With a Live 8 performance under their belts, opening slots for U2 in Europe and a nomination for Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize, life is pretty good for British indie-pop act Kaiser Chiefs.
"We're having fun," says keyboardist Nick "Peanut" Baines from a Philadelphia tour stop. "We're going to all these great places and playing sold-out gigs. I guess we don't get to go home very much, but that's OK because that's our job. We worked years to achieve this."
The Leeds quintet, who made modern rock radio swoon earlier this year with their irrepressibly catchy single, "I Predict a Riot," kicked off their fifth headlining U.S. tour in the City of Brotherly Love last night. Following further stops in Japan and the U.K. this summer, the group will return to the U.S. this fall for the opening slot on the Foo Fighters/Weezer co-headlining trek. "Ten years ago, I was excited to be getting the Foo Fighters first album when Nirvana ended," Peanut explains, still a little dumbstruck about the Kaisers securing the high-profile gig, "and now to think I'm in a band touring with them, opening for them? It's a dream come true. We're all really excited."
In addition to Dave Grohl and Co., the Kaisers have met a number of their heroes over the last few months of promoting their debut, 2005's Employment. Opening the Philadelphia Live 8 show, they found themselves rubbing shoulders with Stevie Wonder -- as well as one American Idol judge who took a liking to the group's ginger-haired, acrobatic frontman, Ricky Wilson. "Paula Abdul was hanging out with us a bit, which is quite cool and quite strange," Peanut says, laughing. "I think she fancied Ricky. She was flirting with him -- but Ricky was having none of it."
Following their U.S. stint, the Kaiser Chiefs plan to head home, where they are looking to record a holiday classic with their friends, London four-piece Bloc Party. "We talked about doing a special Christmas single with Bloc Party, like a sort of special, limited-edition cover," says Peanut. "And I think we're gonna do some really bad covers. The possibilities are endless."
The band have already started writing new material on tour, including a track called "Sink That Ship," which will be released as a double A-side with "I Predict a Riot" in the U.K. this summer. With a packed tour schedule keeping them engaged until the end of the year, Peanut says they are just making notes and recording ideas for their second album on mini-disc, before beginning serious work on the sophomore effort early next year.
"Employment's songs are observations on everyday life, so I think [the next record] will be more of that," he says. "In the last year our lives have changed a bit -- but it could still be about going to the shops. That doesn't change whether you are signed or unsigned. We just need to keep our style and the incisive, witty lyrics. But the next record will be heavier -- nothing too hard, but a little bit more rock-y."