Miles Kane interview "I love the feeling of this thing we're in now"

Henry Lewis caught up with the Wirral riddler to talk landmark gigs, having his music remixed by one of dance music's hottest acts and seeing his old music take on a new lease of life.

Henry Lewis

Last updated: 11th Sep 2019

Image: Miles Kane

It's a Monday morning when we speak to Miles Kane over the phone. It's the beginning of June, festival season is up and running, Liverpool are European Champions and the singer shows no sign of the sort of weariness shown by many at the beginning of a new week.

The Wirral rocker's third studio album Coup De Grace was released in August 2018, and displayed the sort of glam rock drenched, all guns blazing rock and roll that Kane is so adept at producing.

Combining the fun and panache of the kind of man who isn't afraid to wear skin tight leopard print jeans with the songwriter who so gracefully croons alongside Alex Turner in The Last Shadow Puppets, the record showed the benefits of maturity and heightened fame.

As you'd expect, its release resulted in a lengthy run of live dates for Miles, and with a new band in tow the shows appear bigger and better than ever and this summer the singer will deliver performances at big name festivals such as Kendal Calling, along with an exclusive headline performance in his native Wirral.

One video posted via Kane's social media channels back in March showed an enormous singalong in a Mexican sports stadium, accompanied with a heartfelt message from the man himself, and when we talk to him he has not long returned from another visit to foreign lands.

Morning Miles, how was your weekend? What did you get up to?

We played a festival in Poland, and got back yesterday. All good man.

I don't know if you're a football fan or not - did you see the Champions League final on Saturday?

My drummer Vicky is a Spurs fan and I'm Liverpool so as soon as we'd played this festival, me and her went and watched it and it was great, I'm buzzing.

I'm also a big fan of boxing, but I was gutted for AJ in his fight, it was a big night of sport though.

I've been keeping up with what you get up to via Instagram, the gigs are coming thick and fast at the moment...

It's pretty busy, every weekend it's festivals - so away for two or three nights then back to London, it's mega man I love it - I wouldn't have it any other way.

This past year all these different gigs we've been doing it's quite surprising how all the songs, even the older ones, have grown and come into their own. They're almost bigger than when they first came out.

I love the feeling of this thing we're in now, it's been a long hard slog but it's becoming worth it now.

Off the latest record 'Killing The Joke' was a definite stand out track - you must have realised when you wrote it that you were onto something good?

'Killing the Joke' was actually the last song written for the album and I wasn't going to put it on this quite upbeat album, when it came to finishing it off I listened to that song again and it's a great tune. I've got that side to me as well, songs like that.

I love rocking and screaming and stuff but I do like songs that are in that world, I wanted to show that as well. I've always had tunes a bit like that, I like that side as well as the rocky one.

It seems like the last Last Shadow Puppets album (Everything You've Come to Expect) shaped Alex a lot in terms of Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino, as well as his onstage persona with Arctic Monkeys - would you say the same happened to you with Coupe De Grace?

Definitely, creatively on that album you can hear it's the start of something. So take like 'Bad Habits', that could have fitted on Coupe De Grace in a way, that's the start of me going down that road.

Songs like 'Everything You've Come to Expect', is more the road he went down with that last record. I wouldn't say they would necessarily fit on our albums but you can tell - that was the start of where both mine and his albums ended if that makes sense.

I've learned a lot from that experience, you always change don't you. I feel like I've changed quite a bit over the last few years, and right now I feel really comfortable in myself - trying to be as honest as I can really when I'm speaking and performing, nothing scripted.

Those extensions to songs where it becomes a sing-along, I only do that if it feels right and I'm feeling that from the crowd each night. 

Obviously on stage it swings from boisterous to a quite camp performance, but that's kind of my personality anyway. There is a difference between real life and on stage, I don't go to the shop with make up on and wearing a jump suit.

In a moment like the one on stage in Mexico which you posted on Instagram - what's running through your head?

On stage there sometimes are weird things that make you think like "what is the next verse coming?", but weirdly it just happens alright.

Generally though, in those sort of moments when the crowd are involved like that, it's the biggest feeling ever. Even for me playing a gig, it's the best high - you can't really recreate it. It's my ultimate buzz - you know when you feel something in life that makes you feel the best you can feel  - I haven't felt something else. Maybe there is something else but I don't think so.

Something like that, even though it was a big arena, it just felt really comfortable.

It proves that these songs work well in the club, or also on a massive stage because they are big anthemic songs - it made me think "ooh I could get used to this, to be honest" [laughs].

I was disappointed to see you're not on the Glastonbury line up this year, the last time I saw you there was with TLSP and you were playing the saxophone during a 'Moonage Daydream' Bowie cover...

We're doing all these smaller festivals this year, I don't know why we're not doing Glasto - there was a reason though.

The sax thing...

I actually started learning the sax before the guitar. One night when we were doing a Puppets thing and we were talking about doing this cover, and I quite enjoy doing covers, it's something we did quite a bit with Puppets.

We were talking about it and I'd had a few, Al knows I've played sax or whatever, so I piped up and said I'll do the sax bit and we were like "yeah that would be fucking mad wouldn't it if I pulled out a sax", which is quite bad really on the Pyramid stage.

I haven't played the fucking thing since I was 13 or 14, I'm 33 now. To play, it's so hard because of the muscles in your mouth and that. For weeks and weeks I'd be practising these five fucking notes and it was crazy, it takes so long to build up the strength.

Weirdly Al's Dad plays saxophone he's a really good saxophonist, he's a good musician - he taught me the part and wrote it down cos I can't remember how to read the music. He taught it me, I practised it every day. Just up until the day before I'd just about got it, then on the day I was like "Fuck me man'. It gave me really bad anxiety and then we got through it. On the last note my mouth was going numb, but I pulled it off by the skin of my teeth.

You've been in the studio with Camelphat too, how did that go for you and how did it come about?

My cousin is a hardcore DJ, hardcore music which for me is too intense, I can't listen to it but anyway...

He's mates with Mick (Mike Di Scala) from CamelPhat they've been mates for years. I'm not really into dance music at all, I don't really know much about it but ages ago my cousin showed me that 'Cola' song and I was like "I'm quite into this". For a mainstream thing it was quite cool and not something I'd usually listen to.

I got put in touch with CamelPhat over email, and they said they were interested in remixing one of my tunes and then last year we were doing an Annie Mac session, you have to do a modern cover so we did one of CamelPhat's other tunes 'Panic Room' and they said they love the cover, did the remix for us and asked if we'd do a writing session in the studio.

I did a couple of days with them, they're really nice lads and we really got on, it was fun. I don't know whether any of it will get used though for their album, this one tune that we did was mega though. We did a couple and there was one that was really cool. I'm not sure if they're using it, because I know they're doing a lot of writing sessions every day with songwriters and different artists. I don't know if it'll make the cut or not.

If not I may see if I can have it and put it out. It almost had like a mad Stone Roses-y breakbeat, it was really cool though so who knows. It's in their hands but if they don't want it, I'll take it off their hands.

 

You've worked with the likes of Alex Turner, Jamie T - essentially indie songwriters, did you feel out of your depth at all stepping into the studio to create a dance music track?

I did have anxiety about it in a way. I hadn't met them either. We'd just spoken on the phone, but we're from the same place and you kind of knew we'd get on. It's always kind of nerve-wracking that, but I knew that there was this kind of connection and that'd we get on. They were pulling up beats, it wasn't like we were both sat there with a guitar, just sort of bouncing. But it worked. I do believe that one tune is really cool.

It's good though, when you are nervous about something like that, when you come through it you're pushing yourself in a way so after it I felt really good.

Lastly, tell us a little bit about the Wirral headline show you have scheduled for the end of the summer...

My cousin puts on... "family" [laughs] my cousin puts on that festival, so Alfie with the boys from the Coral - James and Ian, and Alfie is their little brother and so he started this little festival a few years ago on the Wirral. I've never done a gig in the Wirral, obviously that's where we're from so it'll be mad.

I don't really know what to expect. It's in Leasowe Castle, it's on the front there - it'll be an unusual gig I think.

So it's in a big castle then...?

I wouldn't say it's a big castle...Well yes it is. It's a hotel really , you know they have weddings on and stuff. I'm not too sure where we're playing, whether it's in one of the big rooms or outside, I think we're still figuring it out how big or small to do it. It's a cool setting, and if the weather's nice it'll be great, and there's a load of cool new bands on there. 

I think it'll be a good way to finish. That's going to be the end of my summer gigs and probably the end of the Coup De Grace cycle, so I'm really looking forward to it.

Miles Kane will headline Neighbourhood Festival, Manchester on Saturday 12th October. Find Neighbourhood festival 2019 tickets below.

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