Feature: Jack Foley
THEY pride themselves on being the band without guitars
and their single, Somewhere Only We Know, has placed them
on the cusp of becoming the next big things to hit the Britishs
Keane, who are comprised of Tom Chaplin (vocals), Tim Rice-Oxley
(piano) and Richard Hughes (drums) are due to realise their latest
single, Everybodys Changing, on 3, and their debut
album, Hopes and Fears, on May 10.
It is a far cry from their early days, when they formed in 1997,
while still at a Hastings secondary school.
It wasnt until 2002, however, following several years
of experimenting and honing their sound, that the band decided
they needed to get out and play live.
They subsequently booked two acoustic gigs - one at the 12 Bar
Club, another at the Betsey Trotwood -and were quickly spotted
by Fierce Panda mini-mogul, Simon Williams, who asked Keane to
put out a single on his label.
They chose Everybodys Changing, a sweeping ode to
feeling utterly lost when everyone else seems to know the score,
which was recorded for zero pence.
"The recording session was a little rough and ready
the song was literally made in a room in someones house,"
Tom laughs. "And we had to go round to a different house
to mix it, because the speakers broke."
Despite its humble beginnings, the track did enough to turn heads
within the industry, with Radio 1 Dj, Steve Lamacq, declaring
it to be one of the best singles in Fierce Pandas entire
history not bad for a label, which housed early releases
from Coldplay, Idlewild and Supergrass.
He described Keane as being somewhere between a scuffed
Coldplay and a frankly bewildered Beautiful South, hammering
the single on his show and eventually calling the band in for
a session on BBC 6Music.
Xfm got on the case, too, with Clare Sturgess requesting a session
from the band, while a Sunday Times profile noted that Keane were
responsible for three and a half minutes of pure pop loveliness.
The ensuing media frenzy and subsequent hype surrounding them
has come as something of a surprise, but is born out of the strong
song-writing that has quickly become synonymous with the band.
"Our songs have universal themes and are emotional,"
Tim nods. "People want emotion. But that seems like quite
a rare thing these days. I dont think there are many bands
who are making music which actually means anything. Theres
nothing to identify with."
Having secured radio air-play, and strong press notices, Keanes
first UK tour saw the trio performing at venues up and down the
country, to audiences of between five and 300 people.
They didnt look like many other bands there was
no guitarist, a factor which might send some purists screaming
into the hills but, Richard says, really wasnt a conscious
By the time Spring 2003 rolled around, the boys were out on the
road again, and labels were already putting offers on the table.
"All we were after was the opportunity to make the right
record with the right people," Tom shrugs which is
where Island stepped in.
"Weve never wanted to be a small, cult band,"
he added. "We want to get our music heard by as many people
as we possibly can, because thats why were making
As part of this process, the band threw in a startling appearance
in the New Bands tent at the Reading and Leeds Carling Weekend,
and won yet more plaudits for the second fierce panda release,
This Is The Last Time.
Needless to say, 2004 has seen their profile rise significantly
- but with a certain humility that stands them apart from the
likes of The Darkness.
The February release of Somewhere Only We Know, their
debut single for Island, crashed into the charts at No 3, and
immediately drew comparisons with all the bands whove ever
meant anything to anyone.
And its all coming together nicely.
"People often say that they wish theyd been around
in the 60s," Tom says. "But were happy just where
we are. We love rocks back catalogue, and now weve
got a chance to add to it. After all, tunes never go out of fashion."