Exclusive interview between Tom and two Keane fans
Following the interviews with Richard and Tim, here is the first part of our exclusive interview with Tom, which was conducted by two Keane fans (and message board regulars) Chris and Andrew. The other two parts will be posted tomorrow and Friday.
ANDREW: Was it a relief to you that your troubles came out last year?
TOM: No. It wasn’t at all. Personally, I think the best thing is that it feels it’s something that’s now in the past. Although it’s not a chapter of my life that will ever be closed, I think it feels like a part of my life that is over, or at least a troubled time that almost definitely will not ever be seen again. I feel good about that – I feel good that as a band we’ve survived those troubles and personally, more importantly, that I have. There was certainly more strain there before it all came to blows than there is now, from my perspective. I think we’ve got a much healthier relationship as a band. It wasn’t just entirely down to me and my bad behaviour. In a group of people, things start to fall apart and are driven underground and become secret – I was holding back my feelings, as were the others. I think it was about all three of us, but certainly my problem was the worst part of it. We have a much healthier existence as a band now and we’re more accepting of each other, which is good – less judgmental, more realistic. I think we accept that we could have easily lost the band. Ever since September and October last year, since we were back out on the road, things have got better and better in pretty much every aspect of the band. It’s good to be in that position.
ANDREW: One of the things that Richard said to us was that when you came back through Gatwick after the Spain and Portugal gigs was that you collected your luggage and all these people got their cameras out and started taking photos of you. How hard is it for you to live with it?
TOM: I absolutely hate it! It’s really, really irritating. The invention of the cameraphone has been just a complete disaster for people in bands and I don’t think there’d be anyone who’d deny that. The large majority of people will ask you, ‘Oh, can we take a photo’, but even then you feel obliged to say yes.
ANDREW: Have you ever thought about whipping your Blackberry out and taking photos of them?
TOM: It doesn’t have a camera on it. I would never have a phone with a fucking camera on it, I’d feel like a hypocrite! When I was a kid, I used to find being in a famous band and being recognised pretty exciting – I think most kids probably would. But, actually, the novelty of that wears off pretty fast! And you realise that really the thing that you’re in it for is the singing, the visceral experience of being out on stage, making a record – those are the really exciting things where you realise the achievement, or feel like you’re making a difference. After five minutes of having any of kind of celebrity I find it faintly embarrassing and difficult, and I kind of wish it wasn’t there. But I also understand that it’s the flipside to all those lovely things that you get to do, and we are very privileged really.
CHRIS: Do you miss the obscurity of the early days, then?
TOM: Well, I think that in the early days you’d think ‘Well, being famous will effectively mean we’re successful and we won’t be in the cycle of failure anymore!’, so I suppose it didn’t seem like a bad thing then. I really have a lot of empathy for people like Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse – they’re the talk of the town at the moment – because obviously they have their own demons, and possibly that’s partly what makes them great artists. They have this very dark side and they can draw from that, find inspiration from it, but it also means that when they do go down that bad self-destructive road, they can end up being hounded and basically chased out of town. I do feel for them – I can’t imagine what it’s like. For a start, those two live in London and they seem to have a pack of paps and journalists following them wherever they go and it must be quite difficult for them to deal with those issues in such a public way. I certainly found it difficult, even though the press were generally pretty kind to me. All I hope is that they find some kind of solution to whatever their issues are and get back to making good music.
ANDREW: OK, lets talk about your solo album that never was.
ANDREW: Apparently your solo album was coming out in 2007 produced by Tim Rice-Oxley, and with Richard Hughes probably drumming. Tell us all about it!
TOM: Well, I could tell you that that is probably 99% unlikely to happen. I hadn’t actually been writing songs for quite a long time and it was something I loved doing, ever since I was about 12 or something – ever since Tim taught me how to play chords on the piano and all that kind of jazz. It probably occupied a large proportion of my day as a teenager, and when we moved to London, I used to love writing – I just did it as much as I could. But when we moved to France for that six months we were there working on stuff, suddenly we went from doing 50% of the songs each to Tim having ‘This Is The Last Time’, ‘Everybody’s Changing’, ‘She Has No Time’, ‘Bend And Break’… loads and loads of great songs just suddenly flowed out of him! It probably fuelled two things inside me – it made me fearful that I couldn’t really do it, and it also made me lazy because I just thought, ‘Well, I don’t need to because we’ve got all these great songs’. I think our roles became quite defined at that point.
So anyway, one of the things that I thought last year as I emerged from the haze was ‘Why are the roles so defined in this band?’. I realised I had no outlet for all the things that I felt, aside from really being out on stage. I just felt like I needed that again. So I started writing again, and I suddenly found I was really enjoying it. I was coming out with stuff that just made feel good, because I was then able to vent some anger or love or anything. All these things were spontaneously coming out, and it felt like a really good process. I started to think, ‘Well, if the band splits up, or if things get difficult, or we take a break for a while, I could work on these songs’. I guess somehow that leaked out as me doing a solo album.
I certainly have a desire for those songs to be heard and a desire to work on them but, at the moment, we’ve been working on stuff and rehearsing it down in our barn. That’s been equally exciting for me just because it’s given me the same kind of outlet. Maybe in a slightly different way – there may even be some of my songs on the next album, I don’t really know. Whatever happens, I know that I will have had an input that I may have had for ‘Hopes and Fears’, but certainly didn’t have for the second album. And that’s kind of good enough for me at the moment. So I don’t think you’re going to see a solo album yet!
CHRIS: It’s more a case of you wanting to write than you wanting to do something separate to Keane?
TOM: Exactly. It’s one of those things where if you’ve got the ability to do it, then you should do it. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a great way of expressing yourself, and I think that’s a realisation I had last year.
Look out for pt 2 of our interview tomorrow…