WHEN KEANE broke up in 2013, it wasn’t just the superstar piano band’s millions of fans left heartbroken.
Lead singer TOM CHAPLIN spiralled back into devastating drug addiction, before getting back on the wagon, focussing on his family and writing a stunning solo album.
But songwriter TIM RICE-OXLEY – the brains behind enduring hits like Somewhere Only We Know, Bedshaped and Spiralling – disappeared from public view entirely for six years as his life fell apart.
Now as the band reunite to perform at Barclaycard presents BST in Hyde Park this weekend ahead of the release of their fifth studio album in September, the pair have opened up about their private pain and how they got back together in an emotional new episode of my podcast The Dan Wootton Interview.
Tim’s marriage “fell apart” just as Keane split, leaving him struggling to deal with “a lot of heartbreak and a totally new life that I hadn’t really planned for.”
The famously middle-class band, Tim concedes, was the major driving factor behind his separation.
He tells me: “You start to live independently and separate lives almost and certainly with us by the time we realised it was too late basically.
‘Keane had been such a huge part of my life – really an obsession, a lifestyle where you’re used to living out of a suitcase and eating in the hotel restaurant every morning.
“All the time we’d been touring in this last album, we’d been renovating this lovely little house in the countryside and I thought that’s where I’m going to be with my family for evermore.
“And then suddenly I’m in this empty house with no bed and realising I’d never learned how to fry an egg. Very much on my own.”
It was that painful moment that has inspired Cause and Effect, a hauntingly beautiful 11-track collection of songs like Strange Room, which includes the lyric, I know what it looks like, rich kid with a good life.
“That’s what this album is about,” Tim explains. “Firstly how I got there and secondly how I reacted to it.
It’s something people go through married or otherwise. It’s a relationship disappearing and it has a huge impact on you.”
For Tim, that meant a devastating wake-up call in 2015 when he was arrested for drink driving having driven into a ditch after a farewell party for a beloved pub in Sussex.
“To say that was a low point would be an understatement really,” he says, grimacing with embarrassment about the uncharacteristic situation.
“I drank way too much, I don’t know what I was doing, obviously completely idiotic behaviour, fell asleep at the wheel.
“It’s just one of those things where I remember being horrifically hungover in a police cell and thinking, ‘How did this happen? How did I go from being this sort of super-sensible guy with a wife and two kids to…?
“I always felt quite proud, almost a little self-satisfied with how sort of neatly arranged my life had been – successful career, nice little house in the countryside, lovely family.
“Suddenly you’re on your own in a police cell – separated, no career – it was pretty grim.”
But there was a positive consequence from Tim’s heartbreak – he poured out all his emotions into new songs for Keane, which he presented to Tom when they met at Christmas for their first proper chat in two years.
Tim is also now devoted to his daughters, explaining: “One of the good things about the whole period is it’s made me focus on being a dad. I absolutely love it and that’s very much the focal point of my life now.”
That’s the same for Tom too who used “self-healing” and therapy to get clean after his post-Keane “self-destructive” relapse.
He explains: “I like myself more, I’m probably a bit more outgoing and honest than I used to be. And I bring that into the world of Keane. I probably didn’t in the past, I ended up feeling isolated or not worthwhile at times.”
Tom now concedes recovery will be a “lifelong process” – but when ELTON JOHN tried to help him stay clean in 2007, he rejected the legend’s advice.
During a meeting in Las Vegas, the Rocketman told him: “There’s a lot of in your story that remind you of me.”
But Tom recalls: “I kind of wasn’t ready to hear it. Maybe he could tell that I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t until 2012 that the problems really started to resurface in a massive way. He was absolutely right.”
Now committed to his wife, daughter and band, Tom is hopeful that he has “dealt with my demons of addiction for the rest of my life”.
He adds: “Life doesn’t seem like the ordeal it used to feel like for me. I still have tough days and tough times and challenges but really I feel like it’s given me a really stable platform. Why would I want to go back to a mad, self-destructive existence?”
That prediction provides hope Keane’s reunion will become permanent – especially seeing all the members are convinced they will not be consigned to being labelled a heritage act.
Tom says: “What’s been great about it is that it’s not been a heritage thing. The album has come from a very dark, sad, beautiful energy in these songs Tim has written. In terms of the music it’s something that feels very credible and something we really wanted to say and get out there.
MOST READ IN TV & SHOWBIZ
“It’s not like a record that’s been made like we’re in our comfort zone and we’re just doing it to pay the bills or whatever. We are really proud of it.”
Tim adds: “We’re enjoying and valuing each other and the music, more so than ever before really.”