First established in 1997 at a Hastings Secondary School, Keane is a British piano rock band known for its obvious absenteeism of a guitar player and its dreamy, complex sounds.
In 2002, following several years of experimenting and honing their sound, members Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley and Richard Hughes decided that they needed to get out and play live. They booked two acoustic gigs, one at the 12 Bar Club, another at the Betsey Trotwood. Fierce Panda mini-mogul Simon Williams caught the Betsey Trotwood gig and asked Keane to put out a single on his label.
They chose "Everybody's Changing," a sweeping, majestic ode to feeling utterly lost when everyone else seems to know the score, which was recorded for zero pence. "The recording session was a little rough and ready. The song was literally made in a room in someone's house," Tom laughs. "And we had to go round to a different house to mix it because the speakers broke."
It would be difficult to find origins more desperately indie, yet "Everybody's Changing" sounded like a Number One chart hit before you even got to the chorus, and it immediately began turning heads. Steve Lamacq decided that it was one of the best singles in Fierce Panda's entire history not bad for a label that housed early releases from Coldplay, Idlewild and Supergrass. He declared that Keane were "somewhere between a scuffed Coldplay and a frankly bewildered Beautiful South," hammering the single on his show and eventually calling the band in for a session on BBC 6Music. Xfm were on the case, too, with Clare Sturgess requesting a session from the band, while a Sunday Times profile noted that Keane were responsible for "three and a half minutes of pure pop loveliness." NME wrote that "Everybody's Changing" was "indisputably mighty" and compared Keane with "'Kid A'-era Radiohead covering A-ha."
What all these people spotted and what the rest of the world would shortly find out for themselves was that despite the reference points, Keane's beguilingly beautiful music really wasn't like anything else.
"Our songs have universal themes and are emotional," Tim comments. "People want emotion. But that seems like quite a rare thing these days. I don't think there are many bands that are making music which actually means anything. There's nothing to identify with."
The pace picked up quickly. Keane's first UK tour saw Tom, Richard and Tim performing at venues up and down the country to audiences of between five and 300 people. They didn't look like many other bands there was no guitarist, a factor which might send some purists screaming into the hills, but, Richard says, really wasn't a conscious decision. Their original guitar player, Dominic Scott, left the band in July 2001 to return to his studies, and the band decided to use that opportunity to develop their sound in a new direction: sans guitar.
By the time spring 2003 rolled around, the boys were out on the road again, and labels were already putting offers on the table. "All we were after was the opportunity to make the right record with the right people," Tom shrugs. This is where Island stepped in. "We've never wanted to be a small, cult band," Tom adds. "We want to get our music heard by as many people as we possibly can, because that's why we're making it."
Throw in a startling appearance in the New Bands tent at the Reading and Leeds Carling Weekend, plaudits for the boys' second single "This Is the Last Time," and the intensity just kept building.
Hopes and Fears was released in 2004 and sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. The band embarked on a worldwide tour for 18 months, including four UK tours, five American tours and a slot at the London "Live 8" show.
In 2005, Keane won two Brit Awards (British Breakthrough Act and Best Album), Q Magazine's Best Album award, and they were nominated in the Best New Act category at the Grammys. During every break they could find, the band was recording bits and pieces for their next album, and in October 2005 they headed back into the studio for the new sessions, again with producer Andy Green, finishing off in December.
The new album, Under the Iron Sea was recorded at The Magic Shop in Soho, New York and back at Helioscentric Studios, near Battle. The lead single from this album, "Is It Any Wonder," reached No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart, and the album reached No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart, and as of May 2007 more than 2 million copies of the album have been sold. The band continues to tour to promote Under the Iron Sea.