STRICTLY OLD SKOOL
T.U.E (the ultraview effect)
When lead singer Tom Meighan left Kasabian in 2020, guitarist and songwriter Serge Pizzorno was faced with a decision: pull down the shutters on the band he’d steered from teenage mates to globe-conquering festival headliners or step up to the role himself and guide Kasabian into a whole new era. The decision to move forward with Pizzorno as lead singer invigorated Kasabian’s genre-chewing sound, and also inspired the “hero’s journey” of their seventh album, The Alchemist’s Euphoria. This is a record that journeys through thumping electro-rock aggression, rave euphoria, trap beats, and Pink Floyd-ian reverie—very often in the space of a single track.
“This album isn’t about the band,” says Pizzorno of the lyrical themes here. “Obviously, you can pick up on things that are directly connected, but that wasn’t interesting to me.” Instead, he channeled his feelings into a loose concept about an alchemist who, when faced with a similarly life-shattering decision, decides to climb aboard a ship and throw himself back into the fray.
“The emotions and the feelings that me and the other boys were going through are all captured within the story,” he adds. “I was writing about things that I was going through, but it’s the alchemist’s story. He’s all of us. It’s about what happens when we’re faced with a life-changing decision. Do you stay safe on the harbor, or do you get on the boat and see what happens?” Read on as Pizzorno guides us through his band’s album, track by track.
“It feels like it’s the theme tune [for the album]. Once I’d decided to go with this narrative, I went back to this idea of me sitting by the ocean and asking myself, ‘What do I do?’ Which we all do at some point in our lives. Production-wise, it’s got this phone recording feel to it. It’s almost like an old sample. I really hope someone lifts it and puts a beat behind it.”
“I talk about boxing a lot, and I’ve always loved walk-on tunes, those tunes that feel like they give you your life back. Power-up music. It’s like Super Mario—that feeling when your energy bars go up. I love the way that music makes me feel, like it’s slapping me in the face. The words are an internal conversation. This record isn’t about the world around you; it’s about the things you do to yourself. You can be your own worst enemy, and it’s about changing those stories.”
“For me specifically, this is dealing with lies and hate on the internet and social media, but you don’t have to have gone through what we have as a band to know exactly what this means because we’ve all had our own version of it. Whether it’s at school or just people tearing you down, you harness that energy, suck it up, and use it as fuel. Use it as your motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Instead of spitting out bullets, spit out flowers.”
“STRICTLY OLD SKOOL”
“It’s about friendship and the people that stay with you through thick and thin, the mates that have been there from the start. It’s an homage to that. It brings up a few little phrases from back in the day, like gold GT-Rs and smoking weed in the park. That line ‘You’re Dr. Dre, you’re Frida, and you’re Kurt’—I did an interview with this German guy, and he thought I meant Frida from ABBA. He was like, ‘Oh, you dedicated it to ABBA?’ I was like, ‘No, it’s Frida Kahlo!’”
“I feel like that’s the gateway between the old Kasabian and the new Kasabian. It bridges the gap, and that’s why we put it out first. It felt like the perfect track to start everything off. An alligator is a metaphor for survival. They do whatever they can to survive. Whatever comes your way, you’ve got to figure it out and do what you can to survive.”
“This is like my signature track. I’ve always loved Tangerine Dream and film soundtracks, so all of my records, at some point, will have an homage to that on them. That side [of Kasabian] can be overlooked. It’s got this dystopian industrial thing, and when you come out of it, you come into a really soft moment on the record, so I wanted you to enter that through this Blade Runner portal. You feel differently about the next song because it puts you into a Stranger Things world. It puts you into a Vangelis world.”
“It’s about having a really bad hangover. Me and Dibs [Chris Edwards, bassist], when we’re in a big one, we’re like, ‘Fuck me, mate, I’ve hit a wall now.’ It is funny to write a song about it, but you know if you’ve been through some big ones that it’s an intense experience. You can come out of some of them a changed man! I wrote it to make him laugh. I texted him to say, ‘Mate, I’ve just written this song about a monster hangover,’ and he was pissing himself.”
“T.U.E (the ultraview effect)”
“This is the centerpiece of the album in terms of pushing the boundaries and having all these twists and turns in there. The ultraview effect is when astronauts go into space and see the world just floating there in nothingness and come back a changed person. They see humanity differently. I thought there was something absolutely beautiful about that. This song is about that, and it’s about looking at your own life—taking yourself out of yourself and looking at yourself differently.”
“I think that’s the furthest we’ve gone down the electronic route, definitely. If you listen to all our albums in sequence, it will make sense that ‘STARGAZR’ exists now. It’s an evolution of that. It’s just turning the dial up a bit more. To me, it’s like the bit in Life of Pi where all the mad colors come in. It’s that bit in the journey where you get the mushrooms out. If you’re at Glastonbury, it would be the point where you’ve been on the main stage and then you end up at [after-hours dance area] Block9, like, ‘How did I get here?’”
“This was the last thing I wrote for the record. I knew I needed a track that was just grounded in being a great song. You need that counterbalance on the record. If you strip back the electronic side to it, it’s almost grungy. It’s got a bit of a Smashing Pumpkins thing going through it, which is definitely not something I’ve gone into before. It’s almost emo. Almost!”
“The sea is a big part of this album. Space and the sea. It’s got the sounds of the waves from the first track, so like with film score sequencing, it reminds you of where you were at the start, how far you’ve come, and what you’ve been through to get here.”
“There’s something so beautiful and simple about this—it’s almost like a lullaby. Those melodies are hard to come across. It’s so simple that you think that there must be someone out there who’s already done it. It’s got a lovely little vibe to it. We’re back home now. We’ve seen it, we’ve done it, now you’ve got to let go of all the grief and pain and just carry on. It’s me talking to myself, but it resonates with all of us.”