Tim Rice-Oxley Is 'Keane' On Record Store Day
EXCLUSIVE | The Silenced By The Night star on the importance of record shops, and new album Strangeland…
Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley and Tom Chaplin are set to play a special acoustic set at London's Rough Trade East this weekend for Record Store Day.
We caught up with Rice-Oxley to talk about why record shops have played such an important part in his life, and to ask what we can expect from the band's forthcoming new album Strangeland.
- You and Tom are playing a special acoustic set at Rough Trade East this Saturday for Record Store Day, why did you agree to get involved?
We grew up loving record shops as physical places where you could lose hours of your life browsing for second-hand vinyl or scoop up armloads of CDs that you hadn't planned to buy.
A good record shop was all the more precious because we didn't have one nearby for most of our young lives, so when we got to do some record shopping it was exciting.
It's great that you can access music so easily on the internet now, but the experience of being in a record shop is different - and, for me personally, better!
- Presumably record shops have played a large part in your life as a customer as well as a musician, do you have any favourite stores or particularly happy record store memories?
My favourite is David's Music in Letchworth. I've spent a lot of time there over the years, but I particularly remember going there when we were very much a failing band clinging on to the dream of getting a record deal.
Money was very tight but I was still desperately hungry for music and inspiration, so being able to go to David's and buy classic albums on ragged second-hand vinyl for 50p was pretty amazing.
I never really knew what I was looking for, but I would go in there and literally spend hours working my way slowly through the bins from A to Z and picking out stuff that I had been told was great or knew that I should have listened to long before then!
- As a musician, do you still imagine your songs appearing in a physical format once you’ve recorded them? In the modern world of downloads how important do you feel it is to have something you actually hold in your hands, or that you can rifle through in a record store or at friend’s house?
I certainly still picture a CD in a shop, hopefully ending up in someone's stereo or car. But whether it's important is kind of personal opinion.
My experience has been that with downloads I simply accumulate thousands of songs, hundreds of albums, and almost never sit down and lose myself in the music.
Even with the best intentions, I somehow don't value it as much when I've acquired it simply by clicking a mouse a couple of times. I don't know if that's true of everyone, but I suspect that it's a widespread ailment!
My attention span has shrunk alarmingly, maybe just because it's hard to sit next to my laptop and resist the urge to skip onto another track or artist before the first song has even finished. I'm getting back into CDs now - put the disc in, walk away from the machine, and listen to the damn thing!
- How does forthcoming album Strangeland compare to your previous work - is new single Silenced By The Night a good indication of the rest of the album?
It does the job of a single pretty well in that it's a simple introduction to the themes of the album - the journey we all go on chasing our dreams, trying to navigate the bumps with a bit of grace, trying to hold on when things get really rough.
But I think the album has a lot of emotional depth that's hard to sum up in one song.
That grace I mentioned is something I don't think we've touched upon before, and the emotional directness and passionate heart of this record is something that I think is a bit different from Perfect Symmetry and Night Train - probably closer to Hopes and Fears in that respect.
It's also more hopeful and philosophical than Under The Iron Sea I think, although the sonic landscape is quite similar to that album in that it's quite ethereal and 3D.
- You’ve now had an unbroken run of three No 1 albums and a No1 EP – did you feel under pressure when writing and recording Strangeland?
I always feel pressure when writing! It's hard not to when you're privileged enough to know people are going to listen when the record comes out.
I also have a feeling that people have high expectations of us, fans who love our music in the way we have loved bands over the years. And you don't want to let those people down!
The recording brings some pressure as well, but I have to say it was generally a lot of fun.
Once you've got the foundation of great songs, then the recording can flow a little more easily - if the songs are essentially unsound and you're forever trying to prop them up with careful production, then it can get a bit stressful!
This is the first time I felt we've made a really great album…and that's as much as you can do really!
- You reportedly whittled the album’s tracklisting down from 40 you had been working on. Could this mean another album might follow sooner than later, or is it too early to say at this point?
Hmm…too early to say! I think there's enough 'good' stuff for a 'good' album, but it's a question of whether an album's worth of really great stuff would come together quickly.
Maybe we'll do another EP - that's a nice way to put out a few songs that's a little less intense. We still feel an album is a major journey in its own right, and I think we feel better about taking our time with that and trying our best to make something that's the best possible thing we could do at any given moment. I've got a feeling it might take us a while..!
- Keane have had enormous critical and commercial success to date, presumably you’ve never regretted your decision not to join Coldplay! But do you ever fantasise about being ‘just’ the keyboard player - without the responsibility of being the main songwriter?
Er yeah, once in a while! I did do that a bit with Mt Desolation - when we played Jesse's songs I could just get lost in being the piano player, which was pretty awesome.
I'd love to play on other people's records more, so I could just do my keyboard thing and not have to worry about songwriting.
But I'm not really that great a piano player, so I kind of have to write songs to bulk out my CV a bit..!
Tim and Tom will play a special acoustic set at London's Rough Trade East this Saturday, April 21. They are due to perform at around 6pm - entry is free and first come, first served.
Find out more about Record Store Day at http://www.recordstoreday.co.uk