Interview Tim and Tom - Zénith de Paris - November 20th 2008
Keane.Fr : Last time we saw each other it was 2 years ago here...
Tim : Yeah it’s a nice venue.
So how was it to come back to a European tour after being away for a while?
Tim : It feels very good, it’s a pretty good tour, very fun. The crowd has been good and the new songs have been going down really well judging from last night, working that out.
Tom : It’s been fun trying to find out a kind of setlist that really flows, I think by the last few days on the main part of the tour, it was just last week, I think we really felt we got something really great.. so yeah it’s great, it's really exciting to get to play from 3 records now.
Talking about anniversary date, your first proper gig was 4 years ago almost day for day (27/11/04)...
Tom : Whereabouts was that, I can't even remember?
Tim : The Batofar
Tom : The Batofar! I seem to remember this ship was kinda rocking slowly.
Tim : The Elysée Montmartre was different though. It was something nice, it was a good one i remember that, it was great it was quite an exciting adventure!
Tom : It’s pretty amazing we’re now playing such a huge place.
Yeah le Batofar is like the tiniest venue in Paris and that's the second biggest...
Tom : France is one of the first places that we came, or maybe Germany.
Tim : Probably.
Tom : I suppose we made our music... we had these expectations of how popular it might be in Britain but you just never know how it’s gonna be like abroad so it’s great. It’s kinda growing from that point and cos so many people who don't have english as their first language who sort of know the songs inside out and the songs really kinda mean a huge amount to them, we got I suppose... we never take that for granted so it's a pretty inspiring thing to see that.
The album Perfect symmetry was only out on Monday here in France, like a month after the release, do you think the gig will be any different from what you did in Europe?
Tom : Ah it’ll be more special (laughs). I would imagine?
Tim : Well it's the same, when we started the tour it was nearly a month ago, just after the album came out really, so people were still getting to know the album when we were in (where did we start ?)... Holland ?
Tom : Antwerp
Tim : Antwerp! And Germany... I think it always takes a few months for people to l ike consider that, it'll be a while before people know "You haven’t told me anything" as well as they know "Everybody’s changing" or whatever but actually I think that the new songs are very accessible, a lot of them and also very danceable, it's all about tempo. I genuinely found on the tour that people responded really well to the new ones especially, i guess they're more energetic. ÇThat would be really good, it would be a really good gig here last time I thought so hopefully... it'll be good
Tom : They'll be booing us off (laughs)
With Jesse joining in, how did it change your dynamic as a band whether it was recording in the studios or live on stage now ?
Tom : I think it helped in every part of what we do, when he first came to play with us it was just liberating to not have to have the bass part... well in fact the very first time he was just with us for the Mencap thing, then the Warchild gig. And I think we all felt great to have someone there providing that support as opposed to the computer and again the same thing has applied as soon as we started rehearsing the songs back in January we felt great having him there, it was much easier to run through stuff, have another creative person in the room, and he's become a good friend as well so I think this very aspect of what he’s done has been a really great contribution to it and he made it, he rocks live so it’s cool. We're just very happy. And the bass part on the record is fantastic so I guess it's just another, a new element to Keane.
Tim : Everything about making this album was just not worrying about whatever we might consider to be constrain in the past. We talked many times about whether we should get a bass player and it’s kind of a long earliest discussions about it and eventually we sort of said no and then actually we did record with Jesse, it was just worth trying and it worked. And the same could be said about pretty much everything else, an idea then that we did, we just thought well if it is an idea there it's worth trying it out I suppose as opposed to thinking about it and then not trying it in the end, and so the best ideas came out about this sense of just feeling free about it so yeah it's been good.
Why did you choose to add some french in Black Burning Heart? Why French and why these verses?
Tim : Well we recorded that song here at the Grande Armée studios. We spent a long time working on that song when we were in Paris, I guess it just absorbed a lot of the influences being here and we have this part of the song where nothing was happening.... I think it was a good idea.
Tom : I think the song is quite ...well, i don't know, maybe it's just thinking about all the time, there's something close to the French about the song, it’s very dark, and quite passionate - very passionate.
Tim : and poetic.
Tom : and very poetic exactly... And it kind of lend itself... French is such a beautiful sounding language!
Tim : I love the idea I think we knew that it was a really uncool idea... I’m sure there must have been some songs in the 80s that people do like that are totally unfashionable basically and so many people have said to us, well lots of people love it but quite a few people said “I hate the bit with the French words”, the more people said it the more I thought it was a great idea to make it. I just love the fact that no one else would dare to do it, and I think it just sounds great, sounds like Tom said it sounds ... mysterious ... it fits with the song.
And Tom is great you’re here : why don’t you sing it live?
Tom: you never know... (laughs).
Tim : the guy who speaks on the record is here.
Oh that’s great, he came on the board to explain who he was, cos people where wondering if it was you speaking in French...
Tom : no no, but there can be some suprises in order tonight...
3 albums and 3 different atmospheres, it isn't up to anyone to be able to try that succeed like you did. Yet despite the new sound, lots of fans still find the "Keane touch" in most of the songs, except maybe on Spiralling and "Better than this", was it something planned?
Tom : I think the Keane touch will always be there because that’s who we are, and I think the heart of Keane is always gonna be the same: Tim songs and my singing, and Richard drum parts. There's something about that however experimental, you became, you could never be someone different, that’s always going to have a part of us in it, but it's important to change and some people don't like it but for us we have to do it, cause all the people that have inspired us are people that have done something different, have done something that goes against the grain or kept changing what they do as they go along so I think that’s how we are.
That’s part of who we are as much as the voice and the piano and the songs themselves and so... I don’t know, we’ll keep doing that...
BTT and Spiralling are pretty different sounding but I think in terms of the songs and the message of the songs they come straight from us I suppose. They're just very honest and very Keane like.
Oasis just released their new album on their own label and Travis did the same. You've done the production for this album, is having your own label something you'd like?
Tom : I think the longer we go on the more we realize that when you do things with yourselves and when you make it, when you make music or whatever you do in fact in terms of the band, the best thing are always the most personal in a nice sort of direct reflections of what you think as a band so I suppose that’s the reason why we produced it ourselves, we just wanted to get back to when we did things... when we were just making demos for years and years (laughs). We really enjoyed that, we really enjoyed the sense of we've just creating them it just feel awesome. I think... I don’t know... (looking at Tim) will we make our own record label? I don't really know...
Tim : It’s a strange one really. Things are changing so much in the record industry... What would be bad would be for us to end up just becoming businessmen. The good thing about having a record label is that you get someone else to worry about the business side, and we just focus on music. Who knows? we shall see...
Tim, in their last gig in Paris, AIR has changed their Yamaha CP70 for a grand piano (yet keeping the other keyboards), would it be something you'd like to do too?
Tim : Not really, I don’t know, a big white grand piano...
Tom : I’d love the big white for a concert live.
Tim : So you could lie on it.
Tom : Yeah Michael Jackson style.
Tim : Yeah so I could be David Bowie.
Tom : oh yeah !
Tim : I don’t know. I think we might have a real upright piano, the grand piano is a bit too classical for me, I'm not so into it but i'd like to have more kind of synthesizers and stuff.
But it was like for one gig they just change the CP70 and keep the other synths around...
Tim : Yeah I’d be up for it! We've done a couple of acoustic gig with grand piano anyway, we did a couple in America...
Tom : I think the practicality is one of the main reasons why we’re not carrying a grand piano around.
Rufus on the European tour in 2005 was carrying a grand piano wasn’t he? or he played on one for each venue?
Tim : No i think it was just an electronic keyboard...
He played on one at the Olympia...
Tim : A couple of gigs he played on a grand piano.
Tom : It's more about the kind of, i suppose, the sound of a classical instrument, I don’t know I think I just can’t imagine it, I can’t imagine a grand piano sounded as great on a song like Crystal ball or something (laughs).
Tim : The good thing about the CP70 is that the sound is so crap, I mean the sound is much smaller so that’d fit into a band but the grand piano when you try to plug it in a song it normally sound too harmonically rich and it just takes over everything and we would end up using the CP70 again...
Tom : We reserve my voice for taking over (laughs).
Tim: Yeah ... The number one instrument!
And to finish Tom, we asked Tim and Richard before : do you know any songs in French?
Tom : Well I watched the La vie en Rose, that film about Edith Piaf, so I’m knowing some of the songs from the film, I’ve listened to some Edith Piaf. But otherwise I’m not sure I do, there's a lot of great french hip hop stuff, you probably more than I do. Could you recommand anything?
(laughs) I don’t know not like that, we’re listening to more british music or we wouldn’t be here (laughs)
Tom : I dunno it's funny, isn't it ? there's periods of time where different countries have excelled musically, I think that at this particular point in time probably the best music is coming out britain and america but it was not the case 100 years ago or 50 years ago, it's sort of constantly changing. So I’m sure France will have its time again in terms of popular music i don't really know... I'm sure there's some great stuff, I wouldn't want to offend all the French...
Tim : When we were here when we've been recording, we borrowed a big synthetizer off Phoenix, you should know them, they’re more than great.
Yeah but they’re more famous in the US or Japan than in France actually !
Tim : Really? Isn’t Ben Farrow french?
I don’t know him.... Justice are big at the moment, AIR also...
Tim : AIR yeah.
Tom : Daft Punk are French, aren’t they?
Tim : I think they are.
Daft Punk? Yes!
Tom : They do allright, they’re not too great, French dancefloor scene (laughs).
Well thank you very much!