Still in the game
BRITISH band Keane recently had their fifth album Strangeland debut at No. 1 in their homeland, notching up their fifth consecutive chart- topper.
Only one other act has beaten that feat with their first five releases – The Beatles.
Keane pianist and songwriter Tim Rice- Oxley still feels awkward in such company, but appreciates what it represents.
‘‘ It is harder and harder to keep people’s interest. That’s the nature of pop music,’’ he says.
‘‘ It moves so fast. The fact people are still listening is very flattering.
‘‘ We still feel like we’re just starting out. Then you realise all the people you started out with have either split up or haven’t been making much music. It’s terrifying how quickly things change – we feel lucky we’re still in the game, really.’’ Keane’s 2004 debut, Hopes
and Fears, arrived in the middle of Coldplay mania. It has sold six million copies and the anthemic single Somewhere Only We Know continues to be covered on reality TV shows. The 2006 follow- up Under the
Iron Sea consolidated their arena status.
Third album Perfect Symmetry continued their UK success but Keane singer Tom Chaplin now calls it ‘‘ self- indulgent’’.
‘‘ I wouldn’t use that phrase myself,’’ Rice- Oxley says.
‘‘ My problem with it is it’s not accessible enough. The songs are very emotional and powerful but the sound of the record is a bit plastic- y in places.
‘‘ It doesn’t support the songs emotionally enough.
‘‘ We were aiming for something which we achieved on some songs and didn’t quite get there on other songs. That’s the nature of being in a band, always trying new things.’’
After an EP, Night Train, featuring a surprise collaboration with rapper K’Naan, Rice- Oxley took a break, forming a countrytinged side project called Mount Desolation with bassist Jesse Quin, who is now officially the fourth member of Keane.
‘‘ It kind of happened by osmosis,’’ Rice- Oxley says.
‘‘ Before we knew it he was doing all the same things we were but his status hadn’t been upgraded, as it were.
‘‘ We wanted people to know he was a big part of the band, so we
had to do it properly. Now we all know where we stand, Jesse knows he can contribute more rather than being like a session musician. He’s really added a lot to this album.’’
Strangeland’s British success helps cancel out the usual negative reviews. Rice- Oxley is used to Keane- bashing.
‘‘ You have to shrug it off and hope that the actual music fans who have to put their hands in the pocket and pay for the record fall in love with the songs,’’ he says.
‘‘ This a much more emotionally complex and mature record.
‘‘ It’s not like there’s a plan with Keane. We’re such amateurs. But if we thought we were just remaking the first album again we’d feel depressed.’’
Out now ( Universal)
TOP FIVE: Keane’s latest album is their fifth chart- topper.