When one of the Sunday papers ran a story that ‘Keane splits to work on solo projects’ a few weeks ago, fans were a bit shaken.
Keane are, after all, one of the past decade’s most successful bands with more than 11 million album sales around the world. As their Best Of Keane album out now proves, they’re also responsible for some undeniably brilliant songs.
While Keane are taking a break “for the foreseeable future”, frontman Tom Chaplin says news of the band’s demise has been somewhat exaggerated.
“That, unfortunately, is the story now - that we’re splitting up, and it has gathered its own momentum,” he says. “We are taking some time away, but it’s not the same as splitting up. I don’t think so, anyway.”
He says they’ve been on the road for a long time, which they have. There was an intensive tour of North America earlier in the year, followed by a string of gigantic concerts in South America, where Keane are especially big. Then there was a European tour and summer festivals.
“We’ve worked hard towards getting to this point, so naturally we want to take a bit of a break,” says Chaplin. “And what’s the point of being in a band as big as Keane if it doesn’t afford you the luxury of a bit of time off?”
When it comes to whether it was him, or bandmates Tim Rice-Oxley or Richard Hughes, who suggested the break, he’s much more vague. Perhaps that means it was his idea?
“It’s complicated, and a complicated set of reasons. I haven’t thought about why.
“Being in a band is such an irregular life, and I don’t think anything is well planned,” he adds, not entirely convincingly if truth be told, although he explains his wife Natalie is expecting their first child in the spring.
“It’s instinct that drives a band more than anything else,” he continues. “I felt like I wanted some time out and I’ve been thinking long and hard about a solo record.”
The aforementioned Best Of, then, is exactly that. Not content with letting their record label Island compile a simple collection of singles, the band sat down and picked the songs that best represented their ‘journey’.
“When we signed our record deal, we basically signed a five-album deal,” says Chaplin.
Now, with the advent of downloading individual tracks and playlists being so easy to curate, compilations aren’t quite as essential as they once were. Even Chaplin agrees the idea of a Best Of Keane is slightly redundant.
“Nevertheless, it has come around and as with anything we’ve ever done, if we’re going to do it, we might as well do it well.”