Keane: The Upward Spiral

The multiplatinum English band that was almost derailed by personal problems has relocated its mojo.

The multiplatinum English band that was almost derailed by personal problems has relocated its mojo.

Keane by name and keen by nature, the melodic rock trio from Sussex has sold about 8 million copies of its two albums, according to its U.K. label, since emerging some four-and-a-half years ago. With the subsequent drink- and drug-related tribulations of lead singer Tom Chaplin now firmly in the past, the band's creative enthusiasm is refueled to overflowing.

"I've seen what it's like on the other side, and I don't ever want to go there again. This is a liberated record," Chaplin says of "Perfect Symmetry," released Oct. 13 internationally on Island and the following day in the United States on Interscope. "When you sail so close to the edge and then come back, you learn to appreciate what it is [you enjoy] again. We didn't have that sense of fun for a while. We were pretty earnest."

Keane's 2004 debut, "Hopes and Fears," racked up global sales estimated at 5.5 million by Island. So a "mere" 2.5 million for 2006 follow-up "Under the Iron Sea" was something of a letdown. Nielsen SoundScan shows the respective U.S. figures as 976,000 and 373,000, although "Sea" charted higher, debuting at No. 4 on the Billboard 200; "Hopes" had peaked at No. 45.

"We've built up a huge live following in America and the first record obviously did incredibly well," Chaplin says. "We toured there with the second record and the crowds got bigger, but [the album] didn't seem to impact as much as the first one. Whether the Americans get this record or not I don't know, but I hope the openness and poppiness of it will have a big impact."

"Symmetry" was introduced by perhaps its most uncharacteristic-sounding track, the synth-driven "Spiralling," which was initially available in the United Kingdom as a free download from Keane's Web site. Although not an official single, its subsequent availability as a paid download saw it climb to No. 23 on the Official Charts Co.'s Sept. 13 singles tally.

"There's so much playing safe with bands these days," Chaplin says. "It seems a lot of them burst onto the scene and then for the next five years are essentially making the same record. We feel we've made a record that's been lurking in us for a long time. With this album it was, 'It's our band—we can do what the f*ck we like.' "