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Keane - All we were after was the opportunity to make the right record with the right people...


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 British’s music industry.

Keane, who are comprised of Tom Chaplin (vocals), Tim Rice-Oxley (piano) and Richard Hughes (drums) are due to realise their latest single, Everybody’s 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 wasn’t 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 Everybody’s 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 someone’s 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 Panda’s 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 don’t think there are many bands who are making music which actually means anything. There’s nothing to identify with."

Having secured radio air-play, and strong press notices, Keane’s first UK tour saw the trio performing at venues up and down the country, to audiences of between five and 300 people.

They didn’t look like many other bands – there was no guitarist, a factor which might send some purists screaming into the hills but, Richard says, really wasn’t a conscious decision.

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.

"We’ve 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 that’s why we’re making it."

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 who’ve ever meant anything to anyone.

And it’s all coming together nicely.

"People often say that they wish they’d been around in the 60s," Tom says. "But we’re happy just where we are. We love rock’s back catalogue, and now we’ve got a chance to add to it. After all, tunes never go out of fashion."

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