Terry Richardson It has been a steady climb for Rihanna as she has finally…
- Posted on May 10th 2010 1:00PM by Stephen Dowling
Keane's new release may not be an LP, but it's more than just an EP for a number of reasons. Their 'mini-album' 'Night Train' sees them team up with some unlikely collaborators, the foremost being Somali-Canadian rapper K'Naan, who appears on the song 'Stop for a Minute.'
The British band has said it wanted the record to show it "in a completely different light." So while both acts are from very different backgrounds -- K'naan having to leave his native Somalia in the early 1990s as the country was consumed by civil war, while the indie pop trio grew up surrounded by middle-class comfort in leafy East Sussex -- they both managed to find common ground in music.
In a world exclusive, Spinner reveals what happened when Keane's Tom Chaplin got together with K'Naan for a chat in a London hotel room a few weeks back.
Tom: We interrogated each other at lunchtime didn't we?
K'Naan: [To Spinner] You should have taped that one.
T: My first question is, 'Have you used up all your questions at lunchtime?'
K: No, I will never have used up all my questions for Keane.
T: We've got to be careful not to say anything too ironic.
K: The only reason why in songs, it's a little better to have that irony there, is it's a little bit more artistic. But when you're talking in an interview and share irony or sarcasm, there's a real chance readers will [only] read exactly what we're saying.
T: You can't put a tone of voice in a printed interview.
K: I was asked about the Polaris Prize in Canada. I was nominated and you win money if you win this thing, and somebody in a magazine asked me what I would do if I won it, and I said 'I'm really interested and focused on becoming more typical as far as the rap genre goes,' and I wanted to buy a chain. And I said, because you have to have a name on one of those, I was going to have 'Polar-ice.' They printed it, and when I didn't win this money, there was another interview, and instead of answering as myself I answered as my manager.
I wrote, 'This is K'Naan's manager, and when he couldn't win the Polaris Prize, he was so sure he was going to win it, he borrowed some money from some gangsters in his neighbourhood, and when he didn't win they were looking for him, so he's not available.' I was walking into a record store a couple of months later, and this guy was stunned. He sees me here and says, 'You're back!' And I said, 'Back from what?' 'The gangsters! You were hiding!'
T: I remember in an interview early on, someone asked us about the relationship Tim [Rice-Oxley, Keane's keyboardist] and I had, and I said 'We're lovers, and we're married.' And about a year later, we were in America, in this small town in America, and someone stands up in the audience and asks, 'Is it true you guys are married?' Straight-faced. There was no sense we had been joking.
K: That's what happens when you go to small-town America.
T: We had a similar experience in Canada, actually, because Canada was the last part of our world tour. We took a bus from Vancouver to Toronto, across the middle of Canada. We stayed a night in Jasper.
K: See, I don't even know where that is.
T: We were up in the mountains for a long time, which was very cool. And when we got towards Toronto, that last little bit, and they weren't the busiest shows, put it that way, but we were made to feel so welcome. I think just because there wasn't very much musically going through those towns. It was this beautiful theatre, it must have been very rich, an oil town, very wealthy but isolated. But they looked after us so well, and the people who came just gave us so much love and attention and made us feel so special. Those gigs are often the ones that take you by surprise.
T: My family, every member, as far as I can work out, going back as far as I can remember and my mum can remember, is completely tone-deaf. There's not a musical bone either side. So my voice is a kind of immaculate conception. Perhaps my mum was seeing the milkman. You've come from a very musical background.
K: My auntie is the most famous singer in the country, of all time, and my grandfather was a major poet. I was just thinking how I had access to some of the culture innovators of the country, and I would be taken to plays, that's the big thing in Somalia, it's a theatre country. Any new scenario that happened in the country, there would be a play about it. By the time I was five years old, I had seen all the plays. But I had no thoughts of being a musician, ever, I actually wanted to be an optometrist. The story behind that was my grandmother's eyesight was failing, and my mother took me with my grandmother to the doctor, and we went into his office and he was there in his white clothes, and he said, 'I'm sorry, I can't help you, it's just old age.' And I was so hurt by that, and I remember thinking, 'If I was him, I would be able to help grandma, so I'm going to become a doctor.' So that's what I wanted to do until the immigrant experience made me turn to music.
Here's a question. Do you find when you record something, for example a track as massive as 'Everybody's Changing,' with a song like that, when it starts to come together, when do you know that a song like that IS a song like that?
T: I don't know. It's very hard to judge. All we had were continuous knock back after knock back after knock back whenever we thought we were getting somewhere as a band. We even had a point where we came to London once and we were sitting in Richard's [Hughes, Keanes' drummer] sister's flat, and we were waiting for the call to go and sign our record deal, maybe a year before we actually signed a record deal. So we had this false hope a lot of the time, but we just kept on going. And that song is particularly appropriate, because Tim wrote it and I think he thought everybody around us was in their early 20s and moving on to bigger and better things, and a sense we were stuck with this teenage dream. Weirdly enough, that was the song that got us known. I just remember the first time he played it on the piano, I thought 'That is a beautiful song.' But at that point it was 'Who knows if it's going to get us anywhere?' I think we had faith in our songs, and faith in our music, but we had to be quite thick-skinned about it.
We played a little show, an acoustic show, and somebody heard it from a little record label, and released it as a single, and then it got played on the radio. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, we got lots of offers of record deals.
I've always had faith in Tim's songs, and what we do as a band, but you always get that extra special feeling when you know something is really good. I think 'Somewhere Only We Know' was more of a track than that record, that and 'Bedshaped.' 'Cos I was still trying to write songs for the band at that point, and I just thought, 'There's no way I'm in this league. I should just put my pen and pad down.' Especially 'Somewhere Only We Know' particularly, because you think the chorus is done, and it's a false chorus.
K: That's the craziest thing about that song. I actually remember playing that song and saying, 'Don't you love this melody?' to one of my close friends, and saying, 'But wait for it. You cannot believe someone had the guts to try and outdo a melody that great.'
Keane's 'Night Train' is released on Monday, May 10.