Our latest Q&A, this time with Mr Rice-Oxley.
This week, we gave T-RO a call for another exclusive km.com catch-up. Here it is…
Hello Tim. What are you chaps up to?
We’re back in rehearsals. We started on Monday last week.
How come you still need to rehearse the songs?
Well, we’ve actually spent the last four days working on new songs, which has been pretty exciting. It’s the first time we’ve really had the chance to do that since the second album. It’s good to be playing together, working songs up in an organic way rather than just layering them in the studio, which is what we did for the second album. They’re sounding really great. Surprisingly so, in fact. Obviously our playing and our musical instincts must have improved over the last few years, because it used to take us quite a long time to work songs out like this!
How would you describe the new stuff?
Well we’re trying to combine different genres. I think we feel like we have a lot of different influences, including electronic music and dancey stuff and American rap, and we’ve not really found a way of including that into our first two albums, so we’re trying to just spread our wings a bit more now. I think we just wanna make a record that combines the energy of all these different kinds of music that we listen to. But it’s very early days.
So will you be rapping then?!
Ha! I doubt it, but nothing is out of the question really. I think our feeling is that British music can be very cyclical. You’ll have a burst of amazing boundary-pushing music every few years, but then it can also be very parochial with people obsessed by the guitar-type music that’s basically the same thing that’s been coming out of Britain for the last 30 years. I think Brits can be afraid of being uncool or doing something that’s not quite allowed and that fear is what stops people from doing really exciting stuff. The people that we really admire in music at the moment – like Kanye West and even some of these American pop/rock bands like Panic At The Disco – are doing something that’s a lot more exciting than most of what’s coming out of the UK. So I suppose we’re just trying to lose our inhibitions.
Will you be playing these new songs in Latin America?
I don’t know, probably not. I think we’d like to try to road test a few of the songs at some point, though. We didn’t really get the chance to do that last time. I guess we played ‘Nothing In My Way’ and ‘Hamburg Song’ and ‘Try Again’ a little bit, but we’ve got a lot of songs and we’ve got some time to mess around with them, so it’d be nice to actually play them to people before we record them.
And you’ve got a lot of gigs coming up.
Yeah. The US tour is gonna be great. Obviously we lost a tour there in September last year and we went back in January, but that was quite a short tour. So it’s great to finally be able to play to those people, although it is mainly on the east coast on this trip. It’ll be the first time we’ve been to a lot of those places in ages.
And a bunch of festival shows have been confirmed too.
Yes. It’s good, we’ve got some really interesting festivals this year. I think we’re headlining most of them, which is great because it means we can work on taking as much of our arena show into those festivals as we possibly can, just to try and put on an amazing show and really blow people away. We’re really excited about it. It’s always nice to be playing outdoors on summer nights.
In other news, word has it that you’ve written some songs for Ashlee Simpson.
Ha, yes! I don’t know quite where that came from. I have been asked to do quite a lot of things in the last few months, partly in the wake of the Gwen Stefani song, which is very flattering. It’s nice to be in demand, but the Ashlee Simpson thing is not something I’m planning to do.
Perhaps there’s a foppish young Brit walking around LA pretending to be you, offering to write songs.
That could be it! But I enjoyed working in LA with Gwen a lot and I have done some work with Nicole Scherzinger from the Pussycat Dolls as well. Both of those people are really incredibly, genuinely talented musicians. So I learn a lot from doing it. But I’ve not got anything else I’m planning to do at the moment. I just want to focus on Keane as much as possible. It’s very easy to get distracted, especially because it’s so flattering to be asked to do stuff. But the band is far and away the most important thing in my life.
When will the Nicole stuff come out?
I don’t know. I don’t even know if it ever will. We did a couple of really great songs together, but she’s recorded a lot of songs, so I don’t know whether the stuff that we did will end up on the record or not. I suppose it goes back to what I was saying earlier, in the US there’s a really un-snobbish approach to just getting in a room with musicians of different genres. People just get together and say “do you wanna have a go at writing a song?” and just see what happens. I think in the UK people are sometimes too uptight to do that. Cos it’s quite scary and you have to put your ego to one side and just to go for it. So for me that’s been a very eye-opening and educational experience. But what actually ends up being on an album is a different matter.
So, presumably you enjoyed the UK arena tour?
Yeah, it was amazing. I think it was an unequivocal success really. It’s a big step to go from playing to a few thousand people to ten or fifteen thousand people in a great big arena. It’s hard to really fill those rooms with music and to reach people at the back. But I think I’ve said before that I think Tom’s one of the few people around who can do that. That’s what we were trying to do with the whole show. And I think we really felt that we succeeded and even exceeded our own expectations. And the response was as amazing as ever. So, yeah, it was brilliant. We hope that we’ll be able to do more of those big shows as time goes on.
The ‘A Bad Dream’ lyrics pillowcases you were selling were genius.
Yeah, I liked those. I made sure I pinched one for myself. Although I won’t actually be using it on my own bed.
Isn’t it your handwriting?
Yes it is.
So you could actually make your own.
Yes, I could. In fact, I could do a whole range of bed linen and household goods, although I’m not sure the missus would be too pleased if I took my marker pen to things. But, yeah, our merchandise has always been good. We try to do really good, interesting things with it. We’re trying to make sure that every aspect of what we do is doing new things and pushing boundaries and trying new areas. Just like with the USB singles and that sort of thing. We’re in a great position where we can try all these new ideas and give people something a bit different.
So you’re off to South America soon?
Yeah, I think it’s on Tuesday next week.
Are you looking forward to it?
Yes, definitely. I’m expecting the crowds to be pretty crazy but beyond that I don’t really know what to expect. It’s exciting to be going as a band, but it’s also exciting from the point of view of being tourists. We’ve only even been to Mexico City, apart from that I’ve not been to any of those countries, and they’re places that we’ve always really, really wanted to go to. It’s great that the time has finally come. It’s gonna be really exciting and interesting to see what those places are like. We’ve always had a lot of support from that part of the world – I think ‘Is It Any Wonder?’ was Number One for something like two months in Argentina! There just seems to be a ridiculous amount of love for Keane over there. It is amazing to think that people are so crazy about our music in countries we’ve never been to that are so far away. I think it’s gonna be a really fun tour.
Then after that it’s the US tour and various festivals over the summer. What’s the plan after that?
Well between festivals we’re gonna carry on working on new songs. We’re pretty excited about the new material. It’s just a really exciting time to be shut in a room with the three of us making music together. After the traumatic experiences of 2006, we didn’t even really know whether that was ever gonna happen again. So, yeah, we’re looking forward to doing lots of that. And then in August and September we’ll make sure that we chill out a little bit and don’t fall into our same old trap of going straight off the road and straight into the midst of making a record. But I think later in the year we’ll be getting seriously into trying to rehearse and/or record some of the new songs. It’s all shaping up really well.