Following the success of Keane and battling a drug addiction, Tom Chaplin is back riding the wave of his career with a new found love for life.
Words: Becky Weaver
“I wouldn’t want to go through my problems again, but that experience of taking myself so close to the edge and coming back from it has given me a potent story to write about,” says Tom Chaplin with severity.
He’s telling me about the writing process behind his debut solo album, The Wave, a record that reflects his past that saw the Keane frontman spiral out of control. “At the beginning of last year my problems with drugs came back, I ground to a halt in every aspect in my life, and in order to get better I had to open up to a therapist and other people in my life,” he says.
“The album is an extension of that process and learning that life is actually much more bearable when you open up and share your problems, The Wave is me doing that in a very honest way,” he adds.
And the album is honest, the lyrics don’t hold back from Tom’s struggles with crippling anxiety, panic attacks and addiction. I ask him if he was concerned about releasing an album which was based on the foundations of something so incredibly personal.
“I kind of stuck my neck out in terms of being so honest with this album, and I was concerned about how people would react to it. The response has been really positive which is so lovely to hear. People are listening very intently to the songs which is very fulfilling for me.”
Nearly two years down the line of what Tom says ‘was the lowest point in my life’, he’s got himself back on the right track. Back in October, he released his stunning album which debuted at number three in the Official Charts and has not long completed an eight-date intimate tour – his first in four years – which included a show at The Glee Club.
“I found with the shows that the vibe in each venue was so great because I could see and hear everyone, to have that sort of interaction was really lovely. The sense of this record is that it’s more of an emotional story than it is a standing up and putting on a real posturing rock show where you don’t have any sense of the context of the album.
“People are coming to the shows and they understand what it’s about, and hopefully they can see how it might resonate with their own lives. To be able to chat to the audience and have that interaction has felt really appropriate, it was a really lovely way to kick things off for me,” he continues.
The Wave is the first of Tom’s records where he has been the driving force behind the songs. Back in the days of Keane, he was singing chart-topping tracks including Somewhere Only We Know and Everybody’s Changing, written by fellow bandmate, Tim Rice-Oxley. “I’ve put a lot of emphasis on working incredibly hard on the words of the songs.
“I’ve had this desire to make a solo record for quite a long time. I’ve always been a creative person, even way before the days of Keane’s success. That part of me has always been there, but it’s been about finding a way of articulating that and having a story to tell.”
In their prime, Keane were one of the most successful bands in the country, with their debut album Hopes and Fears charting at number one on its release, where it remained on the top spot for five weeks and in the charts for a whopping 130 weeks.
Tom tells me that he informed the rest of the band about his plans to release a solo record in 2013, but shortly after his problems with drugs returned, putting his career on hold. Yet his relationship with bandmates Rice-Oxley, Richard Hughes and Jesse Quinn have still remained.
“Richard and Jesse came to the London show and it was really great to see them,” he says. “I do see everyone in Keane every now and then, we haven’t left things acrimoniously, it was just that I really wanted to do this and this was the time to do it. I couldn’t have asked for them to be more supportive in what they’ve outwardly said to me.”
What I’m dying to know from Tom is if the world will ever be blessed with another Keane album. “I have no idea, I feel very immersed in what I’m doing at the moment, I’ve got a lot of energy for it, and it’s hard to look beyond seeing this all through. I hope this will all take me well into next year, I’d love to take my songs to festivals, and then I guess I’ll give it a rethink at that point.
“I’m already hungry to write more music, and have already written more, but I’m also making sure I enjoy it. For me it feels a bit like the early years of Keane around the Hopes and Fears time where there was lots of new and exciting things happening,” Tom continues.
“I feel like I’m going through all that again but the difference is back in that time I wasn’t open to properly enjoying it but now I am; I feel that I’ve learned a lot about myself and I like myself enough to actually appreciate what’s happening.”
The Wave by Tom Chaplin is out now. [infobox maintitle=”Don’t miss out on Tom’s tour at Symphony Hall” subtitle=”Click here to get your tickets” bg=”orange” color=”white” opacity=”off” space=”30″ link=”https://www.thsh.co.uk/event/tom-chaplin-plus-special-guests”]