Nick “Peanut” Baines is a keyboardist, founding member of British rock outfit The Kaiser Chiefs and, like a character out of a Back To The Future sequel, can often be found wearing two ties. We left the tie question alone, but thought of a few others to prod the kind gentleman with in the wake of The Chiefs’ new record, Yours Truly Angry Mob.
Usounds: Why do Americans hate soccer?
Peanut: It’s not as glamorous as football, and you guys aren’t as good at it, so you invented your own.
Usounds: Fuck, guess we’re not pulling any punches. What lessons did you learn from your first record that helped you with Yours Truly?
Peanut: We learned that even if people don’t like your music, they want to see a good show. After you see more established bands, and they don’t give as good a show you’re really aware that you don’t want to become stale. After touring all over the world, playing huge stadiums, and putting on relentless shows every night, you become more of a rock and roll band. And that’s what we’ve tried to capture on the sound of the record and in the writing itself.
Usounds: How is your writing process?
Peanut: Nick, our drummer, is the main songwriter. He’ll record little piano parts and bits and pieces of songs, and then bring them to us, after he filters out all the crap. He’ll have the verse and the chords or melody. Then we mess with the arrangements and work it out into a 3 or 4 minute pop song.
Usounds: Is there any fighting over how songs are arranged?
Peanut: We’re a democracy, but Nick has a great ear. I don’t know how he does it, but he’ll just hear the next part, and after we play a part he’ll jump up off the drums and grab a guitar and play the next part. We record a lot of the songs, and when you listen to a song back it’s different than when you hear it while you’re playing. So, we’re not too concerned about the structure and how a song should go. We know what sounds good and what we want to hear, so we try to make the songs more interesting than verse chorus verse.
Usounds: Was this record written before you made it into the studio?
Peanut: A couple of small arrangements were changed, but our world is very busy at the moment and people want us to tour and go to various countries, so it was important that we go into the studio with the songs ready. We wanted to make the most of our studio time. We recorded 23 or 24 new songs. Some bands will say they have 100 new songs, but I don’t know how they know what’s good. You don’t really have any quality control. But I think we’re good at knowing what works.
Usounds: Do a lot of kids give you their band’s demo?
Peanut: All the time. And I’m always thinking what am I supposed to do with it? They think you have a golden touch. That you can get them a record deal because you have one. But it doesn’t really work like that, kids, does it? But we all have those dreams. The bands we’d meet in Leeds, when you give them a demo you’d think you’d accomplished something that day.
Usounds: Seriously, no bullshit, how big are you guys in Britain?
Peanut: We’re massive. Definitely one of the biggest bands in the UK. Each week it seems more people know who you are walking down the street. It’s ok. You just kind of have to deal with it. You just have to take it in stride and accept that it happens as a result when you get to make a living playing music.
Usounds: You guys play pranks on each other?
Peanut: Yeah, we play jokes. We’re not one of those bands that sits around moody all day in the dressing room. We’ll find something stupid and childish to occupy our time. We have a lot of videos on our website of our daily goings on.
Usounds: What asshole questions are you sick of from journalists?
Peanut: When people ask where we got the band name from or how long we’ve known each other, because you can Google these questions and find them in a few seconds. I’d think people would want to make the most of their time. Also, was there any pressure making the second record. We would literally get it in every interview, and we’d make up a different answer every time because it makes your mind melt.
Usounds: Your personal wikipedia page sucks. Can you get one of your assistants to spice it up a little?
Peanut: We do pay attention to that, and it changes, but we’ll see about some of the fans on the message board helping out with it. Tomorrow we’ll figure out some facts and some ridiculous fictions in there and put them up, so check in the next few days.
Usounds: Myspace- Harmless communication tool for the new digital age or insidious breeding ground for the biggest dick licks the world has ever seen?
Peanut: I think it’s a very, very useful thing for bands, especially unknown ones, but it’s a little baffling and makes me feel a bit old. In general the way the information is accessible is good, and that’s a huge help. But also, when everything about the band and songs is so easily available it takes a lot of the mystery out of the music.
Usounds: To get back to pranks for one second, I heard a rumor about something pajama-related…
Peanut: Yeah, Nick was in the tub, and I’d had a few beers and decided that when he got out of the toilet I’d be wearing his pajamas and see if he noticed. He pretty much noticed right away. When you’re drunk you have great ideas.