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How Batman inspired Kasabian side project



Sergio PizzornoImage copyright
Aitor Throup

As 21st Century rock ‘n’ roll names go, they don’t come much bigger in the UK than Serge Pizzorno.

Over the past 15 years his tub-thumping band Kasabian have been selling out stadiums and headlining festivals like Glastonbury.

The guitarist/singer’s name has also been synonymous with wonder goals at Soccer Aid and on Soccer Am.

For his first foray into the solo world, however, Pizzorno felt his given birth name in full just “didn’t feel right”, so while his band are taking a year off, he’s now operating alone under the new moniker The S.L.P. [Sergio Lorenzo Pizzorno]

“It almost felt like it would be good if I was starting a new fashion line,” laughs Pizzorno, “like Georgio Armani or something.

“I thought the initials would be a better place to start.

“I also like Biggie Smalls, the B.I.G. – you know what I mean? The S.L.P, I was into that.”

“The dot after the P is very important if you’re gonna write it,” he stresses.

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There’s more to the re-name than meets the eye though, it seems.

As well as being a nod to a famous late rapper, Pizzorno claims his latest incarnation allows him chance to free himself from the shackles of his day job – running a massive dance-rock “machine” – and explore a different side his personality, with a whole new short-haired look to boot.

Much like his favourite superhero.

“There’s three songs on the record called Meanwhile…” he explains, “Meanwhile in Genoa, Meanwhile… The Welcome Break… and Meanwhile… In the Silent Nowhere – that’s the start middle and end of the album.

“I’ve always loved that, he’s Bruce Wayne, meanwhile… he’s Batman, in the Batcave!

“In everyday life he’s got his suit on and behind what we don’t see is that he’s this thing, this alter ego.

“So I just thought you’ve got ‘Serge’, whatever that means, and meanwhile there’s The S.L.P.”

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Carsten Windhorst

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Sergio Pizzorno (l) and Noel Fielding introduce the former’s new persona to the world

He adds: “It felt like OK, I’ve got a starting point and for me making music, I need a start point, I need a reason to do it.

“I’m not doing it to knock out cheese burgers and make profit, I’m into it to blow my own mind.”

Pizzorno debuted tracks from his forthcoming debut solo album at a central London Q & A, alongside his friend, comedian and sometimes collaborator Noel Fielding.

One of Fielding’s own alter egos – aside from baking cakes and cooking up surreal comedy – is portraying Vlad the Impaler, a character from one of Pizzorno’s band’s songs, at some live shows.

Fielding described his friend as “one of the best songwriters we’ve got,” adding, “we should celebrate him.”

‘Self portrait’

The 38-year-old musician from Leicester views the record as “an updated self-portrait” and a chance to take stock of who he really is, where he’s been and where he’s headed.

His band have had five consecutive UK number one albums, with Pizzorno acting as the main songwriter and creative force.

“You get so far doing it and you just forget,” he says, sipping a suitably rock ‘n’ roll-named cocktail – Crossfire Hurricane.

“You go ‘oh that’s what I do now’, and some mornings you wake up and go ‘I don’t know if I wanna do that anymore’. Everyone does it, you do it.

“It’s that thing of going ‘man, remember when it wasn’t about that?’

“So now I can ask whatever I want, I can go into a studio and don’t have to think about headlining a festival, or getting it on the radio or all the things that creep in.

“There’s a freedom to it, it can be whatever it wants to be and that is exciting.”

The first thing ‘it’ became was a collaboration, (thanks to a mutual friend) with one of the hottest rappers in the UK, Little Simz on lead single, Favourites.

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Getty Images

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“Hi it’s Batman, get me Little Simz ASAP.”

The genre-bending track, which was Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on Radio 1 earlier this year, tackles a subject that barely existed when Kasabian began – the stress of online mobile phone dating apps.

“I was sat in a boozer with my wife,” he recalls, “and we saw these girls flicking through, going ‘he’s my favourite,’ and I was like ‘I’m writing that down, I love that.’

“It just got me thinking about the real you. What we put out to the world, especially online, is a heightened vision of yourself and the perfect version of you, but the reality is we’re all sat at home panicking like hell about everything!

“I needed someone to buzz off and Simz, she’s the best. So I sent her the track on email and told her what it was about and she loved it.

“It’s this back and forth between this couple on a date and in their heads this voice is screaming out ‘if you only knew the real me!’ but then they can’t give that away.

“She came down to the studio, we sat down and she penned it on an iPhone.”

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Getty Images

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Little Simz (l) and Serge and Tom from Kasabian

The re-branded Pizzorno is currently putting together a band for some Dave Byrne/Talking Heads-inspired theatrical live dates, which he promises will also include some more intimate solo moments.

“I don’t want it to be like Kasabian” declares Pizzorno, who adds that his record – sonically speaking – goes “from Ibiza to Nigeria to… I dunno… Croydon”.

And as he begins his musical metamorphosis into his own version of Batman, he does so with the full blessing of the man who has been his Robin for all these years (or vice versa) – Kasabian singer, Tom Meighan

“Tom? He loves it. He’s my favourite bro!”

Sergio Pizzorno’s debut solo album The S.L.P. is out later this year

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From Brexit to Britten – John Humphrys gets weekly Classic FM show




John Humphrys in the Today studio

John Humphrys will go from grilling politicians to toasting composers after landing a weekly Classic FM show.

The presenter will “share his own stories and reflections on his favourite composers and their music” in a Sunday afternoon slot from 5 January.

Humphrys was known for interrogating political figures on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme until his departure in September after 32 years on the show.

“It’s proof positive that there really is a life after politics,” he said.

“And a rather more inspiring one at that.”

The 76-year-old was given the Classic FM job after sitting in as a guest host on the station’s breakfast show for a week in October.

Classic FM senior managing editor Sam Jackson said there had been a “hugely positive reaction” to Humphrys’ stint.

The move comes despite the fact Humphrys told BBC News two weeks after leaving Today that he had no plans to go back to broadcasting.

“I don’t feel any need to get back in front of a microphone or indeed a camera,” he said. “Perhaps I will, but at the moment no I don’t.”

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Media captionJohn Humphrys: “I don’t feel any need to get back in front of a microphone or indeed a camera”

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Nicky Campbell pays tribute to ‘wonderful mum’




Nicky Campbell and his mother Sheila

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Nicky Campbell, pictured with his mother Sheila: “She was my adoptive mum. She was my real mum”

BBC Radio 5 Live’s Nicky Campbell has written a heartfelt tribute to his “wonderful” mother Sheila, who has died at the age of 96.

Along with her husband, Frank Campbell, she adopted Nicky as a four-day-old baby in 1961.

Sheila Campbell, a World War Two radar operator who became a social worker, was part of Nicky’s 2007 episode of BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are?

She also spoke about being a radar operator on BBC Radio 5 Live in June.

“The day she and Dad adopted me was the day I won the lottery,” he tweeted.

Campbell, who missed presenting Thursday’s edition of 5 Live Breakfast, added that Sheila “doted on her grandchildren and my girls completely adored her. Everyone did.”

His co-host Rachel Burden choked up as she prepared to read out the statement before handing over to her co-host Geoff Lloyd.

Burden then added: “I knew her in the course of my friendship with Nicky developing over the years. She was an incredible woman and I feel really, really privileged to have known her.

“Nicky will be back at work tomorrow because, as he says, his mum would have said, ‘Of course you should be working, it’s the general election results day.’

“So he will be here tomorrow. And we just all want to send all our thoughts on to Nicky and the girls and Tina and all his family today. You’re very, very much in our thoughts.”

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Media captionThis clip is originally from 5 Live Breakfast on Tuesday 5 June 2019.

Earlier this year, Sheila spoke to Campbell on 5 Live Breakfast to talk about her role in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during World War Two. She was presented with a medal of service for her work in 2017.

Stationed at Beachy Head, she helped to guide RAF planes to their targets during the D-Day campaign.

She was proud to have played a part in the invasion, but said she would spend the 75th anniversary “thinking a lot about the lives that were lost on the beaches, and at that time”.

‘So proud’ of his family

Who Do You Think You Are? saw Campbell investigate the roots of his Scottish family, especially his adoptive father Frank, who died in 1996.

He discovered more about his father’s time serving with the Indian army during World War Two – fighting Japanese troops in what has come to be known as “the forgotten war” – and had some shocking revelations about his grandfather’s childhood.

Summing up the experience, he said: “I’m so proud of this extraordinary family I was adopted into. All the stories I’ve heard somehow all contributed to making my dad the most wonderful dad that I could have had.

“It couldn’t have been for me more fascinating, revealing and enlightening. A family of which I am so proud and a dad of which I’m so proud. I just wish he were here to share it.”

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BBC Sound of 2020: Who’s on the longlist?




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Media captionWatch clips of all 10 nominees on the longlist

A selection of bedroom musicians, indie bands and retro-futuristic soul singers are being tipped for success on BBC Music’s Sound of 2020 list.

The longlist features 10 rising acts, from punk-pop firebrand Yungblud to soul-baring songwriter Celeste.

Other nominees include DIY musician Beabadoobee, who is signed to the same management company as The 1975; and Dublin rock band Inhaler, fronted by Bono’s son Elijah Hewson.

The winner will be revealed in January.

Now in its 18th year, the Sound of… list showcases the hottest new artists for the coming year. Past winners includes Adele, Sam Smith, Years & Years, 50 Cent, Sigrid and, earlier this year, Octavian.

It is voted for by 170 music critics, broadcasters and DJs, as well as former nominees such as Billie Eilish, Lewis Capaldi and Chvrches.

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Celeste has been hotly tipped following the success of her heart-rending single Strange

The 2020 selection sees a retreat from grime and UK rap, which had established a strong presence on the list over the last five years.

In their place are a clutch of female artists who represent the rise of British R&B – from the sweet-but-gritty sounds of Joy Crookes to the soulful poetry of Arlo Parks.

But the one to beat is Celeste, a “shy singer with a star’s voice”, who has already won the Brits’ Rising Star award and been named BBC Music Introducing’s artist of the year.

BBC Music Sound of 2020
Artist Who are they? Key track
Arlo Parks Soulful poet unpicking the anxieties of a generation Cola
Beabadoobee Dreamy, lo-fi bedroom pop If You Want To
Celeste Timeless soul to tug at your heartstrings Strange
Easy Life Genre-bending indie-funk quintet Nightmares
Georgia One-woman dance machine About Work The Dancefloor
Inhaler Shimmering, atmospheric rock anthems My Honest Face
Joesef Self-confessed “emotional sad boy” from Glasgow Play Me Something Nice
Joy Crookes South London stories filled with wit and romance Don’t Let Me Down
Squid Multi-tentacled art-rock polymaths Houseplants
Yungblud Hypersonic emo-pop for the “underrated youth” Original Me

Hailing from Dublin, Inhaler have built an impressive live following since forming at school over a shared love of bands like Joy Division, The Strokes, The Stone Roses and The Cure.

Once you know the U2 connection, it’s hard not to the similarities between Eli Hewson’s soaring vocals and those of his father – but the band have worked hard to stand on their own two feet.

“For me and for us as a band, we’ve known that there’s going to be doors open,” Hewson told the NME. “But those doors will shut just as fast as they open if we’re not good.”

They’re not the only act on the longlist with famous connections. Georgia, who scored a major club hit this year with About Work The Dancefloor, is the daughter of Leftfield’s Neil Barnes, while Yungblud is the grandson of Rick Harrison, who played with T Rex in the 1970s.

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Yungblud has built up a huge following with singles like Original Me and 11 Minutes

The Doncaster-born singer is the most high-profile name on the 2020 longlist, with 11 million monthly listeners on Spotify – more than all the other artists combined.

Born Dominic Harrison, the 22-year-old has positioned himself as the voice of a generation, singing about topics like sexual assault, corporate greed, anxiety and “the underrated youth”.

“I never want to be predictable,” he told the BBC earlier this year. “If people know what I’m going to do next, then I’m completely shafted.”

Sensitive singer-songwriter Joesef, meanwhile, has been branded one to watch in Scotland – where he became the second artist to sell out Glasgow’s legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut before releasing any music online (the first was Lewis Capaldi).

The longlist is completed by two bands who defy categorisation – Leicester quintet Easy Life, who started out as jazz musicians before exploring the outer reaches of hip-hop, funk and pop; and Brighton’s Squid, who describe their music as “the Coronation Street theme tune played on flutes by angry children”.

The annual Sound of list celebrates musicians who have not been the lead artist on a UK top 10 single or album by 21 October 2019. Artists who have appeared on TV talent shows within the last three years are also ineligible.

The top five will be revealed in the New Year on BBC Radio 1 and BBC News, with one artist announced each day from Sunday 5 January until the winner is unveiled on Thursday 9 January.

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