Keane (pronounced ) is an English piano rock band that formed in Battle, East Sussex in 1995, and took its current name in late 1997. The group comprises composer, bassist, and pianist Tim Rice-Oxley; lead vocalist Tom Chaplin; and drummer Richard Hughes. Their original line-up included founder and guitarist Dominic Scott, who left in 2001. Keane are known for using a piano as their lead instrument instead of guitars, differentiating them from most rock bands. The inclusion of a distorted piano effect in 2006 and various synthesizers were a common feature in their music that back then combined the piano rock sound used during their first album and the piano rock sound which developed during 2005. For their latest tracks, Keane have used new instrumentation such as violins, saxophone and, once again, acoustic guitar.
Their first two studio albums, Hopes and Fears and Under the Iron Sea, achieved success in the United Kingdom upon release and very high sales worldwide: their multi-award-winning debut was the best-selling British album of 2004, and their sophomore sold up to 222,000 copies during its first week on sale in June 2006. In May 2008, both Hopes and Fears (#13) and Under the Iron Sea (#8) were voted by readers of Q magazine within the best British albums ever; Keane, The Beatles, Oasis and Radiohead were the only musical acts having two albums in the top 20.
Early years and formation
Rice-Oxley's brother ??? also called Tom ??? was born a couple of months after Chaplin, who was born on 8 March 1979. Their mothers became friends, as did Chaplin and Rice-Oxley. Tom Chaplin's father David was the headmaster of Vinehall School in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, (owned by Chaplin's family) for 25 years, the school all three attended until the age of 13. They later attended Tonbridge School in Kent, where Rice-Oxley met Dominic Scott; both of them discovered rapidly their liking for music,(Chaplin had also learned to play the flute) but none of them considered it as a proper career at the time.
In 1995, while studying at University College, London for a degree in classics, Rice-Oxley managed to form a rock band with Scott, and invited Hughes to play drums. The Lotus Eaters started as a cover band, playing songs by the members' favourite bands, including U2, Oasis, and The Beatles, and rehearsing at home.
After listening to Rice-Oxley's piano playing during a weekend at Virginia Water, Surrey in 1997, Chris Martin invited him to join his newly formed band Coldplay. However, Rice-Oxley declined because he did not want to leave The Lotus Eaters, stating "I was seriously interested, but Keane were already operational and Coldplay's keyboard player idea was dropped." Because of Martin's offer, and although Hughes and Scott were originally opposed to it, Chaplin joined the band in 1997, taking Rice-Oxley's place as vocalist and adding himself as the acoustic guitarist. Chaplin's recruitment also marked a change of name from The Lotus Eaters to Cherry Keane, after a friend of Chaplin's mother, whom Rice-Oxley and Chaplin knew when they were young. She took care of them and would tell them to go for their dreams. At her death from cancer, she had left money for Chaplin's family. Chaplin commented "I used some of the money to see me through the harder times with the music." The name was shortened to Keane soon afterwards.
Chaplin departed for South Africa in summer 1997 to work as a volunteer during his gap year. Chaplin's early experiences there would later be reflected in the band's position for the Make Poverty History campaign. Returning a year later on July 1998 following a meeting with great friend David Lloyd Seaman, Hughes's first words when the band picked up Chaplin at the airport were "we've got a gig in ten days." With original material, Keane made their debut live appearance at the "Hope & Anchor" pub on 13 July 1998. In this same year, Chaplin went to Edinburgh University to study for a degree in art history. However, he later quit his degree and moved to London, in order to pursue a full-time musical career with his friends. After their debut performance, the band went touring London's pub gig circuit throughout 1998 and 1999.
Early releases and Scott's departure
In late 1999, and without a record deal yet, Keane recorded their first promotional single, "Call Me What You Like". Released on CD format through Keane's own label, Zoomorphic, it was sold after live performances at the pubs where Keane used to play in early 2000. Only five hundred copies were printed. The tracks, however, can be found on the internet. The band have declared they are not against fans sharing tracks unreleased on CD, such as the "More Matey" and "Emily" demo tracks. Chaplin has commented "they most likely see those recordings as an interesting extra to get hold of and I don't see it causing any damage. If it was the album we have coming out leaked early (Under the Iron Sea) then I'd probably feel differently." The EP was reviewed by Bec Rodwell from eFestivals who listed "Closer Now" as the best song of the record.
Four months after the "Call Me What You Like" re-recording session in February 2001, their second single, "Wolf at the Door" was released. Only fifty hand-made copies are known to have been made, using unlabelled CD-Rs. Both singles are considered highly valuable collectors' items by fans. In particular, "Wolf at the Door" has been known to be sold for over ??1000 on eBay.
Because of the limited success Keane had at this time, Scott decided to leave the group a month after this single was released in order to continue his studies at the LSE. Before this, in November 2000, Keane had been invited by record producer James Sanger to his recording studio at Les Essarts, France, where the band recorded a number of tracks from August to November 2001, including "Bedshaped" and "This Is the Last Time". It was during these sessions that the idea of using a piano as lead instrument began to emerge. Sanger received a shared credit for four songs that appeared on Keane's debut album Hopes and Fears, including the song "Sunshine", the only one composed there.
The remaining members of the band returned to England in November 2001. Soon after, they signed to BMG to publish their music, but at this time they did not have yet a recording contract. 2002 was a hard year for Keane. All recording or live performances were stopped and Scott's feeling of going nowhere was starting to emerge in Rice-Oxley and Chaplin as they stood at home smoking and listening to records.
In December 2002, Keane returned to performing live. Luckily, one gig at the Betsey Trotwood in London was attended by Simon Williams of Fierce Panda Records, the same man who had discovered Coldplay years previously. Williams offered to release the first commercial single by the band. This release would be "Everybody???s Changing", which Steve Lamacq went on to name single of the week on Lamacq Live on 19 April 2003; the CD Single was released on 12 May 2003.
As a result of the attention created by this release, a bidding war for the band ensued between major labels, with the band deciding to sign with Island Records in summer 2003. The band released "This Is the Last Time" on Fierce Panda, in October 2003, as the final release on that label.
Hopes and Fears
With the release of their first major single, Keane began to achieve recognition in the United Kingdom and the United States, where "This Is the Last Time" was released and remained as the only single sold there until "Crystal Ball" in late 2006. In January 2004, Keane was named the band most likely to achieve success in the coming year in the BBC's Sound of 2004 poll; additionally, this year is popularly referred to as one of the best years for new British music.
A month later, Keane's first release on Island was "Somewhere Only We Know", which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart in February 2004. On 4 May, a re-release of "Everybody???s Changing" followed and featured new cover and b-sides; it reached number four in the UK Singles Chart.
Keane's debut album, Hopes and Fears, was released on 10 May 2004 in the UK, just a day before the band started their first world tour. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and went on to become the second-biggest selling album of the year in the UK, only losing the top spot to Scissor Sisters on the last day of the year.
The album has sold approximately five and a half million copies worldwide. In the UK, it stayed in the top 75 of the UK Albums Chart for 72 weeks, appearing again on its 115th week.
The band won two awards at the 2005 BRIT Awards in February; Best British album for Hopes and Fears and the British breakthrough act award, as voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1, defeating bands such as Muse or Franz Ferdinand. Three months after, Rice-Oxley received the Ivor Novello award for songwriter of the year.
As members of the Make Poverty History foundation, Keane performed "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Bedshaped" at the Live 8 concert, which took place in London on 2 July 2005. Keane are also patrons of War Child, and in September 2005, they recorded a cover version of Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" to the charity album Help: a Day in the Life. Previously, the band also had recorded a cover of the Walker Brothers' "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore", which was available as a download-only track from the War Child website. It was later released as a 7" single as a gift to members of the Keane e-mailing list.
As the 1985 version, Band Aid (now called Band Aid 20) recorded a new version of "Do They Know It's Christmas?". Rice-Oxley and Chaplin both contributed vocals.
During the year, the band achieved minor recognition in the U.S. from their extensive touring, which culminated with a series of gigs as the opening act for U2. The group were also nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category along with Sugarland, John Legend, Ciara, and Fall Out Boy, but ultimately lost out to Legend.
Under the Iron Sea
In April 2005, in the middle of the Hopes and Fears tour, the band began recording their second album, Under the Iron Sea with producer Andy Green, who also worked with them previously on Hopes and Fears and they later recruited Mark "Spike" Stent for mixing duties. Recording took place in Helioscentric Studios, Rye, East Sussex, where Hopes and Fears was recorded. Additional recording was done at The Magic Shop Studios in New York City. The band revealed the title of the album on 14 March 2006 by posting a handwritten note on their official website.
The album's release was preceded by the release of "Atlantic", a download-only music video and the lead single "Is It Any Wonder?", which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart as well as earning them another Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Group / Duo in 2008. The album had a worldwide release date of 12 June 2006 (see the album's article for exceptions), and was at number 1 in the UK Albums Chart for the first two weeks of its release. As of 22 May 2007, it had sold more than 2,200,000 copies. The album has met with critical acclaim, with press referring to it as "dark and heavy", and commenting that it may attract a new, wider audience. The third single from the album was "Crystal Ball", with Chaplin describing it as "one the catchiest and memorable songs on the record". The single was released on 21 August 2006, reaching number 20 in the UK singles charts. The fourth single from Under the Iron Sea was "Nothing in My Way", released on 30 October 2006, which received particular success on Mexican commercial radio, charting on Top 3 in 13 January 2007 and staying a month on that chart. The band released the single "The Night Sky" in aid of the charity War Child. The song is written from the perspective of a child about the war-torn devastation around them, and became available via War Child's official website on 22 October before going on general release on 29 October.
Even before the release of the album (in May 2006), Keane had started their second world tour that would promote the album. However, because of the extensive touring, on 22 August 2006, Chaplin announced he had admitted himself to a clinic for drinking and drug problems. This initially resulted in the cancellation of three gigs and postponement of their September US tour. The entire North American tour was later cancelled outright to allow continued treatment. As a result, the upcoming UK and European tours - scheduled for October and November 2006 - were considered to be liable for possible postponement depending on Chaplin's treatment. Chaplin then left the Priory Clinic in London on 6 October, although he continued to receive treatment. The tour reached for the first time South American countries (Argentina, Chile and Brazil) and saw the band's third visit to Mexico in late April with four dates, playing at the downtown z??calo in Mexico City, as well their first visit to Monterrey and Guadalajara, with outstanding success. Ton Chaplin, when interviewed for Mexican Radio Station stated to be: "amazed and surprised to get to experience such a warm response from the mexican crowd." They always figured they were big in Europe, but not so big outside the continent. Mexico proved them wrong. On 7 July 2007, Keane played at the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, part of a series of gigs similar to Live 8, to highlight the threat of global warming. They performed "Somewhere Only We Know", "Is It Any Wonder?" and "Bedshaped". The Under the Iron Sea tour was brought to an end with performances in Oporto, Portugal, and at the Natural Music Festival in El Ejido, Spain, on 3 August and 4 respectively.
In early October, Concert Live announced they were releasing a limited edition 9-CD set (1000 per concert) of every Keane live performance in the UK during October 2006 under the name Keane Live 06.
The first single release from Perfect Symmetry. Intro sample.
Main article: Perfect Symmetry (Keane album)
In a March 2007 video interview, Chaplin and Hughes spoke of wanting to take a more "organic" approach on album three, but played down suggestions about the use of guitars, referring to them as "a fun part of the live set" at present; however, the cover of "She Sells Sanctuary", became the first song recorded since "The Happy Soldier" (2001) to feature the instrument. Photographic updates to the Keane website also implied the use of guitars in the album's recording sessions.
On 31 July 2008, Keane's website was changed to display a timer counting down to 4 August, the date set for the release of "Spiralling", the first single from the album, which was available as a free download until 11 August. This track reveals a different sound to that of both previous albums, and has hints of the vocal style of The Killers' Brandon Flowers, having Chaplin waver in and out of half notes. While Hopes and Fears majored on powerful piano-driven ballads, and Under the Iron Sea featured electronic rock and distortion piano sounds, "Spiralling" has more of a pop feel, using synthesizers for the second time, and electric guitar for the first time.
On 25 August 2008, Keane appeared as studio guests on BBC 6 Music with Steve Lamacq where three of the new songs from Perfect Symmetry were played for the first time: "Spiralling", "The Lovers Are Losing", and "Better Than This".
The song "Love Is the End" was also aired on a Portuguese radio station where the DJ referred to the song as being "The Lovers Are Losing" leaving some to believe that the song was accidentally played. The song "Love Is the End" also contains the musical saw which Rice-Oxley had referred to in a note on the band's website.
The album was released on 13 October 2008, and reached number one on the UK Albums Chart on 19 October. It also reached number 7 on the US Billboard 200. On December 2008 it was voted best album of the year by the readers, listeners and visitors of Q Magazine, Q Radio and Qthemusic.com. The song "Perfect Symmetry" was voted best track.
In November of the same year, they started their third world tour, the Perfect Symmetry Tour.
On April 2 2009, Keane became the first band ever to broadcast a live show in 3D. It was filmed at Abbey Road, the site of the world's first satellite broadcast (by The Beatles). Keane fans were prompted to buy 3D glasses along with the new 7" single, "Better Than This", or also to hand-make their own glasses. The show is available to watch on Keane's official site in high definition.
During the 50 years aniversery of Island Records (Keane's label) Keane also recorded a cover of Pulp's Disco 2000, which was released on the Island Records 50 years anniversary album.
In an interview with NME at the 2009 V Festival, Chaplin stated that a mini-album is scheduled to be released in May 2010. This will also feature a track in collaboration with K'naan.
On September 17 2009, in Thunder Bay Ontario, Keane performed a brand new song called, "Sovereign Light Cafe".
In late October 2006, Rice-Oxley collaborated with Gwen Stefani as a co-writer of the song "Early Winter", released later in 2007 as a single, from her album, The Sweet Escape, as well as two more tracks. Stefani had been wishing to work with the band since 2005 and Rice-Oxley responded by saying "we might give it a go".
Musical style and themes
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Tim Rice-Oxley and Dominic Scott were the main writers of the band's songs during their early years. When Scott left in 2002, Rice-Oxley became the main composer. However, Rice-Oxley credits the rest of the band on all compositions, so that royalties for song credits are shared.
Keane have cited bands such as a-ha, Beatles, U2, R.E.M., Radiohead, Queen, and Pet Shop Boys as major influences. The band has been known as "the band with no guitars", because of its heavily piano-based sound. By using delay and distortion effects on their piano sound, they often create sounds that aren't immediately recognisable as piano. Rice-Oxley said during an interview in Los Angeles that they tend to think piano-related music is boring and what they really wanted to do was try something different. He referred to the piano as an odd instrument to form part of a rock band instrumentation, comparing it to The Beatles' set of instruments. Rice-Oxley's aforementioned distortion piano has set most of Keane's multifaceted style, varying from Hip Hop on "Dirtylicious" to house on "Tyderian".
During their early years most songs were about love or broken relationships (most notably "She Has No Time" and "On a Day Like Today"). However, other themes ??? including the relationship between Rice-Oxley and Chaplin ??? have emerged in more recent compositions. Other themes have been explored; for example, "Is It Any Wonder?" and "A Bad Dream" are both about war.
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Because of the piano-based music and the alternative sound of the debut album, critics first regarded Keane as Coldplay imitators; the media however, in supporting Keane, started calling them the "new Coldplay", with reference to their recent commercial success. Newer bands such as Morning Runner and The Fray have been compared to both Keane and Coldplay for the piano-oriented sound of their music.
Live and studio instrumentation
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After Scott departed, Rice-Oxley started using a Yamaha CP-70 piano, a quality instrument especially designed for touring that he read about in a Beatles book written by their producer, George Martin. A Nord Lead 3 synthesizer is currently used to play solos and located during the gigs on the top of the main piano. Main instrumentation includes:
Yamaha CP-70 electric piano
Yamaha CP-60 distortion piano
Fender Rhodes electric piano
Clavia Nord Lead 3 synthesizer
Fender Electric Guitars
An Apple MacBook Pro is used during live performances. The computer software includes an electronic click-track transmitted wirelessly to the musicians' Sennheiser earphones to aid accurate playback. It also controls occasional extra synthesizer sections that would be impossible to play live with the current line-up. In October 2004, when "Hamburg Song" and "Nothing in My Way" debuted, Chaplin played a Hammond MK2 organ, having played no instrument in the live band since 2001. Following this, in 2006 he started to play a distorted CP60 (an upright version of the Yamaha CP70) for some songs like "The Frog Prince", Try Again and "A Bad Dream". Recently they have been using a Yamaha S90ES for their on-stage piano and Rhodes sounds.
Since October 2006's UK tour, Chaplin has also played acoustic guitar during gigs, particularly during "Your Eyes Open" which was performed in an acoustic set-up. For the band's Christmas in-store gig at the Apple Store in London's Regent Street on 12 December 2006, this was expanded to include the songs "A Bad Dream" and "Is It Any Wonder?". During this performance, Rice-Oxley also played a bass guitar live to accompany "This Is the Last Time", while Chaplin took the lead performing a new piano arrangement of the song on the CP-70. The band have often claimed that this is to put something different into live tracks.
Their current touring line-up (2009) includes bassist/ percussionist Jesse Quin, who played on the Perfect Symmetry album and is sometimes referred to as the band's 4th member.
Since 2008, Chaplin has used a Fender Telecaster Electric Guitar when touring and in the studio in various songs.
Tim Rice-Oxley - principal songwriter, piano, keyboards, backing vocals (1995-present)
Tom Chaplin - lead vocals, organ, keyboards, lead guitar, acoustic guitar (1997-present)
Richard Hughes - drums, additional percussion (1995-present)
Jesse Quin - rhythm guitar, bass guitar, additional percussion (2008-present)
Quin, through his inclusion in the live band, is considered by fans an unofficial fourth member of Keane despite being excluded from the band's official biography.
Quin has reportedly been introduced with the band as a member during their 2009 tour.
Dominic Scott - lead vocals (1995-1997), backing vocals, lead guitar (1995-2001)
2008 - Present
Main backing vocals
Piano and keyboards
Tom Chaplin/Tim Rice-Oxley
^ Also performs harmony vocals with Hughes during live performances since 2006, and with Hughes and Quin from 2008 forward.
^ Scott occasionally stood in for Rice-Oxley on keyboards in 1997.
^ Since 2006 live; studio recordings from late 2008 forward.
^ From 2004 to 2008, live bass played by Apple computer synthesizer.