EW goes five rounds with Keane
It is a true story that at one of Keane’s very first shows, a somewhat roomy gig at a London pub in 1998, the band headlined above a then-little-known act named Coldplay. Unfortunately, video documentation of future Mr. Gwyneth and Co. is gone forever, due to the fact that Keane songwriter-keyboardist Tim Rice-Oxley’s camcorder-wielding mother promptly rewound and taped over the show’s openers in order to record her son’s performance. Since then, his melodic Britpop outfit has gone on to sell some 4 million records worldwide — one of the few guitar-free rock bands to do so — and last fall toured with another group you may have heard of: U2. Now, on the eve of Keane’s sophomore album, Under the Iron Sea (due June 20), Rice-Oxley is stuck alone with LTT (bandmates Tom Chaplin, vocals, and Richard Hughes, drums, having, perhaps wisely, already ditched him to return to the U.K.). Thankfully, fellow key maestro Franz Nicolay of the critically acclaimed Brooklyn rock band the Hold Steady?who’ve just signed to Vagrant for their third disc?is close by, and happy to knock back a few and tickle our ivories. Or something.
LTT So you see we’ve brought you two together because you’re both keyboard players, and you both happen to be in town right now. Kind of a spurious connection, but we like to make those. So, now that we have, have you guys heard each other’s music much?
TRO Um, no. I’m just going to be honest about that.
FN I heard the first track of your new CD about two hours ago.
TRO [Jokingly] Good, we’ve both done the research.
LTT Well, I’m ready.
FN Let’s see some mojitos!
LTT I know this place has some fancy drinks in the summer, like a watermelon-juice martini, and I think mint juleps.
FN You gotta go seasonal, this is my theory. We’re transitional right now, so it’s kind of awkward, but I say gin drinks and beer in hot weather, and whiskey and red wine when it’s cold.
TRO I couldn’t agree more. [It being unseasonably warm, he orders Brooklyn Ales for all.]
LTT So, speaking of keyboards, we were invited to the Gibson/Baldwin showroom recently, and in the foyer they have Liberace’s piano, and it’s completely covered in rhinestones, it’s amazing.
TRO Did you ever see that bit of footage of Liberace where he goes, ”I haven’t quite met Mrs. Liberace yet…” [Laughs]
FN That was in Good Night, and Good Luck! Liberace, just waiting to meet the right woman.
NOT FADE AWAY
Again, Brooklyn Ales all around.
FN I just saw the Pogues the other day. It was awesome — so good.
LTT I can’t believe [singer] Shane MacGowan’s still alive. Maybe it’s just because he’s pickled in all that alcohol, it preserves him. He and Keith Richards will probably outlive all of us.
TRO He’s like a dried flower, he might well live forever.