At just 24 years old, Miles Kane has a strong Liverpudlian pedigree, a string of successful and slightly cult bands behind him, a side project with another of Britain’s young successes, and an emerging solo career gaining momentum as we speak.
Not bad for only a quarter of a century.
Heavily influenced by the beat music of the 60s and psychedelic garage bands, his new single Inhaler is a tribute to one of his favourite acts, Los Angeles’ psychedelic garage group Bonniwell Music Machine. The B-side features a cover version of another of Miles’ vintage influences, Lee Hazelwood’s psych-pop classic, ‘Rainbow Woman’.
We caught up with Miles to ask about his love of this genre, finally going it alone and other bits and bobs about being a young Northern muso.
So you’re not really a Scouser are you, you’re from The Wirral. Is there really any massive difference, like the North/South divide…?
The Wirral is actually very different from Liverpool. There’s definitely that very quiet village feel to it, it’s very local feeling and nice. I’ve lived in Liverpool for a while now and as I get older and busier, it feels nicer to go back home, for a change really. For now it's fun being based full-time in Liverpool, but it’s always good to go home for teacakes. I’m a bit partial to a teacake here and there!
The music you make is a modern development of sounds we found in the 60s; The Kinks, The Animals, The Small Faces etc. What do you like about that kind of music?
It’s hard to say exactly what I like about it really, music you favour is just a part of you, part of whatever you are, everyone likes their own thing and that just happens to be mine. I guess it stems from the obvious passion for The Beatles, but I love the look of the bands from the 60s, there’s a much smarter image with that kind of garage music, which I like. The image adds a bit of class and there’s not enough of that out there at the moment. I like looking sharp and making great songs.
Is it just the music that fascinates you, or are you a reader of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg etc, and any other things branded as ‘the beat generation’…?
You know, I’ve never really been a big reader, I had an interview the other day and said the same to them. The Beat Generation is an inspiration to me, but mainly just from the musical side of things, and the images of the bands who made the music. I love learning and hearing from different people though, like I’m listening to a lot of other music now, but I would definitely like to start reading Kerouac and some of the books from that era, and just getting into it more. I find it really exciting but I’ve just not had the time and haven’t indulged myself yet. It’s always good to absorb good quality books learning new things though, and I’m only young yet.
It’s all very vintage! Are you an old school vinyl lover then, or are you more a part of the download generation, and how do you feel about this with regards to your own releases…?
Buying vinyl now and again is as far as I get, I’ve never been a hardened collector or a vinyl buff. I definitely don’t do the whole illegal download thing, but I do buy a lot off iTunes. Having a nice product in your hand is a great thing though, people get desperate to buy something to hold sometimes, to buy something that’s unique and has a special quality to it. That’s what we were thinking with my new single. It’s going out on vinyl only with a special poster by this up-and-coming artist. You won’t be able to find that online.
Personally I’d like to get that re-issue of ‘Band On The Run’ by McCartney. There’s a tune on that called ‘Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five’, I just heard it for first time, and when you see it live his voice is going a bit, but it just blew my head away. I do really wanna get it but I’ve not had time to seeing as things have been so busy lately with my own stuff!
So the whole Liverpool scene is quite incestuous, obviously you were in The Little Flames a few years back, then The Rascals, there are strong connections with The Coral, The Zutons as well. Is it a good thing, like a support network, or are you all pretty competitive?
Yeah The Little Flames, with Eva fronting, that was a while ago now. Obviously we’ve gone our own ways these days, as you do, and there have been changes in those other bands too. Liverpool’s scene isn’t really close knit in terms of it being a scene where we all hang out and go to the same places, I guess early on we did but really we leave each other to it. We see each other every now and again, but that’s it really these days. It's not the same vibe now as it was at one stage because we’ve all grown and done different things, but there’s always good competition, you hear new stuff that someone has done, and if it's good it makes you want to do better things yourself. I guess that’s in any area of your life; these things spur you on.
What do you think of the competition between Manchester and Liverpool’s music scenes? Some people see them as fighting against one another, what do you think?
I love Manchester, I really do! It’s got a good thing going on, and with Manchester I don’t see any rivalry, I’m an 'all for one' kinda person. I guess you could make up some sort of thing, what could we do? A boxing match that’d be funny, me vs Liam Fray ha! I’m only joking, there’s no rivalry at all, we’ve never had any issues with them [The Courteeners] and we’re actually going out and doing some gigs with them at end of the year, which will be good fun definitely.
We read somewhere that you’re also an actor – so yet another string to your creative bow. Are we going to be able to see you in anything soon?
What? No way, where did you read that? [explains it might have been Wikipedia] No, I’m definitely not an actor, that’s funny. I was asked to be in that film about Lennon, Nowhere Boy, by Sam Taylor-Wood, which was a real honour. They wanted me to be the lead part, to be Lennon, but I wouldn’t do it. I’ve never done anything like that before, and it was great to be asked, but I’d rather just keep my focus on my music career.
Tell us some more about your solo project then, how come you’ve decided to go it alone? And what’s next after this tour and release?
It’s just been a bit of a slog to get things sorted out, when The Rascals split a year and half ago, from then it's been a big change. You’ve got a partner at least, or a posse behind you when you’re in a band, there’s a big group of you, but on your own it’s hard. I wrote a load of tunes and they really weren’t very good, so I got my head down, focussed, and wrote and wrote and wrote. Then I had a breakthrough, Columbia liked some of the things I’d done and took me on. Really the guy who kick started me was Gruff Rhys [Super Furry Animals]; he was so supportive and like a mentor in a way. I’d recorded four tracks with him a year or so ago in Konk Studios, which is famed for its collection of vintage equipment, but then a couple of them actually made the album as well. He really helped me out, he’s a great guy.
So now, the first single Inhaler will be a bit of a taster for the album, we’re keeping it low key, vinyl release only like I said, and iTunes. I’m not even on the poster y’know, it’s just this artwork, which I think is really good, the girl's a great artist. There’s a bit of plan in place for next year too, but for obvious reasons I’m not allowed to say anything about it.
With the release being on limited release vinyl, and a bit fancy with the poster, it might not chart, but I’m not bothered about that. It makes it a bit more special. There’s no pressure, and if it’s received well that’ll be great. It sounds good, it’s a taster for the album, and I’m so over the indie thing now, this is a much better sound.
Interview by: Miz DeShannon
Inhaler is out on vinyl and iTunes download on 22nd November 2010
Tour dates and more info at: