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August 1, 2010

My Keane interview was more candid than expected

keaneI've interviewed a decent amount of musicians over the years, and gotten my share of by-the-book answers.

Typically when you ask an artist about record sales -- especially if they haven't sold many lately -- they'll tell you they don't care about the numbers and yadda yadda.

Since Keane is coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion this week, I spoke with lead singer Tom Chaplin about the band's new EP, hip-hop collaborations and their struggles with fame. But I also wanted to know what he thought about their sales figures. Here's a link to the piece, which ran in today's paper.

Keane's first album, "Hopes and Fears," was huge. It sold millions upon millions, and made them overnight stars. But every album since then hasn't sold as much. 

I asked Chaplin if he ever thought about that, and instead of giving me a stock answer about not caring, he was quite frank about it. Check it out ...

Here is his quote, in its entirety:

"When we finished with the first record, it was a monster. It did so unbelievably well and it exceeded all of our expectations, but we all sat down at the end of it and said, 'We never want to make a record like that again.'

We wanted to make a record which finally brought out our own artistic sense of direction. We didn’t want to make another "Hopes and Fears." We could have easily done. We could have easily cashed in, but we wanted to be in it as artists, as opposed to just cashing in on all the success of that first record.

We said, 'It doesn’t matter if we don’t sell as many records the next time around. Let's make a record for ourselves, for the right reasons.' I think ultimately, that puts you in a better place.

Sometimes you think, 'Wouldn't it be lovely to sell that many records again,' but to be honest, we're made for life, and we’ve got a large fan base. It's done a lot for us, but it's not how we define ourselves. We're not worried too much about the number of records we sell.

You never know what's around the corner. We could quite easily make an album that's a big smashing hit, but at the same time, we could end up making an album that's weird and strange and off in a different direction. We'll just have to wait and see."

(Handout photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:25 PM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff


The tailgate will be down on Thurs night in the Merriweather parking lot if any Midnight Sunners care to join me.

I don't have either album, but is the second album very different stylistically from the first? Or are his comments simply a way to justify/explain weak (weaker) sales of the second album?

> "We wanted to make a record which finally brought out our own artistic sense of direction."

Interesting - is he suggesting that the first album (Hopes and Fears) didn't reflect their "artistic sense of direction"? That suggests they didn't have much control over what they were releasing. A monster seller could have provided them with more control for the second release...

Regardless, the interview made me want to go check 'em out.

@ColumbiaBill -- The second album is markedly different than the first. In fact, each album has been different, sonically. Personally, I think he's telling the truth. To me, none of the albums sound like they're trying to be another "Hopes and Fears."

"Hopes and Fears" is one of my favorite CD's. The following ones, not so much.

The question of lower sales figures after the success of 'Hopes & Fears' is a purely American one. Elsewhere, especially in the UK, their successive LPs have been very well recieved. 'Under the Iron Sea' in particular, was a monster hit in Britain. And Q voted 'Perfect Symmetry' album of the year in 2008. So, unless you're an American music critic, or some teen obsessed with Lil Wayne, their album sales are a non-issue.

it's kinda bumming to read keane kinda diss their first album, which is one of their best.. i love the first two albums, am not into the rest.. keane should "sell out" and do another hopes and fears

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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