Miles Kane may not be a household name here yet, but his confidence would suggest otherwise. He talks of Shadow Puppets, his mate ‘Al’ and the gig itch.
You would be forgiven for not knowing Miles Kane’s musical background, considering his successes have pertained mostly to the far off lands of Europe and the UK so far. Despite having been a guitarist in The Little Flames and frontman of The Rascals, he’s still best known as Arctic Monkey Alex Turner’s other half in The Last Shadow Puppets. No surprise then that his inaugural visit to Australia (he’s a self-proclaimed ‘virgin’ to our shores) is as special guest to the national Arctic Monkeys tour. He’s the first to admit the fringe benefits of touring with your buddy.
“Well you know, Al’s [Turner] me brother and we enjoy hanging out,” he says. “The tour is a good way for us to hang out because we’ve both been busy. And it’s a great night of great music, it’s a rock ‘n’ roll night. [This tour] has just come from that, us just having it.”
Kane’s debut solo record Colour of the Trap has helped him step out of the, erm, shadow of his pal Alex in the UK, where it charted at number 11 upon release.
“It’s been a great year,” admits Kane. “In England and Europe it’s grown a lot this year, and it feels fucking great where it’s at now, so we’re really excited to spread the love really and build that army bigger and get to come over to Australia at the end of the year. I’m excited because I don’t really know what to expect and I hope the people dig it there.”
Though don’t fear, Kane is taking it all in his stride when it comes to winning over the local crowds when he hits town. Speaking of transitioning from playing to adoring fans to a crowd who may never have heard of him before, he’s animatedly confident.
“It’s a whole new challenge, it’s exciting,” he says. “it gives you another lease of life as well. The thing about it all is that you know you’ve made a great record and you know that you love all those songs on that record, and all the b-sides and whatever we play live. I love them so much and I’m not bored at all. It’s a pleasure to play those tunes every night, whether it’s in England or Australia or Europe, or wherever it may be. Wherever it is, it’s always the same each night, and we’re just excited to be spreading it really.”
There’s not a hint of weariness in sight from a man who’s spent the better part of the last year touring constantly in the Northern Hemisphere. He speaks of performing live as if it were ritualistic release.
“I lose me mind on stage now, it’s the best feeling ever, I fucking love it,” he admits. “If I don’t do a gig for a couple of nights, I’m itching. That hour or half hour before, you get those sort of butterflies, but I just want to get on there and fucking rock it.”
With this kind of braggadocio it’s unsurprising to note that the Liverpool lad has opened for both Beady Eye and Kasabian, no small feat after spending a couple of years hidden away after the success of The Last Shadow Puppets’ The Age Of The Understatement.
“I didn’t do a gig for nearly two years, from finishing touring Puppets and Rascals and then I had a blank canvas,” he recalls. “So it took me a while to get back into it, because I didn’t want to do a gig until I’d recorded the record, til it was all done and dusted, so you weren’t doing songs live that weren’t making it onto the record. It takes time.
“I wanted to find what my sound would be, and then you can go out there and you can enjoy it. It did kill me not doing gigs for that long, or even not doing an interview or a photo, I love it all that goes with it.”
The resulting sound is a melding of catchy choruses, melodic guitar riffs and a penchant for poetic pop songs. Though the songs often give off an air of simplicity, Kane explains that it’s not always as easy as grabbing a guitar and writing a tune.
“With the song Rearrange, that came from three demos. Halfway through recording there were so many songs and so many ideas knocking about and that tune stemmed from, I had that guitar riff – the main riff – on this one song, and I had a song called Let it All Out, which is the pre-chorus, and then the (sings) ‘rearrange my mind’ in another tune, which wasn’t even the chorus,” he says.
“And then we were just sifting through those bits, that riff – the (sings) ‘let it out, let it out’ – is really strong and then ‘rearrange my mind’ is boss so I just put them together over three chords really simply and wrote some lyrics for the verse and that’s how that song came about.
“I’d never really worked like that before, it opens you up to a whole new way of working. I think now you can probably tell from that song, it’s so strong but so simple.”
Kane’s had to take on a new role besides rock star since his record took flight: that of pop heartthrob. It’s easy to see why teens are obsessively writing on the official Miles Kane forums or spending hours Tumblr-ing pictures of him. Just check out his chic and tidy video for Rearrange and it becomes clear. “It’s a very sharp and simple video, isn’t that?” says Kane. There’s not much to it, but it proves that Kane’s 60s inspired music is reflected in his pristine grooming. Turns out he’s well-versed in fashion too.
“I’ve always loved clothes since I was a kid, whether it’s a leather jacket or just a top or a suit, so for this record a couple of years ago I just wanted to sharpen up even more,” he says. “I really got into this French singer called Jacques Dutronc and also Serge Gainsbourg, and the way they always looked so fucking cool, it had a big effect on me. I think that combined with the mod scene of The Jam and the 60s stuff and putting your own stamp on it, it just sort of felt right for me.”