Hail To The Chiefs

Hand-picked as the opening act on select dates of U2's current stadium tour, with a debut album that combines the best elements of Blur, the Kinks, the Clash, and Madness, U.K. quintet Kaiser Chiefs may be the band to watch in 2005.

There's a lot of hype surrounding your band and the record. Do you guys feel the pressure?

Ricky Wilson, lead singer: Not really, because there's nothing we can do about it. We can't go and write more songs because our album's not good enough. We can just be ourselves. People ask me if I'm worried about writing the second album, but this is more than I ever expected to do. Even if it all stopped tomorrow, we still would have achieved something pretty amazing. I'm just enjoying it for what it is.

How'd the band get started? I heard you went through quite a transformation early on in your career.

In the beginning, we were trying so hard to just get a record deal that we forgot what was most important, which is just being yourself and not trying to be something you're not. We weren't very good at trying to be the Strokes. So we decided to scrap everything we'd written and be ourselves and start something new-and so far, it's worked.

What's your worst down-and-out story-when you were at your absolute lowest-before making it big?

We had a prior record deal, but then we lost it. We didn't really think about tax or the future, and we were thousands and thousands in debt. I remember one day when I was working three jobs . . . that was the lowest point, really trying to work off the debt.

I don't think there's a better rock 'n' roll frontman than Mick Jagger, especially with his moves on the stage. You used to cover his songs in high school. Ever think of borrowing any moves?

When you start thinking about how you move onstage, you end up looking a bit stupid. You gotta dance like no one's watching. That's kinda what I do onstage. It's more about just letting go, and then the audience can do the same. There's no point in trying to look cool when you're kicking and sweating in front of everybody.

How do you stay in shape on the road? Do you have a regimen? Are you touring with a trainer at all?

When I go onstage, it's an hour of dancing nonstop. It's the best workout. We try to stay off junk food, but it's tough in America because everything's covered in cheese. People see us as these rock 'n' roll misfits, partying all night, drugs flying around. But it's not likethat. With early mornings and late nights, we just end up collapsing in the van.

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