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Indie rock band Kaiser Chiefs from West Yorkshire, England area have earned a reputation as blue-collar musicians who connect with the “common man” worldwide. Their albums are titled “Employment”, “Yours Truly, Angry Mob”, “Off with Their Heads” and “The Future is Medieval.”
Their name is taken from a South African football team. Even while relatively unknown in the UK, they made a name playing in Moscow and elsewhere in Europe.
In 2006, they released a book titled “A Record of Employment” about their rise from being unsigned to winning awards and multi-platinum albums for their clever, unpretentious pop rock.
The Pohoda festival in Slovakia Thursday night was an apt setting for them: playing to a crowd of unemployed or low-paid youth, with a medieval castle looming in the distance in Trencin.
Seemingly inspired by what he called a “really nice atmosphere”, vocalist Ricky Wilson jumped off the stage early in the show and leaned over the barrier into the crowd.
During their hit “I Predict a Riot”, he climbed scaffolding, and then returned to the mic in perfect time to pick up the chorus. Later, he had a security guard push him atop a slippery barrier, where he sang to a Slovakian crowd who loved the symbolism.
During a brief interview, they spoke about how lucky they are to be musicians amid widespread youth unemployment in Europe.
Ricky Wilson, vocalist, asked about politics and music:
“It’s the ‘Bono Question’. Bono tries to change the world through music. It’s great for Bono’s music and for him, but we’re different. We’re basically a band from the north of England. We’re more about politics of the dance floor. Our songs all mean something. We like to connect with people, make them think about things. Our songs touch upon elements of politics. But we won’t be meeting up with any politicians. Our songs are a form of commentary. They aren’t protest songs.”
“We never really wrote love songs, but when we did, it went number one.”
asked about youth unemployment in Europe:
“We’re professional loafers. My Dad once said about me ‘I’ve never seen someone work so hard at doing nothing.’ We’re lucky to be musicians. We see it as ‘Thank God we haven’t got another type of job’.”
Nick Baines keyboards, percussion
“It seems somehow acceptable (for so many young people to have no jobs or careers.) There’s not enough nurturing of talent, in many things, not just music. It makes you wonder what people are going to do for the next 50 years. There’s not enough people building or fixing things. We’ll see this gap in the future.”
Simon Rix bass guitar
“Nobody really wants to make things happen. We’re lucky that we’re in a band. Everybody wants to do something creative, but it’s hard to make it work. The Labor government saw films as an export. But as soon as a recession comes, that’s the first thing that gets axed.”
“They are charging 9000 for university fees. If you or your parents can afford it, what are you going to study, drama or accounting? You’re not going to do drama for three years when you know there’s no job in it.”
“We enjoy doing more stuff off the radar. We just played in the Ukraine and now tonight in Slovakia. They’ve been our best gigs in years. It’s really cool. Fans have been waiting to see us since 2005.”