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Muse interviews: Miles Kane on his latest solo project

Ruby Brown and Alex Thompson speak to the northern rocker about the ‘change the show’ album.

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Image Credit: BMG Rights Management

There is almost no alternative artist currently as prolific as Miles Kane. Alongside his solo work, which has seen releases spanning the past decade, Kane has also released two critically-acclaimed albums with Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner under the moniker The Last Shadow Puppets. He has collaborated with everyone from Jamie T to Lana Del Rey. While Kane’s 2018 release Coup De Grace was a theatrical, glam-rock spin on his typical style, his latest album Change The Show sees Kane break new ground as an artist. Feeling like an evolution of his sound and songwriting, Change The Show fuses classic rock‘n‘roll DNA with the vintage and nostalgic pop sensibilities of Northern Soul and Motown. Lyrically, the album also feels like a coming of age, presenting a more self-assured and mature image of a rockstar growing up gracefully. Ahead of his UK tour, we sat down with Miles to discuss collaborating with superstars, heading back on the road, and our shared love of Motown.

We began our conversation by asking about the track ‘Coming Of Age’.

“That song explains a lot really,” Kane tells us, “you always want to grow and evolve. I think when you get to your 30s something sort of changes in you and you sort of mature… If I hadn’t matured as an artist, I think we’d be in a sorry state!”. “My 20s were a whirlwind and I don’t really remember anything about it to be honest, but I think there’s this new sort of mindset that appears in your 30s that I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve really sort of embraced it, you know what I mean? I try to write about that if I can, almost in a therapeutic way. ‘Coming Of Age’, I think, explains a lot from my personal standpoint but I think it’s quite relatable to other people”.

“you always want to grow and evolve. I think when you get to your 30s something sort of changes in you and you sort of mature…"

Leading on from the topic of growing up, we wanted to take Miles back to the tunes of his childhood, asking what sounds inspired the stylistic shift recognisable across Change the Show. “I think it stems from early memories definitely. The soundtrack to my life was, and still is, Motown. I’ve just always had this draw to that sort of soul music, it’s just always done something to me. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel up! I think I’ve hinted at it previously on earlier albums, or probably on the Puppets stuff. On my last album, I wanted it to be the opposite of that and quite glam rock, almost in your face, whereas this one I wanted it to be a bit cooler!”

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Image Credit: BMG Rights Management

The transition between 2018’s Coup De Grace is not just the result of a stylistic change but a geographical one, with Kane returning from L.A, where he’d written and produced the album, to work on Change The Show in London. “I think I just feel better in myself and a bit more comfortable here!” Kane explains to us. “I actually feel like I have a reason to be here, so that makes me want to work. I’ve really enjoyed writing these tunes and I’m at my happiest when I’m working and it’s easier for me to work here so it’s a no brainer really.”

“I did record it all in the lockdown, but the writing was pretty much done before it,” Kane explains when we ask about the process of creating the album and the impact of the pandemic and lockdown. He goes on to give us an insight into the inspiration behind the title track. “The last song that was written was ‘Change the Show’, you know, just watching the news sitting on the sofa, out of frustration really”, Miles confesses. “I think it’s got a bit of a bigger meaning than I intended; it’s kind of relatable even now still”. The frontman tells us how the song provided the missing link that he needed to bring the whole album together. “I think it’s got that anthemic thing that I quite like on old songs, like ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’ and ‘Come Closer’, you know? To me, it’s in that bracket”. Comparing the single to such old classics of his, it is in no doubt that the single will be a hit at all of Miles’ upcoming live shows.

"The soundtrack to my life was, and still is, Motown."

Change The Show is Kane’s first project working with production duo Sunglasses For Jaws. “It was me and them two in a room,” he explains, “they’re an amazing drummer and bass player so it was us three and their mate Joao, who’s now in my band and is an amazing keyboard player. We did the album as a kind of three piece and then we’d build on top of that. It was so much fun to make mate, it was really good!”

This album also sees Kane collaborate with singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae. No stranger to a collaboration, we wanted to know how Kane has found working with other artists throughout his career, and how they compared. “I’m just glad that there’s been an outcome with these things!” Miles exclaims. “Anyone I do work with, 90 percent of the time there seems to be a good result” – a statement I doubt many fans of Kane would dispute. “I think I do have quite a few sides of my character, especially in songs – I can be quite wild in a song like ‘Bad Habits’, a bit glam-rock on the tune with Jamie [Jamie T] or have a bit more of a lovey-dovey duet with Corinne… I couldn’t pick a favourite if I’m honest!”. Delving into his bucket-list collaboration, Miles tells us how he remains a big fan of Jack White, and envisions himself doing “something really ‘guitary’ and cool” with him sometime in the future.

Inviting Kane to talk about his work with Lana Del Rey further, amongst speculations that the pair have recorded an album’s worth of material together over the years, he expressed how the pair have a couple of songs “already done, just sitting there waiting”, with other songs waiting to be finished off. In asking Kane how the duo worked together, he spoke with nothing but enthusiasm. “That partnership really did work. I think we proved that on ‘Dealer’. People seemed to like that tune without it getting a push or anything… it kind of just took on a life of its own”.

The two albums Kane released with Alex Turner as The Last Shadow Puppets are perhaps two of the most talked about alternative records of the last decade, garnering critical and commercial acclaim. We asked Miles whether there were any plans underway to make this album run a trilogy. “Well we would love to do a trilogy for sure - whenever we get together we talk about it and stuff, but no work has been put into it at the minute!” laughs Kane. “I can’t see it happening anytime soon, but it’d be nice to do one in this lifetime, definitely.”

The release of Change The Show also sees Kane return to touring after several years. We asked the frontman about how he feels to be heading back on the road. “This tour is the first one I’ve done in years so I don’t know what to expect to be honest mate!” Miles tells us. “The songs on the album like ‘Never Get Tired Of Dancing’, ‘Caroline’, ‘Tell Me What You’re Feeling’, ‘Change the Show’ – the upbeat ones! I’m looking forward to playing in the set so I’m hoping it will be mega. I want it to have a ‘let’s have a party’ vibe to the set.”

Asking Miles about his personal favourite track on the album, he tells us that, whilst it’s constantly changing, he’s currently enjoying ‘Never Get Tired of Dancing’. “It’s just a straightforward ‘let’s have a good time’ song, and that’s the kind of mood I’m in I guess… to you, know, play tunes you can strut about to and stuff.”

One thing that is clear about Kane is that he is not one to shy away from supporting up-and-coming stars within the industry, as seen by his track record of support acts throughout his well-established touring career.

His UK shows throughout May, for instance, brought our attention to the vibrant sounds of both Sunderland teen, Tom A. Smith and singer-songwriter, Brooke Combe, whilst his European shows in August promise the performance of the Oracle Sisters. Miles tells us that these artists, alongside Liverpool’s own Red Rum Club, deserve our full, undivided attention in the coming months, framing them as ones to watch in the ever-evolving indie scene.

Drawing our conversation to a close, we asked Miles what his advice would be to young and aspiring musicians. “If you have a vision in your mind, to start that path is really hard,” admits Miles, “but I really do encourage anyone to do that, and take a risk and try to follow that gut feeling. It’s really hard to do, especially when you’re younger as well, because you’re still figuring out who you want to be and who you are, but you will feel good for it for sure! Try and listen to that gut, try and have those blinkers on if you can, and aim for where you want to go! It can be good when you’re young because you have that fearless attitude, because you’ve got nothing to lose. I’d just try and grab the ball and go running down that path you want to go down, whatever it may be.”

Change The Show is currently available to buy or stream now on all platforms. You can catch Kane performing at Dreamland Margate in July or, alternatively, The Boof Festival in Whitehaven in August.

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