Gay Times May 10 - Issue 380
Darren Scott spends a few hours getting chatty with the lead singer of Keane
They say never meet your idols. Presumably, if “they” were being even more cautious they’d add “especially if you’ve been drinking”.
More from Gay Times May 10 - Issue 380
“I bumped into Sir Paul once. He lives down near where I do, I bumped into him on the high street. I was drunk at the time, he was coming out of the health food shop...”
A discussion with Keane frontman Tom Chaplin about performing at Abbey Road has led him to recall his first encounter with Paul McCartney.
“Apparently he’d been down – because everything gets around in my little town, who’s done what – to Woolworths and bought a copy of Hopes and Fears. The next time I saw him was on stage at Live 8, singing along to all our songs...”
He thinks for a moment and remembers that someone took a photo of McCartney and him together that he’s never managed to find. “I’d just love to get that photo,” he sighs. Let the hunt begin!
It’s nice to see Tom sober for a change. And when I say that, I mean the times that I’ve drunkenly accosted Keane’s lead singer. He chuckles at my part confession, part apology. It’s a career worth making the journey across a room to say (or slur) “you’re brilliant” though. The “piano rock” band have had three number one albums, won numerous awards – including two Brits and an Ivor Novello – and sold over 10 million records. Originally formed as a covers group called The Lotus Eaters in 1995 they dallied with the name Cherry Keane before losing their cherry in 1997. Tom dropped out of university in Edinburgh and moved to London with other band members Tim Rice-Oxley and Richard Hughes. It wasn’t until their debut album was released in 2004 though that the work finally paid off, spawning mammoth hits such as Somewhere Only We Know and Everybody’s Changing .
We talk for so long – at times it feels as though we’re putting the world to rights over coffee – that each point of referring to the band’s latest CD is followed by a swift “I’m going to get to that in a minute”. And when we finally do, I have to confess that Your Love – on which composer Tim puts in a very rare appearance on vocals instead of Tom – is my favourite track.
“Actually,” Tom considers, “I think it’s my favourite track off the EP.”
Officially classed as an EP, Night Train is practically an album. And there’s going to be a fourth ‘long player’, even if Tom has no idea what form it will take.
“I mean Night Train is quite eclectic and diverse as a body of work, partly just because it was written all over the place,” he says referring to the title honed from the EP being written on night trains while on tour. “I imagine the next album will be more cohesive but what form it will take on stylistically I think is for us to find out, that’s part of being in the know. That’s one of the lucky things about being in the band, you’re the first one to make that discovery. So long as it goes well and you’re not discovering human remains or something, you’re discovering a pot of gold at the bottom of a rainbow. God that’s a bad analogy.” He chuckles and waves a hand. “You know what I mean…”
When last we saw Keane in 2008, it was with the almost electro Perfect Symmetry – in part inspired by Tim having seen Prince play in London. “Out of that came a couple of unusually funky songs for Keane, songs like Spiralling and Better Than This...” Tom considers.
To read the full interview, pick up the May issue of GT out now, featuring interviews with Kesha, Goldfrapp, Boy George, Rufus, Sophie and a load of other music related amazingness