Keane.fr : How are you Tim?
Tim : Very well.
How do you like the venue here?
It’s lovely. It’s great, it sounds good, it’s very posh… it’s like being in a opera house in…
Jesse : France! (laughs) It’s like being in a opera house in Paris.
So it’s been four years since your last gig in a venue in France: what do you have to say in your defence?
It’s terrible, it’s embarrassing. We did Rock en Seine which is only memorable for Oasis.
It wasn’t our fault!
You plead not guilty on this one?
Yes. That was a good festival.
Maybe we should take credit? It was a great festival.
Well the location is nice too, you were talking about an opera house and it’s like a castle’s gardens.
You have a new album out and it’s a very happy album, very uplifting tone, what happened to Keane to have such a good spirit?
We started just started drinking at breakfast (laughs), it made everything seem easier. I don’t know, I think it has something to do with being a bit older probably, just trying to approach everything with a bit more grace. But you know the mood has its ups and downs and we’re just trying to reflect life.
Well it’s good if it’s reflecting your life to have a happy album now.
Jesse, how did the making of a Keane album go for you as an official band member?
I felt like I was allowed to stick my opinions in, but it was really different than last time cos we were in Tim’s studio, a big expensive studio in Polegate so it was quite calm and relax and we could just work at our own pace. So maybe that’s why it’s such a good album.
Tim how is it to have now 3 other voices to give their opinions on the songs?
It’s good, 4 heads are better than one, 4 heads are better than 3. It’s great. Obviously it means there’s one more person to argue with but you have to see that’s a good thing really in a creative process. Jesse is really good for seeing songs from a different point of view, kind of early on in the process, so he worked a lot on demos with me and poured a lot of great ideas, helped to shape the sound, it’s been brilliant.
Is that Jesse’s main addition… basically what’s Jesse main addition to the band? Apart from being a good fellow I guess?
I’m not that good.
Yes, certainly not music, anything but music!
It’s a hard question!
No, lots of things… Jesse is a much better musician than the rest of us. For me I think we both kind of share an obsessive approach to music like him but just love it. So having that thing about Jesse being aboard early on the songs… I’d do a demo and send it to him and he would change lots of the sounds, sort of come up with a new version that sounded much better so it’s great to have someone else to listen with fresh ears and lots of creative ideas and someone who really want to put the time in making the best album possible right from early on and that takes a long long time…
…lots of patience to do that, so you have to have kind of an unhealthy level of dedication.
It’s funny cos you say it’s a new fresh opinion but critics and fans seem to think it’s a back to the roots album, with more piano songs like in « Hopes and fears », and locally too with the gigs in Bexhill… What is like a conscious decision or did it just happen?
I don’t really know… I think it’s quite piano-y but I don’t really feel that it goes back to the first album. I think that if you listen to « Hopes and fears » and « Strangeland » together they don’t really sound very similar. The textures of the new album are much more varied, the first album is really it’s a lot of piano and nothing else, and this album is more atmospheric, more interesting sonically, lots more layers and atmospheric textures. I feel like it’s a much more interesting album than « Hopes and fears » in lots of ways, emotionally… I think the only thing we wanted to get back to was a real quality of songwriting and also being kind of accessible so the people hear the song once and fall in love with them hopefully.
Dan Grech who produced the album wanted to bring back all the things he loved about Keane in the first place like the piano, effective piano and stuff like that, and Tom’s vocal bring those back to the forefront, to make it more forefront to the band sound and less synthesizers and stuff like that I guess.
Was it a hard album to make or was it an easy flow to go through?
I never been involved in an album that was easy to make! Not that I’ve very much experience but no it was not easy at all. It was fun! The songwriting part was hard and I guess the first half of last year it was hard to try to get the songs the right approach, but by the time we got we done all this preparation and then Dan came in and it then actually started to be quite easy, we had layered these foundations. We had the songs, we had most of the ideas, we knew how we wanted it to sound, so it was quite nice for then to let someone else come in, get a producer to worry about the little decisions, that part was fun and easy. Even the hard parts are fun really, even if you’re arguing about stuff, it’s good if everybody cares and offer to argue.
When you love music, sitting to work on one keyboard part many times a day, even if you’re not playing keyboard, it’s just still something about it that’s revigorating in some strange way.
There are 4 extra songs on the deluxe edition, was it hard to make the decision on which songs were to be on the album and which ones would be the bonus ones?
I guess it was. Those were songs we worked on as potential songs to go on the album early in the process but I think the only one I really feel I’m sad it wasn’t on the album was probably « Strangeland » cos I really love that song. It was difficult but I think you can feel the difference between the songs: « Run with me » is a bit more Perfect Symmetry feeling, « The boys » doesn’t sound like the rest of Strangeland. Part of the decision making principles was trying to get 12 songs that really felt like they hang together, and really felt like a journey and anything that felt that didn’t belong fell on the bonus track pile. But I really love those songs. There was just a lot of work on those as well, especially « Run with me ».
And do you have any b-sides left for the singles?
There are lots of songs, I don’t know how many more we’ve actually recorded… Are there any other? Oh there is « Myth »…
There’s still ones we haven’t even attempted to play.
There are so many songs and I think some really good ones but we just need to make time to actually record them.
We were listening to the album in the car this weekend, rehearsing for tonight as it’s brand new, and I thought it was a great soundtrack for a road trip, especially as the sun was setting in the background. What would be your ideal/dream road trip and what would its soundtrack be?
That’s an easy question for me cos I always wanted to do the classic Route 66 in a really old convertible, but not a posh convertible, a beaten up from the 70s or something and just listen to Chuck Berry, Bruce Springsteen, anything super American. (laughs)
I’ve done that and it was amazing, I totally recommend it. We didn’t take any CDs so we just went to gas stations and bought whatever they had, strange gas stations in the middle of nowhere so we ended up with a CD of Colombian folk music and a Johnny Cash Greatest Hits and Willie Nelson…
That sounds perfect!
It was great! Actually I did have an ABBA CD that I’d burned from my computer cos we were getting desperate for something other than Americana. It was amazing, that is the best road trip you can do.
While listening to the album I found myself air drumming on « Sovereign light cafe » for example, which is new for me on Keane! Did you work on the drum part especially for that album?
I think Rich plays very well on this record, he pretty nailed it. And I think they’re probably quite fun songs to play, they’ve got lot of energy, we played them so much before recording them, I think you can feel that, the enthusiasm. There is lot of uptempo stuff as well, « Sovereign light cafe » where he drives along, « Silenced by the night » as well, and « You are young ».
Well we’ll see how it goes live!
It’s gonna be good!
Have you ever thought of or being contacted to put your songs on video games like Rock Band? They have a keyboard now!
My wife’s sister has got a computer game that’s got a couple of Keane songs, I think it’s Rock Band… I don’t know or a karaoke (note : it’s Sing Star). I don’t suppose we’ll be on Guitar Hero anytime soon, or Piano Hero.
I think it’s great that stuff!
It is! I have it at home and it’s even more fun to play, especially with the keyboard as they’ve added more pop songs, so it’d be great to see some Keane ones.
It’d be great but I don’t think it’s up to us!
And what about Mt. Desolation? Do you guys have some further plans after this Keane album?
We both would like to do more songs, it was so much fun, there was so little pressure, even before we were recording it, for it to get released, which made the whole thing joyful. Nothing else but the music to worry about, so it was great.
The touring was fun as well, the tour was great fun. We were spoiled with Mumford and Sons in America for a week as part of their tour, that was great.
Cos when you support the pressure is off you even more and you can let them worry about it being a great night, so we just went for it and people liked it.
And how did it work with all the collaborations, with all the band members?
It was quite chaotic, it was brilliant fun though, lots of great musicians… and then us. (laughs) It’d be nice to work with different people, to do more albums with different people every time. By the time we finished touring we had a really good rapport within – I was about to say « Do you know the word « rapport »? » but it’s a French word… – within this live band and it’d be nice to see the guys again I think, if we can get a dream team, if we can afford them! It’ll be cool.
Did working on this side project helped you with the new Keane album or are they to completely different things?
I think it did definitely, it affected the song writing. It’s a very emotional record, from my heart… writing instinctively, not having to worry about the Keane agenda or what people think of the Keane album when it comes out. It was nice to write emotional love songs and it felt well as it’s the kind of songs I enjoy writing and people really connect to them. So I wanted to try do do more that on the Keane album. And playing together as a band sort of the way we did with the Mt. Desolation album felt more organic and bouncing off each other, feeding off each other’s energy in the room definitely brought that same approach to the Keane album as well, so that was pretty cool, definitely a cool step I would say.
It was nice to hear something different from Keane, at least from you guys…
We both love music and lots of different kinds of music. I love the songs now, I think the songs are really good, I think it’s fat say but it’s how I feel. And now we’re confident about singing so it’s…
We need to let professional to do it next time! (laughs)
That’s the thing, you just think it’d be amazing to have Tom singing all these songs but then a part of us thought we could have a go with ourselves.
You can afford it it’s folk music, see Bob Dylan! (laughs)
To conclude Jesse, it’s your first interview with us and every band member had to go through this… do you know any French songs?
You know the first thing that popped into my mind wasn’t a French song but it says a lot about my personality cos the first thing I heard in my head was « Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? » (laughs). I guess there are lots of French artists aren’t they, and songs that get played on the radio from time to time. Do people still listen to Serge Gainsbourg?
They do, it’s classics now so you hear them on the radio.
There are great stories I reckon on having sex with what’s her name again?
Yes, apparently they were having sex during the recording and I’m like « Have you ever been in a recording studio? » » (laughs)
So tell us about sex during the recording of « Strangeland »… (laughs)
It’s not a sexual process making a record, it’s bloody tiring!
Well it was a different era too. I saw a documentary about the Stones recording an album in the South of France…
Both : Yes!
And it seemed it wasn’t much about recording music…
Yes it was chaos!