Keane set to perform new album in Bexhill: An interview with Tim Rice-Oxley

Tim Rice-Oxley (left) with Jesse Quin, Tom Chaplin and Richard Hughes. Picture by Alex Lake
Tim Rice-Oxley (left) with Jesse Quin, Tom Chaplin and Richard Hughes. Picture by Alex Lake

East Sussex rockers Keane are back together after a six-year hiatus and are ready to unleash their latest album at a special gig at De La Warr Pavilion.

The ‘instore’ show for Music’s Not Dead will be at the Bexhill venue on Friday, September 20 (doors 6pm), the day that they release their new record, Cause and Effect.

Keane. Picture by Jon Stone

Keane. Picture by Jon Stone

The band, who have sold more than 13 million records worldwide, will play their new work in its entirety and copies can be picked up after the performance.

There are a variety of reasons for the choice of venue, says keyboardist and songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley.

“The obvious one is that we’re all local,” he says. “We grew up in Battle and all of our formative years have been spent in East Sussex. There’s a big connection to Bexhill with our song ‘Sovereign Light Café’ and the band feels very rooted in that part of the country. We feel very treasured and very loved there.”

“It’s amazing to play at the De La Warr because it’s such an iconic venue,” he continues. “We’ve played there before and we’ve been to many gigs there. But the other thing is that we wanted to support Music’s Not Dead.”

Tim was saddened when the popular Devonshire Road record shop closed in September last year and spoke to owner Del Querns about doing something at one of their pop-up events.

Having got the band back together earlier this year after an extended break that started in 2013, Tim is optimistic about the future.

“There was just a feeling that we needed to take a bit of time out,” he explains. “Tom (Chaplin) was very keen to do his solo album (The Wave) so that was a big driving factor.”

“There was also a sense that we needed to break that rhythm of album, tour, album, tour, you know? It’s an amazing life but there was a danger that it was going to become...slightly less joyous that it had been.”

Fans will know that, before the split, there had been tensions within the group, partly stemming from frontman Tom Chaplin’s struggle with (and eventual escape from) drug addiction.

The hiatus period was somewhat rocky for Tim too who went through a difficult time in his personal life.

But, those dark days are behind Keane now and they found themselves reforming in a rather organic way.

“Basically I had a load of songs that I’d been working on my own,” Tim explains. “I decided to do a solo album...or that was my plan anyway, but I lost confidence in the whole concept. I didn’t desperately want or need to do a solo album for any reason. I just wanted to keep writing songs and keep putting out music.”

He continues: “To cut a long story short I played all these songs to Tom and he really loved them. They’re very personal, very vulnerable and emotional songs about the past few years of my life and Tom is a very old friend, my oldest friend, and I think he felt a very strong gut reaction to them. He came back really enthusiastically and passionately and wanted to join forces again.”

So what’s it been like working together once more?

“It’s been brilliant,” Tim says. “In many ways it’s the same as ever, we clicked back into place very quickly. But there was definitely a different atmosphere in terms of just being more supportive of each other and so positive and encouraging with each other. Trying to bring the best out of each other and appreciating what we all bring to Keane.”

“We pushed ourselves a lot sonically I think,” Tim says about the new album. “There was a desire right from the beginning to do something new and to kind of change up our sound and keep moving forward.”

They’re very proud of the result, which is unmistakably Keane, but more varied, atmospheric, intimate and even experimental with some synthesizer sounds, pop rhythms and “chopped up bits of audio”.

Cause and Effect, which features the singles ‘Love Too Much’ and ‘The Way I Feel’, certainly has a lot of emotional weight to it too.

“There’s a very strong theme,” Tim reveals. “Probably more than ever with a Keane album, which is really based around my marriage break-up I suppose.”

“I suppose I was writing it five years earlier,” Tim continues. “It was a kind of delayed reaction, a delayed outpouring of intense...well, partly grief. But partly I really enjoyed writing about how it got to that place in the first instance. How people react to those things when they happen, some of the good that comes out of it, some of the challenges that come out of it and some of the mental stuff that goes on and the mistakes you make along the way.”

“The lyrics I think are definitely more frank and brutal than they’ve ever been before in terms of honesty,” he continues. “The songs in themselves are quite unusual in that respect. They’re definitely very explicit emotionally and very open.”

Keane started touring again in June, enjoying the festival season in Europe, playing the Isle of Wight Festival and Glastonbury, some gigs in Paris, Berlin and America, plus a selection of smaller club shows.

“Just travelling around a bit,” Tim laughs. “Reminding people that we exist.”

But it doesn’t seem like their fans have forgotten.

“It’s been very validating and uplifting to see how much love there is for the band out there,” Tim says. “We kind of take that for granted sometimes. To feel that people are really thrilled to have us back and have been waiting for that, and to have so much love for the band. It means a lot.”

Now the musicians are ready for the next round of shows, first in the UK, then Mexico, Peru, Chile, Brazil and other South American countries. And, this time, they will be able to play more of their new material.

“We’ve had a brilliant summer playing festivals but we’ve only really been able to play a couple of new songs at every gig,” says Tim. “It’s a lot to ask people to listen to a load of songs they’ve never heard before, especially in a festival setting. So I think it will be really fun to be playing our own gigs and playing longer shows. By the time we start touring the album will be out and people will be starting to know the new songs and get their heads around the new album.”

“And I just like travelling the world generally,” he adds. “I like being a tourist.”

So, reformed and revitalised, Keane are back and fans will be happy to know that they’re the same as ever, just with a more positive outlook.

“I think we’ve changed as people,” Tim states. “Our roles in the band are essentially the same but I think the way we treat each other has changed.”

That’s not to say they were ever bad or unkind, he clarifies, just that everyone’s had some time to examine their own minds, which has been good for them.

“All of us, by which I mean like all humans, tend to repeat our mistakes and behave in certain ways that don’t necessarily benefit us or the people around us,” Tim says. “Sometimes you need a bit of a shock the system to realise that.”

“If you start interacting in a more positive and supportive way that changes the atmosphere in the studio, it changes the way you work creatively and the way you play together in the band,” he continues. “Then that feeds into the sound of the record and it feeds into the way you play onstage and the whole touring experience.”

“It has a huge impact on the way the band works.”

Find out more about the Bexhill gig here or visit Keane’s official website here.

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