- Wed, 2011-02-09 11:15
Everybody forms a band with their mates. It’s the oldest story in the book, and it’s exactly what Miles Kane did first with The Little Flames, then with The Rascals, and finally with The Last Shadow Puppets. Only, in the last instance it happened that the mate in question was Alex Turner, lead singer of Arctic Monkeys, the most successful new band in the UK. Cue a number one album and plaudits aplenty. Now it’s time for Kane to strike out on his own, with his debut solo album due for imminent release, preceded by his new single, Come Closer.
I Like Music caught up with Miles to chat about going solo, what the new album holds, working with the Gallaghers and his love of quality pop music.
”I Like Music because…it bends me knees.” Miles Kane
ILM: When did you decide that it was right to branch out as a solo artist?
Miles: When I started out writing tunes I just went and formed The Rascals. Then me and Al [Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys] released the Last Shadow Puppets record, and obviously that elevated us. We tasted what it was like to be number one and after doing touring and that, coming home to The Rascals was sort of like coming home to nothing. We made a Rascals record, but then it just got a bit dry and was a bit of a come down. I started to think of what to do next, and it took a while to get my confidence back. Then I was like I’m not gonna form another band, so I just wrote a load of tunes and we managed to take it to Columbia, who dug it straight away. They were backing me since day one. Then we did a first bunch of recording with Gruff Rhys and he gave me loads of confidence.
ILM: Confidence that you’d been missing before…
Miles: Well I am quite a confident person, but I had been knocked a bit, you know what I mean? But we recorded two tracks for the record and I was like “wow, this does sound good!” I didn’t have my band or Al there, and he’s like my best mate, so I was always used to having that support. I guess Gruff took that role in a way. He did the producing and he’s a mate now. So it was probably from doing that first session that I was like “wow, I can do this, bring it on!” I knew that once I had the record behind me it’d be alright. I feel like a different lad to what I did before this album. You’ve got to have your own journey to find yourself. I know it sounds so fucking cheesy that, but it’s true.
ILM: How do you think your musical experiences with The Rascals and The Last Shadow Puppets informed where you are now?
Miles: As with everything you do, the next record you make is gonna take bits from what you’ve done before. I think everything you experience helps you, and makes you better at whatever you do. Even if you make a shit record, you learn “don’t do that.” I don’t know, I suppose it’s all sort of helped, especially in terms of writing and playing.
ILM: Are you excited now that you’re building up to the release of the album?
Miles: We’ve been doing these little gigs, and they’re only to a couple of hundred people, but we’ve been selling them out. That’s what I’m buzzing about, because they’re coming to a gig and they don’t know what to expect. They haven’t even heard the album yet. So I wanna build on that. ‘Cause they’re the people – fuck reviews. It’s the people who are gonna go and buy it and stick with you, so that’s important to me.
How would you describe the album?
Miles: I think Come Closer is probably quite a good blueprint for the album. It opens the record. But then after that we’ve got this next single called Rearrange which is sort of quite poppy. It’s got the best guitar riff you’ll hear all year! Ha! Like a festival riff that you could sing to, and it’s dead summery. There’s a theme to it; whether the tracks are dark or pop it’s sort of grooving. When I was making it I didn’t want it to be fast then slow, fast then slow. I wanted it to be sort of consistent, bit like a Motown record. I love that band The Four Tops; there’s a song called Seven Rooms Of Gloom that you should check out. It’s mind-blowing. So I think that was the thing, going in, to make it all just sort of groove. And none of them are more than three minutes...
ILM: What was your process for putting the album together?
Miles: It took a while, but the actual recording of it took two and half months probably; three months max. That’s because it was spread out over a long time, ‘cause I needed to write more tunes. The actual recording of it was the easy bit in a way. It’s just getting it all together and getting the right tunes. I re-recorded a couple of tracks. The drums are a big part of it in a weird way. They sort of keep this constant, cool groove throughout. I think I achieved that anyway!
ILM: What’s your earliest musical memory? When did you first realise your passion for music?
Miles: I played the saxophone in the school orchestra, which was when I started secondary school. But before that I’d always loved music. I’d always have my earphones in at school and be buzzing off music. And my aunty got me my first guitar when I was like thirteen or something. But in school I did the saxophone. It’d take me a while to do it now, but that was what I was doing in about year ten. Then I started playing the guitar a bit more and it was like “I don’t want to do the saxophone!” Second album is going to be saxo-themed! Ha ha!
ILM: Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Miles: Lennon I guess. I know it’s an obvious one, but it’s massively true. Have you ever seen that DVD called Gimme Some Truth? It’s the making of the Imagine album. Amazing. The Four Tops that I mentioned earlier, they’re one of my favourite bands. I just love everything about them really. They’re perfect pop. And Lee Hazlewood is a big hero as well. I always go back through the records he made with Nancy Sinatra. He’s amazing.
ILM: What would be your advice to young musicians?
Miles: It’s the hardest bit, that early stage. I think you’ve just got to stick to your guns though, whatever. Whatever’s going on and whatever’s popular or fashionable with bands, you probably see some bands trying to copy it. But I think whatever you’re into - even if that’s not what everyone’s doing - you should just stick to that. And hopefully – I mean, that’s what I did – if you keep doing that then you should be alright. You could probably say that about anything, any job.
ILM: How do you find the fame side of things; does it affect you?
Miles: Yeah I guess, but I’m just sort of starting out. At gigs, or if people come up to you, it’s cool. I don’t really see it as weird. I think if anyone who is in a band moans about it, don’t be in a band! I feel like that even about doing interviews. If you make a record then that’s what you do. I mean, I’m glad to be sat here chatting to you…or whoever it is. It does my head in when people moan about doing stuff like that, ‘cause you’ve got to do it.
ILM: What do you look forward to most about playing live?
Miles: I think that’s my favourite thing. Because I’ve been making this album I hadn’t gigged for so long. We were like, “we won’t do a gig till we’ve done the record and that’s in the bag.” Then you know that you can enjoy it more I guess, ‘cause you know that’s done. You’re not giving anything away by gigging. You can come out with exactly what you’ve made and there’s not gonna be any confusion. So that for me is the best bit, the gigs. I’m just totally buzzing!
ILM: Are you looking forward to supporting Beady Eye? You must have been pretty excited when you found out about it...
Miles: Yeah! When did I find out about that? I dunno, before New Year. Liam Gallagher’s my hero so for him to dig what we do and let us go on tour is great!
ILM: You’ve worked with Noel Gallagher recently…
Miles: Yeah, he sings a bit of backing vocal on a song called My Fantasy. It’s only a subtle thing but you know what press are like, they probably think he’s on every song! It was when I was mixing, and I was going to put this harmony on this song. He just came down and did it and just hung out. He’s a lovely fella!
ILM: We’re not seeing that many guitar bands in the charts at the moment, why do you think that is?
Miles: No actually, I’ve been saying – there’s no guitar bands in the charts. The record that I’ve made is pop. It’s guitar music, but it’s pop. And that needs to be out there. I want to break the charts with this and get on the radio and do all those things, because I think it needs that there. It’s got lost, and you need to tell people that. It’s always timing isn’t it? I guess we’ve got more going on. There’s more pop and r’n’b and that, which is great. But there needs to be a bit of rock n roll back in there, and hopefully this year that will happen. All the big bands are making new records that are gonna be coming out this year, so that’ll help things as well. But I think with the new bands coming through, and me with the record I’ve made – I can hear it on the radio, and I’d love to break that mould. I know it’s ambitious to say it, but I believe it.
ILM: What have you been listening to recently?
Miles: I’m always making new playlists. There’s been loads of stuff. I’ve been really buzzing off Kylie Minogue - Slow You know that tune? And Janelle Monae’s Tightrope. I love that! And Sally Go Round The Roses by The Jaynetts. It’s dead cool. The band Biff Bang Pow as well. A bit of everything really...
ILM: Where do you discover new music?
Miles: I dunno, I’m always doing it. I heard Biff Bang Pow ages ago, but you forget about stuff don’t you...
ILM: What are your future plans for the next few years; do you plan that far ahead?
Miles: Maybe in the back of my head. I’m just going to be doing a lot of touring right through the summer, go to Europe and do some stuff there. I’d love to do some decent, big-sized venues around September, October. We’ll see where we go. Then the next few years…dunno. I’ve got another record to make here, and another Last Shadow Puppets record to make, then we’ll see what happens.
ILM: Is another Last Shadow Puppets record definitely in the pipeline?
Miles: Yeah, everyone wants it don’t they? We chat about it all the time, it's just a case of getting on it when the time’s right…