In our latest Q&A, we caught up with Kev about the tour, the Burberry Rosé release and his plate of sea monsters.
Hello Kev, how are you?
I'm very well, thank you.
And where do we find you this fine Monday afternoon?
Well, we've got a day off today, so we're in a lovely country hotel, which is relatively near Harrogate.
Is that the one you've been to before?
Yes, I think it's where we came on the last day off on our last tour. It's run by a mate of Andy from our crew, so they're giving us a good deal and looking after us rather nicely.
How are you spending your day off?
Most of it trying to sleep. But I've given up on that and gone for a walk instead.
Yes, it was lovely. On what used to be a railway line along the side of a river. Very tranquil.
So how's the tour going?
It's been great. I think it started off surprisingly well, in that the first day of a tour is a bit daunting and we always try and do more than we should in terms of production and fancy lights and segues and all sorts of things, and it all actually went according to plan. So a good start, and I think it's been improving ever since.
Essential piano maintenance...
It must be nice being back on the road. It's been a while since a big tour like this.
It's been yonks, yeah. We've done one-off gigs, but only doing one gig every two weeks isn't really frequent enough to keep you fit. So it's taken a bit of getting used to doing so many in a row, to be honest. But it's good. I think we're back on form now.
What do you have to get used to?
Playing-wise, doing that for an hour and half every night, if your body's not used to it, your throat gets tired and your fingers get tired and Paul's entire body gets tired! But it does mean that after a few days of doing that, you get back to how it used to be when we were doing it solidly for about four years!
Were you more nervous than you have been?
Surprisingly not. I think we've probably got beyond pre-gig nerves now. I think doing the gig at Wembley Stadium probably inoculated us against nerves. I think until we do something bigger than that, we should be OK.
And how have the shows been?
Really good. Leeds was probably my highlight so far. And it just seems to have been improving from one night to the next. So hopefully by Shepherd's Bush it will be peaking.
And good crowds?
Yeah, they've all been really good. Very much on our side and up for having a good night.
Which is nice, having not toured for a while.
It is. A lot of the gigs we've done since the last tour have been festivals, so it's not your crowd when you're doing that. Whereas everyone coming along to these shows has bought a ticket to see us. So they're on your side and they know the material and can sing along. It is very different to a festival gig.
Are they reacting well to the new stuff?
Incredibly well, actually. In fact, we're playing Still You Want More from the Bees album after it was voted the favourite song off the bonus disc on Facebook. That's been going down really, really well. It's probably been getting one of the biggest cheers of the night, to be honest.
Definitely. And it's really good to be playing it, because it's one of the first songs we ever wrote, back in the Twelve Stops And Home days. But for some reason, we kept missing it off albums. But it's always been one of my favourite songs of ours, so it's nice that it's finally out there. We're obviously playing all the singles too, though. Plus the odd surprise which isn't a surprise any more.
Ah yes, you've been doing Call Me Al by Paul Simon?
That's right. We've been doing that since we were out in the Alps, and we've unearthed it recently. It's a brilliant song. As soon as people hear that opening riff they go mad straightaway.
Have you been partying hard on tour too?
Not really. I'm not so good at those aspects of touring, because I just don't sleep on tour. So by this stage I'm usually spending most of the time in my bunk, then coming out, drinking far too much coffee, doing the gig and then not being able to sleep again.
Have you caught the support bands?
To be honest, I haven't - mainly because I have quite an extensive warm-up routine which I'm normally doing while they're playing. But I will definitely try to see them before the end of the tour.
What does your extensive warm-up routine involve?
Just making strange buzzing noises vocally and trying to play guitar as quickly as possible.
We're premiering the Burberry Rosé video this week.
Oh good. We did it at Abbey Road, while we were recording it. I think it suits the song very well.
There seems to be a lot of interest in the media about the Burberry tie-in too.
Yeah, that's been really nice. Burberry's press department have obviously got a fair amount of wallop behind them.
Have you been performing Rosé in trench coats during the tour?
Haha! No, but we did talk about sticking Ciaran in one, with nothing underneath, and have him dancing at the side of the stage. Maybe we'll save that for Shepherd's Bush.
Here we go Loopallu...
And how was the Loopallu festival up in Ullapool?
It was great. Cold, but really good. It's quite a small event, but it was a lot of fun. The crowd were fantastic. And it was nice to see the Highlands of Scotland for about an hour. I ordered prawns for lunch, but I'm sure what came back were more like sea monsters. That's my over-riding memory.
They do look a bit scary...
And will you be going to your favourite kebab shop in Manchester?
Yes, Abdul's awaits. I think that's the thing I've been looking forward to most about the tour, actually!
Do you guys have any plans for after the tour?
Not firm ones. I suppose what we're hoping happens is that Burberry using Rosé suddenly means that everyone in all the countries where we've not done much before discovers us and we get to go off on a world tour. But we shall see!
And so onto readers' questions. Pete asks if you have names for your guitars?
No, I'm afraid I don't.
Alan would like to know which guitar is your preference for using in the studio.
Well, the answer is the black Les Paul that I play on stage, and what I actually end up playing is Dan's guitar because he prefers the sound of it.
Next question is from Andy who asks how many guitar strings you'd expect to break during a gig.
The answer now is none, because we use these special coated ones, which basically means they don't break and you only have to change them every five gigs, rather than every gig.
Lucy says she didn't know you could play the trumpet until she saw the show on Saturday night. She was very impressed.
I can't really play it, but that song's only got two notes in it, so I can do just about do it. I used to play at school, but then I think as my mouth got bigger my range got smaller, until I could only play about half an octave's worth. But luckily those two notes are in that half an octave.
Turns out Richard can play trumpet too. Sort of.
Susie asks if you've ever had a juicy argument with Ciaran before a show.
No, I don't think we've actually had an argument in about 20 years or something. So, no. I think the worst band argument was back in the Alps days when I'd had what's known as a gas chamber, which is some nasty drink which you set on fire and down, and then I started shouting at Dan because he hadn't given back my lead that he'd borrowed a few days before.
If that's the worst you've managed, that's pretty good.
Yes, I think so.
And the final question, from me, is how was Ciaran's wedding and your best man appearance?
Nerve-wracking. I suppose I'm used to appearing in public in front of lots of people, but that's doing something I'm quite confident in. Whereas speaking is probably not my forte! And having all those people staring at you expecting you to be funny is really quite daunting. But I said stuff and people laughed occasionally, so I think it was OK.
Ciaran catches the eye of a couple of stunners
And the wedding itself?
It was lovely.
Was there musical entertainment?
There was. Richard DJ'd and brought along his karaoke set-up too. So the room being full of musicians, lots of people got up and had a go.
No, I didn't. I was well beyond karaoke by that point.