The Cafe at The Tate is shut. Nightmare. This was not how I had it planned. I wanted the floor to ceiling windows, the basking out onto the Albert Dock, the being surrounded by history, power and atticism, the perfect perch from which to muse an ambitious pop enterprise. It seems that my accomplice, MILES KANE, shares my dissatisfaction, “I was looking forward to a homemade soup n everythin.’” If the powers that be at The Tate are reading this please, just open on a Monday for heavens sake.
I could continue, but I won’t, for there are more pressing concerns, notably the imminent release of the debut solo album from Miles Kane. Since 2009s break up of his former group The Rascals, (which followed releases in 2008 of both Rascalize, the band’s debut LP and Age Of The Understatement, Miles’ side project with Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner) Miles has been working towards this point. Though surprisingly, working alone was not a process that he initially found particularly easy, as he tells me squarely, “to be honest, at first it was really hard and it took a while to adjust. I’d always been used to being in a gang with the band and having someone else to work ideas with. Especially with not playing gigs for so long, it was a bit of a come down and I really lost confidence as well for a while.”
It seems hard to believe that a musician who has so recently scored a number one album (which he did with Age Of The Understatement) could suffer from a sudden lack of confidence? “Yeah I appreciate that, but I just never really wanna get caught up in anything. I want to go out and put my heart and soul into this record, to do that and to be honest.”
People talk of a ‘difficult second album’ and this will be the third LP release of Miles’ career, all coming under different guises. So how did he manage to regain the belief in himself to make this record? “I spent the first week recording for the new record in the studio with Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) and it was only after that that I discovered my confidence again and I was like, ‘I can do this and it does sound good.’ I owe a lot to him really.”
As well as Gruff, producer Dan Carey had a heavy hand in the LP. Holding production duties throughout, Dan has previously been the architect of hits by artists such as Le Roux, Franz Ferdinand, Kylie and CSS. He pushed Miles to work and arrange in different ways than he had been used to in the the past. “We could have made any record we wanted, there were just no boundaries,” he tells me. It seems that with further assistance from long time contributor Alex Turner (with whom Miles retains a close friendship, telling me that, “…me and Al have a very special kind of relationship, he’s like a brother to me”), the aforementioned Gruff Ryhs and Noel Gallagher – who supplies backing vocals on My Fantasy – Miles has surrounded himself on this record with figures who he believes can help extract the best from him. And who can question those intentions?
People expecting a further exercise in 1960s US orchestral pop reconstruction will be disappointed by the solo Miles Kane, as will those hoping for a return to the more direct, aggressive rock of The Rascals, for on his new LP Miles has set his stall right between the two. As a case in point, the flip side to recent single Come Closer is a cover of Lee Hazlewood’s Rainbow Woman. Without an orchestra in sight, the song grooves along a distinctly UK beat trajectory and marks a direct stripping back of the ‘Shadow Puppets aesthetic’. But, was this an intention from the outset? “I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to have an orchestra on it,” Miles asserts, “and I wanted the record to be more pop, brooding and catchy than The Rascals.” The solo Miles Kane is more UK invasion that the American Dream, less Scott Walker and more The Attack or The Yardbirds, in fact new single Come Closer opens as a dead ringer for Jeff Beck’s High Ho Silver Lining.
Another Hazlewood-ism on the record is the addition of a female shared duet, though Miles opts for the chanteuse over the go-go boots, “I did a duet on the record with a French actress called Clémence Poésy (most famous for her role in the film In Bruges). The song is called Happenstance, which is a real Lee and Nancy duet, alternate lines and all that.”
After the reception to his 2008 collaboration, the critical and commercial acclaim, what would constitute success for Miles Kane? The fact remains that, though The Last Shadow Puppets are widely revered, as a solo artist Miles still has everything to prove, “I’d love a number one, or a top ten record would be amazing,” he opens up, “I’d like to play big shows, like The Philharmonic to 1500 people, I’d love that man. And I believe I can achieve that and I’ve made a record that can do it.”
So success is not a dirty word for Miles Kane? “I love it, I can’t lie. I want it all and I’m aiming to achieve as much as I can. I’ve got that drive in me.”