By Marcel Anders
The time in which Tom Chaplin escaped into drugs and alcohol are once and for all over. Now, he is a responsible husband and pop star who does everything for his mental and physical health and who is asking for the meaning of life in his songs.
1LIVE: In contrast to its designed predecessor “Perfect Symmetry”, “Strangeland” seems more like a return to the warm an organic sound of your beginning…
Tom Chaplin (laughing): That’s what was important to us. That was the declared destiny. An Album which is rather similar to “Hopes and Fears”.
Tom Chaplin: Because ”Perfect Symmetry” from today’s perspective, seems to be too ambitious. It seems that we took a step too far. But now we know where our strength lies– at least I hope so. That’s why the new songs are much better than the ones from „Hopes and Fears“. Even though it has the same simplicity, a band in a studio without a massive production. There are some interesting synths on Strangeland, but we use them rarely. We try to transfer the emotions with our instruments not with all the technology – in a very simple way.
1LIVE: The lyrics are anything but simple. They deal with profound themes such as getting older, love and the meaning of life. Did you find the meaning of life or are you still looking for it?
Tom Chaplin: All I know is that life is a journey. We all got hopes and ambitions, which hopefully become real. This album shows how I imagine my future. Like: If I get to that point, I will be happy. And maybe even a bit happier if I get to the next point. However it’s often that you make a wrong turn before you reach the destiny and you take a completely different direction. Life takes its unexpected twists and turns, so it always has some awkward bits of a Strangeland.
1LIVE: There’s nothing more important and more fragile than relationships? An insight that is shown in your first single Disconnected?
Tom Chaplin: Right. I experience that with my friends: through your whole life you build all these relationships but sometimes you lose touch with them. And then you’ve got to look for new people and start all over again. I don’t know why this happens you get close to somebody and then you lose touch. I try to understand these dynamics in Disconnected: Why did we drift apart?
1LIVE: Lately you have a very close relationship with Jesse Quin. He has been touring with the band for ages, but he became an official member just recently. How come? And what is it that qualifies him for the job?
Tom Chaplin: I’ve often said: “I wish we had a bassist. It would feel better.” We used to generate the bass with the help of the computer – until we did a cover of Queens “Under Pressure” for a live show. It’s impossible to programme the bass for that. The song is hard to play even for experienced musicians. The notes are not complicated, but the timing is quite tough. And we knew: If Jesse was good enough to play this in front of 5000-6000 fans, he’ll be good enough to become a proper band member. He was brilliant of course and we get along with each other very well.
1LIVE: So is it only a matter of time till you hire a professional guitar player?
Tom Chaplin: Who knows, maybe we’ll end up like “The Polyphonic Spree” someday – with almost 30 people. (laughs)
1LIVE: And what about Tom Chaplin? Can you cope better with your own success and the lifestyle of a popstar than in the middle of the noughties?
Tom Chaplin: Definitively! I’ve been clean since the end of 2006 and stay away from drugs. I drink alcohol only moderately. Otherwise my girlfriend wouldn’t have married me.
1LIVE: How does she deal with you new hobbies: jogging, swimming and golf?
Tom Chaplin: I just needed a way to clear my mind. When we have a time-out, it is really important to unwind. Instead of going to the pub or doing something stupid like that, I run 10 kilometres every morning, swim a few lengths and play golf for four to five hours, which I find very relaxing. I get some fresh air and try to hit a tiny ball into a hole. A lot of musicians do that actually, because it’s the exact opposite of being on stage. There you get applause from thousands of people and this is a massive ego boost. Golf, however, is more like zen or a meditative experience. It keeps me grounded.