Second part of our exclusive interview with Mr Chaplin
ANDREW: What was the last song of yours that you put together as a band?
TOM: We’re going back to before ‘Hopes and Fears’ – ‘Closer Now’ and stuff like that. There was a song called ‘Rubbernecking’, which was actually the first song of ours that ever got played on the radio. Years and years ago it got played on XFM. That was a weird song, but yeah – it was quite good and quite strange in its own way. There were a few others dotted around but, like I say, I got lazy when it got to ‘Hopes and Fears’, and it was a downward spiral from that point onwards. It’s something I’ve started to resurrect, but who knows where it will lead! I haven’t got a clue yet, to be honest.
ANDREW: Are you trying to get in more instrument playing on stage with the band?
TOM: Possibly. I enjoy it. But it makes me feel quite nervous, even if I’m just hammering away at chords!
ANDREW: Or just two notes with your tips of your index fingers.
TOM: I had to do that actually at the end of ‘The Frog Prince’ when we played it full electric! That was actually the hardest thing to play of everything! I think chords are easier and that kind of thing is actually harder, so I’ve learnt piano in reverse! I enjoy it – it’s a good thrill to play some of those parts. I play the lead bit at the end of ‘Try Again’, and I always almost forget. That song feels quite an important song to me. I think it’s probably the best song Tim’s written that we’ve released, and I always get completely wrapped up in the song. I know I have to come in half way through and start playing the piano… and then I always forget that I’ve got this solo! Then suddenly, it dawns on me that I’ve got to play it, and it’s all in E flat or something. I enjoy it though, because it adds to the excitement and the nerves and it keeps me fresh. So yeah – bring it on! More instruments.
ANDREW: At one of the gigs last year – ‘Try Again’ got towards the really climatic solo and it just wasn’t distorted it was just clean piano.
TOM: *laughs* Yeah, my pedal didn’t work. The technical wizardry of Keane sometimes falls a bit short. I enjoy that solo though. I’ll have more of those! The thing is, the last album was very much a studio record, so we went from building it up in the studio to learning how to play it live. This time we’re doing it the other way around, the same as we did ‘Hopes and Fears’, and I hope it’ll feel… not more cohesive, but I’ll certainly feel like I contributed a lot more.
ANDREW: Is there going to be an effort to play some new material publicly before the next record comes out, or it just going to be you guys in the Barn?
TOM: I don’t really know. Possibly. I think we’ll see how it goes. We’ve worked on a few things that sound really good. We know there are a lot of good songs there. There comes a point when everything falls into place and you know what it is that the record’s going to sound like and what the vibe of it is and what the direction of it is, but I don’t think we’ve quite reached that point yet. Once we’ve reached that point we might start to try things out. We could do what REM did, with their gigs in Dublin playing new material, like live rehearsals, which sound quite fun. Who knows?! I’m sure we’ll wheel out a few things before the album comes out, but we haven’t really got anywhere near making that decision yet.
ANDREW: What’s it like being the youngest member of the band?
TOM: I think that it has been the cause of some problems, because I’ve always felt younger than the other two. Well, not just always felt younger, I HAVE always been younger! I think for them it’s less of an issue, because they probably think we’re all grown-ups in a band together. My understanding of it is quite different. I think I’ve always been the ‘younger one’ who’s always come in and been a bit less mature – I’ve certainly had that ‘hang up’, whether consciously or not, of being younger than the rest.
ANDREW: What have you been listening to recently?
TOM: I’ve actually become a massive fan of Russell Brand – I know he divides opinion massively, but I love downloading his podcasts because he’s a man who has entirely based his whole spiel on being positive and being interested. It’s like ‘A Celebration of the Madness of Life with Russell Brand’. I really respect that and I really like that. It’s much more interesting than that cynical approach of ‘X is shit’ and ‘that’s funny because that person looks stupid’. I much prefer people to celebrate the quirks and madness of the world we live in.
I think the best and most enduring music is music that really says something insightful about the world that we’re living in and actually speaks to a lot of people, whether it’s on a very personal level or whether it’s on a global level. I like that kind of thing. I keep recommending Rufus Wainwright to people. I get very stuck on certain albums and certain bits of music, and I listen to them until I know every beat and note and inflection. I don’t get into things lightly – I like to get into music in a heavier way. I think going through the back catalogues of various bands is more appealing to me than a lot of really contemporary stuff. But I love the Guillemots. I love their imagination. It’s quirky and it’s interesting, and I love the songs and the melodies. I suppose I’m more of a sucker for melody than anything. If you asked me about the Beatles I’d definitely be a Paul McCartney fan more than a John Lennon fan. I’m a complete sucker for something that sounds melodically very beautiful, but says something powerful as well.
CHRIS: Do you think Keane suffer sometimes, because you are pigeonholed?
TOM: Yeah, I remember hearing Stuart Maconie a few months ago, I’d turned on the radio and it’d just got the end of ‘A Bad Dream’ and he said something about we had become ‘whipping boys’ – unfairly, in his opinion – and thought that ‘Under The Iron Sea’ had been one of the best records of the past few years. That whole thing about being pigeonholed – it’s so boring, the posh boys thing. It’s such a nonsense anyway.
ANDREW: None of it comes across on record.
TOM: No, I know – exactly! None of it comes across on record because the only vestiges that remain of our private school education are the way we speak and … well that’s probably about it really! I’ve never really been one of those people who are stuck in my public school days. It was ten years ago, and I’m not interested in it any more. I hated it at the time. As soon as I left I wanted to be in a band. I have no connection with it at all. To feel like we’re still pigeonholed for something that was ten years ago, that we didn’t really have any choice over, and that doesn’t remain in any single respect in our music is quite weird. But I do feel like gradually, over time, the pigeonholing is beginning to disappear. The more that people have got to know us – and I think that’s taken a long time – the more that we’re shaking those things off.