TOM CHATS TO KM.COM – PART TWO OF TWO
As promised, here’s the second part of km.com’s conversation with Tom while Keane were in Japan last week.
So, you enjoyed the Latin America tour?
I think it was my favourite Keane tour so far. Just because of the overall atmosphere, as well as the gigs themselves. It’s gotta run deeper than just having great shows; you’ve got to all be vibed up and enjoying the places that you’re in. And obviously the shows were all incredible. Places like Bogota, I just have amazing memories of. We played in Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where we’ve never been before, and you really felt immersed in a different culture. That show was probably the smallest show we did on that tour, but the crowd were just so incredibly electric and excited by it. That’s a good memory. I came back from that tour quite brown and I looked after myself. I think those were all factors in making it a really great and memorable tour.
We’ve not talked about the song you wrote which Annie Lennox has covered for her new greatest hits. Are you pleased with her version?
I think it’s great, yeah. She’s impressed her own style on it, but she’s obviously a pretty legendary singer and part of the Eurythmics, so you’d expect that. She’s taken a trusty old song out of the Keane back catalogue and turned it into something fresh and new.
How did she stumble upon it?
I have got no idea. I think we felt it wasn’t right for the first album, but we knew was a great song. It just never really saw the light of day. So it’s probably been knocking around in demo form and passed to a few people. Then one day I was asked if I felt alright about Annie Lennox doing it, and I was like, "Absolutely! She’s a legend!" So it’s great. I’m very pleased.
It must add to your confidence as a songwriter that she chose to put it on her greatest hits.
Definitely. Although I did write it nearly ten years ago! But I do like writing and anything which inspires me to sit down at my piano and work on some songs is good. So, I shall be trying to do some more of that when I’ve got some time this year.
Of course, she changed the title of it.
Yes, from Closer Now, to Pattern Of My Life.
Did you have a say in that?
I did, and I didn’t mind at all. I think it still works in terms of the meaning of the song. In fact, it’s maybe even better than Closer Now, which was probably just plucked at random to give it a name for a setlist back when we were playing small clubs in London.
It’s quite bonkers that a song you probably wrote in your bedroom a decade ago has eventually come to prominence on Annie Lennox’s greatest hits.
I know, it’s funny isn’t it? I think when you have an album like Hopes And Fears you suddenly go from writing stuff in your bedroom to having the keys to the city. And then things get passed on to the right people and suddenly a song that otherwise would’ve disappeared in the mists of time has found its way onto a legend’s greatest hits album.
Have you got any more gems in your archive?
I’ve got plenty knocking around! Y’know, I am interested in doing something with my own songs when I feel the time is right. I’ve always said that. But I’m very happy to keep it on the backburner while we’re doing what we do with Keane. It’s more than enough fulfilment to do what we do currently. But I’ve got a feeling at some point I will be getting those songs out and using them. It’s just a case of picking the right moment.
Moving onto the 3D webcast, were you pleased with that?
Yeah! I’m glad the HD version is going up, because that’s even better. I think we felt it was a great thing to do and a great event and it’s got people thinking about the possibilities of 3D. It’s nice to feel at the forefront of doing stuff that is really innovative and new.
And amazing that fans across the world were watching.
Yeah, I think it’s pretty incredible the breadth of our fanbase. People in the UK can be quite surprised to hear that we travel off all around the world and play to loads of different people, and that there seems to be love in all far-flung corners of the world for us. So yeah, the response to the webcast – and just the response to everything that we’ve been doing through the website – is lovely. I think more so with this album than ever before.
After Japan, it’s back to the UK for a couple of weeks before America, with a little trip to Spain in the middle.
Yeah, that Spanish show is our first festival of the year. We’ve got some fresh ideas for that and I think it’ll be the first time we’ve played in that corner of Spain. So, yes, we’re looking forward to that one. And then it’s the American tour, which is obviously a big deal for us. Again, we’re just stunned by the level of excitement and interest there’s been for that. I think maybe because we spent so much time there early on, those fans have remained very committed to the cause. The demand for the gigs has been brilliant and I think we’ll go there with a fire in our bellies and really excited about the shows.
It’s a proper road trip too.
Exactly. That’s good, I think. As I said earlier, when you tour Australia or Japan it’s basically just flying around. But when you go to America you can obviously settle down into the routine of getting on a bus every night, doing those long drives and waking up in the morning seeing the great heartlands of America whistling by the window. I think there’s something very special about that. We’re all very excited about getting back out there.
And you will come home afterwards? The reports are that you’re moving to the US forever!
Ha ha! Yes, I think that was one of those comments one of us made as a passing note in an interview which got turned into this great big thing. I don’t think I’m ready to leave England quite yet. I love it there, despite the snideyness and cynicism that one has to deal with from some corners.
That’s just from a small proportion of people. You don’t want to worry about them.
Exactly! Steve Coogan was very interesting on that subject, actually. He said he’s got to the point now where he just feels like he can do and say whatever he likes – obviously within reason. He no longer cares what people’s reaction is going to be. I think he feels like the best things always come out of that carefree approach. That’s certainly the approach we had with making Perfect Symmetry. And the approach we have in general now. So far from moving to America, we’ll just keep doing our thing and eventually we’ll be given the respect that we deserve! Ha ha!
Finally, what’s this about you chaps spending a few days in a studio with a rapper before you went out to Australia?
That’s correct! The mighty K’naan. We’ve had a few songs knocking about for a while now and we wanted to work on them with someone who was in a completely different world – although it’s still a world that inspires us, as Tim’s rendition of 99 Problems reminded us! We were desperate to work with somebody like K’naan. What I like most about him is that he’s very emotional for a hip hop artist. I was describing him earlier as like Eminem with a heart. But he stamped his mark on the songs and they sounds great. Once we’ve got it finished production-wise – which we were actually working on in a studio in Brisbane the other day – I think people are gonna love it.
Is he actually rapping on the song, or did he just help with production?
Yep, there’s a little bit of rapping and some singing. He’s a great singer, with a very soulful voice. Our voices seemed to work really well in tandem, which is great. You never really know what to expect with a collaboration, but when the singing side of it gels I think you know you’re onto something good. In this case, it seems to have been a really successful combination.
Was that done with any purpose in mind?
I think just because we fancied doing it. It boils down to that attitude of, why not just give it a go? It doesn’t matter if it goes wrong, because you don’t stand to lose anything. And I think when you just forget about the supposed limitations of doing something and just do it, that’s very often when you get the nicest surprises. And this has certainly been one of them!