Still in the game

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music -

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.’’

CAMERON ADAMS

STRANGELAND

Out now ( Univer­sal)

TOP FIVE: Keane’s lat­est al­bum is their fifth chart- topper.

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