“It’s very different from the Great Wall of China. It’s not very big, but it’s very impressive,” quipped Tom Chaplin, frontman of British alt-rock band, Keane, when asked to compare the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ with the Great Wall of China by host Ted Stryker.”This is kind of unexpected. It’s kind of a lovely, proper gig vibe in here. Very cool.”
The band, who played gigs in China last year, kicked off their tour in United Kingdom town of Bexhill to promote their first album in four years, Strangeland, which is out on May 8th. They stopped by the Red Bull Sound Space this past Tuesday for an incredible, intimate performance.
Next up on their tour will be SXSW, Moscow, a summer spent traversing the UK, and “not quite confirmed yet” dates for a “June/July” tour in the United States.
Joining Chaplin were bandmates Tim Rice-Oxley on piano, Richard Hughes on drums, and Jesse Quin playing bass guitar. Most of Keane left the cheeky retorts to the ever-youthful Chaplin, although Rice-Oxley did give the audience a taste of his dry humor when asked what the band had been up to the last four years.
“We made a record in there somewhere,” Rice-Oxley said to Stryker.“There must have been some downtime in there.”
Chaplin interjected that they were both “procreating” and creating. “We wanted to write the very best album we could come up with,” he said sincerely.
For their five song set, Keane played two new songs from their upcoming album, Strangeland: “Silenced By The Night” and the upbeat, albeit almost Smiths-esque “On The Road.”
They also played “Is It Any Wonder?” from Under The Iron Sea and “Everybody’s Changing” from their first album Hope And Fears.
For the finale of sorts, Keane played their hit song “Somewhere Only We Know.” Of all the Red Bull Sound Space performances, Keane’s audience was the most lively, clapping for the band to come back out.
One fan even brought the band a gift of Armenian pastries.
“Should we start eating them now?,” Chaplin joked.
“They might affect our performance.” Keane said some of the most interesting gifts they’ve received included “very feminine teddy bears that smelled very heavily of perfume.”
Chaplin said jokingly, ” It somehow took me into some sick fantasy in my head.”
The same lovely gift-giver (who won a “ten” from the band for bringing a gift) also asked the band about the natural themes in their music. Keane answered, “I guess we all grew up in the countryside. I think that gives you a feeling of kind of a connection to the land.”
Chaplin also noted that a recent performance, he noticed that a lot of their songs use the word “town.”
“The other thing that’s in a lot of the songs is the world town,” he elaborated. “[At a recent gig], I was standing onstage and I got about halfway through the gig and I thought, ‘I must have sung the word town at least fifteen times already.'”
According to Keane, they only write songs about “things they know about” which was listed ostensibly as towns, nature, rivers, food, but not a topic one would expect from the lyrics of their songs–love.
“We don’t really understand love. That’s why we keep messing it up. For everyone.”