Earlier this year, Miles Kane announced a comeback after a five-year-long break from a solo career. Besides the two studio albums released under his side project The Last Shadow Puppets, ‘Coup de Grace’ marks Kane’s third solo album. With collaborations from the likes of Jamie T and Lana Del Rey, it marks a considerable stylistic departure from his previous work. Now amidst a string of UK headline dates, we caught up with Kane for a discussion on the new album, musical influences and his favourite tracks ahead of his show at Birmingham O2 Institute at the end of this month.
ET: So, let’s start with the new album ‘Coup de Grace’. It’s immediately apparent that the record has a great deal of energy to it and maintains a very “in your face” attitude throughout. Many artists – guitar bands in particular – come under criticism for losing that fresh-faced energy once better established in their careers. Coming back after a rather lengthy break from your solo pursuits, would you say this punchiness was a trait that you were consciously going for or did it develop naturally during the writing process?
MK: Well, I usually gravitate towards upbeat music in general, so whilst making this album it kind of falls into what I’ve always done… You know whether I’m just in the house listening to music or I’m walking with my headphones on I do like stuff up “in your face”. I’m a fan of that style of up-beat music whether that be the punk, disco or Motown influences you hear on this one, do you know what I mean?
ET: Yes, for sure, those genre influences certainly shine through from the listener’s perspective…
MK: That energy is kind of my go-to, and so this album was always going to be pretty upbeat really. I definitely wanted this album to be like that. I mean there was a moment whilst making it that I remember just thinking how I wanted every song to be a million miles an hour [laughs]. But then I got to a balance really… Because I do like it that way but it’s not as though that’s all I do, I love slower music too and a love song or a ballad as well you know. But I guess generally, I do like music that makes you feel… up! Those songs that give you a ten percent boost are what I like you know?
ET: I think as fans we found your return to solo work invigorating, and it was good to see you come back with a punch. (Kane’s recent video for his first single ‘Loaded’ features a shot of him literally punching the camera lens). Something that accentuates this in particular – and you’ve started to touch on it here already – is how you retain that variety throughout the track list without letting up on the energy.
MK: Yeah, again if I’m in the house, I like to be surrounded by different music that I put on to sort of get me in the mood for whatever I’m doing. It could be anything really, you know having a shower [chuckles] or just going to the gym or going to meet a mate or whatever it may be. You know I like the thing of before you go out, getting the music style right, whether it’s T.Rex or Bowie or Diana Ross… songs like that are what I like listening to. So, I guess I kinda want to have that same thing – regardless of style – but that feeling you get is the sort of feeling I want when making music.
SK: So, sticking with that, we’ve been looking into some of the lyrics off the album. A track that stands out in particular is ‘Wrong Side of Life’ in which you mention Mark Antony. It is probably one of the most intense songs on the album and this allusion certainly adds to the passion and despair felt throughout. Why did you come to use this analogy and how did you come up with it?
MK: Well I was going for the theme of him and Cleopatra, you know that story is sort of very dramatic and over-the-top but it just stuck…At that time it felt so right to reference something that’s sort of out of the bracket, or myself in general. That song, it probably is… No, it is my favourite song and I just thought that the thing of bearing your soul in the lyrics, it’s all so important for me. The way it’s sung, you can’t hide behind that and it’s because I love that song so much. Even now, every time I sing it I get shivers… It’s quite sad you know – I get this strange feeling with it.
SK: Absolutely, it seems that beyond the lyrics your delivery of the song comes across as undeniably heartfelt. You’ve started to imply this here already, is that due to a close personal relation to the song’s meaning or is some of that emotion simply the product of great vocal delivery?
MK: Oh it’s personal for sure. I mean it’s as deep as it gets! (laughter) I’m really not making it up with that one you know. It’s a product of the time, it reflects exactly how I felt…Yeah, I really don’t think you can get any more real than that on this album.
ET: Based off that idea then, would you say that there are songs – on this album or any of your others – that you believe deserve perhaps a bit more attention than they get from the mainstream of fans or critics?
MK: Yeah well… Probably quite a lot of them to be honest with you! (laughter)
ET, SK: Oh, well as a continuation from that, this album has a lot of singles. Are there ever times in the studio where you record a song and think it’s going to catch on well with the fans as more of a single, only to see it doesn’t get that level of attention?
MK: No not really, it’s pretty obvious in terms of singles what those would be. I think kind of from day one we knew that a song like ‘Cry on My Guitar’ would definitely be a single because it ticked all of those boxes. But still, a song like the one you picked up on, ‘The Wrong Side of Life’, I wish that would get more attention really because its funny how just talking to people this year, it keeps getting brought up in that way.
ET: With that in mind, acoustic or live versions of your songs get a lot of praise from the fans online who seem to enjoy the more raw, stripped-back style they cater to. Would you ever consider doing a live or even an unplugged, acoustic album?
MK: Yeah I guess why not you know, it’d be cool…these songs, they’re so fun to play live. They’re upbeat and really high energy and that gives you this really amazing buzz and I’ve had a real sort of enjoyment playing them recently. I was never really into acoustic stuff before other than in little bits but I’ve done quite a lot of it on this record with little live radio performances. I’ve really enjoyed that and performing these songs that are sort of full on but in that acoustic style I’ve found that it gives them a different edge and lets you see how they hold up you know…the whole shebang.
ET: Definitely, when you strip them back in that way, you get to see the strength of the songs and the writing behind them is really able to shine through…
MK: Yeah Evan, thank you that’s really kind.
ET: To round up on a different, more general question, there is much speculation currently in the headlines surrounding the line-up for Glastonbury. Can we be so bold as to ask whether you will make an appearance?
(a few seconds of silence followed by laughter)
ET: Okay I think we’ll leave that one there! Moving on, Paul McCartney is currently a rumoured favourite to headline. As a self-proclaimed Beatles superfan would you like to see that? Do you think he can still pull it off? (Kane has recently been spotted performing a number of small shows in L.A. as part of a Beatles cover band. Aptly named Dr Pepper’s Jaded Hearts Club Band, it features the likes of Muse’s Matt Bellamy as well as members of Nine Inch Nails, Jet and The Zutons.)
MK: (laughter) Oh wow yeah I’m sure he definitely could. I’d love to see him headline, I love McCartney! That’d be great.