ANDREW: It is something that is debated on the message board in quite a heated fashion. There’s a great “Climate Change – man-made crisis or natural cycle” topic.
TIM: I think it’s great that you guys are having those conversations at all, but most people don’t have the attention span, or won’t make the time of the day to spend more than five seconds thinking about these sorts of things. The idea behind the concerts is Al Gore saying - he said this to us specifically - that he’s a politician in a suit on the telly, probably indistinguishable to a lot of people from every other politician out there. Music has the ability to reach a lot more people in a very direct way, and the big star celebrity musicians will make people pay attention. The idea of the Live Earth event was just to focus people’s attentions in a way that’s very easy to understand, very ‘bullet point’ – ‘Look what’s happening over here, pay attention over here’, in the hope in that they would then prick up their ears and the things that were being talked about on the day would lead them to enquire further. But I don’t know. I think the gamble you take is that people will - and I definitely felt this with Live 8 - get very concerned, but then they wake up the next morning and they don’t give a shit, because they’re going back to work and everyone’s getting on with their own lives and it’s hard to think outside that. The danger is that it just becomes a big gig on the TV. The point of Live Earth was not to change the Earth, but it to provide a focal point and a ‘kick-off point’, like a whistle starting a football match, to announce the campaign. It remains to be seen whether people will take the issue seriously in the long run. It seems to me that there are a huge amount of good things happening as a result. Generally, people are paying more attention, and generally the issue gets talked about a lot more than a year ago. It feels like things are happening – it’s just that you always need more to happen. Even on a political level, a few months ago, as far as I can remember, George Bush was still arguing – and his official party line was – that climate change is basically made up. Now there seems to be more recognition that the science is irrefutable, full stop. The fact that anyone's even arguing that climate change isn’t happening when pretty much every neutral scientist in the world is saying that it is - and they’ve got no political motivation for saying that – is just crazy. Obviously, then the issues become what the causes of it are, and there are people who, inevitably, don’t want to acknowledge that their zillion-pound business is contributing to the problem, and all the political ties that go with it.
CHRIS: Before we go. Which song are you most proud of, purely from a songwriting point of view?
TIM: Err... I don’t know. Probably 'Atlantic', I think. And I’m very proud of 'Crystal Ball'.
ANDREW: Do you think 'Crystal Ball' should have been a bigger hit than it was, that it was overtaken by events surrounding its release?
TIM: Yeah. I think we were all a bit... disappointed. It was still Number One on Radio Airplay, but it didn’t chart that high and we didn’t promote it at all, which I guess illustrates the previous point. When we play 'Crystal Ball' live, it’s one of the biggest moments of the set – it’s great to play live, and everyone knows it. You come to realise that song’s impact in ways that you don’t expect.
CHRIS: One last question - you're a phenomenally successful songwriter now. What do you think the best measure of success has been for your songwriting? Awards, audience response, Tom and Richard...?
TIM: Well, Tom and Richard are definitely my first port of call. If they don’t like a song, the song won’t go any further. If they do like something, that’s probably the biggest thrill for me and I feel very excited about that. I think a lot of people liking a song, or really falling in love with a song and then telling you that is probably the highest praise, for me. Because you are writing pop music, at the end of the day - call it rock music, call it indie music, but it’s basically pop music. Any kind of genre where you’re trying to get played on Radio 1 or whatever, you’re talking about how people around the world will respond to that. I always feel good if you get people all over the world who are really touched by something, even though you’ve never met them or never even been to that country or don’t even speaking the same language. That’s pretty cool!
Next up, of course, it'll be Chris and Andrew's interview with Tom. Look out for it on km.com in the next few weeks.