When it comes to hard-headed realism and pithy quips there’s few better in the music industry than Ricky Wilson.
The Kaiser Chief’s frontman has a decidedly blunt view on his band’s career at the beginning of the year.
“Who, at the start of 2014, was sitting around saying, ‘I can’t wait for a new album by Kaiser Chiefs, I wonder what those guys are up to’ – who? Not many people, I can tell you. We’re realists. We knew no one cared.”
So what changed? The Voice, basically.
It was announced late last year Wilson, despite his initial misgivings, would be a judge on the BBC One singing competition, joining Kylie Minogue as a new face on the show, alongside Black Eyed Pea will.i.am and perma-tanned pensioner Tom Jones.
“I didn’t want to go on TV and make it look like I was trying to sell the band, but when I told them I’d been offered the job, they were all for it. We all agreed that if you’re in an alternative band and you’re asked on Saturday night TV, you do it.
“If we’d been asked to perform, we’d have bitten their hands off, so why would I say no to going on 12 weeks in a row, where I can get my personality across and remind everyone that there’s a band called Kaiser Chiefs? How can that not be a good thing?”
The final of the talent show aired on Saturday night, and time will tell whether all the unexpected exposure really had done the Kaiser Chief’s album sales good.
‘Education, Education, Education and War’, a nod to Tony Blair’s manifesto pledge, was born without the influence of Nick Hodgson, drummer and main songwriter who left the band in 2012. According to Wilson it was touch and go for a while.
“There was a time when I thought it was over,” says Wilson. “The four of us were in a dressing room and I said, ‘Well, I want to carry on, do you?’ And then it was like, ‘Oh you do? Well I do. And what about you?’, and it turned out we all did but just hadn’t said it out loud.”
The other chiefs, Simon Rix, Andrew White, Nick Baines and newcomer Vijay Mistry, stepped up to write the album. Wilson said: “I don’t want it to sound like we’re doing him down, or what he did for the band, but him [Hodgson] leaving is the best thing that could’ve happened to us.
“We were put in the position where we had to fight for the band again. It wasn’t until things were shaken up that we realised how important it was to us. It’s like a toy that a child isn’t playing with - take it away and it immediately becomes their favourite.
“And just like with toys, if they break, you either throw them away or you fix them. We fixed it, and we’ve never been happier.”