia - Metro City
19 - Bunbury, Australia - Hay Park
6 - Kinross, England - Balado
24 - Leeds, England - Bramham Park
26 - Reading, England - Richfield Avenue