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Q&A: Keane's Tim Rice-Oxley

On his side project, Kylie and turning down Coldplay

We're told you cooked up your new country side-project, Mt Desolation, after a late-night drinking session in Dublin.

It was after a Keane show and we had a night out, as you do. We were all in Toner's -- that's just down from Ballsbridge, isn't it? At about three in the morning we were talking about country music and decided it was a good idea for two pasty English guys to have a crack at the most American music genre there is.

You've knocked around Dublin quite a bit, haven't you? After all, Keane's original guitarist was a local, wasn't he?

Yeah. We spent a lot of time in that part of town. It has a real place in my heart. I feel quite emotional going back there.

With Keane, you get to hide behind your piano. What's it like like being frontman?

Quite scary, but really exciting. It's something I always felt I ought to be able to do. Not because I'm a huge ego-maniac. It's a new thing and that's part of the appeal. The only band I've ever been in was Keane and Tom [Chaplin] is such a great singer, there's never been any need for me to be frontman.

Speaking of Tom, he rather lost the plot for a while what with his battles with substance abuse and rehab. The roller-coaster nature of Keane's success must have been difficult for all of you.

It was still fun. Parts of it were a bit of a shock to the system. Anyone who is lucky enough to do really well will have gone through that. It's a sudden change. Over the years we've gotten used to it. we love it now.

It must be a comedown, then, to perform in a 'cosy' venue such as Whelan's rather than the enormodomes that have become your natural habitat?

Sometimes it's nice to play the places where you go to hang out rather than somewhere like The Point. It's a big, slick venue sort of thing... It's nice to be able to get back to the clubs, getting a bit hot and sweaty.

You also contributed a tune to Kylie's new album. What was it like entering that world of hyper-corporate production-line song-writing?

It is a strange thing, it's quite collaborative. You find yourself in a room with people you don't really know and you have to create something out of nothing. It's nice to do stuff that's new, things you aren't familiar or comfortable with. Whether it goes well or not, you come away having learned something.

Coldplay wanted you to join as a keyboardist before their first album. Any regrets about turning them down?

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Um, that story has been slightly twisted. I probably would have been up for it. They just changed their minds and decided they wanted to be a four piece. I don't have any regrets about the way it turned out.

Mt Desolation play Whelan's, Dublin, tonight. Their self-titled album is released on October 15

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