Marriage splits, drunken crashes, drug binges… but Keane are finally back on song
They were one of the biggest bands of the Noughties, with a reputation for being public-school choirboys, so when Keane fell apart five years ago amid drug, alcohol and divorce issues, they even managed to shock themselves.
Now they are back with a new album, Cause And Effect, and when I meet lead singer Tom Chaplin and keyboardist and songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley, they are ready to reflect on the lowest points in a career that includes the hits Somewhere Only We Know and Everything’s Changing.
Chaplin, 40, leans back in his chair and looks at the more visibly shy and sensitive Rice-Oxley, 43. He says he had a revelation in 2015 after discovering his old band mate was in a police cell, having been found in a ditch in Sussex after crashing his car while drunk. ‘We hadn’t really spoken properly since we split up a year earlier and I always felt I was the one who had all the problems,’ says Chaplin. ‘To me, Tim was always the sensible one. All I thought was, how has this happened? ’
They were one of the biggest bands of the Noughties and now Keane are back with a new album, Cause And Effect
Rice-Oxley winces at the memory. ‘There I was,’ he says, ‘hung over in a police cell and I felt I’d just lost everything. I was pretty proud of the boxes I’d ticked over the past ten years – four No 1 albums, lovely wife, house in the country, kids. But I’d made a classic mistake of thinking the marriage, the children, the house would all just be there for me. I put all the effort into the success of the band and not into my family. And then the band split [in 2014], my marriage ended and I realised that everything that made sense had gone.’
His sadness is reflected in the orchestral melancholy of the new album. One song, Stupid Things, lists all the lies and excuses he would make to his wife, Jayne, to stay away from home as his seven-year marriage deteriorated. It is both personal and universal with a magical hook channelled through Chaplin’s angelic voice.
These days life is good for the band’s once drug-addicted lead singer, who is happily married to his wife of eight years, Natalie, with a five-year-old daughter. He has had ten years of ‘pretty heavy’ psychoanalysis and a stint in The Priory clinic. He relapsed after the band split, at one point going on a four-day bender that so terrified his wife she said goodbye to him, thinking he might die.
When Keane decided to reunite it was a redemptive moment. ‘We are kinder to each other, more aware and more supportive now,’ says Chaplin
‘That was my wake-up call,’ he says. ‘I left the band, decided to do a solo album and had a baby all at the same time as taking as many drugs as possible. And then you have to work out why you behaved like that. I needed hardcore analysis and it’s helped me change.
‘As a kid I had issues with confidence, and my way of dealing with it was drugs. I went to university to study art history when I was 18 and discovered that if I took a load of drugs I didn’t feel so insecure. I basically spent a year just taking drugs and then dropped out, came back home and Tim asked me to be in his band. People had no clue I was like that.’
When they decided to reunite it was a redemptive moment. ‘We are kinder to each other, more aware and more supportive now,’ says Chaplin. ‘In so many ways I’m grateful for my addiction because it’s made me understand myself, good and bad.
‘Tim wrote this album out of a really painful time in his life. But that again is honest. We are putting ourselves out there. It’s all we can do.’
‘Cause And Effect’ is released on September 20