Eddy Says

Eddy Says: The fight for Kasabian

By | Published on Monday 14 June 2010

I just wrote this account of the early days of Kasabian for a nice, shiny, coffee table book that Xfm are putting together in time for Christmas. I have no doubt that, while my honesty and candour may be appreciated, most of this will end up on the cutting room floor, so to speak. But you, my dear friends, colleagues and kindred spirits, deserve the full story…

There is a big box at Xfm where people in the office dispose of CDs they don’t want. Back around the start of the new millennium I’d often trawl through it because, at that time, Xfm was particularly anti-dance, and electronic music of any kind, in daylight hours, so I’d often find discarded gems in there. On such a trawl I discovered a CDR, blank, save for the word “Kasabian”, in between two squares of white card, held together by a pair of grey rubber bands.

When I played it I was immediately blown away. It was ‘processed beats’. I played it on the show straight away, declaring it to be the best demo of the year and one of the best I’d ever heard. I did some digging and found they were managed by the same person who looked after Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and so I booked them to play at my free rock night, Kill All Hippies. It was obvious to me that these men would be stars, and I championed them on air and in clubs over the next many months.

I could hear audible whoops of joy from the dancefloor at Remix Night when I dropped ‘Reason Is Treason’, and was getting masses of emails from newly converted fans. And yet my counterparts at Xfm, and elsewhere, failed to respond. The band even got my pal Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee to do a special radio mix because nobody was supporting them.

I sent regular emails to the then Xfm Head Of Music, giving positive feedback on this band I’d discovered; but, strangely, he never got back to me, not even once. My emails got more and more passionate, because Xfm, at that time, were simply not supporting this great band. In fact, the only airplay they got anywhere back then was on my show.

I was incredulous, as I’d never heard more of an “Xfm band” – they had the swagger of Oasis, with the beats of Primal Scream and Stone Roses-esque melodies… you couldn’t have genetically engineered a band more perfect for the station in a mad indie laboratory.

But, despite all this, the next single that came out from the band charted at number eleven. With no airplay to speak of (save Xfm’s The Remix), and because of a legion of rabid fans (called ‘The Movement’) who were as motivated as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Kasabian supported Chikinki at Remix Night, and I could tell there were more people excited about the support than the headliner. People were slapping me on the back and saying “nice one for introducing me to these guys, man” – there was such a warm feeling of community around the boys, and we all had the sense we were part of something big.

Having been ignored by Xfm’s Head Of Music for about a year by this point, I squared up to him in the office and said: “What is your problem with Kasabian, man? Did they eat your hamster when you were a kid or something?”

He looked at the floor, then he sighed and said: “I just HATE them, Eddy”.

At that point I could have quite happily hurled him from the fourth floor window but tried to be more adult: “Do you think it’s wise to let your personal feelings cloud your judgement?”

“Look, I just hate them, OK? I’m sorry…”

“Come on”, I said. “You are in charge of programming music on the most important station in the UK for new music of this type, and you’re being subjective about something you HAVE to be objective and professional about. This is not cool. I’ve sent you email after email giving you genuine feedback from clubs and on air which clearly shows this band are on fire. Every time I go on air I get a hundred texts all saying ‘biggup for playing Kasabian, Eddy!’ And they just charted at number fucking eleven – what more do you want?’

“That’s just hype, RCA hype. Don’t believe it”, he feebly ventured.

“If that was the case, then why aren’t The Cooper Temple Clause in the charts?” I questioned.

“Erm, OK”, he stuttered. “Maybe their next single is a bit better [‘LSF’], maybe we can support that. But I can’t make any promises”.

“Alright”, I relented, and left it there.

When the next playlist was published, he’d ignored ‘LSF’ and it was clear that the UK was about to be gripped by Kasabimania. Rather than come to blows in the office, I went over his head and told his boss the whole story. The boss was flabbergasted that his music chief had ignored what was such straight and honest feedback and, more importantly, had let his personal feelings affect such an important issue.

‘LSF’ went on the Xfm playlist the following week. Months later they played our big Xmas gig. They were, by this point, officially the biggest, brightest new band in the UK.

The music chief soon left for Radio 1, clearly a much more appropriate home for him, and we got the awesome Mike Walsh, who’s steered our mighty ship ever since. I have to say Xfm has never sounded better than right now, and I can sleep at night knowing that the next time I find someone like Kasabian, I won’t have to think about hurling anyone out of anything!

Eddy xx

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