In the Middle with Miles Kane

It’s been five years since Miles Kane released his sophomore solo album, Don’t Forget Who You Are, and two since reuniting with long-term chum Alex Turner as The Last Shadow Puppets. Now, he’s back with his latest offering, Coup de Grace, a collection of glam rock, Gallagher-style ballads and indie anthems which, in Kane’s words, was his “favourite album to make, hands down.” Now, a few weeks ahead of his UK album tour, comes a new, standalone single: ‘LA Five Four (309)’.

It’s a blistering slice of punk, on which Kane puts in a no-holds-barred vocal performance, one of his most exciting in years. Whilst clearly belonging to the same structural blueprint, the track’s wild, unrelenting production distinguishes it from most of the album cuts. When asked how this sound came about, Miles explains that he’d tried recording the track during the album sessions but that it never quite felt right: “The version that I released, I finished off literally a week before I released it and it was just a demo that me and Jamie T did in his little studio,” he says, “I just think it sounds f***ing mega and it shows you, if the vibe’s right and there’s a cool tune and it’s all sort of sounding how it should, it can be done so quickly.”

This frenzied, instinctive style of recording indicates where Kane’s studio albums and live shows intersect, cross-pollinating one another. “When I’m recording, whether I’m doing it with a band or with Jamie in his bedroom – when I’m singing, I’m onstage in my mind.” There’s a sense that the stage is where Miles feels most at home, and that this single is his latest attempt at bringing his famed live charisma into the booth: “I don’t even have to think about it, it just kinda turns me on if you know what I mean. I always wanna go full-throttle.”

Credit: Lauren Dukoff

It’s this single, along with deeper cut ‘Wrong Side Of Life’ and album closer ‘Shavambacu’, that Miles says he’s most looking forward to playing for fans on the upcoming tour. “We haven’t done a gig in England since the album’s been out so these are our first shows really since people have listened to it. I don’t really know what to expect, but hopefully it’ll be rocking and fun.’

Earlier in the year, Kane played a run of tiny club gigs in the run up to the release of Coup de Grace which did just that, showcasing both a selection of new songs and some old fan favourites at their most raucous. At the other end of the spectrum, and in continuation of his partnership with the historic brand, he played a series of intimate acoustic shows in a number of Fred Perry stores across Europe.

Curious as to why he’s taken this more scaled-back approach recently, I ask him how playing to smaller crowds influences his performance style: “I mean, obviously, you’re not gonna be wearing a jumpsuit and doing scissor kicks in a Fred Perry store,” he jokes, though you suspect it wouldn’t be too difficult to convince him otherwise, fond of theatrics as he is. “I’ve been enjoying just singing songs and playing the acoustic, which is something I never really did enjoy before.” Acoustic number ‘Shavambacu’, in particular, gives listeners a glimpse into an artist who is nowadays less hesitant to put his electric guitar down for a song or two.

Having collaborated frequently with a number of friends and fellow artists over his seven-year solo career, the new record brought about the blossoming of a songwriting partnership with close friend, Jamie T. “He was there for me for what I was going through at the time in my life; not to get morbid, but we grew close and he became like a brother to me and he got me through it all,” Miles reflects; “we got in a flow where we’d write a tune a day from scratch.”

It’s perhaps this honesty and spontaneity that have resulted in what is some of Kane’s most aesthetically distinctive work to date on Coup de Grace; he has long been known for having a keen eye for style, but never before have visual elements in the artwork and stage production come together quite so harmoniously as they do this time around. “Whichever idea I had on the album, it seemed really strong and I stuck to it, which is what I’d like to think is coming across in the aesthetic,” he says, “whether you like it or not the idea is solid and it’s down to the listener to make their mind up on it.”

Above all, Kane is a performer who wants people who come to his shows to leave happier than when they walked in. “That’s what I plan to do, have it be the best gig you’ve come to this year; that’s my goal”, he pledges. It’s a promise made without ego, that he’ll simply do what he does best: put on a seriously entertaining performance.

Miles Kane plays Leeds O2 Academy on Thursday, 29th November.

Tom Paul

Header Image Credit: Lauren Dukoff