Keane - Biography


Keane are a piano rock and alternative rock band from Battle, East Sussex, in South East England.
Their first two studio albums, Hopes and Fears and Under the Iron Sea have both gone straight to number one in the United Kingdom and achieved very high sales worldwide, specially in Europe.
The current members are Tim Rice-Oxley, composer and pianist, Tom Chaplin, on lead vocals and organ, and Richard Hughes on the drums. Former members include guitarist, Dominic Scott, who left in 2001.
They are notable for using a piano as their lead instrument instead of using guitars, unlike most rock bands. However, they do make use of guitar effects, pedals, and synthesisers in order to make the instrument sound like a guitar. Tom Chaplin's vocals, which often make use of falsetto, are also considered to be a notable part of the band's music.

Among their influences are: The Beatles, U2, Oasis, R.E.M., The Smiths, Radiohead, Queen, The Pet Shop Boys and Paul Simon.

Tim Rice-Oxley and Dominic Scott were the main writers of the band's songs during their early years. When Scott left in 2001, Rice-Oxley became the main composer since Chaplin's and Hughes' contributions are minor. However, Rice-Oxley credits them on every song, so that the royalties for song credits are shared amongst the members.

Keane are managed by Adam Tudhope, who is also involved in film production through his company White House Pictures and has contributed to British films such as Love Actually. He was friends with Rice-Oxley at college.

Despite the band's vocalist is currently in drugs and alcohol rehabilitation, Rice-Oxley and Hughes keep working on their future releases, most notably the single Nothing In My Way.


(1995-2003) Early years

Rice-Oxley's brother — also called Tom — was born in the same hospital on the same day as Chaplin, on March 8 1979. Their mothers became friends, and by extension, so did Chaplin and Rice-Oxley. Both attended Vinehall School where they met the third member of the band, Richard Hughes, and later Tonbridge School in Kent. The desire to form a band appeared when Rice-Oxley was still in Tombridge. However, being a sports-related school, he and Hughes found it very difficult to make it, something that has been quoted by Hughes ""the idea of trying to form a band in that sort of environment is quite challenging, if there's no bat and ball involved, you're seen as borderline insane." Finally, and studying at University College London for a degree in Classics, Rice-Oxley formed a rock band in 1995 with his friend Dominic Scott and invited Hughes to play drums. They began as a covers band, playing songs by their favourite bands, including U2, Oasis, and The Beatles and rehearsing in their house.

Being Hughes and Scott originally opposed to, Chaplin joined the band in 1997, and took on both vocal and acoustic guitar duties. Chaplin's joining the band also marked a change of name from "The Lotus Eaters" to "Cherry Keane", named for a friend of Chaplin's mother, whom Rice-Oxley and Chaplin knew when they were young. Soon "Cherry" was removed from the name, and became simply "Keane".

In an interview with The Irish Times on June 2 2006, Rice-Oxley was quoted as saying that the band had originally been named "Coldplay", but he later denied that he ever made the comment to the interviewer. However, after listening to Rice-Oxley's talents during a weekend at Virginia Water in Surray, Chris Martin invited him to join the emerging Coldplay but Rice-Oxley declined since he didn't want to leave the Keane project: "I was seriously interested, but Keane were already operational and Coldplay's keyboard player idea was dropped."

With several songs of their own to play, Keane made their debut live appearance at the "Hope & Anchor" public house on July 13, 1998. After this gig, throughout 1998 and 1999 the band performed on London's pub gig circuit. It was around this time that Chaplin made the decision to quit his art history degree and move to London, in order to pursue Keane full-time.

Early releases and Scott's departure

In late 1999, and without having a record deal, Keane recorded their first promotional single, Call Me What You Like. Released on CD format, it was sold after the gigs at the pubs where they used to play during February, 2000. Five hundred copies were reportedly sold. The tracks can be found illegally on the internet. The band are not against the ripping of the tracks unreleased on CD's, like More Matey and Emily, with Chaplin commenting "They most likely see those recordings as an interesting extra to get hold of - I don't see it causing any damage. If it was the album we have coming out leaked early (Under the Iron Sea) then I'd probably feel differently." The EP was reviewed by Bec Rodwell from eFestivals, who stated Closer Now to be the best song of the record. The CD was released through Keane's own label, Zoomorphic. Four months after the Call Me What You Like re-recording in February 2001, their second single, Wolf at the Door was released. Only fifty hand-made copies are known to have been made, using CD-Rs. Both singles are considered highly valuable collectors' items by the fans. In particular, Wolf at the Door has been known to fetch over £1000 on ebay.

Due to the limited success they were having, Scott decided to leave the group a month after this single was released, in order to continue his studies at the LSE. Shortly after this, Keane were invited in July, 2001 by record producer James Sanger to his recording studio at Les Essarts, France, where they recorded a number of tracks, including Bedshaped and This Is The Last Time. It was during these sessions that the idea of using a piano as lead instrument, rather than a guitar, began to emerge. Sanger received a shared credit for four songs that appear on Keane's debut album Hopes and Fears, including the song Sunshine. They returned to England in November, 2001. Soon after, they signed to BMG to publish their music but at this time they did not have a recording contract. In December, 2002, the band, having had enough of sending out demos trying to get a deal, decided to go back to performing live. One gig was at the Betsy Trotwood in London, which Simon Williams of Fierce Panda Records attended. Williams offered to release a single by the band. This release was Everybody's Changing, which Steve Lamacq went on to name single of the week on Lamacq Live on April 19, 2003; the CD Single was released on May 12, 2003. As a result of the attention created by this release, a bidding war for the band ensued between major labels, with the band deciding to sign with Island Records in summer 2003.

After signing with Island, the band released This Is The Last Time on Fierce Panda in October, 2003 between Everybody's Changing and their first major-label release.

(2004-2005)Hopes and Fears

In January 2004, Keane were named the band most likely to achieve success in the coming year in the BBC's annual Sound of Music poll.

A month later, Keane's first release on Island was Somewhere Only We Know, which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart in February 2004. On May 3, a re-release of Everybody's Changing followed and featured a new cover and b-sides; it reached number four in the UK Singles Chart.

Keane's debut album, Hopes and Fears, was released on May 10 2004 in the UK. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart. The album went on to become the second-biggest selling album of the year in the UK, only losing the top spot to Scissor Sisters on the last day of the year. A day after the release of the album, they embarked on their first world tour.

The album has sold approximately five and a half million copies around the world. In the UK, it stayed in the top 75 of the UK Albums Chart for 119 weeks.

The band won two awards at the 2005 Brit Awards in February: Best British album for Hopes and Fears and the British breakthrough act award, as voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1. Three months after, Rice-Oxley received the Ivor Novello award for songwriter of the year.

In this year, Keane contributed to some charity projects:

Being members of the Make Poverty History foundation, they performed at the historical concert Live 8 which took place in London in July 2. Keane are also patrons of War Child, and in September 2005, they contributed a cover version of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road to the charity album Help: a Day in the Life. Previously, the band also had recorded a cover of the Walker Brothers' The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore for the War Child website to download. The single was later released as a 7" Vinyl sent as a gift to members of the Keane e-mailing list. Like the 1985 Live Aid concert, Band Aid (now called Band Aid 20 recorded a new version of Do They Know It's Christmas?, version where Rice-Oxley and Chaplin contributed on vocals.

Throughout the year, the band achieved minor recognition in the United States due to their extensive touring, which culminated with a series of gigs supporting U2 as the opening act. They were also nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category along with Sugarland, John Legend, Ciara, and Fall Out Boy; they ultimately lost out to Legend.

(2006-present)Under the Iron Sea

Keane began recording their second album, Under the Iron Sea, in April 2005, with producer Andy Green, and later recruited Spike Stent for mixing duties. Recording took place in Helioscentric Studios, Rye, East Sussex—where Hopes and Fears was recorded)—and later in New York City. The band revealed the title of the album on March 14 2006 by posting a handwritten note on their official website.

The album's release was preceded by the release of Atlantic, a download-only music video, and lead single Is It Any Wonder?—released on 29 May 2006—which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart. The album had a worldwide release date of June 12, 2006 (released before however in some countries), and was at number 1 in the UK Albums Chart for the first two weeks of its release. As of September 18, 2006, it has sold more than 1,000,000 copies. The album has been met with critical acclaim, with critics referring to it as "dark and heavy", and how it attracts different kind of people.

The second single from the album was Crystal Ball, released on August 21, 2006. The single reached number 20 in the UK singles charts.

On August 22, 2006, Chaplin announced that he had admitted himself to a clinic for drink and drug problems. This initially resulted in the cancellation of three gigs and postponement of their September US tour. On September 8, 2006, the whole North American tour dates were cancelled outright to allow him to continue to receive treatment. As a result of this, the upcoming UK and European tours scheduled for October and November 2006 are also considered to be liable for possible postponement depending on Chaplin's treatment.

The next single from Under The Iron Sea is to be Nothing In My Way, set for release on October 30, 2006. It is rumoured - but not confirmed - that A Bad Dream, considered a fan favourite and referred to by Chaplin as "the best song we've ever written", will also be a future single.

Controversies and criticism

Due to the piano-related music and the alternative sound of the their debut album, critics first regarded Keane as Coldplay imitators; the media supporting Keane however, started calling them the "new Coldplay" and . After gaining critical success however other bands such as Morning Runner have been compared to both Keane and Coldplay for using a piano-oriented sound on their music. They have also had some run-ins with another bands, most notably, The Darkness and The Libertines.

Musical style and themes

Keane have been known as "the band with no guitars", due to their heavily Piano-based sound. By using delay and distortion effects on their piano sound, they often create sounds that aren't immediately recognisable as piano. Rice-Oxley said during an interview in Los Angeles that they tend to think piano-related music is boring and what they really wanted to do was trying something different. He referred to the piano as an odd instrument to form part of a rock band instrumentation, comparing it to the sitar used on The Beatles' Within You Without You. During their early years, lyrically, the songs were about love (most notably She Has No Time and On A Day Like Today). However, recent tracks (despite the apparent love lyrics) show the damaged relationship between Rice-Oxley and Chaplin since the mentioned alter ego by the European press and the objection of Chaplin to assist to the recording sessions. B-side Maybe I Can Change composed by Chaplin however suggest his opinion about Rice-Oxley's feelings, singing "...but still somehow I have to say I'm on my way gone". Exceptions include Is It Any Wonder? and A Bad Dream, both about war.

Live and studio instrumentation

Since Scott's departure and needing a quality instrument, Rice-Oxley started using a Yamaha CP-70 piano, instrument specially designed for touring. A Yamaha CP60 is currently used as an electric piano and located during live performances on the top of the main piano. Main instrumentation include:

  • Yamaha CP70/CP70B/CP70M/CP60 pianos (CP60 works also as distorted piano)
  • Fender basses
  • Yamaha Drums
  • Hammond organ
  • Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer

Yamaha logos are highly visible during live performances on all the instruments since drums and almost all electric and acoustic pianos are manufactured by the Japanese company. Next to the main's piano and sat on a bench is located Rice-Oxley's PowerBook G4 used to playback the bass tracks. For an accurate playing within the band, the computer software includes an electronic metronome sound transmitted via Bluetooth to the three members' Sennheiser earphones. It is also in charge of playbacking the extra synthesizer sections which would be impossible to play live. In October 2004 when Hamburg Song and Nothing In Your Way debuted, Chaplin started playing a Hammond MK2 organ, having played no instrument since 2001. Following, in 2006 he started to play a distorted CP60 for some songs like The Frog Prince or Crystal Ball.


  • Tim Rice-Oxley - piano, bass, keyboards, backing vocals (lead vocals from 1995 to 1997)
  • Tom Chaplin - vocals, live keyboards, organ (acoustic guitar before 2003)
  • Richard Hughes - drums, live backing vocals

Former members

  • Dominic Scott - electric guitar, keyboard, lead vocals (from 1995 to 1997), backing vocals (from 1997 to 2001)

Keane Official Website

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