IF the last Kaiser Chiefs album, Education Education Education & War, was their protest album, the new one, Stay Together, is their relationship album.

Produced by Brian Higgins, who has worked with the likes of Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys and New Order, it's the sixth album from the band, and a change of direction. It's described as "spiky" and "surprisingly romantic".

"We generally tend to kick against what we did before; this time we thought we'd have a crack at love songs. It's not something we've really done before," says bassist Simon Rix.

Parachute, the first single from the album, released in the summer, was described by Ricky Wilson as "probably the first love song we’ve written since Ruby”.

Simon says Stay Together was more collaborative than previous albums. “We had no ideas, no focus. Songs were heavy or light, moody or bright and breezy," he says. "When Brian came he was like our sixth member, jamming with us and picking stuff out.

"It was as if each song was a problem in need of a solution. Brian would continue and continue until he found the answer.” This was particularly true, he adds, on Parachute. “The song, as far as we were concerned, was finished. But it was a ballad. Nobody picked it as the first single but Brian was determined that it was a great song. Next thing you know he’s dug out some drum patterns I’d been working on for another song, and Parachute has suddenly got four-to-the-floor drums.”

It's an album built on foundations of traditional musicianship - hours of jamming, resulting in four solid days of music which Brian drew on throughout subsequent sessions. “It was like having a second brain: a hard drive of stuff you didn’t even realise was good,” Simon adds. “That’s the most jamming we’ve ever done. In some ways this is our most produced album, but at its heart it’s perhaps our most live one.”

The sense of spontaneity continued throughout the sessions. “It did our head in at times, but Higgins wanted everything to be last-minute,” Simon laughs. “Before each session he’d only send us ideas at the very last minute, because he wanted us to be instinctive.”

The video for new single Hole in My Soul was shot at Knockhill National Motorsports Centre in Scotland and sees the band racing in pimped-out Kaiser Chief liveried Honda Civic Type Rs. "I don't normally like doing videos, but that was cool," says Simon.

It has been 12 years since Kaiser Chiefs burst onto the music scene with Oh My God, kickstarting an impressive run of hits that includes I Predict A Riot, Everyday I Love You Less And Less, Never Miss A Beat and Number 1 single Ruby. Mercury-nominated debut album Employment propelled the band to three Brit Awards wins and its successor, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, went twice-platinum.

They remain solid, despite the departure of founding member Nick Hodgson. The band’s fifth album, Education, Education, Education and War became their first Number 1 in seven years, as well as their first Number One in New Zealand and the highest-charting of their career in the US.

"We've known each other for years and we're together all the time, but we still make each other laugh. There's a lot to be said for that," says Simon. "We don't take ourselves too seriously."

It was at St Mary's Secondary School in Menston that the seeds of Kaiser Chiefs were sown, with Simon, former drummer Nick Hodgson and keyboard player Nick 'Peanut' Baines.

As a child, Simon played drum and bass at Guiseley Music Centre, where his grandfather was once headteacher, and later joined his dad in a band. His grandparents ran a singing group in Yeadon. "Most kids at the music centre played flute but they let me be in a band, playing Hendrix covers. You need that encouragement," says Simon, 38, whose mother is a former deputy headteacher at St Joseph's College, Manningham.

"Quite a few of my family are far better musicians than me, but I was the only one 'stupid' enough to pursue the band thing."

* Kaiser Chiefs are touring next year and are at Leeds First Direct Arena on March 4, 2017. Call 0844 811 0051.