For Leeds quintet Kaiser Chiefs, success began with an innocent boast.
It was late summer, 2003. The lads were frolicking in the crowd at the Leeds Festival, one of England's weekend-long music extravaganzas. Suddenly, guitarist Andrew "Whitey" White addressed bassist Simon Rix. "Next year," he announced, "we're going to play here."
"It was a totally flippant comment," admits Rix, 26. At the time, their band had only written a few songs; they didn't even have a name. Regardless, one year later, White's prediction came true. Their moniker may have been printed in much smaller type than headliners Green Day and 50 Cent's, but they were on the bill.
In 18 months, Kaiser Chiefs' spastic pop-rock sound--which compares favorably to Franz Ferdinand, Futureheads, and Dogs Die in Hot Cars--has yielded two British hits: "Oh My God" and "I Predict A Riot." The latter went into rotation on LA's KROQ last year with zero promotion; the former scored the boys their first Top of the Pops appearance. Stephen Street (the Smiths, Cranberries, Blur) even signed on to produce their debut album, Employment (in stores March 22).
But Kaiser Chiefs didn't sail from one side of the stage to the other overnight. According to Rix, they measured themselves against formidable role models, including the Beatles and the Clash, while shaping their songs. But they only sought to emulate the high standards of their predecessors, he stresses, not imitate their sound. "I hate when reviewers say, 'Oh, the album sounds like so-and-so.' Yes, one of our songs sounds like Blur, but we did purposefully, as a nod to a band we like."
So far, a few ill-informed criticisms have been the only downside to their accomplishments. "People do ask us to sign a lot of things," concludes Rix. "The other day, this girl absolutely insisted, so we scrawled all over this nice jacket… probably making it worthless."