Shadow Pup­pet Miles Kane talks to Lau­ren Mur­phy,

He’s been a Ras­cal and a Shadow Pup­pet, but now Miles Kane is set­tling into a com­fort­able solo groove. The dap­per Liver­pudlian tells Lau­ren Mur­phy about mak­ing his glam-tinged sec­ond al­bum with a lit­tle help from some friends

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FRONT PAGE -

Most of Miles Kane’s teenage years were spent in AJ Skelly’s butcher shop in Liver­pool Mar­ket. Not your typ­i­cal breed­ing ground for a dap­per young mu­si­cian, but it’s the fam­ily busi­ness, and it goes some way to ex­plain­ing both the ti­tle and the cover of Kane’s sec­ond al­bum. The sleeve of Don’t For­get Who You Are de­picts Kane in the same butcher shop, his mam and his aun­tie stand­ing be­hind the same counter that his nan used to work.

“They’re absolutely buzzing,” he laughs down the phone. It’s a sunny day in Lon­don and Kane is feel­ing pos­i­tive. “It tells the story of the al­bum as well, I think.”

Given his mu­si­cal track record, Kane could have been taken for the sort of per­son who does for­get who he is. Still only 27, the Scouser’s ca­reer to date has in­cluded stints in the bands The Lit­tle Flames, The Ras­cals and The Last Shadow Pup­pets with Alex Turner of Arc­tic Mon­keys. Noel Gal­lagher played on his 2011 solo de­but, Colour of the Trap, he has shared a stage with Jack White, and he has been nom­i­nated for var­i­ous NME and Q awards rang­ing from “Sex­i­est Male” to “Best Solo Artist”. Try as you may to hold on to your roots, it must be hard not to get caught up in in­dus­try non­sense.

“I think that hap­pens to a lot of peo­ple, y’know,” he says. “And it can be easy to get caught up in that, and I’ve seen peo­ple that I’ve cared about a lot get­ting caught up in it. That’s kind of what spurred me on to write th­ese songs, re­ally. It’s just a lit­tle re­minder; es­pe­cially for me, per­son­ally. When you get in­tro­duced to a new world, it’s all good and it’s fun, but I think it’s im­por­tant never to lose sight of who you are. I’m here to write mu­sic and I want to be a good singer and a good per­former. All the other stuff is fun, of course – and I’m not say­ing that I’m a monk, or any­thing, but it’s just a lit­tle re­minder.”

Kane’s work­ing-class roots also mean that he’s re­al­is­tic about graft­ing hard in or­der to suc­ceed. “I couldn’t sing, and I used to sit in me mum’s bed­room and record my­self on a four-track,” he re­calls. “If you do want some­thing – and it may take you years to get there – but I do be­lieve you can do it.”

The gui­tarist’s rise to fame to date has been con­sis­tent, if not ex­pe­di­tious, but he has filled his con­tacts book with an im­pres­sive list of names along the way. One for­tu­itous meet­ing led to Paul Weller ap­pear­ing on Don’t For­get Who You Are.

“I met him last year, and we were just chat­ting about this singer that I like called Jac­ques Dutronc, so we had a lit­tle bond over that,” he re­calls. “A cou­ple of months later, I got a call from him say­ing that he’d like to work with me, so I was like, ‘Yeah – of course!’. He’s such an in­spir­ing char­ac­ter and he’s such a nice guy. It was heart­warm­ing, for me. When you write a cou­ple of great songs and you de­velop a re­la­tion­ship with some­one like Weller, it does give you con­fi­dence. I’m very hon­oured by things like that. Th­ese peo­ple don’t have a rea­son to work with me, know what I mean? So it’s very nice, be­cause it feels like they’re do­ing it be­cause they want to, be­cause they see some­thing in me.”

Work­ing with peo­ple such as Weller gave Kane an ex­tra spring in his step when it came to record­ing his sec­ond al­bum. Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, he ad­mits to hav­ing suf­fered from a lack of self-con­fi­dence in the past, but there’s no sign of in­de­ci­sion or hes­i­ta­tion here. Th­ese are stri­dent glam- and beat-tinged rock’n’roll tunes, with a swag­ger and poise that errs on the side of ‘en­dear­ing’.

“When it came to the writ­ing and record­ing of this al­bum, I was al­ways think­ing about how it’d be to play the songs live,” he says. “I wanted to make a record that you put on with your mates be­fore you go out on the town; a feel­good record. That was def­i­nitely a con­scious thing, to make ev­ery song as catchy as it can be, to not milk things and not go past three min­utes. I wanted lit­tle bits that I could imag­ine play­ing live, that you could ex­tend and drop down.”

An­other chance en­counter with Ian Broudie in Liver­pool even­tu­ally led to the ex-Light­ning Seeds man and stu­dio whiz com­ing on board to pro­duce the al­bum. The pair’s work­ing re­la­tion­ship quickly blos­somed and the al­bum be­gan to take shape af­ter a lot of time spent in Broudie’s kitchen, lis­ten­ing to 1960s and 1970s glam-rock.

“He asked me what sort of record I wanted to make, and I ex­plained how I’d been loving T-Rex and that sort of stuff; tunes like Spirit in the Sky,” he says, croon­ing Nor­man Green­baum’s 1969 hit down the phone. “I wanted to make an al­bum that was all about hand­claps and stomp­ing beats, so we were lis­ten­ing to Sweet’s Ball­room Blitz, Slade, stuff like that – just to get that stomp­ing pop thing. That sound re­ally con­nected with me.”

As much as the al­bum is in­flu­enced by glam and bluesy rock’n’roll riffs, there’s also a stri­dent melodic pop streak au­di­ble on songs such as What Con­di­tion Am I In? and Fire in My Heart. Per­haps some of that in­flu­ence can be at­trib­uted to an­other well-known col­lab­o­ra­tor, Andy Par­tridge of XTC.

“Def­i­nitely,” Kane en­thuses. “It was prob­a­bly a bit more than a year ago that I went down to Swin­don to write with him, and it re­minded me of be­ing back home, weirdly. He just lives in this ter­raced house, and he’s quite a char­ac­ter; it was quite sur­real. He col­lects th­ese wooden soldiers and paints them in his house, and he’s got this lit­tle stu­dio in a shed at the back of his gar­den. We’d just sit there and write, and then break, have a bit of soup for lunch, and then go back at it. It was proper heart­warm­ing, re­ally. Me and him wrote about 20 songs to­gether, it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence. There was no flam­boy­ance – it was just the two of us with gui­tars, mak­ing lit­tle demos.”

Kane has proven him­self an adapt­able as­so­ciate when writ­ing with other mu­si­cians. His most suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion to date has been with the afore­men­tioned Alex Turner on The Last Shadow Pup­pets, whose 2008 al­bum, The Age of the Un­der­state­ment, was a roar­ing suc­cess. So big, in fact, that it has over­shad­owed ev­ery­thing that Kane has done since.

“I think it’s in­evitable,” he says, un­per­turbed by the con­stant par­al­lels. “Me and Al talk about this a lot, ac­tu­ally; he gets asked about it as much as I do. But I think it’s a good thing, be­cause we wrote those songs years ago but peo­ple are still talk­ing about them. It’s a part of me, and I can’t fight that – so I em­brace it, re­ally. And when me and Al do that again – whether it’s af­ter this record, or af­ter he’s done his next one – I think it’ll be a spe­cial thing. I think both our heads will be re­ally on it, and I will have achieved what I want to achieve, and we can en­joy it. I’m very happy with where I’m at now, and I just want to con­tinue what I’m do­ing, re­ally.”

So in other words, there’s no chance of re­turn­ing to his fam­ily’s butcher shop to help out any­time soon, then?

“I fuck­ing hope not!” he ex­plodes and laughs heartily. “No of­fence to me mam, it’s a tough job, that. I take my hat off to them. They’re very strong women and be­ing brought up by strong women has served me well. I’ve been very lucky, I re­ally have. It’s strange; in terms of mu­sic and what I wanna do and where I wanna go, I’m feel like I’m just get­ting started. I’ve got so much more to give, re­ally.”

Don’t For­get Who You Are is re­leased on Columbia Records on May 31st

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