Kaiser Chiefs regroup and move on 

click to enlarge Kaiser Chiefs’ newest album is “Education, Education, Education & War.” - COURTESY DANNY NORTH
  • Kaiser Chiefs’ newest album is “Education, Education, Education & War.”
It wasn’t as if Ricky Wilson was resting on his laurels in his native England. But for several years after his Brit-Award-winning success with alt-rock’s Kaiser Chiefs in the mid-2000s, he was coasting.

Searching for a word to describe his mindset, he finally settles on “comfortable.” He says, “I got what I always wanted. I was in a rock and roll band, I was touring the world, I was happy, comfortable, lazy. I needed to get that hunger back. I needed something bad to happen.”

Wilson got his wish. He was jolted out of stasis when Nick Hodgson – his founding bandmate, key co-writer and childhood best friend – announced he was leaving the group.

Startled and feeling defeated at first, he reconnoitered, then rallied to record his hook-iest album to date, last year’s sneering socio-political commentary “Education, Education, Education & War.” The band also has a new single “Falling Awake,” which it will play in concert in The City this week.

“We didn’t set out to make a record that’s ‘now,’ but I think we’ve captured the mood of the moment,” he says.

But the comeback wasn’t easy. As Wilson recalls, “This is going to be hard work, an education, it’s going to be war. Because I don’t want to let go of being in a band.” With rekindled inspiration, he began writing punky treatises such as “Cannons,” “The Factory Gates” and “Ruffians on Parade.”

He felt like he was tracking the group’s hit 2005 debut “Employment” all over again. “Nick left a huge vacuum, but the four remaining members all stepped up and filled that space,” he says.

He also adopted a new, optimistic attitude. He would say yes to any interesting offer, from whatever source. He acted in films (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1”) and onstage (as The Artilleryman in auteur Jeff Wayne’s live recreation of his classic “The War of the Worlds” album).

He even became a coach on “The Voice U.K.,” alongside legendary Sir Tom Jones, who taught him to work hard for another shot at success. “There’s luck and timing involved, he told me, but you have to create that luck and timing,” he says.

In retrospect, Wilson is glad that he didn’t end up on “The Voice UK” as a groveling contestant – which could have happened.

He says, “[It ] made it more important to make this record the best one we ever made. If you take your art for granted? It can be taken away from you.”


Kaiser Chiefs

Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 9 p.m. April 24

Tickets: $27 to $30

Contact: (888) 929-7849, www.axs.com

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Tom Lanham

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