KASABIAN at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Saturday (February 26). Sold out. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
Why do british rockers always dis other bands? I'm 15 minutes into a perfectly pleasant conversation with Kasabian's Sergio Pizzorno when dude starts tearing into Franz Ferdinand.
"I just look at a picture and I don't really believe it," spits Pizzorno in his thick accent.
What? How can you hate on Franz? They're like the Care Bears of rock.
"I look at them and I think, 'You're wearing that jacket because you think it's cool,'" he continues. "I'm not banging on that band too much at the moment. It's this kinda trendy thing, where you have to be cool to like it. They're like these mythical characters. The Rapture seem a little too cool for school, too. I find 'em a bit pompous."
He pauses, then lays it all out: "Let's hope their next album has more than one good track on it. Fuck Franz Ferdinand." Arrogant? Sure. Then again, on the phone from a German tour stop, Pizzorno and his Leicester-based bandmates have reason to be cocky.
At home, Kasabian are the band du jour. Some are calling them the hip-shaking progeny of the Roses and the Mondays. Their debut album, released in the UK five months ago, is selling like SpongeBob merch at a Hillary Duff show, they were up for three Brit Awards (best group and best rock act, which they lost to Franz Ferdinand, and best live act) and their upcoming headlining tour of the UK has them booked into 5,000-seat venues.
The Toronto date sold out faster than you can say Kula Shaker, and when Pizzorno gets off the phone with me, he'll fly to Japan for more packed dates. To paraphrase one British rocker, right now Kasabian are "fookin' 'avin' it, mate."
"It's been mad," agrees Pizzorno. "At this point we're running on adrenalin, but we're ready to take on America. Some British band's got to do it. It's been a long time since the Stones, man."
While Pizzorno is clearly prone to hyperbole, his band's debut is an impressive slice of swaggering Brit beat. All shaggy bangs, flared jeans and half-smoked spliffs, Kasabian make the kind of "mad for it" lad music Ian Brown look-alikes on both sides of the Atlantic go absolutely bonkers for.
The singles Club Foot and Processed Beats would slide nicely in between the Mondays and the Primals in a DJ set, while Reason Is Treason plays out like a G-7 summit headed up by Neu! and the Dandy Warhols.
However, closer U Boat, with its haunting melody, is the LP's real surprise. Punctuated by an arpeggiated synth that recalls Giorgio Moroder's early-80s soundtracks, the song shows these guys are more than mere mop-topped Madchester throwbacks.
Childhood friends, the members of Kasabian owe much of their early energy to the mid-90s rave scene and its music, specifically hardcore.
"When grunge was coming out, none of us fucking got that," says Pizzorno. "The idea of illegal raves and taking loads of E in a field sounded romantic. When you get a bit older, you realize it was really bad music, but the whole idea - kids making music in their bedrooms, then loads of people coming to hear it - it's brilliant."
The band took a similar approach to recording their debut. They holed up in a farmhouse in rural Rutland full of vintage gear, and went to work.
"Now it makes me laugh," says Pizzorno. "We did the bulk of it at a farm. It's amazing what you can do with a few boxes."