Famed solo artist, Wirral riddler, and Shadow Puppet, the larger-than-life songwriter Miles Kane is back with his mojo-reclaiming fifth studio record, One Man Band.
The charismatic frontperson has built a reputation as one of the UK’s most beloved musicians over the course of his nearly two-decade spanning career. Cutting his teeth as a teenager in The Little Flames & The Rascals, Miles Kane has since gone onto become a Shadow Puppet, a collaborator to Lana Del Rey, and most importantly an in-demand solo artist. Thanks to his repertoire of swaggering and energetic tunes that range from indie-rock, mod-pop, glam-rock and beyond. Last year, the Wirral-born artist put out his fourth studio album, Change The Show, a record that boasted inspired soulful tracks with brass and keys being prominently featured.
But for Kane himself, the record did not perform as well as he expected, leading him to feel down about where he is at this point in his solo career. In a way, this somewhat of a musical existential identity crisis led the songwriter back to his roots. Back to the start. Thus the idea behind his fifth studio album One Man Band was born. Weaved throughout Miles Kane’s DNA as a performer and songwriter, there have always been songs that are fast-paced, purposefully in your face, and teeming with an anthemic electricity that you cannot deny. All you have to do is look back to his 2011 debut record Colour Of The Trap and its brilliant 2013 follow-up Don’t Forget Who You Are, they are just two prime examples of this style of songwriting in action. So with One Man Band, the record has undoubtedly taken inspiration from his roots.
Interestingly, now as a 37-year-old man, this new album doesn’t just offer-up bravado, it also showcases a more vulnerable and open side to Kane with the lyricism featured in the project. The record is full of upbeat tracks with introspective lyricism that could only be penned by someone that has matured and grown. No longer does Miles Kane hide behind the young rapscallion rockstar persona, he’s become something more refined and he’s all the better for it. Overall, One Man Band at its core is an infectious guitar-driven experience which offers a snapshot into who Kane is right now in 2023.
In conversation with 1883 Magazine’s Cameron Poole for the second time, Miles Kane chats all about One Man Band, whether you should meet your heroes or not, and his unintentional trademark vocal scream.
Hi Miles, it’s nice to speak to you again. We last had a chat back at the end of 2021 regarding Change The Show. I’m sure that a lot has happened since we last spoke but I want to start by simply congratulating you on passing your driving test….
Fucking hell mate. It took me long enough, christ!
There’s nothing wrong with that, there’s certainly no rush for it especially if you’re living in a major city. How’s the mini getting on?
She’s outside, she’s alright mate. I enjoy doing my little drives, I haven’t really done a big drive yet but you know what it’s like in London. It’s kind of a pain in the ass to drive but it was just a box that I wanted to tick for my mind. So it’s done now, gone. It was more for that lingering itch that I had.
You wrote your new record One Man Band very quickly and this has been the shortest amount of time between album cycles, how do you think writing and recording your ideas in quick succession has had a positive impact on your writing process?
I think it had a massive positive impact to be honest mate and maybe I was a bit of fortunate as well because the songs stand up and I don’t know… I got in this zone after I finished Change The Show. I felt quite underwhelmed if I’m being honest with you. I thought my career was on a bit of a downslide and I felt a bit of frustration, a bit of anger, and I thought I had to prove something to myself and maybe to people out there as well. So I just got this fire in me to start writing and I wrote the demo of One Man Band. It had this sort of simpleness which showed off what I’m good at and it made me think about what I love. You know, I love that surf guitar shit, and I love upbeat gnarly tunes with a bit of anger that have melancholic lyrics.
So after writing the song, it snapped me into this thing. I wanted to just crack on and I thought I had all this energy to burn off. So I just went into it and wrote a load of tunes with me and my cousin James, who produced it. He’s the singer in The Coral. Having him support me and encourage me was great. We would fine-tune these demos and lyrics and then we were like, “Let’s make this album”. It just flowed so well and I think that the realness and rawness of it shines through for that reason. It’s all on gut feeling. It was quite an instinctive sort of thing, where I thought: “that’s good, let’s just keep it, let’s not overthink things” and even that was related to the production as well. We were like “let’s not have any strings, brass, pianos, no la-di-da”. We wanted to keep it simple. Keep it at the core of what I do.
It must have been nice to have family around you during the making of the record, no ‘yes men’. You must have got some honest feedback.
Yeah exactly. It was refreshing to have that around me mate because sometimes you do have ‘the yes men’, I definitely have in the past. Or people that just sit on the fence and you’re like ‘what are you even on about? You’re just draining my energy’.
The record pulses with an upbeat energy which could match your debut Colour Of The Trap. But behind all the fast riffs and swagger, lyrically you’re actually being quite honest about yourself. From the start of your career you’ve always outwardly portrayed this charismatic rock star persona but at this point in your life do you feel like you’re naturally becoming a bit more vulnerable now?
When you’re younger and you experience all the things you dream of for the first time and all that, you live that character don’t you? So I understand, I’ve been tarred with the brush and you know what, I don’t blame people who think that. If you’re going to be wearing leather trousers, getting papped and doing whatever, you’re kind of asking for it, so you’ve got to own that. I don’t regret anything to be honest because any young kid would be like why not live it a bit? So it is what it is. But when I hit thirty, I got a sense that I was coming out of this sort of phase now or I’m alright for all that stuff, if that makes sense. I’m 37 now. I’m completely in a different place. Those moments seem like sort of a lifetime ago to me and I feel way more comfortable in myself and I know who I am and what I want to be. That’s what I’m kind of showing and saying on this record.
Of course. You’ve always had this larger than life character and I think it’s a good thing. People have been drawn to you and your music because of that. But yes we always change throughout life, thank you for sharing.
Did you write One Man Band as an excuse to meet your childhood hero, footballer Roberto Baggio? I’m joking. But I am interested in getting your thoughts on the phrase ‘never meet your hero’ because you did. Also the way you felt when you called your mum and explained what it was like, I can imagine your fans feel the same way when they meet you, it’s all pretty insane isn’t it?
It really is actually and not to sound egotistical or whatever right now but at the moment I’m doing this in-store tour to promote the album and you meet and greet with the fans. Some of the stories that I hear from the fans when they come up whilst crying and they say ‘this saved my life’ and it’s kind of real deep stuff. You know what I mean? It’s kind of emotional and it’s beautiful. To sort of see that and I feel like now that I am older, if there is a younger generation that maybe are looking up to to me, I really like that role. It’s really nice to be honest. I guess that is how I felt meeting Baggio. Never in my wildest dreams would I think that I would be going to his house to have a drink, meet him, and chat. When we were making the song, it’s a tune about me remembering my childhood and the distinct little memories you have which act as the start of me becoming who I am.
I liked Baggio because I thought he looked cool, talented and different. All these little memories and links have sort of related to why I got into music, fashion and growing my hair. When we were making the record, we thought it would be amazing if he could hear it and cut the story short, he did like it and he invited me to his home. It was a real spiritual fucking day to be honest. When I talk about it now, I feel like I get this rush, if that makes sense. That feeling I had for those couple of hours that we hung out, I don’t know, I’ve never felt like that before.
Well, the cherry on the top is that he actually liked it. It could have gone one way or another [laughs].
But that’s what I mean, how he made me feel and he gave me a hug. He was just so warm, it felt so genuine. It actually blew my mind.
So do you think people should meet their heroes or not?
I think yeah. Take the risk because if it’s good, it’s really good.
Following on from that, I actually wanted to talk about those recent in-store shows and signings. Did you have any memorable interactions that come to mind?
Well, it’s still when people say this song has saved my life or this and that. Music does help people. It’s helped me in my life, and music is its own sort of therapy in a way. If you’re having a bit of a dark moment on your own, music can snap you out of that and it can be a saviour. So to have people say that to me, it’s kind of a big old fucking thing really, isn’t it? I don’t really want to go too much into it but it’s a massive thing to take on board.
Out of the tracks on the album which didn’t release as pre-launch singles, what are your favourites?
There are so many freaking bangers on there but right now I’d probably say Never Take Me Alive. I’m loving playing that one live. The Best Is Yet To Come is a banger. Heartbreaks, Ransom, fuck,I just love them man.
Can we ever expect to see you pick up the saxophone in a live setting again?
Ah you know what, the Pink Panther theme is calling me. If I do, It’ll be to play the Pink Panther.
I know you’ve just announced your new UK tour in January & February 2024, fans are going to read this interview and they’ll hold you dead to rights and will be expecting you to bring it out.
[Laughs] Right, I best get practicing mate.
You might not call it anything and you might not even intend to do it when recording songs but I would say that fans are aware of your trademark vocal scream that can be heard on the new album and on numerous other songs from previous records. It might be silly to ask but when do you think you first built up the confidence and idea to do something like that vocally? I could imagine it being a homage to the wrestler Ric Flair’s iconic ‘Woo!’
I reckon yeah, subconsciously. That side of my…. are you talking about before a solo or something, where I do a scream?
Yeah! But for example you can also hear it at the end of The Best Is Yet To Come.
When I’m in that zone singing and if it’s an upbeat tune, I think I’ll do it. I probably did it on Bad Habits, the Puppets song. I’ve done it on quite a lot of songs. I don’t really think about it, it’s not planned, you don’t write it. It’s just when I’m doing my vocal takes and I’m in that zone. And it’ll either be at the end or usually be before a solo or something and I imagine that I’m out on stage. You know what, you are probably right, subconsciously it’s probably because of all the wrestling I’ve watched and that Ric Flair shit. I’ve never thought of it but I think you’re probably dead on the money with that one, mate. I think subconsciously it’s through the wrestling, that I’ve been able to sort of do it. As mad as that sounds, I think you’re right.
Last time we talked, I mentioned there was this story on the internet about a Scarface reboot but annoyingly I haven’t seen any sort of updates. I presume it’s just in production hell and not going to happen. But speaking of films in general because it is topical at the minute, are you planning to see Barbie or Oppenheimer or either of them?
That’s all I hear about. That Oppenheimer seems popular, doesn’t it. Is it good?
Yeah it is. It is a bit of a heavy watch in terms of the length and obviously the topics it covers though.
What is the topic on it? I’ve been in my own little bubble the last few weeks. I’ve heard of it but what’s it about?
It’s about Robert Oppenheimer, who’s basically the founder of the nuclear bomb or atomic bomb. It sort follows the Trinity test where they developed and tested the first nuke before they obviously then did unspeakable things with it on Japan. It’s a Christopher Nolan film. I just thought I’d ask because Barbie and Oppenheimer are very different but they’re both very good films.
Is Barbie good as well then?
Yeah. I’ve got a lot of friends who are like ‘oh, I’m too fucking manly to go watch something like that’ but it surprises you because it’s not what you think it’s going to be. It’s got a really interesting message about body positivity and all that sort of stuff. So I would recommend both.
Right, okay well, there’s my afternoon sorted!
Finally, going from The Little Flames, The Rascals, and all the way through to your solo artistry and Puppets work, you’ve most likely achieved everything your teenage self could have ever dreamed about. So what does success look like to Miles Kane now in terms of your professional and personal life?
I still feel like I haven’t achieved. To an extent I have but I feel that my sort of enthusiasm, drive and ambition is still the same feeling I had inside me when I was in The Little Flames. I don’t know whether that is because there’s always a sense in wanting more in life and trying to find contentment. But as long as I can keep doing what I do and I’m still here after a long time. Weirdly, I think this record, I don’t want to jinx it, but this could be the best one yet. In terms of success which is kind of what I have dreamed of for my solo career.
I don’t know man, I just feel happier in myself, I love the music I’m making, and that’s all I want to do really. I still have got my fire and drive. I guess If I didn’t have that, I’d have sat back and been like ‘I’ve done everything’. I probably couldn’t write a song either and that would be game over. I feel like I’m not even close to achieving what I want.
I understand and can relate to that. As humans we are always striving for more but as an outward perspective looking in, I think you should be proud of everything that you have achieved so far and there will be lots more to look forward to in the future.
Thank you so much mate, I appreciate that. Back at you.
Miles Kane’s fifth studio album,One Man Band is out now. Follow Miles Kane @mileskane
Interview Cameron Poole
Photography Charlie Salt