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Interview: Far Out gets up close with Keane's Tom Chaplin

I was lucky enough to talk to Tom Chaplin, the lead singer of the beloved British band Keane, who after already creating four UK number one hit albums, are hoping to receive similar success with their new album Cause and Effect out on the 20th September.

The band garnered much of their acclaim during the 00’s as the indie bubble grew with the housing market. While the housing bubble may have burst unceremoniously, Keane’s fanbase is as loyal as ever even with Chaplin taking on solo work intermittently. The new record however is set to take the band in a more honest, raw and brave direction. We caught up with Chaplin to see what’s in store.

How have you found being back together as a band?

It’s certainly been a fun experiment! We’ve managed to pack in as many festivals as possible over the summer, the response of the fans has been lovely. You do fear that if you go away for a long period of time that people will forget who you are. But it’s great seeing that those people out there who’ve loved Keane’s music haven’t gone away.

Are any of the band members inspired by other forms of media because to me your songs sound like movie underscores?

“Yeah, it’s interesting, I remember right from the very start when we first got a record deal and we were talking about how to go about presenting the music that was the word that kept coming up, that the music is very filmic. It’s always had a sort of epic quality and I think it’s also down to Tim writing the songs to show the power of my voice. But also I think, like a lot of British men, we’re not very good at expressing our emotions but we’ve discovered that music is a great vehicle for us to open up and it’s always been at the heart of the songs.”

Did you find that the songwriting process when you were creating your solo album The Wave has helped you open up emotionally?

“At that time I was still in the bout of my problems with addiction and my mental health suffered greatly so I was forced into becoming much more of an open person. That’s the only antidote really to those problems is to be able to talk about them with another human being. And then with the solo album it was so confessional and raw that it didn’t really feel that hard then to talk to journalists and go on stage and talk to audiences. With ‘Cause and Effect’ at the same time that I was going through all my problems with addiction and it was all coming to a head, I guess Tim’s life was in a bit of a freefall really with his marital breakdown. So the songs document that in a very honest way. Because more than any other Keane record that we’ve made, I think this one is the most bare, raw and direct.”

Can you explain to me the journey of Keane as a band, how has that changed from your first few years starting out compared to now?

“Ahh massively! It’s been a lifelong journey. I think it’s quite unusual cause obviously we’re not a family like the Gallagher’s, but we did have a strong bond. Tim’s Mum and Dad are my godparents, we grew up in the same town and I remember Tim writing songs when I was six years old.

Then obviously my singing developed when we were teenagers and then we were like right let’s form a band. It was all just like a bit of a crazy dream, it’s been a part of our lives for 25-30 years, so it’s a very long journey. I would describe it as a slow start with a frustrating beginning. We struggled for a long time to try and find our inner voice musically whether that was the songwriting, my singing or how we would present ourselves. So that took a lot of time and a lot of knockbacks. And just all at the same time it randomly fell into place after a lot of hard work. I think the journey from then has just been about trying to find the right things to write about, that we felt energised creatively by. “

I was listening to ‘I Need Your Love’ from the new album which included a lot of lyrics about ache and hunger, where do you get your ambition to express yourself musically?

“It’s interesting isn’t it because I think you can treat music like a job but it becomes very boring very quickly if you do that. It’s an art form that you have to be inspired by, I kind of feel like I just want to go where the energy is. For example with The Wave I had so much to write about, it had been such a massive change in my life in the depths of despair with my addiction and trying to find a way out of it, it felt like such a rich scene to tap into that the album kind of wrote itself. ”

“After my Christmas album, I sat down and I didn’t really know what to write about, I felt quite content and that’s a hard place to write from. But at the same time, that Christmas was when Tim and I got back together and suddenly I knew that the creative energy was with Tim’s songs and experiences. Focusing on the new record was very exciting and also rediscovering the old songs was too. I’ve found that working with Keane has fired me up to do more of my own writing. ”

While we wait for the new album to drop on September 20th we’re reminded that a band with such a historic amount of success as Keane has had can still hold emotions and expressions to explore for any willing music fan. Perhaps even more so.

Keep your eyes peeled to see if Cause and Effect is Keane’s best album yet.

Amy Clarke