Kasabian's Tom Meighan on Oasis, N.W.A, Michael Jackson and Hoverboards

The Kasabian frontman shakes off the effects of stardom and remembers fighting, drinking, and listening to rap as a kid in Leicester
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The Kasabian frontman shakes off the effects of stardom and remembers fighting, drinking, and listening to rap as a kid in Leicester

When I interviewed Tom Meighan at the fag end of 2009, Kasabian were winding down on their most successful year yet. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum had gone sonic, they’d played Glasto before Springsteen at the behest of the boss himself, and had been the support group for the final Oasis tour. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I dialled the Leicester number, but from the minute he picked up the phone and admitted he was “fucking dizzy from singing 26 songs in two hours on Beatles: Rock Band,” that his Mum “still washed his pants” and how he “shit himself and sloped off” when he met Paul McCartney I knew we’d be alright. The structure for the interview was ‘the first time,’ so without further ado here he is talking about NWA, Hoopers Hooch and smacking people over the head with bits of wood…

Do  you remember the first time you wanted to be a singer?

When I was a kid my Mum used to sing to me, she’s a country and western singer with a great voice. The first song I remember hearing was Stand By Me by Ben E King and I fell in love with it. But it was Michael Jackson who inspired me, he was my hero as a kid, I just wanted to be a performer, I just wanted to sing, it was just inside me. My Mum had Thriller but the first album I had was Bad loved the video for The Way You Make Me Feel, he looked so fucking cool with the ponytail, blue shirt and white t-shirt. Unbelievable.

First Album that had a massive effect on you?

The first album that kicked the fuck out of me was Straight Outta’ Compton by N.W.A, Gangsta Rap scared the shit out of me when I was 11 years old. When Eazy-E comes in on the title track, threatening to smother your mother and not giving a fuck it was like something form another world, amazing…It really shook me.

First time you met (bandmate) Serge?

I was 11, we were at secondary school and I was marking him, his dad used to coach us. He was tiny then, really small and I was bigger than him. He had an Italian shirt on, it was a couple of years after Italia 90, and he fucking shredded me, ripped me to pieces, and he had a really squeaky voice.

What were you like at School?

I just didn’t pay attention, as you can tell I’m quite hyper, full of nervous energy so I wasn’t interested. I used to sign in then go straight out of the back door, I’d usually go round to me mates for a smoking session and watch MTV all day. I left college with two GCSEs, the rest were ungraded because I didn’t turn up.

First clothing item you desired?

I used to draw Nike trainers in my book when I was a kid, you know the massive ones out of Back to the Future 2 you can buy ‘em now, so I should probably go and get myself some. And I’d love Marty McCfly’s jacket, you know the big one that dried on it’s own. And the hoverboard was great, but Biff’s was better man, it had more power…”

First time you got shitfaced?

I was probably about 13; I was round my mate’s house, a lad called Ben Collins. You remember those Hooch drinks? We got a load of that and those horrid bottles of orange Reef, we went down the arches and had a few Diamond White’s and got a bit stoned and then it all hit me. I was monstered.

So I got a piece of wood and smashed him over the head with it. It was only thin wood but it must have fucking hurt.

First Fight?

There was a ginger lad who was picking on my brother when I was about 6, proper red-haired bull-head with a real thick neck and loads of freckles, and he pulled my brother off the climbing frame, so I got a piece of wood and smashed him over the head with it. It was only thin wood but it must have fucking hurt.

First Gig?

I used to go to a lot of Under 14 raves in Leicester, I was probably about 11 or 12 at the time, and there was a lot of crossover stuff like The Prodigy and Altern 8. Those raves were ok, you were quite safe cos’ there was no drugs there or anything, but we all thought we were proper with our whistles in our mouths. It was called Starlight 2001, how scary is that?

How did you feel after your first gig?

Unbelievable, it was 11 years ago and we were called Saracuse, nothing can touch the feeling. We were over the moon and thought we’d made it. But when we toured with the Von Bondies, we played half hour warm up slots at universities and we used to finish with Club Foot. There was a moment when people’s eyes lit up and I thought ‘we’re alright here’.

First mental rock star moment?

We were at a gig in Manchester and Liam asked us to go off in his plane. Me, Serge, Liam, Phil and Steve Allen went off and landed in Scotland. I remember being fucking smashed, and it only took 40 minutes. Then we had chip butties and a load of white wine.

What’s on the post-gig Rider?

We have Cognac, nice red and white wine, and I normally ask for nail clippers and a nailbrush, I feel a bit dirty after the gig. I’ve never seen anyone ask for blue smarties or anything, but we’re quite strict on the crisp selection, salt and vinegar squares and that’s it. Crisps are a very personal thing my man…

First time you met Oasis?

I saw Liam in Death Disco when we played there a few years ago, and he said ‘fucking great show’ I had this long coat on and he was like, ‘give us a twirl in that coat man, I’m having that’. I was dumfounded. Then we played Benicassim a few years ago and Noel just walked thought and went, ‘alright man’. We then toured with them in 2005 and got to know them, it was a really happy time then.

How do you feel about the break-up?

Well everyone keeps tipping us to fill the void, but you can’t fill that void. Oasis are a big, anthemic sing-along band, while we’re more of a dance-along band, we’re completely different. If you’re gonna call them The Beatles, then we’re the Stones you know what I mean?

America?

“I’m not arsed about it mate, the record went to number 98 on the Billboard which is shit, sold about 10,000. No one but Coldplay and U2 are breaking America, and we’re certainly not going to become MOR to do it, we’re certainly not going to change what we do. We’re dangerous for them, and we‘re not going to become non-confrontational. To break America you have to tour the motherfucker, and that takes a lot of time, it’s massive…”

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