Party kings take centre stage
Kasabian. Picture: Supplied

In the game of thrones that is the festival pecking order, English rockers Kasabian can finally lay claim to a crown.

A decade after opening a small stage at Glastonbury in 2004 - the same year their heroes Oasis ruled the main Pyramid stage - the Leicester party kings will close the iconic festival on June 29.

Or, as they put it succinctly on their web page recently "First on 2004, last on Sunday, 2014".

"Ah, it'll be wonderful," Kasabian singer Tom Meighan says. "What an honour, you know, and what an achievement.

"We've been around the block and we've been playing since we were 17 years old, so a long time. We're buggered," he chuckles over the phone from Limerick, Ireland, where the band is on tour.

"It's crazy," Meighan continues. "We've never really stopped, you know what I mean? It feels like we've been in a hurricane for the past how many years. But it's been all right, come on."

The hyperactive singer, who has a two-year-old daughter ("it's relentless . . . pretty much me but a female version"), is also excited about Kasabian's hometown gig tomorrow.

"That's going to be massive," says Meighan, who like the Gallagher brothers doesn't do humble. "We've got a massive year and it's only just started."

After those big gigs, and plenty of other UK and European festival slots, Kasabian head to Australia, kicking off a five-date visit in Perth on August 5.

Luckily, they hit their massive 2014 armed with 48:13, an album born in club land but destined for the big stage (and named after its running time with minimalist artwork from their friend, designer Aitor Throup).

Written and self-produced by Noel Fielding lookalike guitarist Sergio Pizzorno, the 13-tracks blend hip-hop, electronic music and stomping 60s guitar rock.

Everything from Kanye West and DJ Shadow to Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder with the Doors and the 13th Floor Elevators is thrown into a hedonistic party punch on album five.

No prizes for guessing that Meighan describes it as the band's Best. Album. Ever.

"I think we've come of age with the production, the songs, everything fits - it all works," the singer says. "I think Serge has created a monster of an album and now we've got to deal with it."

The UK press has already poked fun at the fact iTunes has the album at 48 minutes and six seconds - but who's counting?

More sources have derided rave-ready geezer anthem and first single Eez-Eh, mostly for dodgy rhyming couplets such as "Everyone's on bugle/Now we're being watched by Google".

Meighan says that Eez-Eh was inspired by Underworld's 1995 trance classic Born Slippy. "We wanted to capture that feeling now," he explains. "It's got an electronic, dance groove and it's cheeky as well. We've got a massive song on our hands there."

The more pensive Moroder-esque Explodes taps into Pizzorno's perfectionism and frustration.

"Getting something right can drive you mental," says Meighan, who usually adds vocals to demos his band mate has created in isolation.

48:13 finishes with S.P.S (as in the popular children's game, Scissor Paper Stone), a ballad Pizzorno wrote to remind the singer of simpler times.

"Yeah, it's beautiful," Meighan says. "It's just a friendship, brotherhood thing. It's lovely."

Since the departure of guitarist and songwriter Chris Karloff midway through making 2006 album Empire, Kasabian has coalesced around the two 33-year-old rockers. Bassist Chris Edwards has also been there from the start.

Drummer Ian Matthews joined 10 years ago while Tim Carter replaced guitarist Jay Mehler - who came in for Karloff - last year when he transferred to Liam Gallagher's Beady Eye. Carter was an easy fit having worked on Kasabian's previous albums, 2009's West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum and 2011's Velociraptor! as an engineer and assistant to producer Dan the Automator.

"We stopped touring and Jay Mehler didn't have a job, so he joined Beady Eye," Meighan explains. "There was no malice or anything weird like that. He's probably got to pay the bills, or whatever. We love Jay dearly."

Speaking of free transfers and changing teams, the football-mad Kasabian lads were excited about the World Cup in Brazil. Meighan, who modelled the Throup-designed English away shirt in 2010, says not to write off the Poms.

"I think we're underdogs, you know, and because everyone's used to failure, no one's bothered," he says. "I think we might surprise a few people. We won't win it but we'll be OK."

Going from underdogs to kings of the big stage? Sounds familiar.

48:13 is out now. Kasabian play Metro City on August 5. Tickets from Oztix.

The West Australian

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