You may think you know Tom Chaplin. His soaring, emotional voice lay at the centre of Keane, the anthemic, multi-million selling British band who scored 5 number one albums between 2004 and 2013, delivering such unforgettable hits as Everybody’s Changing, Is It Any Wonder? and Somewhere Only We Know. But even at the height of his fame, there was a side to the singer hidden from the world. Now, after a three year journey to hell and back, Tom Chaplin returns with his extraordinary solo debut
The Wave, a self-penned album revealing the real man behind the songs. It is a journey from utter despair to redemption, love and self-acceptance, told with enormous, emotional pop music. The voice is the same. The songs tell a whole new story.
Even as his voice carried him to worldwide fame singing the songs of band mate Tim Rice-Oxley, Tom battled with insecurity, addiction and self-loathing. “It was a strange conflict, because my voice brought me incredible success but I was singing someone else’s songs, so
it was almost something to hide behind.” Struggling with fame, he became a raging cocaine and alcohol addict. “I don’t know how my voice even survived the assault that I have given it over the years. It is only now that I can truly appreciate it. Because it has become a vehicle for expressing what is important to me.”
The Wave is a powerful album of self-destruction and recovery. “I wanted there to be no wall between the truth of my experiences and the listener. I felt that was the place to be. No holds barred [..] It is not a concept album but there is a narrative arc, from the depths of despair to a kind of resolution.”
For all its unvarnished emotional truth, The Wave is filled with a life-affirming spirit of optimism. The sound is big. “There is something liberating about not being defined by your role in a band. So there was a wider palette of instruments available. The orchestral elements are real horns and strings but we tried to keep it quite earthy. There is a lot more guitar than we would get on a Keane record and the piano is more like a kind of texture rather than a central part.”
He is deeply proud of the album. “I can’t quite believe I achieved this. For a long time it seemed like such a nebulous far away dream.” In some senses, he feels the album is about accepting himself for who he is, good and bad. “It’s about going back to this lonely boy who has been a repressed part of myself and making peace with him.”
By wrestling with his demons and surviving, Tom Chaplin has turned into a mature and even inspiring figure. And he has certainly flowered as an artist. The Wave may be the best thing he has ever done. He insists he has no anxiety about songs that expose his most private self to the world. “I feel it’s important to articulate it. I think there are lots of people who are stuck in that place and afraid to confront it. And if people have made their minds up about what they think of me, I would rather they
got the actual truth than the cherry picked fantasy version. This album is who I am.