Since 2004, Miles Kane has had an active role in the revival of mod culture, had two top 20 solo albums, collaborated with Fred Perry and co-fronted The Last Shadow Puppets with pal and fellow musician Alex Turner. Mr Kane has had a busy few years in the music industry and with his third solo album set for release on 10th August 2018, he shows no sign of pausing for a breather.
I’m sat in Miles’ dressing room. It’s not what you would expect the dressing room of a musician whose close friends include the likes of Lana Del Rey, Matt Bellamy and Leighton Baines. It’s got Tesco own branded ridged crisps, some grapes and a selection of wafer thin ham and cheese that are sweltering in the heat. “God It’s like a sauna in here” proclaims Miles as he sits on the end of the sofa in attire that’s an ode to the 80’s love for Hawaiian prints.
Fashion is a major part of Miles’ day to day routine illustrated by his outfit choices and the leather clothing and accessories scattered across his dressing room. It’s made him stand out from the other musicians of his generation and changed the perception we have of the way northern noughties musicians should look. “All my clothes are customised, it’s something I’ve always done. I like to wear things nobody else can wear. It’s like putting on your football kit or work clothes, it makes me feel ready.” Miles outfits over the years have been dynamic, often reflecting on his adoration of mod culture and 60’s fashion. Recently, Miles branched out of the world of music and into the supersonic land of fashion which was met by gratefulness from his fans who have wanted to copy his style of years. His collection with Fred Perry saw the like of classic knitted polos, a bowling shirt and a velour tracksuit. “It was pretty hands on. I’d take in stuff I liked and some sketches and I’d work with their team in the office and I really enjoyed doing that. Fred Perry is very me”.
We are at a festival in Warrington, it’s hot and Miles is preparing for his first festival performance as a solo musician since 2014. He’s not nervous, he’s performed across the world, what harm is Warrington going to bring to him? “Festivals are all roughly the same” he says upfront. However he’s not afraid to admit that coming back to the music scene as a solo musician hasn’t been easy. “At the first gig in Carlisle I was a bit nervous but by the second gig it was fine, it’s been rocking! The gigs have all been mega”.
The last time Miles was touring the UK he was surrounded by screaming fans, as he played the likes of Liverpool’s iconic Olympia Theatre and Alexandra Palace in London with The Last Shadow Puppets. Miles Kane the solo musician hasn’t toured the UK in many years, he donned a 60’s mod haircut back then. His hair might be slightly trimmed but nothing has changed, “It felt quiet emotional to get back on stage, playing these old songs has given me a new lease of life”. He’s not playing the grand London locations or performing on Glastonbury’s pyramid stage as he has in the past, he’s getting to the venues time forgot, the venues fans are desperate to catch the man who soundtracked their high school experience in. “Whether it’s a small or big venue, I’m not bothered. I just really love playing” Miles emotionally comments. In a world where you have musicians desperate to squeeze cash out of their fans for the expensive stadium gig tickets, it’s touching to hear a musician who isn’t bothered about the size of the venue they’re playing at. “I’ve played Coventry and Stoke and they’re really dirty, sweaty places”.
His current 2018 tour is in honour of his past musical achievements, Colour of the Trap (2011) and Don’t Forget Who You Are (2013). It’s also an indulgence for fans who want to hear snippets of his upcoming album Coup De Grace. “I’ve been writing this album for five years. It started before the second Last Shadow Puppets record but a lot of the songs got scrapped because after the record, I went back and I just wasn’t feeing them. There’s been about three albums worth of material but the songs I’ve got now are defo the strongest”. For fans, Coup De Grace is a big move from the rock and roll echoing’s of early work such as Colour of the Trap. The album is glam rock trying to break into 2018, successfully it does and it’s about time there’s a glam rock revival. “I feel different, it might just be an age thing. Colour of the Trap was a long time ago”. Miles released Colour of the Trap when he was 25, now he’s in his thirties and he has his third solo release ready to be blasted through the speakers of every indie kid’s sound system he can take risks and explore other genres. The meaningful lyrics in his work do not change a bit, he still has the same ethics as he did 14 years ago. “I always try and write personal lyrics and tunes because it’s what’s natural to me, whether that will change or not with time, I’m not sure”. One thing that has changed over the years is the possibilities Miles has to work with other musicians across the world. The first single ‘Loaded’ on his upcoming album is a collaboration of Miles, Jamie T and Lana Del Rey. “She’s distinctive” affirms Miles on Lana, any fan of Lana would know that her music is eccentric to her peers. “She’s a great writer. We wrote a lot of songs together, it’s only ‘Loaded’ on the album but there’s a lot more songs on the backbench that are slower”. When it comes to our discussion of Jamie T’s influence on the album, Miles goes off highlighting that the relationship between the pair is special. “Me and Jamie hit it off, we wrote about 20 songs together. I’ve known Jamie for a long time so we’d always talked about it”.
Collaborating with friends is all too familiar with Miles Kane. His most notable collaboration is clearly with his friend Alex Turner, of Arctic Monkeys fame, in their band The Last Shadow Puppets. The sound of the puppets dawned a new era for the two musicians and even allowed Miles to go back to his roots and dig out an instrument he hasn’t played for nearly two decades. Yeah, I’m talking about him playing sax during The Last Shadow Puppets performance at Glastonbury 2016. “I used to play it in school. We jokingly one night thought because we were doing the Bowie tune that I would play the sax. I haven’t played it since I was 14 and I was shitting myself. I was practicing for weeks before and when you haven’t played for years it’s really hard to play again. I couldn’t actually play it until the day before the gig. “My mother wants me to go back and play it, it would be cool to bring it out again. Maybe that could be my new thing”.
Whether it’s learning how to play an old instrument or work with different artists, Miles is out to have fun and do what he loves, perform. He’s been spending a lot of his time in LA, having a laugh with his fellow musicians and soaking up the sunshine that Liverpool can’t always provide. Yet, as the interview comes to an end and we sit melting in the heat, Miles opens up about LA and how it’s not what everyone thinks. “My family are in Liverpool and there’s more soul there. LA’s a fantasy land and if you see that and accept it then it’s fine but people get caught up in a lot of drama over there. Sometimes they need to get back brought down to earth, as I have done in the past. We all go through them phases. There’s a great band supporting me called The Mysterines who are young and from Liverpool, I think it’s still creative and a good place to be”. Despite spending most of his time across the pond, it’s not has a massive influence on his persona or his sound. “I recorded the album over there but I do think the songs sound British. The production and the musicians I had were American and I did enjoy recording it but I wouldn’t class it as an LA or American record”.
The interview ends with a thanks, a moment it appears we are both excited about so we can get a bit of fresh air. Maybe next time a sauna would be a better location for an interview, at least you won’t get funny looks from those backstage when you come out of a dressing room sweating.
Coup De Grace the third album by Miles Kane is released on 10th August 2018. You can pre-order the album here.
Words by Brigid Harrison-Draper