Kasabian frontman Serge Pizzorno has spoken to NME about the “honour” of headlining London’s Royal Albert Hall for Teenage Cancer Trust for a fifth time, as well as what to expect from the band’s “wild” new material.
The Leicester band were today announced for the esteemed series of charity gigs, headlining a show at the iconic venue in March alongside the likes of Underworld, Courteeners and Wet Leg.
This will be the fifth time the band have performed a TCT show, having first played in 2007 before returning in 2009, 2013 then again in 2018.
“Getting to play in that room is an incredible thing, but to be patrons of this charity and to have been involved for this long is special because they’re phenomenal,” Pizzorno told NME. “Having a night out is great, but to spread the word and help this charity who have raised millions and done so much incredible work is great. Whenever we’re asked to play we always say yes.”
Looking back on the first time the band played the Royal Albert Hall, Pizzorno said: “I just remember being mesmerised by the building. I always saw concerts from there on the telly as a kid and walking in there, you get that same feeling you get from a cathedral. It’s eerie because it’s cold, but it’s so huge and steeped in history.
“It’s set up for orchestras – which I love as a big fan of classical music and movie soundtracks – so I could feel the echoes of all the tubas that have been played there over the years. You look up at those mushrooms on the ceiling and you’re hit by what an honour it is to play in this place.”
Will they have any surprises in store for the show?
“There are always far-out plans, but scheduling usually messes it all up,” Pizzorno replied. “There’s always room for something last minute, and we’ll raise that building off the ground for sure. There’s a list of people we’d like to parachute in for sure.”
Pizzorno said that “if you’re playing Royal Albert Hall then you’ve already won, as a gig like this is a victory lap”. This comes after the band claimed their sixth chart-topping album back in August with the acclaimed seventh LP ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ – their first in five years and first since the exit of former frontman Tom Meighan, who left the Leicester band in 2020 after assaulting his partner Vikki Ager.
A sold-out arena tour, festival headline shows and a run of dates in Japan came in support of the album, which Pizzorno described as “a really beautiful time”.
Speaking of his time since stepping up as a frontman, Pizzorno said: “I’m just learning now – I’m a student of the game. For every minute of every show, I’m just figuring shit out. I enjoy it. I’m like Neo in The Matrix. I’m just bending time and starting to read the code.”
While on the road and in the studio, the guitarist had also noticed a wealth of new bands – noting that “guitar music feels like it’s in a great place”.
“It feels like something is going to happen soon,” he said. “It feels like it’s bubbling nicely. I think Jockstrap are really fucking good. Technology is really seeping into the production of guitar music and making it really interesting.
“Since day one I’ve always been into bending the form. Not to say that there’s nothing wrong just with some kids coming out with some fast and heartfelt rock’n’roll – that would be unbelievable – but at the same time, I think it’s an interesting time for production.”
Off the back of the success and reception of ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’, Pizzorno said he felt a renewed ambition to push the envelope even further sonically on their next album.
“It’s an interesting one because if you track the history of the band, you see that what happened on ‘The Alchemist’s Euphoria’ is what’s been happening for the last 20-odd years,” he admitted. “People get the chance to reevaluate everything and what they think we are, and it feels like we’ve got a clean slate.
“I’ll approach the next record like I have each one so far – with pure instinct and following that wherever it leads. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s the best chance you have of making something exciting. Maybe I’m reacting against the world, but right now I’m just trying to put some positive vibes out there.”
Pizzorno said that he was currently “in the studio every day” with “some wild shit happening”, adding that “rhythms and hypnotic grooves” had been “at the forefront” of the new songs.
“I’m fucking excited,” he said. “[You’ll hear it] whenever it feels good. We don’t really make too many plans about it. When we’re feeling good, then that’s the time.”
For now, Pizzorno said his focus was on upcoming shows with the TCT gig at Royal Albert Hall “a wonderful thing to be a part of”.
He added: “Get a ticket and come and enjoy a fucking beautiful evening.”
Check out the full line-up for Teenage Cancer Trust 2023 at London’s Royal Albert Hall below. Tickets are on sale from 9:30am on Friday, February 3, and will be available here.
Monday March 20 – Underworld
Tuesday March 21 – Night of Comedy
Wednesday March 22 – Wet Leg
Friday March 24 – Courteeners
Saturday March 25 – Kasabian