Interview: Miles Kane

Gemma Cockrell

Just before Christmas, Gemma Cockrell spoke to Miles Kane about the inspirations behind his new album ‘Change The Show’, his upcoming touring plans, and the question on everyone’s minds… will The Last Shadow Puppets, his project with Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, ever release new music?

Even though Kane didn’t write his upcoming solo album with a concept in mind, ‘Change The Show’ became an observation on ageing. “I tried to let it take its own path. I just write songs for me, about my life and my experiences, and that’s it really. I guess that turned out to be a very therapeutic experience. In life, the older you get, the more open you are to stuff like that, and the more you learn about yourself. I guess you can combine that knowledge into your songs, and I find that a nice place to be. I think it makes the songs relatable as well. Most of them had this groovy, Northern soul, Motown sound, and that felt right, it seems to suit the songs.”

This Motown influence has been something that Kane has flirted with in the past, particularly on his work with The Last Shadow Puppets, but ‘Change The Show’ sees him embrace it like never before. “I think I’ve hinted on it here and there, and in The Puppets, we’ve definitely hinted on it. I think on my solo records, I’d shy away from it and go a bit heavier, because I wanted it to be different to The Puppets. But on this one, I just felt like I didn’t want to do that. If you come to my house, my go-to is Motown, that I stick on! That Northern soul, that’s what I grew up on. At my mum’s or my Auntie’s houses, there’s a Motown compilation on constantly. It resonates hard with me, that music.”

For those who are unfamiliar, The Last Shadow Puppets is Kane’s collaborative project with Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner, but nothing has been released under the name since 2016. Going into this interview, I was on the fence about whether to ask Kane about The Last Shadow Puppets, because I didn’t want to take the focus away from his solo endeavours. However, with his previous mention of them, I figured it was okay. “I do get asked about it, but that’s me as well, so it’s flattering that anyone wants to ask about it. I’m honoured to be a part of it. It doesn’t annoy me to get asked about it, it’s cool.” I accepted this as my green light to ask him whether there were any plans to release anything under The Puppets name in the future. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re asking me that question,” he remarks sarcastically, before quickly adding, “I’m only messing, I’m only joking! We haven’t, we’re both enjoying doing what we’re doing now. I’m sure one day we’ll do a trilogy, when the time is right.”

“You always come back to where you started, which is an exhausting and stressful process, but you look back and it’s worth it”

Turning the conversation back to his solo work, I was curious to know how he’d spent the three-year gap between ‘Change The Show’ and his last album ‘Coup De Grace’ in 2018. “It took me a long time to write ‘Change The Show’, to be honest, and I’ve been sat on it for quite a while as well. With what was going on last year, I didn’t want to release an album. I wanted to be able to do gigs and give the songs and the album what it deserved. The full shebang, if you know what I’m saying! So, I guess I did a lot of writing for this album, to get to where I got to. And then you always come back to where you started, which is an exhausting and stressful process, but you look back and it’s worth it.”

The title track of the album, Change The Show, was written towards the start of the pandemic. “Not a lot of it [was written during the pandemic] but the song Change The Show was written at the start of all that stuff. The news was on the TV, you come down one morning in your boxers and dressing gown having a coffee and there was all that negativity on the news, talk of the pandemic, all the stuff in America with Trump. It was raining outside, and I just turned it off and started writing. It was almost like this nursery rhyme, a tune coming out of frustration, then it became what it is – it’s an anthemic tune, and it’s the one that stuck it all together, so it seems right to call the album that.”

Despite this, Change The Show hasn’t been released as a single prior to the full album. The first single to be unveiled was a song called Don’t Let It Get You Down, back in August of last year. When I asked Kane why he chose to release that song first, at first he admitted “I don’t know why!”, before gathering his thoughts and explaining, “I thought it was interesting, and it’s so me, that tune. It’s quite cinematic, you get imagery, the lyrics are really cool, it’s got a mad intro, it’s got my surf guitar on it. I thought that was a good one to come out the blocks with. It may not be the big anthem, sing-along tune, but I just thought it was cool as f*ck, to be honest,” – upon hearing this, I thought that this was a reason that seemed like a good enough one to me.

Kane also released the track Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Good Enough as a single, which is a duet Corinne Bailey Rae. “She’s an absolute diamond, we’ve been friends for a long time, and she did some harmonies on my first album. We hadn’t spoken for a couple of years, but one night I’d had some wines and I was dancing round the kitchen, and one of her tunes came on, Paris Nights, so I texted her saying ‘I hope you’re well, I’d forgotten how good that tune is’. We rekindled our friendship, and started sending each other demos, and I sent her Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Good Enough. She texted me a couple of days after, saying ‘I can’t stop listening to that tune, the kids are singing along to it’ so I suggested we made it into a duet, because I really wanted to have a duet on this record.”

“It’s a real, back and forth duet, not just where you get a singer on the chorus – something that meant something”

This genuine chemistry between the two of them resulted in a natural collaboration. “It’s a real, back and forth duet, not just where you get a singer on the chorus – something that meant something. We tweaked the lyrics, decided who takes what part, and it worked out super well, I’m really happy with it. I wanted it to be real.” Unfortunately, because Kane is based in London and Bailey Rae lives in Leeds, it had to be recorded remotely. “But we were on the phone, as together as we could have been. If we did more, for sure, we’d do it [in-person]. I’d love to write together, or do a duets record, I think that would be cool. We’ve done promo together where we’ve been singing it, a couple of TV things, the music video. The chemistry between us… It’s better than I could imagine, after 12 years. There’s definitely a vibe there when we sing together, we’ve captured it, and I’d like to go further down that road.”

Kane will be taking the album on tour in May, including a show at Rock City. “I’ve been to Nottingham so many times, from the start of my career. I’ve been everywhere in Nottingham, and I’ve played Rock City a few times. It’s always been banging for me, so I hope it’s still the same this time around. I love it, it’s always been an amazing gig and it’s always been one of the places I’ve done, so just the fact that I’m still doing it now means a lot to me.” The upbeat cuts from the record such as Change The Show and Never Get Tired Of Dancing are the tracks that Kane is most excited to perform to a live audience. “I think we can extend them, and play around with them. They’re going to be special.” However, choosing a personal favourite track from the album proved to be a bit more difficult for him. “It changes every day! Some days, I love the opener Tears Are Falling Down, I like starting the album with a slow tune. But it depends, if I’m feeling excited, I want a more upbeat one. They’re all family really, it’s hard to pick a favourite. I’m proud of all of them.”

‘Change The Show’ will be released on 21st January, and Miles Kane will be performing at Rock City on 13th May.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Lauren Luxenberg. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @mileskane via instagram.com. No changes made to these images.

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