Ricky Wilson, the lead singer of the Kaiser Chiefs, did not want me to print his e-mail, as you can tell by reading his missive below.
But I thought it was important. I asked him for permission, and he relented.
We live in changing times, and we’re most interested in those who try new things, who take risks. And the Kaiser Chiefs are doing that.
I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mail about this and I thought it best to hear the story from the horse’s mouth.
Ricky was anxious, worried about how he came across, but the sheer honesty was riveting, it gives you insight into the mind of the creator.
And in this modern era, where there is no barrier between act and fan, why should you hear the story from a middleman, who too often gets the facts wrong, never mind the nuances.
So, unedited, here is the original e-mail:
Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs here. You well? Good.
We had this idea about a year ago. We wanted to do something a bit different for our 4th album. We also wanted to do something that involved the fans a bit more than usual. Take a look: www.kaiserchiefs.com Thought you might be interested to see where we’ve ended up, and to be honest we’d love to get your thoughts on it all.
To start with we thought it’d be great if everybody had their own unique album. You know, not just the music but the artwork too. That sort of rules out a physical release as it was going to cost a fortune to print and burn each one. It would have been a New Order ‘Blue Monday’ all over again.
I think we actually had a giant robot painting the album sleeves in a warehouse in our early plans. That was met with a lot of frowns at the label. So yeah, it’s a digital release.
What we did is record 20 tracks and people can pick 10 of them, in any order they like. It’s all done through a website. We had objects built that represent each song and you sort of wire them up to a machine to make your album. Then we got an artist to do an oil painting of each of those objects which people can use to piece together their artwork. So it’s a very tactile and old-fashioned looking way of making a digital album made up of computer data.
It’s £7.50 to buy. Seems fair to us. But we wanted to try something a bit different with that too. Now here’s our favourite bit (also the most unbelievably complex thing to build).
Once you’ve bought your album, you can sell it on. For every album you sell, we’ll give you a pound (or a dollar in your case). We’re giving people posters, banner adverts, a website, Facebook tools etc. etc. All to help them sell these albums. If you sell 8 you make a profit.
We’re quite excited about this. Why not make an album yourself? We wanted to reward the fans for being our fans and thought this could be nice.
We just sold all our tickets for our first two gigs exclusively on our facebook page, which worked a treat and we’re going to be getting fans to use Facebook polls to help us pick set-lists and stuff. God knows if it’ll work.
We’ve used a load of our own money to hire some really clever people to build the site and market it so we’re hopeful.
This definitely isn’t some sort of two-fingers-to-the-system thing. In fact our label Fiction have been very supportive.
It’s not supposed to be a massive statement to the world or a fight against anything. It was just fun and we needed that to be honest.
After three albums you need to shake things up a bit we think it’s led to our best ever music. I just wanted to draw your attention to it. I’d be over the moon if you made an album or talked about it, but I’d rather you didn’t publish this letter as I’ve been slightly more candid about the process than I would normally be in the public domain. I really respect your opinion on such matters and look forward to hearing back from you.
This was sent from Ricky’s BlackBerry. Amazing typing! It was one big paragraph, I broke it down into multiple paragraphs to enhance readability.