EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH RICHARD
For the latest in our regular chats with the band, we called up Richard on the eve of Keane’s departure for the Belgium for the first of the European shows.
Hello Richard. What are you up to?
Just had some breakfast!
What did you have?
I had some Fruit ‘n’ Fibre.
Is that something you swear by?
No, but it was available. I haven’t made my coffee yet and that is something I swear by. I’ve got one of these fancy coffee machines and I do sort of know how to use it. I’ve even got a bean grinder! One thing I definitely recommend is Monmouth Coffee Company coffee, from Monmouth Street in London. It’s amazing and if you ever go there, the smell in that place is just ridiculous.
So, did you enjoy the Koko show for the BBC?
It was great fun actually. It is fun doing those things, although it’s quite a lot of work getting that stuff together.
Did you have to do a lot of rehearsing with the extra musicians who joined you?
Yeah, we did two days of rehearsal with the different people but it was definitely worth it.
Are you excited about the European tour?
I am yeah. It feels like you start properly when you get on a bus. I think we’re old fashioned in that way – we’ve got quite a traditional rock band ethos; when you get on the bus that’s when the tour begins. I’ve enjoyed doing all the different things we’ve been doing, but I can’t wait for this European tour. Obviously we’ll play a longer set, so hopefully we’ll be able to break out a couple more songs from the new record and maybe some of the earlier ones that we haven’t been playing in the last couple of weeks. That’s going to be really fun.
Are you going to be on the bus the whole time?
We always try to minimize flying and that applies to this tour as well. So unless our manager decides that we’re going to go and do The Letterman Show or something in the middle of it, then we’re on the bus the whole time until we get to Portugal. I think we fly back from there but that’s the only flight.
Are there any shows in particular that you’re looking forward to?
I think we’ve played quite a few of the venues before, but the whole thing should be really good. The last time we played in Lisbon, at the Coliseu, it was at the start of the tour a good few years ago now. It was absolutely amazing. And we’re finishing up there this time. I’m anticipating that that will be a really celebratory show. But the tour should be great from start to finish.
Looking at the schedule, you finish the main part of the European tour then you get one day off then it’s the Little Noise Sessions then back out to Paris – it’s all go isn’t it?
Yeah, but that’s a good thing. I think we’d be worried if we weren’t doing lots of things. That’s why we played those last minute little gigs in the UK. We had a few days off and we were thinking we should be playing gigs – we should go and do some little shows.
And they were a lot of fun…
They were. They were really sweaty rock gigs. We played a short set of quick songs and got everyone going! It was very hot and intimate.
It must be fun to play smaller gigs.
Absolutely. It’s nice to be able to mix it up. You don’t rely on the smoke and mirrors of video and lighting. For those shows the lights were basically on or off. It was really good to do it that way.
Have you got any new tricks up your sleeves for the European dates?
Yeah we’ve got a few things on the way. Rob’s making a very cool new backdrop which we’ve come up with – it’s going to be exciting to see it. I think it’s going to be quite stunning.
Will you do a full run-through before Antwerp?
We get there first thing and I think we’ve got most of the day – but I don’t think we’ll do a full run through because we’ll be knackered. We’ll do whatever sound and lighting need. We’ll just be feeling our way I think.
Are there any places you’re particularly looking forward to going to?
I do like going up Scandinavia and the fact that it should be quite cold is actually quite nice – I like cold winter weather. It will be nice to be back in Berlin as well – someone asked me if we had something special planned for Berlin because that’s where we made a lot of the album and I was like, "Good idea!"
People have been asking about the T-shirt you wore on Jools Holland last week – is it something you want to talk about?
Yeah, come next week’s edition of Jools Holland, Troy Anthony Davis will have been executed unless enough people make enough noise to force the Georgia Parole Board to not execute him.
Can you give us a summary of his situation?
A white police officer was shot dead in a nightclub in 1989 and there was no physical evidence linking Troy Anthony Davis to it. But unfortunately he’s on death row and he’s due to be executed on Monday [tonight]. So if people go to Amnesty’s website there is a petition they can sign and there are some phone numbers on the Troy Anthony Davis website of places like the Georgia Parole Board and they do actually listen. I’ve spoken to a lot of people: representatives of Congressmen and Senators and the Governor. I think the more that these people are aware that their cases are being watched internationally and widely, the more pressure is brought to bear on them to actually do the right thing. That’s not to say they should let the guy out, but Amnesty International are saying they should give him a new trial because more evidence has come to light. But that was the weird thing about the Jools Holland show, thinking that this time next week Jools Holland will be back here doing his show and there’ll be another set of bands, but this guy will have been executed, which is very depressing.
For most Europeans it’s difficult to believe that execution still exists.
That is the one thing, probably, I don’t like about Obama. He is pro death penalty. And whilst I would rather that he was President than John McCain, I’m also slightly bemused by somebody who calls himself a democrat who still obviously believes it is the correct thing to do. I just think it’s a barbaric throwback to the middle ages.
Is there somewhere you would recommend people go to read more about Troy Anthony Davis’s case?
Try Amnesty International USA or his own website. [UPDATE: A court in Atlanta stayed the execution of Troy Antony Davis hours after our interview with Richard]
Moving back to Keane. You must be very pleased with how well the new album is doing so far.
Hugely, yeah. That’s three Number One records in the UK in a row which I imagine is really rare. We are very, very grateful to everyone who went out and bought it. We got a run down of where it was in charts and it’s amazing how far and wide music spreads. It’s incredibly cool. I think if there’s one thing that does unify people around the world it’s that passion for music.
It’s amazing that three albums in, people still care about Keane. That is by no means a given for any band.
It’s not, absolutely. It’s two and a half years since the last album came out and you think, "will people care any more?" But they’ve enjoyed Spiralling and The Lovers Are Losing and gone out and bought the album. I just hope that they feel that their money was well spent!