Ricky Wilson reflects on the past: “The Kaiser Chiefs were obsessed with achieving success. I wish I still had that drive within me. In reality, we weren’t even that talented.”

Estimated read time 7 min read

Ricky Wilson was born in West Yorkshire in 1978 and is known for his career as a musician and broadcaster. He holds a master’s degree in graphic design and previously worked as a teacher at Leeds College of Art and Design. In 2000, he formed the band Parva, which later became known as Kaiser Chiefs. Their success in the mid-2000s with hits like “I Predict a Riot,” “Everyday I Love You Less and Less,” and “Ruby” catapulted them to the top of the charts and made them a popular choice for stadium concerts. From 2013 to 2016, Ricky also served as a judge on the TV show The Voice and currently hosts the drivetime show on Virgin Radio UK. The band’s eighth album, Easy Eighth Album, is set to be released on March 1st. Ricky resides in London with his wife, stylist Grace Zito, and their twins.

This picture was captured at my home on New Year’s Eve in 2001. Based on the popped party popper, it appears to have been taken after midnight when my friends and I were out exploring the streets of Leeds. It was a memorable and enjoyable night. The army hat was a present from my friend Tim, who knows I have a penchant for wearing headgear. This has always been a habit of mine.

The band were somewhere in the background when this was taken. This was pre-Kaiser Chiefs, back when we were called Parva. When I wasn’t running a club night or performing with them, I was working behind a bar and teaching art. I only did that for a year. I was terrible at it.

My mother would tell you that when I was younger, my dream was to be in a band. However, this is not entirely accurate. I actually had aspirations of working in advertising or becoming an animator. The idea of being part of a band appealed to me because it seemed like joining a group, but I never had the desire to be the frontman. In school, I spent most of my lunch breaks in the art room and was not seen as confident or popular. This did not change after school as I was only considered “cool” for a brief period in 2004. In reality, I was quite shy and kept to myself. However, when I started attending art college, something clicked and I realized that I could be whoever I wanted to be. I could even create my own persona. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try to be more outgoing. To my surprise, it became a part of who I am.

My band was strangely fixated on achieving success. We were convinced that if we put in enough effort and time, we would eventually succeed. Part of me wishes I still had that determination. However, in reality, we were not even that talented.

When Kaiser Chiefs started to gain success, we were so relieved that we didn’t bother putting on a facade. We would receive invitations to the NME awards, where everyone was trying to appear cool by wearing oversized sunglasses and acting disinterested. But we would show up in our V-neck jumpers, energetically enjoying the night. I was always starstruck too – at festivals, we would retreat to our dressing room and eagerly watch as other artists arrived. One time, Shane MacGowan even visited our dressing room. He was incredible. He asked for an apple from our rider, and I thought to myself, “Good for you, Shane, getting in your daily servings of fruit!” Little did we know, he was planning to use it to smoke crack.

As our band grew in popularity, we also became a target for criticism. Perhaps we didn’t fit in with the mainstream and were seen as easy to pick on. This constant negativity started to take a toll on us. While I was used to other bands criticizing us, it was difficult when the media began to attack us with harsh words. It seemed like it was the NME’s responsibility at the time to be particularly vicious – some of the writing from that era was not politically correct and very cruel. But the most difficult part was when we went from being featured in music magazines to being targeted by tabloids. While this may have helped our record sales, it also meant being called hurtful things like “the chubby pop star” and “the plump frontman” by publications like the Daily Mail. This definitely affected my self-confidence, but it also motivated me to make positive changes. I began running and eating healthier, which ultimately helped me lose weight.

In the beginning of the band’s career, I struggled with performing live because I was filled with fear and anxiety. To help calm my nerves, my bandmates would do a chant for me before going on stage. They would repeat, “Everybody thinks he’s cool!” and I would respond with, “My name is Rick! And I am cool!” This was my way of psyching myself up to perform. Once I was on stage, I realized that if I kept moving around, I could distract myself from any mistakes or flaws. My mindset was, “If you keep moving, no one will notice any imperfections.”

Alcohol eventually became a coping mechanism for my fear of performing on stage. For many band members, it became a habit and a pre-show ritual. Eventually, I became unable to perform without it, which can be dangerous. What started as a fun activity turned into a realization a few years ago that performing while under the influence of alcohol was hindering my abilities and causing problems. It’s a delicate balance – people want you to have a rock’n’roll image, but not be too wild. Now, I have stopped relying on alcohol before going on stage. However, we do have a disco before performing, where we blast songs with dance routines in the lyrics, such as Black Lace’s “Superman.”

Bypass the advertisement for the newsletter.

We were constantly seeking ways to increase the band’s recognition, so when I had the opportunity to participate in The Voice, I decided to take it. The level of fame that came with it was unfamiliar to me. I even had a tabloid reporter go through my trash. While others may have been concerned about potentially finding something illegal, like drug-related items, I was more worried about them discovering my poor recycling habits. I was genuinely afraid that they would publish a story titled: “Exclusive: Ricky Wilson doesn’t properly clean out his yogurt containers!”

During the height of tabloid frenzy, I was pursued by a paparazzo on a motor scooter while on my way to the airport. Years later, I ran into the same paparazzo while strolling through Soho. He exclaimed, “Hey! I was the one on the scooter!” I offered to take a picture with him, but he declined. Fame is fleeting and only lasts as long as one remains in the spotlight. The day after the final episode of The Voice aired, my life returned to its usual state.

I now have two children who are almost two years old. The only skill I have brought from my time in a band to parenting is the ability to sleep anywhere. My wife, Grace, is envious of that. Even in stressful situations, like being in a hospital, I am able to fall asleep in an uncomfortable chair. In the 2000s, we worked tirelessly and traveled constantly – so much so that Nick Hodgson (who left the band in 2012) once tried to unbuckle his seatbelt at a restaurant, thinking he was on a plane. It was exhausting and I wouldn’t be able to do it now, but it prepared me well for being a father.

The twins have a habit of putting things on their heads, which is always amusing, though it may be a yet-to-be-diagnosed compulsion.

Source: theguardian.com

You May Also Like

More From Author