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Keane are an English alternative rock band from Battle, East Sussex, formed in 1995. They met whilst at Tonbridge School together. The band currently comprises Tom Chaplin (lead vocals, electric/acoustic guitar), Tim Rice-Oxley (piano, synthesisers, bass guitar, backing vocals), Richard Hughes (drums, percussion, backing vocals), and Jesse Quin (bass guitar, acoustic/electric guitar, backing vocals). Their original line-up included founder and guitarist Dominic Scott, who left in 2001.
Keane achieved mainstream, international success with the release of their debut album Hopes and Fears in 2004. Topping the UK charts, the album won the 2005 Brit Award for Best British Album and was the second best-selling British album of 2004. It is one of the best-selling albums in UK chart history. Their second album, Under the Iron Sea, released in 2006, topped the UK album charts and debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200. Their third album Perfect Symmetry was released in October 2008.
In May 2008, both Hopes and Fears (number 13) and Under the Iron Sea (number 8) were voted by readers of Q magazine as among the best British albums ever, with Keane, The Beatles, Oasis and Radiohead the only artists having two albums in the top 20. In 2009, Hopes and Fears was listed as the ninth best-selling album of the 2000s decade in the UK. Their EP Night Train was released in May 2010. Their fourth studio album Strangeland was released in May 2012 and peaked at number one on the UK Albums Chart.
Keane are known for using keyboards as the lead instrument instead of guitar, differentiating them from most other rock bands. The inclusion of a distorted piano effect in 2006 and various synthesisers were a common feature in their music which developed on the second and third albums. Keane have sold over 13 million records worldwide.
After the release of their compilation album The Best of Keane in 2013, the band took a hiatus, lasting nearly 5 years.
The band returned after the hiatus with new music, announcing their fifth studio album titled Cause and Effect on 6 June 2019 and releasing the lead single from the album “The Way I Feel”. A collection of the songs were written by Tim Rice-Oxley during his divorce, and after discussions with Tom who had visited Tim the previous year, decided to proceed with recording the songs for the album. Cause and Effect was released on 20 September 2019. After the release of the album, the band embarked on the Cause and Effect Tour, visiting Europe and Latin America, before the remainder of the tour was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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. However, Rice-Oxley credits the rest of the band on all compositions, so that royalties for song credits are shared.
Keane usually harbours an ample, reverberated, melodic, slow- to mid-tempo fully orchestrated sound, somehow reminiscent of Elton John‘s early and middle career, and their more introspective songs have brought comparisons to Suede and Jeff Buckley.
While guitars have been (minimally) present even in their early work, their appearance in the final mix has always been slight, and while Chaplin has stepped up as an almost full-time guitarist in the band, that instrument is never featured as prominently as to be more than barely noticed. For this matter, they have been dubbed as “the band with no guitars”, thanks to their heavily piano-based sound.
By using delay and distortion effects on their pianos and similar keyboards, 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 try something different. He referred to the piano as an odd instrument to form part of a rock band instrumentation, comparing it to The Beatles’ set of instruments. Rice-Oxley’s distortion piano has been key to most of Keane’s multifaceted style and most definitely their most recognizable asset.
Keane have covered songs by music artists such as U2, Rufus Wainwright, Depeche Mode, Genesis, The Beatles, The Cult and Queen. Rice-Oxley said “I guess it’s classic song writing that is the main influence rather than one band in particular – we love people like Nick Drake who can convey so much emotion and write songs and albums that will be loved and cherished for many years – the things that will be in people’s record collections for their whole lives.”