t: tom chaplin

Interview : Tom Chaplin

When did the idea to go solo came to you ?

I don’t really know. People were always asking, because the dynamic of Keane which is that Tim writes the songs and I sing them. People were  saying « Tom do you ever plan to do a solo record, with your own songs. » They’re asking that from the moment of our success, thirteen years ago, but Tim was so good at writing songs that this creative part of me, I pushed it down and I denied it for a long time but a creative part, it grows and it wants to be heard (laughs) and during the Keane best of, in 2013, I felt like I needed to do something different and I needed to step away, to give this part of me a voice, so I started around 2013-14.

Who worked on the new album with you? Did your friends from Keane helped?

Part of the process was stepping away from Keane, to do something that felt completely different. I did actually work on one song with Tim for a bit when I was trying to figure out who I wanted to produce the album. We did some really nice work on the song but, it didn’t seem right in the end to me, having Tim to produce my record. I didn’t really see much of the guys from Keane during that process but one of the really lovely things about a solo record was being able to work with so many new people and to see how other people write, produce, think, play their instruments and all of this stuff. I worked with probably ten different writers and ten different musicians during the course of producing the record from start to finish and I had a complete blast with all of them, it was great fun.

What was the reaction of the people around you when you decided to do the new album?

I think they were really happy and excited for me, particularly my wife. I think she saw that it was a process that was really engaged. The problem was, and I talked about it a lot that I started really fast andI wrote quite a few songs but my problem with drugs resurfaced and then just took over my entire life. Through 2014 I became more and more useless creatively, I destroyed myself, so I don’t think that by the end of that year anyone was worried about whether I was making in music, They’re just worried about wether or not I was gonna still be alive the next time they saw me. Obviously last year was an entirely different year, I got myself well and, all this music came flying out of me and I think people close to me were really happy for me which is lovely.

When did you decide it was the right time to go back into the studios?

The last time I used drugs was at the very beginning of 2015, so January of last year. For the few months after that I wasn’t really interested in anything. I knew I couldn’t go back to my bad old ways, neither if that was gonna work for me again, not that it ever worked for me but I thought it might. I was left in this weird kind of no man’s land where I felt like I knew I couldn’t go back to what I’d been doing just taking drugs, so I looked to the world and I didn’t feel very connected to it. Chemically I destroyed myself and it’s very hard, addicts do find it hard to enjoy things again after a long period of using. It took a while for me to start to re-engage with making music. It’s fun you should mention going back in the studio I remember, the guy who was mentoring me at the time and helping me through that period. I said to him, I ‘m not interested in going back to the studio, I don’t care about music anymore and he said to me « just go into your studio, sit there for five minutes, play the guitar, play the piano, do something, see how it feels » I was like « yeah whatever I’ll try it. » and when I sat into the studio I remembered “this can be good, this is what I love. I’m actually kind of pragmatic about these things like keep going but once I did very quickly I was so energized, all that effort and energy that I put into having this massive drug habit that was part of my life, suddenly I was able to use that energy for something creative, positive and I was like « wow what do I do with this thing.” It felt very exciting.

You recently gave an interview to the Telegraph, I was wondering, do you feel like when you speak about it, it helps you as much as writing song, in a therapy way? To talk to newspapers ? Because I felt like it was deep.

That’s true! People keep saying that to me and I don’t feel like it’s strange or peculiar but I know what you’re saying. People are like « wow that’s deeply personal. » But the thing is that, that’s the way I feel these days about life is that I have been much happier and I found life much more bearable since I opened up as a human being and shared my problems. I talked to my therapist in huge details about all of the really dark parts of my soul and the things that I’m ashamed about, and sad about, regrets things I’m guilty about, I talked about all that stuff and what I found was like once I talked about it instead of being like this concrete thing that was trapped inside just evaporated and I thought that’s really good, and I think that for a lot of us human beings we think that dealing with stuff by internalizing it, repressing it and shutting it away is the best way. I think personally that it isn’t, I think it’s better when you let it all out so I just done that in my interviews and i don’t care how people judge me. The thing I discovered is a lot of amazing feedback people said « I, one of my family  had mental health problems or suffered with addiction, been through a dark time and it was really lovely to hear how vulnerable and open you’re being with your record because it encouraged me, a friend or a loved one to do the same ». And to hear that was the best thing I could hope for. I just keep doing it.

You get all the gory details it’s me, it’s who I am, it’s what I’ve done, hiding that stuff has not helped me so I’m giving it a go, I’m giving the other way a go. The other thing about it is that I think in order to make anything creatively good, you have to be honest and I know that some people can leave that with just be the art itself. A songwriter might just writes incredible honest and personal songs and leave it there but I wanted to go the next step and give the record a context so people understood why I’d written these songs and where I was coming from.

I was also wondering, if you end up again touring again with Keane, are you going to write more songs on your own?

I have no idea what the future holds in terms of Keane. It’s hard to imagine how it would continue the way it used to be which is obviously Tim writing the songs and me singing them. Because I’m just a different person now, I think I would want to be creatively involved. There are two sides for that I think on one hand I’m sure Tim would be quite into that as an idea. he was very nice about my record, he sent me lovely messages, it was really great. There is that possibility. There is a part of me that wonders if this is what I want to do now. I want to just be a solo artist. It could be that I just continue doing that. I have no idea how I’ll feel in 6 months or a year and I’d rather not trying second guess. Just let it be a surprise.

Are you playing any instrument on The Wave?

I did play some guitars, some keyboards, and I do a lot of singing as well, obviously not only my lead vocals, we wanted to… toward the end of the record there’s a lot of kind of gospel moments chorus moments I wanted to give the impression of lots of people singing the same thing, this is the idea of being kind of relational. A lot of the songs are about wanting to feel connected to other people so this idea of a chorus of people singing all at the same time, like a quire, or a congregation in a church I wanted that to find its way into the songs. So songs like « see it so clear », « the wave», « bring the rain » « hold on to our love ». They’re all songs that have that sens of a rousing congregation singing.

I did a lot of that myself, a lot of the laying of the voices, I would adopt a persona like I’m gonna be Marjorie sort of *sings in a high pitched voice* I tend to be different people and it was really fun. I let the guitar playing and the really difficult piano/keyboard playing to someone else, and drumming. They’re not my strong suit but I made a few little guest appearances on my own sounds.

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Volví a mis 13 años cuando escuché por primera vez Higher Than The Sun el primer día que lo subieron a youtube.
Si chicos, hoy pude comprobar que mi amor por Tom Chaplin nunca murió. Lo requete dije.

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‘Well, our relationship has been intense our whole lives’, he smiles. ‘in the darkest hours I’ve thought, ’ just can’t, y'know, do this to myself anymore. ‘We can’t carry on’. But I quite like that about us. We’re still here. We still have a great love for each other because we almost laughingly accept each other’s faults. That’s what you get if you share your life with someone.“