Last updated: 07/15/2012 12:00:00 PM
Vocals: Tom Chaplin / Piano: Tim Rice-Oxley / Drums: Richard Hughes
Keane formed in 1997 at a Hastings Secondary School.
In 2002, following several years of experimenting and honing their sound, Keane decided that they needed to get out and play live. They booked two acoustic gigs, one at the 12 Bar Club, another at the Betsey Trotwood. Fierce Panda mini-mogul Simon Williams caught the Betsey Trotwood gig, and asked Keane to put out a single on his label.
They chose ‘Everybody’s Changing’, a sweeping, majestic ode to feeling utterly lost when everyone else seems to know the score, which was recorded for zero pence. “The recording session was a little rough and ready – the song was literally made in a room in someone’s house,” Tom laughs. “And we had to go round to a different house to mix it, because the speakers broke.” It would be difficult to find origins more desperately indie, yet ‘Everybody’s Changing’ sounded like a Number One chart hit before you even got to the chorus, and it immediately began turning heads. Steve Lamacq decided that it was one of the best singles in Fierce Panda’s entire history – not bad for a label, which housed early releases from Coldplay, Idlewild and Supergrass. He declared that Keane were “somewhere between a scuffed Coldplay and a frankly bewildered Beautiful South”, hammering the single on his show and eventually calling the band in for a session on BBC 6Music. Xfm were on the case, too, with Clare Sturgess requesting a session from the band, while a Sunday Times profile noted that Keane were responsible for “three and a half minutes of pure pop loveliness”. NME wrote that ‘Everybody’s Changing’ was “indisputably mighty” and compared Keane with “‘Kid A’-era Radiohead covering A-ha”.
What all these people spotted – and what the rest of the world will shortly find out for themselves – is that despite the reference points, Keane’s beguilingly beautiful music really isn’t like anything else that’s out there right now. “Our songs have universal themes and are emotional,” Tim nods. “People want emotion. But that seems like quite a rare thing these days. I don’t think there are many bands who are making music which actually means anything. There’s nothing to identify with.”
Things, at last, were beginning to gather pace. Keane’s first UK tour saw Tom, Richard and Tim performing at venues up and down the country to audiences of between five and 300 people. They didn’t look like many other bands – there was no guitarist, a factor which might send some purists screaming into the hills but, Richard says, really wasn’t a conscious decision.
By the time spring 2003 rolled around, the boys were out on the road again, and labels were already putting offers on the table. “All we were after was the opportunity to make the right record with the right people,” Tom shrugs – which is where Island stepped in. “We’ve never wanted to be a small, cult band,” Tom adds. “We want to get our music heard by as many people as we possibly can, because that’s why we’re making it.”
Throw in a startling appearance in the New Bands tent at the Reading and Leeds Carling Weekend, more plaudits for the boys’ second single ‘This Is The Last Time’. And, once again, it sounds like all the bands who’ve ever meant anything to anyone, but at the same time it only sounds like Keane.
“People often say that they wish they’d been around in the 60s,” Tom says. “But we’re happy just where we are. We love rock’s back catalogue, and now we’ve got a chance to add to it. After all, tunes never go out of fashion.”