Ricky Wilson is set to take on the role of the Artilleryman in the Jeff Wayne production and I caught up with him to talk about the show and what 2012 holds for the Kaiser Chiefs.
You will be taking on the role of the Artilleryman in War of the Worlds at the end of the year so how did this come about?
Well I have already taken it on to be honest. It’s weird on because I went to Jeff Wayne’s house to talk about it and I did it and recorded it for the record, the album is coming out with Liam Neeson, myself and other people that I can’t tell you about.
I made a decision last year that I am going to start doing things that scare me because I have got far to comfortable in the Kaiser Chiefs, it is a great job but I want to be scared shitless again.
Well that touches on my next question really this will be your first ever performance role so what was it that enticed you to take to the stage in this very different way?
It’s just the fact that it’s something different, I am thirty four it’s going to be one month out of my life so it’s not that much; it’s one song a night and a bit of speaking.
It just seemed like it would be good to do and I like Jeff, I like War of the Worlds, I like the story and the song is cool – I have nothing better to be doing around that time. To be honest I am fed up of sitting on the sofa and watching Murder She Wrote all day.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the show before, and it has toured for a while now, can you tell me a bit about the role that you are going to undertake.
I have never seen it. I heard the record when I was a kid and I went back to it when I was asked and listened to it again and I loved it.
He is a mad optimist who believes that we can build a new life for ourselves under the aliens; it’s a weird thing to talk about. I am looking forward to it but I haven’t seen the costume yet.
Jeff Wayne will be conducting and I was reading that you grew up listening to his album – so how exciting is it to know that you are going to be working with him?
I didn’t so much grow up listening to it I was just aware of it, I was born in ‘78 and it came out in ‘78. It’s a massive thing as it has sold something like a hundred million copies and it is embedded into the musical history so it’s this massive thing.
I am chuffed that he chose me, I was the first person that he asked to do and the last person he asked to do it. I asked him straight out ’why me?’ And he went ’I like what you do and I like what you represent’ and that was it really – it’s cool.
Away from the show the Kaiser Chiefs released their fourth studio album last year so are you going to heading back into the studio this year?
On Monday we got to America for six weeks then we come back and then we head to Australia for a few weeks and the summer is festivals.
After the festivals there might be something in the autumn and then it’s War of The Worlds so it is pretty booked up. I don’t see us going into the studio until next February but we did record so much on the last record that I think it will keep us ticking over.
The Future Is Medieval was the first album since 2008 so how beneficial was that break for you personally and musically?
It’s funny the perception of going away because when we are not on tour or on telly or the radio it’s not like we cease to exist. I went on holiday for six months but after then we were writing and planning.
So we were planning that for most of the time that people perceive as being time off but we were working and it was hard work. But it was really great because there is nothing like hard work when it’s working at something that you really love doing – so we did enjoy it.
The internet release was my next question really why did you decide to go down that path?
Contrary to popular belief we always kick against what we have last done and in a weird way we just don’t like repeating ourselves – we just wanted to do something different.
So we wanted to do something that we had complete ownership of it and we were the first people to ever do it. It was really exciting because it was the first time that we had made a record where I was getting cars across town from the studio to advertising agencies to talk about the website before going to the head of Universal to ask for more money because it was costing more that we thought.
So I felt really in charge of it rather than it being some kind of rollercoaster where you are just writing songs and someone else is dealing with it – we had complete ownership of the last album.
The album is set to be released in the U.S. next month so how have you found the response to the record so far?
Well kind of it’s a version of it. We were on Motown but that all went tits up because they went tits up because they had their funding pulled so we had to find another way to release the album so we got a new label.
We have had a year to reflect and the new label chose what they wanted on it and they have had the best part of a year to figure out what they wanted on it – I think it’s a better album for it, which I am kind of ashamed to say. But having listened to it and looked at the artwork I really like the American version.
Have you had any early response to the record so far?
What I have found, which is weird, a new song that we recorded called On The Run, which was recorded with Steven Street who made out first record, and it is our biggest hit in America since I Predict a Riot.
This is a song that no one in the UK has got because it’s not available in the UK but in American it’s doing amazing things for us. It’s weird that even now this far into our career we are getting surprised by stuff and that is exciting, if we keep getting surprised by things then we are doing something right.
The festival season is just around the corner so have you got any slots planned?
The thing is I am just a singer in the Kaiser Chiefs and if I knew when we had booked I would probably go insane – my girlfriend is constantly saying ‘can I look at your diary?’ And I was like ’I don’t want to look at my diary’. Some have been announced some haven’t I have not idea.
The summer is really good because you just work weekends really, you leave home on Thursday night and come back Monday morning and you three festivals a weekend for the entire summer and it is brilliant – it’s like going on a stag do every weekend all summer and I can’t recommend it highly enough. As to what has been announced I wouldn’t like to put my foot in it.