By Alastair Himmer
British band Kasabian have the local bomb squad's number on speed dial, but the new kings of "lad rock" insist their hell-raising days are behind them.
Short-listed for the prestigious Mercury Prize after their third album, "West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum," recently topped the charts, the psychedelic rockers flatly reject comparisons to another, globally successful all-male British band that also has its fair share of awards: Oasis.
"People say we're going to be the new Oasis -- but we're not," Kasabian vocalist Tom Meighan told Reuters during a recent trip to Tokyo.
"There is no new Oasis. We can't be Oasis because they've done it. Oasis were giants in the '90s. It's nice when people say it, but they're kind of missing the point."
Kasabian supported Oasis in a series of stadium shows in Britain over the summer before flying to Japan to perform at the Summer Sonic music festival, but Meighan said this was for the band's own good.
"We played in front of almost a million people in three weeks," said the 28-year-old. "The record was just out, so it's the best promotion you can get. You do it, don't you?"
Meighan admitted Kasabian used to be "terrors" on tour and trouble has sought them out in unusual ways: guitarist Sergio Pizzorno found a live World War Two grenade in his garden.
But now Meighan believes the band has grown up, with the critically acclaimed "West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum" marking a turning point for the musicians who hail from Leicester, England.
"We've gone against everything we've ever done," said Meighan, who is dressed up as Napolean on the album's '60s-inspired cover photo.
"I suppose we've grown up a lot and we've not gone for the fierce Kasabian as you know us. We've still got that aggressive edge, but it's just simmered down a bit," he said.
"This is more stripped down. We totally went against everything that any band would probably have the balls to do. 'West Ryder' could have flopped, but it didn't."
Meighan is understandably thrilled to be nominated for the Mercury Prize, awarded to the best album from Britain or Ireland.
"We're favorites to win it, and when you cross over that territory, that's proper left-field listening music," he said.
"It's weird for a lad rock band to cross over. But there are some great moments on that album."
But the band is not worried the accolade will dull their edgy sound. "That can't happen," Meighan said. "We're the most underground commercial band I think ever."