Serge Pizzorno is an enigma. He is the beating heart and the mind behind Kasabian, a band who have conquered just about everything there is to conquer in their career to date—including their incredible headline set on Glastonbury’s iconic Pyramid Stage which solidified their status as one of the most important British bands of the last twenty years.
It’s 15 years since their classic self-titled debut record stormed the charts and, while endearing the band to the public at the same time, they made the decision to take some time off last year. After six full-length records and no new plans in-store, what was to happen next was a mystery even for Pizzorno.
Not content to sit back and relax, the result of a prolonged period away from the band for Pizzorno was to get his head down and change direction as his new moniker of The S.L.P. was born. Pizzorno and his one man solo album, whose mesmerising self titled debut album is available today, spoke with Far Out to explain why now was the perfect time to try something different, what The S.L.P. means to him and the importance of artists like Slowthai—who features on the record—in a polarised Britain.
I pondered if this project was something that Pizzorno had been yearning to do for years, but that’s not the way that he works. The Kasabian guitarist, is a man who lives in the moment, as he explains nonchalantly: “We finished touring in September and had a year off so it was now or never really. I was like ‘I’ve got a year off, shit what am I gonna do?’ But I had these three pieces of music that I thought was the start of something quite interesting, I wanted to finish them but I just thought they’d hang around on a hard-drive for the next ten years so I thought, ‘I’ve only got to fill in the gaps between the beginning, middle and the end then I’ve got a nice little album.’”
Given the fact that Pizzorno was sat on the music for a considerable amount of time, I was interested to know if at any point he considered turning what would become The S.L.P.’s album into the next Kasabian record—a question he quickly shot down before I even finished uttering the words out of my mouth, almost predicting the question before I even asked it: “No, it’s a whole different thing,” he said passionately. “The reason why I still care about making stuff is that I just want output and I didn’t really overthink it, it was just the matter of getting in the studio and making this little record and then do something else after.”
Although this record isn’t a Kasabian record, I asked if this meant changing up the way that Pizzorno went about making it, which he shrugged off adding: “No,” he said amid a spit of laughter. “I work in a certain way, I worked in exactly the same way on this record as I have done on the last six. But, I’ve really enjoyed the freedom of just putting something out for the sake of it rather than it being this huge thing.”
“I think creating this S.L.P. world now means that it’s a world I’ve created that I can live whenever I want to, it’s this now and it’s something,” he added.
Two names which have stepped foot in Serge’s new world are the Mercury nominated pairing of Slowthai and Little Simz, both featuring on ‘Meanwhile…At The Welcome Break’ and lead single ‘Favourites‘ respectively. “I wanted this British connection and they are two people that I really admire, it’s that simple really,” he told me of their contribution. “There was a long-list of people that I wanted to get in the studio with and I think moving forward that’ll be the move.”
The more we discussed his recent collaborations, the more I sensed that working with these exciting new artists has re-energised Pizzorno and has made him fall back in love with making music for the fun of it, excitedly adding: “It’s well important when you’ve been doing it a long time and you get in your ways, it’s nice to just experiment and to go in the studio where anything can happen and be open to anything.”
A sincere Pizzorno continued: “I very much felt like I was on that cycle and on that way of going finish album, tour, come home, make album, tour. I’ve been doing that for nearly 15—no actually 20 years—at some-point there always needs to be a storm in the harbour, there needs to be some kind of re-set, some sorta like a storm that wipes everything out then you open the door and it’s calm again and you say: ‘ah, I see things differently now, I’ve been through something different and come back with a whole new perspective’ and that excites me for the next thing I do.”
Pizzorno will be taking The S.L.P. on the road for a limited run of dates and revealed to Far Out what his vision is for these very special nights, divulging: “We’re gonna try and do it differently. It’s all a bit of an experiment, we’ll just see what happens, it’s also a nice feeling to not be so wrapped up and to just put on a great night, entertain and have a great time. I’ve got this vision of this club at four in the morning which sort of anything goes where everybody is welcome, but also like a little David Lynch sort of film in some elements of it and I want it to put people on edge.”
Listening to Pizzorno vividly describe the way he wants to make fans feel pure escapism from the world, even if it’s just for one night only, sees our conversation turn to how important the concept of escapism is on a whole: “I think it’s vital ‘cos I think the danger as artists a lot of it is about escapism and your art becomes a way of escaping out of it which is massively needed and important for us all to lose ourselves. It’s also important to be aware of what’s going on and to represent a voice so it does get heard to a wide audience, voices that aren’t listened to or not cared about, that need artists to push that.”
Pizzorno then continued with the most heartfelt of passion in his voice: “For us to move forward in society, we need to listen to people’s stories human to human. There’s a reason they got where they got and it’s usually a past that’s given them that way of thinking so we have to figure out how to listen and come to some sort of agreement that we can all get on cos a fractured society is no fucking good for anybody.”
The fractured society we are living in, as Pizzorno referred to, is one that he can’t comprehend in the slightest. Like all conversations about music and society, our chat led me to ask about what his thoughts on former Smiths frontman Morrissey—a character making yet more controversial headlines given his very public political stances. “I don’t really understand that way of thinking like I find an odd way of thinking that we’re not just one,” Pizzorno said with his usual impassioned sentiment. “I’ve never really understood boundaries and flags, it just doesn’t make any sense when you look at the world and look at what we are, we’re humans. What the hell does any of it mean? Going down that line just seems like a very backwards step.”
Pizzorno and I spoke around the time that Boris Johnson was appointed as Prime Minister by just over 100,000 members of the Conservative party following an internal ruling leadership contest. With a renewed anger in his voice, Pizzorno said: “The system is rigged, it’s like a fucking Vegas casino, no matter who you put in charge it always ends up the same way.”
The conversation then turned to the politics of Kasabian with an animated Pizzorno stating: “The point of what we always wanted to do was to communicate with a large audience, communication and bringing people together. It’s all out of the rave scene and the massive guitar boom in the mid ’90s, we were born out of this. It’s about and always will be about bringing people together, that’s our politics.”
Kasabian have undoubtedly brought unity and Pizzorno has succeeded in his ambition of bringing as many people together under one roof with a common aim of having an evening never to forget. The S.L.P. may have seen him take a left-turn down a different path but the destination remains the same. The album will still leave you with that same euphoric feeling burning inside that you got 15 years ago when you first heard Kasabian’s debut. Serge Pizzorno is enjoying himself every bit as much as he was at the start of his journey all that time ago.
You can get your hands on a copy of The S.L.P. here and check out the tour dates below:
5TH SEPTEMBER – SWG3 GLASGOW, UK
6TH SEPTEMBER – ALBERT HALL MANCHESTER, UK
7TH SEPTEMBER – O2 INSTITUTE BIRMINGHAM, UK
9TH SEPTEMBER – EARTH LONDON, UK
10TH SEPTEMBER – EARTH LONDON, UK