Interview Music

An interview with Miles Kane

Words By Billy Edwards

A great album cover tells a great deal about its artist. Miles Kane’s latest is no exception – one of a classic, direct and cool personality. Previously a member of the groups The Rascals and The Last Shadow Puppets, he took lockdown as an opportunity to dig deep into his musical psyche; the result was Change The Show. Released earlier this year in January, it’s an excellent record, balancing rock, mod, soul, glam and a whole lot more and glittering with style and enthusiasm, a closer look into the world of Miles Kane than ever before. Quench, then, were delighted to have the chance to talk with the indie supremo halfway between the release of the record and his tour ahead across Europe – including a stop at Cardiff. Brimming with answers to our probing questions, Miles tells us of how the record was conceived, his varied toybox of influences, and his irrepressible excitement to be back performing on stage. 

Hi Miles, how’re you doing?

I’m all good man, y’know, yeah, all good. 

How do you feel about the record since its release in January?

I love this album so much, but since it’s been released, it’s kinda… I haven’t even started my tour yet! We go to Europe in a week, next Tuesday we go, y’know… I’m just buzzing for it, I’m itching – y’know, you release an album, you have a big high, there’s a bit of a lull after, and now it’s kinda, like, ‘gearing up’ to go out and smash it. 

So there’s a real eagerness now to play it live? 

Yeah, just to be playing gigs… I haven’t done anything in years, so I’m kinda hoping to play loud and strut about the stage and play these great tunes that are as exciting to play live – there are so many upbeat songs on this album, and then mixed with the old ones – it’s gonna be the perfect setlist. 

The title track of the album seemed to relate to the current affairs of the past couple of years, is that right?

The song was kinda written out of the frustration of something was one more when I was watching the news – y’know, the song ‘Change The Show’, the last song written for it – that was written in about five minutes after literally turning off the news – y’know what I mean, to ‘change the show’! Y’know, I guess that’s the one which can relate to so many things, but it stems to that feeling of frustration.

And both ‘Never Get Tired of Dancing’ and ‘Tell Me What You’re Feeling’ I really liked. The impression I got of you was of a soul music fan – is that fair to say?

Yeah, I love Northern Soul, Motown, that sort of stuff. That’s what with my Mum and my Nans, growing up… that’s been my diet, to be honest. That’s embedded in me – that’s my go-to. Whenever I listen to music, when I’m going out – I wanna hear that, y’know? That’s just what I’m into, man.

A real stand-out moment is the duet with Corrine Bailey-Rae on ‘Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Good Enough’ – how did that come about?

We’re old friends man, y’know, she did some singing on my first album, Colour of The Trap, and we’ve known each other a long time. There’s a rapport and a connection there, do y’know what I mean? We talked about it for a long time, we finally put it into fruition – it works really well – it’s kinda one of those things, I think it took people by surprise, but when you hear it – the connection between us makes it cooler. It was a great shout.

I enjoyed the final track, ‘Adios Ta-Ra Ta-Ra’; it was unusual for a closer. 

Us scousers, we say ta-ra, to say goodbye, we say it loads, so it was very funny in that way! 

Was there an intentional element of humour within the album, then?

Yeah, in points… It’s kind of, lyrically, you go deep, you write these things about your feelings, your worries, what you’ve done in the past, or what you wanna do in the future, so it’s kinda like, to lighten the mood a bit, or like my personality in general, you gotta humour, a good sense of humour, so I think, to get a little bit of that in there, won’t do anyone any harm either, d’you know what I mean?

I thought the album was immensely catchy – ‘See Ya When I See Ya’, for example, was stuck in my head for a while. I’m keen to know more about your songwriting process – did it all come naturally or did you have to mine away at songs for a while?

It’s such a f***ing rollercoaster, to be honest, y’know but certain tunes, like ‘See Ya When I See Ya’, and ‘Change The Show’ and that, those both were songs that just flew out of me. And y’know, there’s certain songs that take a bit more time, all lyrically and that, but, touch wood, it wasn’t too painful! The process of the writing can sometimes go really well, or you can question yourself too much – when that ball starts rolling, it’s a vicious cycle, y’know what I mean, and two years can go by and you’re still not further on, but this, this felt like going with that gut feeling as much as possible really. Whether it’s right or wrong, and letting that lead the way… That gives you sort of the freedom of being creative then, just write a load of lyrics and then just don’t be afraid to change it, and that’s what I sort of did. There’s definitely, I felt like, a freedom on writing these, doing these tunes, yeah. 

You’ve spoken about how your age became more of a factor in your work than before. 

Yeah, I think it’s just anyone, I’m thirty-six now, y’know, it’s kinda like… when you’re thirty, you do grow, don’t ya? You learn so much – I’m open to more things now, and you give less of a f***, as well! But you’ve grown as a man, and as you are as a person, and I’ve tried to put all that I’ve learnt and what I’m learning into my tunes – that’s all I can do, y’know?

I read you celebrated the album’s release with a pop-up event in a chicken shop in Hackney – how did that go?

Well, I’m pretty a simple guy, just to be honest man: I love music, I love boxing, I love wrestling, I love food! It’s kinda like; any opportunity I can to incorporate all of that in one space I will, do y’know what I mean – clothes, that in as well! I just love fried chicken and wings and sh**, and there was this idea of doing for the launch day – this little thing – I was like ‘yeah’, we’ll make wings and do this acoustic thing’… It was almost like a drunk idea you’d say but in reality, it worked really well, and everyone had a good time. I’ve been asked about it a lot, so I’d say it was a success. 

I saw Change The Show is available as a special red-colour vinyl record – are you a fan of the format?

I mean, yeah, that’s kind of, my fans’ vinyl-buying, y’know what I mean? I always, or – touch wood, for as long as I can – make physicals sure, it makes sense for me. 

Miles Kane – Ian Cheek Press

I found the album cover interesting for its sparseness, containing only yourself looking directly at the viewer in a nice suit… Did you have any input?

Yeah, the whole thing – and that’s exactly what I wanted, I wanted It to be so simple, direct and, y’know, stylised, with a super-classic haircut. Even on the cover itself, there’s no writing or no fonts, there’s no name or title. My mate Aiden, who’s an amazing artist, drew it. I was fully immersed in everything in this album – the videos, the artwork… the f***ing font! (laughs) Yeah, yeah, the whole f***ing thing, man. 

So, the tour is the next big thing for you?

Yeah, we go next week, and start rehearsals in a couple of days, I can’t wait. I’ve had so much time to dwell on things, think things… I just can’t wait now to get on stage. 

I imagine it’s a very curated setlist? 

Yeah, well, I picked twenty that I told everyone to learn, and we’re gonna rehearse them for three days starting this weekend, but the setlist is kind of, when you’re writing it out and telling the lads what songs to learn, it’s kinda like… on paper, it looked f***ing mind-blowing! So I hope it’s like that in real life, mind! 

The album should be well-recreated onstage?

Yeah, there’s no sort of weird lull in it, it doesn’t look like, so I’m super excited for it. ‘Tell Me What You’re Feeling’, ‘Caroline’, ‘Change The Show’, ‘Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Good Enough’… those pumpin’ tunes are gonna be absolutely mega, I think, right! I feel pretty – touch-wood – confident about that. When they’ve played them round in the rehearsal room, it’s big, y’know what I mean, it’s pounding, you can let rip to them! 

Is there anything else we should be looking out for from you in the future?

Not really, man, I’m just trying to write some new tunes and crack on, to be honest mate. But no goss to give out! 

Thank you very much for the interview – really enjoyed talking to you about the new record! Take care. 

Thank you brother, alright mate – take care man, ta-ra ta-ra! 

Miles Kane’s latest album, Change The Show, is out now. He comes to Cardiff on the 23rd of May, playing the Tramshed. Tickets are available here.