OTwo Interviews: Miles Kane

Image Credit: Lauren Luxenberg

Isabella Ambrosio has the chats with UK legend Miles Kane.

Originally known for being a frontman of the UK band, The Rascals, Miles Kane has risen to fame since his humble beginning in 2004. Since his start in The Rascals, he has become notable for his role in the supergroup, The Last Shadow Puppets, where he co-fronts the group with Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys. He’s had a consistent solo career, charting in the top 15 consistently in the UK. His last solo album came out in 2018, ‘Coup de Grace’, where he worked with the likes of Lana Del Ray during the songwriting process, and the buzz surrounding what Kane will do on, ‘Change the Show’, is palpable. 

Kane started off as a solo, punk artist, who dabbled in heavy riffs, but had a specific crooning to his voice that captured the attention of many. In the first ten years of the 2000s, he was a member of a few bands, known as The Rascals and The Little Flames. It wasn’t until 2007, when touring with the Arctic Monkeys, that he seemed to have found his stride. Alex Turner and Miles Kane began to experiment musically backstage and on the road, originally just for the fun of it. But, after they had composed a few songs together, they realised that this could definitely go somewhere.

It’s evident since his first album in the Last Shadow Puppets, he’s understood who he is as a musician and the kind of sound he strives for. I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down, chatting with Kane about how he got to this point, his influences, and his newest release, ‘Change the Show’.

“Sorry, what was this one for again?” Kane had asked, and it wasn’t until later that I realized that I had messed up the time because of my timezones. He was a bit disorientated, but he had a good spirit. 

“This is for the University Observer in Dublin. And I’m actually incredibly excited to be meeting with you. My boyfriend and I are huge fans of the Last Shadow Puppets.”

“Oh wow, thank you very much.” I can hear his house alarm sounding in the background. I could picture his phone squished between his cheek and his shoulder, fumbling to get in the door. It was refreshing, incredibly human. His voice had a song-like accent, “Very cool man, alright, so let’s crack on.”

“How did you get into music and why did you get into music?” Looking back, the question was incredibly broad and could have been narrowed down, but I felt that I wanted to get as in depth of an answer as I could, “I got into music as an escape, really. I didn’t want to have a normal job, or… you know. I was always a bit of a daydreamer in school. And I loved Oasis, and I had always dreamt of being in a band, or whatever. Myself and a couple of my friends joined this band called the Little Flames and that was the first proper band I had joined when I was like 17. And then from that day forward, that was it for me, you know? That’s all I want to do, is play music.”

With such a profound love for music at an early age, it prompted me to ask, “So, did you have any family or friends-” 

He knew exactly where I was going with the question, which was incredibly nice, “-Yeah, I guess… No one in my family plays instruments, but everyone loves music. There was never a silent moment in the house, there was always some kind of music being played in the background, whether it was the Beatles or Motown, or whatever it may be. So, and then my cousins, they’re a bit older than me, that were like older brothers, they were in a band, and are still in the band, called the Corals. They started to do really well when I was about 15 and to sort of witness that definitely spurred me on. And they had a really big impact on me stylistically with music as well.”

"And my mum said when she opened the door to me and looked at my face, ‘I lost ya from that moment. That was something changed in ya,’ and I think it was.”

“So, then what was the exact moment you decided to be a musician? Was there an exact moment, or was it an evolution?”

“I mean, probably being in school and watching my cousin, he’s a drummer, drumming in school and seeing him rock out and me getting my first guitar, learning Oasis songs. And watching Oasis when I was ten years old, that was the moment it took me, you know? I think when I started going to live gigs as well. I went to see a band called Super Furry Animals once in Liverpool when I was a kid. It was the first time I had experienced being in a mosh pit and it being very loud. And you know, when you come out, you’re sweating and wet, and your ears are ringing. And my mum said when she opened the door to me and looked at my face, ‘I lost ya from that moment. That was something changed in ya,’ and I think it was.”

“How have your parents and your cousins impacted the music you make today?”

“I think it’s a pretty massive impact. All the music I like today, and the music I have done, is pretty much the same as me mum’s music, you know what I’m saying? Everything she sort of likes is what I’m into, and vice versa, whichever way you want to word it into. It’s kind of the same taste really. Like, I never sort of rebelled against that thing, you know the whole, ‘My parents like it so I’m not gonna like it’, I’ve always loved rock’n’roll and soul and Motown. It’s always resonated with me, like when I was a teenager and going through whatever,” he says with a chuckle.”

“So, obviously you still carry their influence with you, so how does that show on your upcoming release [Change the Show]?”

“Oh, you mean this new album?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Oh! Well, it’s more all that stuff. I guess the impact is shown more than ever. It’s kind of like the ‘ultimate’ my world, my growing up, my taste in music. It couldn’t be more intune with what I was brought up on.”

“I did really like the new release and I was really interested in the lyrical style you’ve taken on. So, do you want to walk me through that a little bit?”

“Yeah, I think on this album it’s been…” He sighs and starts his sentence again, “I feel personally that it's a step above the lyrics before and [to me] it seems to be this new world that I was entering. I think it’s about being comfortable in yourself and exploring the self in real life as well, that helped me sort of do that. And to go deep into that. And to write lyrics, from a therapeutic point of view, is to sort of talk to myself in a lot of songs, or even talking to the listener, to try and get the honest and most realest I can be at this moment in me life. I think that’s what I tried to do.”

“I can see that,” I spoke truthfully, “I was going to ask… sorry, I lost my train of thought for a moment.” I could feel myself getting nervous again.

“You good?” He kind of chuckles, checking up on me. And I felt a lot more comfortable with just those two words, and I felt like I was genuinely talking to a mate.

“With genre, your last release ‘Coup de Grace’ was described as glam rock and glam punk, was it a conscious decision to kind of stray away from it?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I tried to just let the tunes take control. I think on earlier albums, and especially [The Last Shadow] Puppets stuff, this is probably most like the Puppets sounding album I’ve ever done, you know what I mean?”

“I definitely agree with that.”

“I think in the past I’d shied away from that because I think I maybe was scared of opinions, or being told it’s too close to [The Last Shadow Puppets], and I’ve got to be in my own thing or something… which is kind of crazy, but you go there, don’t you? In your mind? But, I think I have two sides. I am a rocker, I love rock’n’roll and I love T-Rex, and I do love that flambouncy too, do you know what I mean? Doing those sorts of rock’n’roll songs is a part of me and I’ve got this sort of soul-y vibe as well,” he laughs, “It just felt like that it was different compared to…. Well, it’s not as in your face and sort of aggressive, or whatever it is, but it’s still the same world, do you know what I mean? It’s like a mix of T-Rex and a mix of The Four Tops in one.”

“It just felt like that it was different compared to…. Well, it’s not as in your face and sort of aggressive, or whatever it is, but it’s still the same world, do you know what I mean? It’s like a mix of T-Rex and a mix of The Four Tops in one.”

“In the last album, I know you worked with Lana Del Ray and Jamie T. Did you have any collaborative processes with writing this time?”

“No, not really. I’ve got a friend called Jamie, not Jamie T., another Jamie, that we did a few tunes together. He’s just my mate, me and him doing it in the house and I did a single called ‘Blame it on the Summertime’, me and him did that together which I think was kind of hinting at this new album and sticking it on it. That was kind of to bridge a gap between ‘Coup de Grace.’ But in terms of any kind of special guests, no, not really, but Jamie and Lana [Del Ray] had just kind of happened at the time. But, I’ve definitely spoken about this enough, especially at that time, Jamie really helped me at that time when I didn’t really feel confident enough to write or I definitely couldn’t have written what I had written now, four years ago. I wasn’t in that kind of space at all.”

“How has The Last Shadow Puppets, I have to bring them up, I’m sorry,” I laugh, “How did the release in 2016 kind of affect your writing process or what you kind of produced on this album or did you just go to a space that you’ve always wanted to go to?”

“Hm,” he sounded quite interested in the question, to which I cracked a smile, “I think I took my time on this album. I was still thinking about whether it should be more glam rock-y or more punk-y. I went around the houses a little bit, exploring my different sides and my different characters, if you will. And the thing I kept coming back to, and the natural and most comfortable that I was coming out with were mainly all the ones that are on the albums, to be honest. And to not shy away from that. And it was so clear that I thought to myself, ‘Oh, should I make a more modern soul album, that’s got like these intense, deep lyrics, that’s quite melancholy when they’re on their own, but it’s got a soul upbeat thing? That could be a really great combination, you know?’”

“And how have you been holding up with the whole Covid, pandemic thing? Cause I know you have a very, very extensive past of touring and always kind of being on the road and on the go?”

“Now, I’m feeling it. Now, it’s hard. You know, pandemic aside, you’ve learned to live with those sorts of highs and lows of being so busy and touring and ego and adulation and it’s so fun and cool. And it took me a long time to realise that when that kind of stops, you have this massive lull. And it’s like nothing’s around you, you know what I mean? And for a while, it took me a long time to adjust to, or learn how to deal with. Which it sounds like such a fucking boujie problem to have.”

I burst out laughing and he joins me, I can hear the smile in his voice when he continues speaking, 

“And then I just have to be like ‘fucking hell, well it’s better than stacking shelves in Tesco.’ So, you’re kind of used to those things and that way of life, and the pandemic was a lot like that feeling in a sort of way. And I’m finding it hard now, even. I just love playing gigs, it’s not about the adulation or the fucking ego boost, I just love being on stage and I love singing my songs. I don’t really get bored of my songs, they mean so much to me, you know? So, I’m really missing it. And I hope that the stuff we have planned will happen.”

“I’m disappointed you’re not coming to Dublin, thanks a lot,” I say sarcastically.

He laughs, “I know, I’m sorry about that. You’ll have to make a trip over here.”

I sigh dramatically, “If I must, I think I might.”

He started asking me questions about myself and I was surprised, but it made me smile that he was interested in what I also had to say.

“It was so good to chat with you,” I mention towards the end of the interview, “And I’m glad you were as open as you were and I appreciate it.”

“Aye, no, it’s all good. It’s my pleasure.”

“Like, I said earlier, I’m a pretty big fan and I can’t wait to see the album coming out.”

“I appreciate that, you made me day, thank you.”

We end the call and it makes me realise that meeting your heroes isn’t all that bad, especially when you get to pick their brains, and they let you. Not only is Miles Kane a fantastic musician, but a kind person, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

"We end the call and it makes me realise that meeting your heroes isn’t all that bad, especially when you get to pick their brains, and they let you."