Keane became one of Britain’s biggest bands in the early 2000s and eventually skyrocketed to fame in the United States. But in 2013, the band split. A reunion looked impossible after lead singer Tom Chaplin and songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley both spiraled through personal crises — but now, much to their own surprise, Keane has made a comeback.
“God, I was terrified,” drummer Richard Hughes said of the reunion. “I was just nervous about playing the songs right.” For Hughes, Rice-Oxley, Chaplin and bassist Jesse Quin, the reunion has been emotional. That’s especially true for Chaplin and Rice-Oxley, who have been close friends since childhood. “As a kid, I just remember thinking Tim was the aloof, cool older brother who could play ‘Airwolf’ on the piano,” Chaplin said.
Keane’s big break came in 2003, when a small label agreed to release the single “Everybody’s Changing.” That song put the band on the map in England – a feeling Rice-Oxley described as “really exhilarating.” Keane’s debut album, “Hopes and Fears,” sold nearly 6 million copies – due largely to the international success of “Somewhere Only We Know.” The band’s first four albums all went to number one in the U.K. But some critics mocked the band for wearing their hearts on their sleeves. “You guys have often sort of made light of the fact you’re sort of a middle class band,” said “CBS This Morning” co-host Anthony Mason. “Is that a pejorative in your view?”
“How long have you got?” Rice-Oxley responded with a laugh.
“You know, inevitably people start sniping at you. It’s the nature of any kind of success,” he said. “And then you start getting to this habit of like, ‘well, we better put ourselves down before someone else does.’”
But criticism wasn’t the only problem the band faced. Chaplin had an ongoing battle with drug addiction, which contributed to the band’s breakup in 2013.
“Eventually, I knew it was gonna completely ruin me,” he said. “It really became my whole life. And at the same time my daughter was born … And no doubt I would be dead if I carried on doing that. I would have killed myself with it because of the toll it was taking on me mentally.”
“You knew that at the time?” Mason asked.
“Oh yeah,” Chaplin responded.
After Keane split, Rice-Oxley’s marriage fell apart. In 2014, he was arrested for drunk driving after steering his car off a country road into a ditch.
“It left me in a place, eventually, where I really needed some help, I suppose,” he said.
Chaplin said that his and Rice-Oxley’s struggles “definitely” helped the band reconnect. “It’s not always been rosy and perfect as a friendship, but it’s always been a very important one,” he said. “In a way, the most important one.”
After two years of being out of touch, a now-sober Chaplin reached out to his old friend in 2017. “I hadn’t realized just how deep his pain had been with his marriage breaking down and how much of a hole he’d been in, really,” Chaplin said. “And then once I heard the songs, you know, it really made sense.” Those songs make up Keane’s new album, “Cause and Effect.”
Rice-Oxley said the reunion has allowed the band to see itself in a new light.
“It’s great to have that opportunity to be able to do it again and see stuff from a different place,” he said.
“And that maybe you’re not so bad?” Mason asked.
“Yeah, if we’re self-deprecating or too mean about ourselves, you know, we give each other … a look now,” Chaplin said. “Because, you know, I think one of the things about becoming happier is you have — well, you have to learn to like yourself.”
“It sounds like a small thing,” Rice-Oxley added. “But to break the habit and to actually be really proud of what we’ve done and what we are doing … that’s a big breakthrough.”
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