Mr R-O responds to the first set of ‘Ask Keane’ questions
Thanks to all of you who’ve posted questions for the band via the ‘Ask Keane’ section of the Ezine (keep them coming!). We emailed a batch to Tim and his replies are below. Look out for more answers soon (they’ll all be archived in the Ask Keane section). Now, without further ado…
“Do you find it easier to put lyrics onto a piece of music or write the music around the lyrics of a song?”
Tim replies: The ideal situation for me is that I write a melody and as I’m writing it I get some bits of lyrics that help to suggest or solidify what the song will be about. Often I find that I don’t know exactly what I want to write about until the music starts pouring out and I start tapping into thoughts and ideas that I’ve hidden away somewhere. When that happens, the music informs the lyrics and the lyrics inform the music, so they work together very organically and those tend to be the best songs. Sometimes I’ll write a melody and it won’t be until months later that I manage to make a breakthrough and find the lyrics that bring the song to life. It’s harder for those songs to work, but occasionally you get lucky, like with ‘A Bad Dream’. I also have notebooks full of lyrics which I write without music, and I’ll often cannibalise those for little phrases or ideas. So basically it’s a big, chaotic process and I’ve no idea where it all comes from.
“How old were you when you wrote your first song? What was it about?”
Tim replies: When I was about 12 I got really into writing songs for the first time, although they were pretty dreadful! The earliest one I can remember was a sort of cheesy disco number, and the lyrics were utterly mindless cliches about unrequited love, I think. If I remember rightly the chorus went, “You know I love you baby/But you can’t be here with me/If you were then you would see/That I am better than he.” Woeful. That was before the band. Things got much better once we were playing together, because we were all writing and pushing each other to write better stuff. Some of the early songs from about ’96, ’97, ’98, that sort of period, are pretty decent really – ‘Captain Planet’, ‘Gingerbread’, ‘High Time’, ‘Melodrama’, ‘Less Is More’ are a few that spring to mind. We should put them all out on a Beatles-style anthology one day…with some sort of “Warning: These songs may be shit” sticker on the front.
“Could you please explain the video for ‘Atlantic’? It’s really interesting, I understand some parts, but others are a little confusing.”
Tim replies: The beauty of that video for me is that everybody interprets it in different ways. It’s arty and thought-provoking, which is exactly what we wanted from Irvine, and exactly what we tried to do with ‘Under The Iron Sea’. My view is that it’s a look at various kinds of human folly, with the cheery but accurate conclusion that all roads lead unassailably to death. Not your typical MTV fodder.
The ‘Atlantic’ video: “A look at various kinds of human folly” (possibly including
“Have you ever hurt yourself during a show? You all do some serious rocking out!”
Tim replies: I’ve yet to sustain any serious injury. Although I’m worried about my neck, because I do tend to get carried away once the adrenalin’s flowing and do a lot of head-banging. I managed to smash my head into the piano during ‘Bend And Break’ once, which was pretty painful and left me reeling for a minute. I also hammer the piano keys very hard (I often break strings, which on a piano is quite an achievement!), and I sometimes cut my fingers. Once a cut starts bleeding onto the white keys, it just keeps bleeding and spreading as I’m playing. That can look fabulously gory, even though it’s only actually a small cut. Probably the only really painful injury I’ve had playing was when we were filming the video for ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ a couple of months ago. The camera was mounted on a little train of three fairly hefty cars, and as it zoomed around the track it had to pass through my legs once on each lap. I was getting lost in performing and I kept forgetting when the camera was approaching, so a couple of times it came crashing into my shins, which was inordinately painful and left some suitably messy gashes. Other than that, so far so good!
“When was the last time that you told a lie?”
Tim replies: I very, very rarely tell lies. Partly because it always comes back to bite you one way or the other, and partly because the guilt just gnaws away at me until I come clean! I don’t like having any secrets. Anyway, I can’t remember any decent lies I’ve told lately. Actually, I’ve just remembered one, but I’m not telling…