With Keane heading out to Japan to begin their Far East tour at Summersonic festival tomorrow, we gave Tom a call at the airport for a catch-up.…
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Hello Tom, how are you?
I’m good, thanks. I’m currently eating a pretzel in a lounge at Heathrow airport. I’ve just been to the seafood counter too.
Can seafood counters at airports be trusted? A plane would be a pretty bad place to get a dodgy tummy.
Well, my theory is that it must all be pretty fresh. If they had constant problems with people getting ill on flights, they’d probably be closed down. But it was very nice.
So, you’re on your way to Japan.
Yeah, we are. Via Seoul.
You’ve just had a couple of weeks off. How was that?
Great. And "how was that?" is an appropriate way of asking, because as most people know, I’m an enormous cricket fan, and I very much enjoyed the fact that there was a whole five day Test match wedged in the middle of the my time off. I sat at home and watched that on the TV. It was a good performance from England, again.
It’s shaping up quite well for the Ashes.
Well, my prediction is still that we’ll sneak it, one way or the other. In fact, the way the weather’s been going, the rest of it will probably be rained off, in which case we’ll win! Mind you, Beth was saying the weather hasn’t been much better in Japan.
Did you do anything more rewarding with your break than…
…sitting on my arse watching TV? Actually, yes, speaking of cricket [England player] Andrew Flintoff had a big launch for his charity foundation and he asked if I’d like to go along and play a few songs at it. It seemed like a good chance to hang out with some of my heroes. The others were away – Tim was in New York and Richard was off in the countryside somewhere – so I went along and played five songs on my own. I did a couple on the acoustic and then a few on piano. It was very strange: everyone was sort of ballroom dancing to This Is The Last Time! But it was great fun.
Is Andrew Flintoff a friend of yours?
Not exactly a friend, although I suppose more of a friend now than he was before! I do know a few people in the world of cricket, though, and I heard on the grapevine that they were up for getting someone in to play some songs. He’s good friends with Johnny Borrell, so he’d already got Razorlight in to play too.
Was it a big crowd?
Yeah, about 800 people, I’d say. It was cool. And I had a nice chat with some of the England players.
Have you ever played cricket with any of them?
Funnily enough, I have. I used to play when I was a kid. Up until under 15s I played for Sussex, so I used to play against people like Flintoff and Graeme Swann, who’ve now gone on to much greater things than myself.
Well, you’ve not done so badly.
Haha! Yeah, I guess it’s kind of worked out for me too!
Were you a batter or a bowler?
I was a bit of both. I think at that age a lot of kids are. I was a jack of all trades and a master of none. I think by the time I was 15 or 16 that became apparent and it was the end of my cricket career.
Do you still play?
I was actually out in the garden at home the other day with Nat. We were bowling at each other, but the only ball I could find was an actual cricket ball. They’re pretty hard and heavy, so she’s got a bruise on her ankle and I’ve got an enormous one on my foot!
It sounds like you had a good break.
Yeah, it was very nice. Although I do find it quite hard to adjust to normality when I get back from tour. I always have trouble sleeping and generally getting back into the swing of things without feeling slightly uneasy, as if I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing! We’d done a lot of flying and a lot of time changes, so to just be sitting at home for a few days felt quite weird. It was the first time in a while I’d done that.
Do you find yourself making dramatic entrances into rooms at about 9pm?
Exactly! In my dressing gown, singing into a hairbrush. But after the first week or so, I felt much more relaxed.
And now you’re raring to go for a whole load of gigs all over the world.
Yeah, we’re really looking forward to it. It’ll be great to be back in Japan and it’s our first time in South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. It always makes a gig that much more exciting when you have a touch of the unknown, ’cause you don’t really know how people are going to react. I’m really looking forward to it.
It was a similar situation with the Dubai and Beirut gigs – and it sounds like they were great.
Yeah, absolutely. The Beirut one was particularly memorable, just ’cause of the setting and because there was such a young, vibrant crowd. It felt quite emotional, especially singing songs like Perfect Symmetry in the context of a place that’s had its ups and downs, with lots of people together, all harmonious and happy. I think all of us felt quite touched by that particular moment. It was definitely one of the most memorable shows we’ve done in this last year and a half.
It must’ve been quite a contrast at Ibiza Rocks a few days later.
Yeah, you couldn’t really get a more different setting. But that was an extraordinary gig too. I’m not sure why, but it makes me giggle just to think about it. It was this mad hotel with us in the middle of it. They were saying that it wasn’t that common for the actual islanders to come and see an Ibiza Rocks show, and it was a measure of our popularity in Spain that so many of the local people came out to watch it. It was them and a lot of young British holidaymakers, which all made for an amazing, and amazingly sweaty, atmosphere. I really hoped that we were just there to warm people up for what would be one of the biggest nights of their lives. I didn’t actually go out in Ibiza that night, because I had to fly home, but I can imagine that you build up to a night in Ibiza for quite a while. I think everyone was very excited and we were just riding that wave.
Look out for part two of the interview tomorrow