As Keane's third record is in the making, I thought I'd write one of my posts, so let's start with what is known about it (little) FACTS: - Recording studio: their base is located in a Kent barn turned to these purposes, a place conveniently close to their homes (after so many months of touring...). However, they had already visited a few recording studios during their last North American tour in May 2007. -It seems many of the songs had already been written / "demoed" by the beginning of the summer. -There's going to be at least more than a couple of rocking songs, these are valuable goods at live concerts (and Keane have quite a tradition of extensive touring!) and the group led to believe they want more.
- One of the few comments with hints on the new album appeared on the keane.fr site (March 27, 2007; Rice-Oxley interview ):
“We've just started playing through some new songs that we have. When we made Under The Iron Sea, we didn't really get a chance to play the songs together as a band before recording them – it was very much a 'studio album' - whereas when we made Hopes And Fears, we had spent many months playing those songs together, and we had a lot of fun doing that. So this time around we want to make sure we take time to play the songs together, experiment with them, give them time to develop organically without the pressure of the 'red light' in the recording studio. (…)I don't want to say too much more about the style of the songs, although I can guarantee that we'll continue to do new and different things rather than treading water, as we say. As far as inspirations go, as ever we're always searching around for new ideas in unexpected places. Off the top of my head I'd say the things I've been listening to most recently are ABBA, Jay-Z, Panic! At The Disco, Stevie Wonder and Blur. Also quite a lot of Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. ”
“Tom wants to try one of our news songs as a kind of a duet, a bit like 'Two Of Us' by The Beatles, so we'll see how that sounds! I love singing, and it's great to be belting out those songs in the live shows, but when it comes to recording what normally happens is that I'll sing a song in demo form or whatever, and then as soon as Tom starts singing it I think, "Ah...now that's what I wanted it to sound like!" It's pretty hard for me to sing a song better than Tom sings it. But I'll probably give it a go one of these days.”
-The new album will be sold in a very eco friendly package, as the group is trying to help raise awareness on this issue.
- It seems that the band is quite happy with the material they already have.
Enough to get the picture? .Didn’t think so, let’s scrape up a bit of unconfirmed info:
GUESSES: - We can expect maybe guitars, probably more singing from Tim Rice-Oxley, maybe something written by Tom Chaplin.
Regarding the guitar issue (people speculate a lot about this), does it really matter?. Keane may not use guitars but we have heard guitars sounds in their albums by now, so call it x. That they use them more or less won't mean giving up on their sound, I think.
As for Rice-Oxley singing, personally I think he sings much better live than in the demos (in those he seems to try to go too Rufus-ey), I really like his voice and it's in very good harmony with Chaplin's so it would be good to hear him too in some track. Still Chaplin's voice is unique and he loads the songs with so much more.
Tom Chaplin's songs, my guess is that if there aren't any it will have more to do with his own ambivalent feelings about it than with anybody else in the band opposing to it.
- They can **** up with this next one, they'll still release a fourth album from a privileged position. So Rice-Oxley should be less tense this time around, though he probably won’t be. After struggling for so long to get to where they are it probably becomes a bit of an obsession not to fall behind expectations.
Tom Chaplin's “innocent?” words in June's Q magazine: "Today (...) Tim is probably working on band business - he rarely takes time off" come to mind. After the Tower concert in Philly, during the meet and greet I couldn't help but notice he was the only one carrying anything (a big heavy black bag), seemed funny when we had just seen his trainers carried to the bus like two little princesses in a single trip from their assistant. (-Note: by no means am I suggesting with this that he fits the diva-type, he was very kind and considerate with everyone there that night-). That probably speaks volumes about this issue.(Maybe I’m wrong, who knows what was inside the bag, after all) Anyway, Keane have secured a privileged position in the music scene for the next few years, and staying there is exclusively up to them wanting to. And that is a luxury they can enjoy just for having already handed two such sturdily consistent and brilliant albums.
- They have deliberately avoided talking about any specifics nor have they played any of the new songs in the North American gig - as they did with UTIS to test the public's response -, though they had said they might do it this time too. So this is meant to be a last minute surprise.
*We don't know if Andy Green will be producing again (first and second records he co produced with Keane - first record James Sanger also had a hand in some songs-, third album as natural evolution could be produced by Keane alone). No doubt Tim R.O. is eager to become fully independent but I wish they'd keep Green beside them a little longer, he worked wonders with Hopes and fears (well, this I can only suspect) and he seems to be a very clever and tasteful guy. His advice and flair can't hurt. Maybe some tracks without him would be a wise move. On the other hand, given their quite frenzied search for "new sounds" they might try a new producer too* No clues as to the lyrics (one of the parts I’m most looking forward to). This is a key issue for any Keane album. They won’t probably go back to the UTIS's Tim-Tom trouble, (and they shouldn’t, though it's very possibly still going on if on a lesser intensity. Like for so many other groups before, that was a tainted experience, and as Dolores O’Riordan said of No need to argue: “At the end of the day it was a hard time but a great record”-not that that justifies so much pain). Will also probably move on from the she's long gone- she still haunts me one, so I expect innovation on this issue. (Again I want to explain, I know other songs weren't about either of these two, I just feel these to be the two major "chapters" in the previous records). Maybe some closure, maybe … You take both Keane's albums and you wouldn't guess they're composed by a successful "just married", puzzling lack of reference. The songs that are supposed to be about Rice-Oxley's wife (Sunshine, Atlantic) are not happy but rather troubled songs (a second to say that I think Sunshine is most romantic, only in a different messed up naked way). Either he shuts that part of his life from Keane or he's not happy with how those songs are turning out (happiness, etc don't usually make good strong songs, he's said so himself quite a few times. But still there are things there, …totally out of the picture). Whatever, Keane's bitterness sounds almost sweet, makes you actually enjoy your lowest moments, or something of the sort. Well, Rice-Oxley and Hughes are now officially in their thirties, mmm, time for mixed feelings and surprises about who we really are and what we really want, achieved goals count and life’s choices narrowing down by the minute, a lot of acceptance/resignation to do... plenty to write about (the longing for being forty... right, not me!!!). As Rufus Wainwright put it the other morning on the radio, “when you hit 30 you realize how fast life goes by, so let’s get it down now while we’re still hot”. Rufus knows how to get to the point!. *Release date: anytime before November would be a real challenge. They plan to release the O2 Concert DVD before Christmas. Will they release both at the same time?. Probably not, it doesn’t make much sense from a commercial point of view. But are they going to miss the Christmas’s boost sales then?
My guess is their album will be out in the spring.
Now, the most silly part, but I can’t resist: My wish list:
Whatever, I expect these three brains will not lose a bit of their musical talent so we’ll hear. I hope they won't let themselves be biased by the usual bitchy criticism they endure or by what other colleagues are attempting (or, while we are at that, by abhorrence of a big portion of their "boardies", I hope they don't take them as representative of their audience, or either we're toast!!). I'm afraid it's impossible to ignore all that, but please DO!!.
And after this I’m leaving Keane alone for a looong time, don't want to get so sidetracked. I get a bit carried away, or a lot!, it's just that though I don't think I have much in common with them on a personal level, still if I had had music written "a la carte" for me and my life at that point in time, I don't think I'd gotten a better match (for the most part).
PS By the way, latest cover of the band is Under Pressure (ie, Queen and David Bowie), see details in Radio 1, they certainly aren’t going for the easy ones!. Truth be said, Chaplin's voice can surprisingly sound a lot like Freddy Mercury's at particular isolated moments. If you don't believe me listen to the beginning of Play the game. I was watching The Tube tv the other day and they played this song's live performance video, I couldn't believe my ears!!. Life's full of surprises. Personally, I think Mr Chaplin would nail that one.
PS 2 Well, I do possess one exclusive piece of information, only it will be irrelevant to most (not to me!): the duet with Rufus Wainwright (Try again), Keane chose the song.
PS 1 million, sept 15th: ok, Keane's website is now publishing some interviews that have a little more info on this. I'm not updating, I suppose people reading this also reads the official site (by the way, what did they put in R. Hughes's drink before the interview? hope that was that).
PS 1 million and 1, there's an article in February's Q magazine where they talk a tiny bit about it and mention September as possible release date. And, this time for real, I'm not updating anymore, this post is sort of too long by now anyway and I wrote this a zillion days ago so it's not about now.
One last PS!! Just realized Jon Brion (the producer for this last record) was responsible for Fiona Apple's O'Sailor, which is such an amazing impressive track. It's all about atmosphere, recreates some kind of stifling cloud around you like you wouldn't believe. Keane's best asset (to me) has always been precisely that: recreating atmospheres. So this could actually be huge, these guys together. Songs so thick you could actually pinch them?
Quotes by E. Hopper (painter):"The man's the work. Something doesn't come out of nothing"
(2nd, this time regarding how he chose his subjects)"I do not exactly know, unless it is that I believe them to be the best mediums for a synthesis of my inner experience"