For a while Kaiser Chiefs’ bassist got used to being the person the band’s record label would call first. With frontman Ricky Wilson busy as a judge on The Voice it was Rix who dealt with any queries and who ironed out any last minute niggles when it came to tour dates or recording studios.
After two series, Wilson announced he wouldn’t be moving with the show to ITV and the Leeds band got a full-time singer back.
“It’s a bit weird to be honest,” says Rix, who has known Wilson for the best part of 20 years. “We got used to Ricky not being there and we worked round it. He was busy, we understood that so when he was available we worked him very hard. Now suddenly he can be there all time, so we are having to adjust.”
When Wilson joined The Voice he was honest enough to admit that it had less to do with him fulfilling any ambition to be a presenter and more with finding a new platform to promote the band. It worked. While their previous album The Future Is Medieval reached number 10 in the charts, Education Education, Education and War went to number one.
With their new album Stay Together due out in October, today the band announced that they will play a homecoming gig at the First Direct Arena in Leeds on March 4 next year. It will be the third time they have played the venue, but while the surroundings might be familiar the band’s sound has shifted from their I Predict A Riot days.
“This is our sixth album and it would be a bit weird if it sounded the same as the first,” says Rix. “It is a bit different, although hopefully everyone has heard Parachute now, so they’ve got a bit of an idea of what the rest of the album will sound like.”
It’s certainly less raw than many of their other singles and some fans have compared it unfavourably with Take That, hankering after more indie anthems. The pop element comes courtesy of producer Brian Higgins who was behind Cher’s Believe and Girls Aloud’s Biology.
“We didn’t just want to put an album out because it was two years since our last one and well, that’s what you are supposed to do,” says Rix. “We wanted to record an album because we had something new to say.
“Brian is a pop guy really, but he is more like a mad genius. He is a super intelligent bloke and during the recording process he did become the sixth member of the band. When you’ve been together as a band for as long as we have, it’s easy to keep recording the way you always have, but Brian pushed us out of our comfort zone.
“We are pretty good at coming up with something which is nice to listen to, but it we don’t instantly think you’d hear it on the radio, we will ditch it and move on. Brian doesn’t work like that at all. He would take eight bars and keep working them. He would get us to play it in a different tempo and just try things over and over again until he had created that little bit of magic.”
Education, Education, Education and War was the Kaiser’s first studio album since the departure of Nick Hodgson. Rix admits that those were uncertain times for the band, but they now feel more confident than ever in their new direction.
“We all felt the pressure for that last album to be really good, I guess it was our way of proving that we could go on without Nick. There was definitely a point in 2012 when all of us wondered whether we should call it a day, but we had a chat and pretty quickly decided that we were still excited about the band. There was still a hunger there.”
The Kaisers will be back in Leeds in March and as Rix admits those homecoming gigs are always something special. “When they first talked about the arena I thought they would be better building something the size of the Brixton Academy, but I am happy to say I was wrong. I think the arena has been great for the city and it’s been pretty good for us.
Tickets for March’s show at the arena go on sale at 9am next Friday, August 26.