Tim Qs 1 17 June 2009


Last week, we asked you, the good readers of, to email us questions to ask Tim. Hundreds upon hundreds of you did just that (big thanks to all of you). We read every single one of them and then sent Tim our favourite 30. We'll be running the answers over the next few days, starting right about now...

Have you ever been approached to compose a soundtrack for a movie and would you do it if asked?
Tosh, Miami, Fl USA
Tim replies: Not a full soundtrack, but we’ve often been asked to write songs for movies. My Shadow was actually written for the closing credits of a big film.
Time To Go has the hallmarks of a classic intriguing Tim song - in that it isn't clear who the subjects are in the story. Is this particular song a recollection of someone saying Time To G' to Tim personally, or of Tim saying this to another person, or Tim witnessing someone saying this to someone else, or something else!? In short, who is the song about and what was the occasion?
Jane A
Tim replies: I wrote it after a party in London a couple of years ago. I was nervous because I didn’t know anyone, and compensated by drinking a vast amount of champagne. It was a fun night with lots of dancing and great music, but on my way home I refused to get off the train because I thought we were at the wrong stop; then I tripped over and accidentally head-butted my wife, in a Superbad-stylee. It’s generally not my style to behave that way, so I guess I wrote the song as a warning to myself.
Hi Tim! I seem like a real saddo saying this but on the Everybody's Changing 1.34 into the video (the little 4 bar break) you play a C instead of a D, any reason or didn't you know!? I shall go and get a life now!

Ollie Gwyther
Tim replies: Ha – I’ve no idea! Either I made a mistake, or the director just edited in a bit of footage that doesn’t sync with the music.

Dear Tim, I noticed that many of your songs have to do with or mention the ocean or water of some sort (Atlantic and UTIS, obviously, but also The Lovers Are Losing, Black Burning Heart, and Crystal Ball). Is there a particular reason for this or do you just feel a connection with water?

Tim replies: I’m sure a psychologist would have something to say about it. I guess the ocean has always inspired people. It’s a powerful thing to behold something so massive and almost boundless – I think it makes us think about our mortality and how small we are. When I was a kid we used to go down to Bexhill on Sunday afternoons and I always noticed old people who had driven down there and just sat in the cars looking at the sea.
Hi Tim. How do you start off writing a song? I'm trying to do so at the moment and I'm finding it really difficult getting ideas down. Could you give me any tips?

Elliot, Isle of Man
Tim replies: Buy a Dictaphone, so you can note down your ideas quickly. I tend to sit at the piano, or a synth, or with a guitar, and play chords and sing over the top. Eventually (on a good day) a melody and some lyrics start to take shape. You have to be patient though, and you have to focus and work hard. The old cliché about “1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration” is totally true. My ideal is to sit at the piano for about 8 hours and play without interruptions. Sometimes I have to do that for three or four days before anything good emerges. But something good will come out eventually! The key is to not be afraid to try different ideas or styles. If you play the same four chords over and over again for hours and try singing in a bunch of different styles, with different words over the top, you’ll hit upon something eventually. And always finish a song before you give up on it.
Hi Tim! What is the hardest song you have ever composed / written and why?
Wouter, the Netherlands
Tim replies: Hmm. I found Crystal Ball very hard. I just couldn’t write any lyrics for it, and I tried a bunch of different things. It took me months and months. I’m still not happy with the chorus. It’s totally impassioned and a very deep song, but it comes across as simplistic, I think.
You Haven’t Told Me Anything took a while too, I think because it’s a song with short burst of melody and I had a lot of information I wanted to pack in. But I kept chipping away at it and I’m really pleased with the lyrics for that one. It’s one of my favourite Keane songs.

What is the first thing you like to do when you get home from being on tour?
Tim replies: Have a bath.
Just wondering about My Shadow and why it didn't make the album (although the album was still great without it).
John, USA
Tim replies: As I mentioned above, I wrote the song for a film. The nature of the movie steered the lyrics of the song, but out of context I didn’t feel the lyrics were strong enough, and they didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the rest of the album. Everyone else wanted to put it on the record and I kept fighting against it. To be honest I think I was wrong on that one!

Have you ever written a song drunk?
josé carlos villalobos yañez
Tim replies: I need all my wits about me to write. I remember doing some demos with Tom many years ago when we were both a bit drunk. We listened to it all the next day and it sounded shit, so we kind of learned that lesson early!
In This Is The Last Time - why does Tom always sing the first few lines specifically to you? (Love it but have never understood why).
Tim replies: Probably because it’s just me and him playing at that point. It gives us a chance to engage in the middle of a gig. And he likes to wind me up by standing on my piano!

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