Mr Hughes catches up for an exclusive chat
We called up Richard yesterday evening for an exclusive catch-up ahead of Keane’s Isle of Wight Festival appearance on Sunday.
Hi Richard. How are you doing?
Alright, thanks. I’m just on my way to the place where all our equipment is stored between tours to get all my negatives from our wardrobe case. I took loads of photos and I’ve had the films processed, but I haven’t had them printed yet.
You’re still resolutely ignoring digital photography then?
Absolutely! You’ve got Rob for that now. You get the up to the minute stuff from Rob and then you get the wanky, arty stuff from me. Although you’re getting a lot of really arty stuff from Rob as well. He’s a great photographer.
So how was America?
It was really fun. Especially finishing up in Central Park. In fact, there just seemed to be a big happy celebratory Keane vibe wherever we went. Which was nice. We didn’t know if we’d get back to America after the last tour earlier this year, so it was really good to have a chance to get to the east coast and also up into Canada again.
And people weren’t wagging their fingers at you in a "you should’ve been here last year" kind of way?
Well, you get a few comments from people who were disappointed that we hadn’t made it when we were supposed to be there initially, but were just pleased that we had made the effort to come back. They missed us, which is a nice feeling for us.
Did you enjoy Canada?
Yeah, I like Canada a lot. There are fewer guns than in America. And you don’t walk into places in Canada that say "no concealed weapons allowed unless approved by security". So, yeah, I like it a lot up there. But the whole tour was just really good fun. It sounds a bit banal, but it was genuinely all very enjoyable.
Did you get to do any extra curricular stuff?
Yeah, we got a bit of sightseeing in on a few days off. And we got into a studio, which was good. We were recording a track for this Radio 1 40th birthday celebration thing. They’re giving bands a year from which to pick a song. I don’t think I can tell you what our song is, but it’s from 1981. So we got into a nice studio in Philly. It was a really good time.
Was it hard to pick your song?
I don’t think I actually heard about it until after Tom or Tim had already done some research and found this song. But I think it’s a great choice. Actually, it’s the first track ever that we’re all singing on. Obviously I sing live, but this was the first time I’ve ever recorded vocals in a studio.
Did you do that thing where you hold one headphone to your ear?
Yeah, I tried that! You have to really, don’t you? If it’s in the Band Aid video, then it’s obviously the best way.
And now you’re back in England. Have you had a few days off?
Yeah. I went climbing yesterday, so I ache all over.
That’s a bit risky for a musician isn’t it?
I know. But I’ve been climbing for a few months now. It’s just as an alternative to going to the gym. It’s really good fun. And apart from that I’ve just been relaxing, chilling out and getting used to being at home again.
That must be nice after so much time away.
Well, yeah, cos I didn’t come back after the South American tour. I stayed in Mexico for a holiday. I went to a place called Tulum. It’s a really beautiful place, with quite a hippy vibe. I had a great time. It’s a beautiful part of the world.
And you enjoyed the South American tour?
Absolutely. It’s a great part of the world. It was a little unfortunate to find a guy in my hotel room trying to relieve me of my possessions at one point. But apart from that, I really enjoyed it. I like the vibe down there and the crowds are so excitable and up for it because obviously they don’t get every band coming through town. And I really enjoyed the holiday afterwards too. It was very hot, but with proper Caribbean-style white beaches and indigo seas.
Are you looking forward to the Isle of Wight Festival this weekend?
I am indeed. It’s weird, I think people are asking us about it more than any festival we’ve ever done, with regard to playing with the Stones. They’re such a massive band culturally in this country that everyone seems to be interested in the fact that we’re doing a show just before them.
Have you played with them before?
No. I’ve never even seen them. So it should be pretty cool.
Although the weather forecast isn’t looking too good for Sunday.
Oh dear. I didn’t know that. It must be a case of keeping bad news away from the band.
But you sit at the back, so you won’t get rained on quite so much.
Exactly. If Tom’s going to go out with an acoustic guitar I think Tim and I will just stay undercover and laugh. Or maybe I’ll go and hold an umbrella for him. That would be a nice gesture, wouldn’t it?
Absolutely. Are you staying at the festival for the weekend?
No, we’re actually going to try and beat the traffic. We’re going to leave just before the Stones finish, otherwise we’ll never leave the Isle of Wight. You have to get a ferry you see. Fran Healy was saying a helicopter is the best way to do it, but none of us particularly like flying and we’re trying to cut down on our flying in respect to global warming and all that. So we’re bus-ing it.
And then you’ve got various festivals coming up over the next few weeks.
Yeah, the Knowsley House thing is quite soon, which looks good. And the Norwegian one should be fun. Last time we played at a festival in Norway there was a band who had some people on stage having sex.
Yes. During their show.
Keane have said in the past they learned from U2’s performances. Did you take much from the live sex band?
Well we didn’t actually go and watch, believe it or not. We just read about it the following day. But I think we’re very much trying to resist the live sex show aspect of things. But never say never!
Will you be working on new music this summer as well?
Yeah, we are. We’ve got a few days booked in down in the barn, our little rehearsal place. And there’s a few demos of songs pinging between us via emails. Ooh, I’m right next to the London Bridge Vaults where we did our little launch party for ‘Under The Iron Sea’. So much has happened since then! I don’t know how long ago it was, but my guess is that it would be "a while".
At least. So, are are things good in the Keane camp?
Yeah, I think so. We’ve got back from the tour and Tom’s moving house and I think Tim’s been buying sofas and things, so yeah, we’re just getting back into being back at home and having to do things for yourself. You get to the end of a tour and if you’re not careful you can be sitting there at lunchtime thinking, "Where is my lunch". And then you realise it’s not there because you haven’t made it yet! It’s good to be at home, though.
But you’re expecting an itinerary to come under your bedroom door each day.
Exactly. 1.35pm: watch Neighbours.
Neighbours are in London at the moment. Carl and Susan got married on a boat by the Tate Modern. Neil Morrissey was the vicar and Sinitta and Jono Coleman were the witnesses.
Really?! Bloody hell. That’s pretty weird. Actually, we’ve met Carl and Susan. We went to Australia for three days in about 2004. We played in Melbourne and went to the Neighbours set. We met most of them. It was very cool. Tim’s got a great photo of us at the bus-stop, with Tom hailing an imaginary bus.
So are there any other excitements in Keane’s world?
Well I’m pretty excited about the O2 Arena gig. I saw a picture of the venue in the Evening Standard today and it looks completely amazing. I am genuinely looking forward to that.
Prince is playing there too.
So he is. I saw his Superbowl performance. He played at half-time and did this great guitar solo, but with a light behind him projecting his shadow onto a big curtain. The way he was holding his guitar made it look like a big cock. Which I guess was the whole point. It was very funny.
Perhaps you could do the same with a drumstick.
I suppose so. But I’m not sure it’d be big enough. Anyway, other than the O2 gig and the other shows this summer I think we’re just feeling like we’re itching to get on with the next record. Given everything that’s happened in the last year, I think that’s quite a healthy way to be really. We’re already talking about producers and how we’re going to do it. I don’t think there’s any issue with whether we’re going to have a year off or two years off. We’re just gonna crack on with another record.
You don’t need a bit of a break?
Well, I think we’re going to have a little bit of time off. A couple of months of rest and recuperation. But after that we’re gonna keep going with making music. I’m really looking forward to it.