Ricky Wilson on why he’d tell his younger self to not worry so much about what people think

Ricky Wilson on why he’d tell his younger self to not worry so much about what people think
Liz Connor chats to Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson about life off-stage.

Ricky Wilson found fame on the Noughties indie scene as frontman of Leeds-based band Kaiser Chiefs

The catchy five-piece outfit, whose hits include Ruby and I Predict A Riot, have enjoyed platinum album success, won three Brit awards and still sell out arenas when touring.

Now he’s lending his creative talents to a new cause, creating a large-scale sustainable art piece made from recyclable materials in collaboration with dairy-free milk substitute Arla LactoFREE (arlafoods.co.uk).

We caught up with the Yorkshire rocker to chat health, fitness and the small joys that make him happy…

How has your attitude to health and fitness changed over the past few decades?

“You start out in a band and you’re young, fit and you can bounce back from anything; there’s no such thing as a hangover and you’re indestructible. Then, when you’re in the same job for a while, you can’t do what you used to be able to do before – you have to balance the books. It’s not so much about hitting the gym in order to become an Adonis, it’s more about making sure everything’s working.

“We were never a boyband, so I don’t think we desperately needed to have abs. We took off, travelled the world, ate a load of junk [food] and drank every day. You come home late, look tired and don’t feel the best, which affects the work you’re doing.

The Kaiser Chiefs arrive for the annual Nationwide Mercury Prize in 2005 (Steve Parsons/PA)

“By the time I got to 35 I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something about this’, so I started running. I haven’t joined the gym because I’m from the north of England and I’m extremely tight, and I don’t like people telling me what to do. But now, I now run every day and I love it.”

You recently got married to your girlfriend of six years, Grace Zito, how was that?

“We didn’t want the cloak of Covid to be smothering the celebrations, but it kept getting pushed back so eventually we said, ‘Let’s just do it’.

“We decided to have 20 members of the family and it was the best thing we ever did. There were lots of things missing, like church bells and singing and lots of friends, but for all the things that were missing, it was made up by what we got in return – which was that it was a brilliant day.

“I recommend a small wedding. You remember the day better because you’re not spending five minutes with 150 people.”

When do you think you’re at your happiest?

“When I wake up before the alarm goes off.”

If you could go back and give your younger self any advice, what would it be?

“If it was me 10 years ago, I’d say, ‘Don’t be as concerned about what people think.’ When you start worrying about what people think, you start making the wrong decisions, because you’re making them for other people and not for yourself.

Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson arrives for the Brit Awards 2007 (Ian West/PA)

“When I did The Voice, it felt like the biggest decision in the world, but it should have been an easy decision to make. I didn’t want to do it in case people criticised me, but if you don’t do anything, then that’s worse. It really opened the door to me just saying, ‘Yes’ to things that terrified me, or the things I wanted to do but wasn’t sure how they’d come across.

“Not doing anything is far more destructive though, whether you do it well or not.”

As you’ve gotten older, do you feel like you care less about what people think?

“No, I still care about what people think. I haven’t been able to shake that, it’s just that now I know people are always going to think stuff, so it’s kind of inevitable.

“Now I think, if people are going to think stuff about you, then it’s better to give them something to think about.”

Ricky Wilson is helping Arla LactoFREE launch its new planet friendlier carton, made from 100% renewable materials. Find out more about the new carton, and Arla’s commitment to sustainability at arlafoods.co.uk.


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