January 20, 2007 / 5:45 AM / 12 years ago

Brit bad-boy band Kasabian knuckles down

NEW YORK (Billboard) - “We were devastated with our Playboy shoot,” Kasabian guitarist/songwriter Sergio Pizzorno sniggers. “No Playboy bunnies, no invitation to a party, nothing. Just us and (photographer) Mick Rock.”

British rock band Kasabian arrives for the Swarovski Fashion Rocks for The Prince's Trust in Monte Carlo October 17, 2005. Kasabian is hardly the first hot U.K. rock band to arrive in America with high hopes, but this is not another bland Brit band in the Coldplay/Snow Patrol/James Blunt mold. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Kasabian is hardly the first hot U.K. rock band to arrive in America with high hopes, only to find its name mysteriously missing from the guest list. But then, the fact that a Playboy shoot is even on the agenda indicates this is not another bland Brit band in the Coldplay/Snow Patrol/James Blunt mold.

Those acts have resurrected the fortunes of British music stateside via across-the-board radio appeal and hard work, a blueprint likely to be heavily scrutinized by other U.K. acts like Razorlight and the Kooks as they aim to transfer big domestic sales to the U.S. market.

In contrast, Kasabian resembles a throwback to the Britpop era, its persona characterized by frequent spats with other bands and tales of drink-fueled misbehavior that have earned the band the tag “the new Oasis.” Sales haven’t reached the heights of that role model, but Kasabian’s sophomore album, “Empire” (RCA) is already certified platinum (300,000 units) after it debuted at No. 1 in September on the U.K. album chart.

As Pizzorno notes, “Oasis went to America on the back of enormous success ... But we’re still battling to make people listen to our music.”

Kasabian’s self-titled debut has sold a respectable 98,000 units in the States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. “Empire” has scanned 18,000 units in its first four weeks, while “Shoot the Runner” is top 20 on college radio. But Dave Shack, vice president of international at the band’s British label, Sony BMG U.K. & Ireland, says the decline of modern-rock formats makes the radio landscape tough for a band that combines dance beats with rock guitars.

Consequently, the band is concentrating on Internet, TV and live promotion. In addition to TV ads for Pontiac and five slots last year on CBS show “CSI,” the band’s “Last Trip (In Flight)” currently is being used in trailers for ABC’s top-rated drama, “Lost.” Kasabian’s music also has been featured in NBC’s “Friday Night Lights.”

Pizzorno says that despite the band’s volatile reputation, it’s fully committed to a busy stateside schedule. Kasabian recently completed an 18-date U.S. tour of 1,000-seat venues, with additional dates booked for November.

“We love playing in America,” Pizzorno says. “There’s something great about getting back to fighting again, going to new towns and making people listen. It feels like Britain a year before it all went mental. We might say the wrong things in interviews or be a bit silly on a night out, but we’re not afraid of hard work.”

Reuters/Billboard

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