Tom speaks to 21 November 2006

Mr Chaplin gives us an update.

Yesterday afternoon, we called up Tom to get the lowdown on the recent tour, future plans and shower curtains…

Hello Tom! How are things with you?
Very good, yeah. We obviously finished the tour last week, so I spent the weekend sleeping and eating. And I went to see The Vagina Monologues, which was very good. I was dragged to it but I really enjoyed it. But, yeah, we got to the end of the tour and just said, “Wow, the last five weeks have been the best touring weeks of our lives so far”.

I think so, yeah. Obviously in the very early days when Hopes And Fears had just come out, there was this incredible wave that we were riding on, but I think this one beats it for sheer enjoyment and the support from the fans. Even in Europe, the crowds were just full of enthusiasm and genuine passion, which was great. Plus I think as a band we’re all on pretty good form and getting on well.

It seems like a long time since you started the tour with the the Hull gig.
It does, yeah. It’s incredible really. I suppose we’ve done nearly 20 shows since then.

And you’ve managed to enjoy them all?
Yeah, every single one of them. It was one of those tours where there weren’t any clangers, they’ve all just been really great, with some especially great ones. Wolverhampton was one of my favourites and Rotterdam, where we’d never been before, which was 10,000 people in an arena and just really great. So everyone’s pretty vibed up. What I loved about the Rotterdam one was getting used to headlining a show in a place that big and feeling like it was our kind of thing. It’s really buoyed us up, realising that there’s another level we can go to. Which is obviously handy, what with the arena tour next year.

Well exactly.
Yes, how’s that for a seamless link! But I think that tour’s gonna be great. We’ve already started talking about it and we’ve got lots of really big ideas and stuff that we wanna do.

Are you going to get dancers?
Ha! Um, maybe. But it’s definitely going to be a lot of fun. Obviously before you’ve done any arena shows you wonder if you’ll be able to translate what you do into a place that size. That’s why I loved Rotterdam so much, because we realised that we feel even more at home in that kind of environment. It’s great.

It won’t be too impersonal then?
Oh no, there won’t be any of that. We’re trying to think of clever ways to make sure that every person feels like they’re intimately a part of it. I think we wanna make it as bold as we can really. It’s a real blank canvas. We’re thinking of lots of ideas from that point of view. I’ll certainly be getting around and about, I think.

So did you manage to enjoy the touring process on this last tour – as well as the actual gigs?
Yeah, I think that’s something we’ve been acutely aware of. I think any one looking in just sees the shows. But what goes on around it is a lot of hanging around, but with not quite enough time to do something that’s completely different. So we tried to build in more time to actually do things, like we’ve got lots of games that we bring on the road with us. We’ve got mini football goals that we can set up on the empty floor before the punters come in and then have a kickabout. And the table tennis is up and running, which has been great.

Who’s the champion?
The crew are all pretty handy actually. It’s not really worth taking them on for money! And then we try to just do stuff for us as a band. I think one thing we’ve realised is that it becomes easy to forget about doing the things that keep you together as friends. Obviously you have the gigs, but you find that very quickly on tour you can start to drift apart or descend into your own little world – whether it’s sitting at your computer or whatever, you can just withdraw into self-imposed solitary confinement.

How do you avoid that?
Well, we’ve tried to do a lot more things where we’re hanging out and that’s been really great. I think it’s something we’d all missed. And actually you have to work quite hard at those things because of the time pressures on tour. It’s not like you’re 17 and sitting in a field with an acoustic guitar any more. But ultimately it’s been very rewarding and it’s made the whole process a lot better. We needed to talk a bit and hang out more, because I think it’s something we’d neglected.

So everything’s gone as well as it could’ve done over the last couple of months?
Yeah, better than that really. I think we were all quite tense about the tour and obviously it came very quickly after I’d escaped from my institutionalisation! So we were all quite nervous about how it would go and how smoothly things would run, but I don’t think we were really prepared for the response that we got from everyone. I think that was the thing that buoyed us along more than anything, just that love in the crowd each night. So, yeah, I think it went better than we could have expected. It was quite a soulful experience.

That’s great.
Yeah. I think that, again, towards the end of ‘Hopes And Fears’ we felt that we’d probably gone round in a big circle and we’d got to the point where it felt like we were robots and we weren’t really being creative. Things had to change and we had to work out ways of doing that. And on this tour we worked out all of those ideas and made all those dreams come true. So it was very cool.

So what happens between now and Christmas?
Well, we’re up in London this week, doing a couple of TV shows, including Jools Holland, which is great.

Will ‘Dirrtylicious’ be getting an airing on Jools Holland?
I’m not sure that it will. We may resurrect it at some point, though – it certainly seems to have been a popular number. But otherwise I think we’re just taking stock and trying to have a good Christmas. And I think there’s lots of sparks and ideas flying that we’re looking forward to trying to make the most of.

So you’re looking forward to 2007?
Yeah, very much so. I think it should be an exciting year. Obviously we’ll do a bit more touring and then we’ll see how things go creatively. I don’t think we feel under any pressure do to things. We went into the studio in Stockholm recently; we got together to be a band again, just in a room creating. I think we’re excited about that and seeing where it goes next year.

Sounds intriguing!
Well, again, we’d got into a way of doing things where it tended to be that we’d all be running parallel but not together as much as we’d like to have been. So I think we’ve hopefully afforded ourselves the luxury of getting back to how it was five or six years ago and just all of us sitting there going, “Right, we’ve got a completely blank canvas, what are we going to do with it?” Which should be brilliant.

Plus, of course, you’ll be putting your creative juices into choosing merchandise for the arena tour.
Oh yes.

You obviously set the bar high with the Keane shower curtains. Where do you go from there?
There must be something. Our merch guy Kyle is full of zany ideas. Our choice of merchandise is quite whimsical really. If Kyle comes up with some mad idea like shower curtains, we’re like, sod the prospects of whether we manage to sell any, it just seems like a great thing to do. It’s nice to have a bit of fun with it.

Do you have a Keane shower curtain at home?
I don’t, although I’m actually getting my whole bathroom replaced, so maybe I should get one. I do have a Keane ashtray at home. It’s a Mexican bootleg from when we played over there. Hmm, maybe we should think of more Keane products to kit out my whole house. Keane soap maybe? Keane duvet covers? Although, saying that, as much as I love being in Keane, people might think that it was a bit odd if they came round and the place was full of Keane merchandise. Perhaps I should just stick to the ashtray.

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