Friday, December 14, 2018

An interview with Miles Kane

photo: Lauren Dukoff
Rock music and professional wrestling are often intertwined.

That connection is a close one on Coup de Grace, the third solo album by Miles Kane. It was named after Finn Balor’s signature move (known as a “final blow”).

The singer/guitarist’s favorite WWE Raw fighter appears during the intense music video to “Cry on My Guitar” and gives Kane a mighty smackdown.  

A stunt coordinator taught Kane how to land and get thrown properly on camera. The shoot was hard work, but still “the best video I’ve ever done” and “a dream come true,” raved the musician, in a phone interview from London, where he’d just finished a boxing session.

“You know, I’m a big fan of [Finn’s]. We became friends. To get him in the video was amazing. Apart from one scene, I did it all. By the end of the day, I was black and blue. But I was like a kid in a candy shop, [thinking], ‘can you slam me again,’ recalled Kane with a laugh.

The Liverpool native first came to international prominence in the late 2000s as a member of The Last Shadow Puppets with Arctic Monkeys’ main man Alex Turner. Both LSP albums went to No. 1 in England and sold more than 100,000 copies there. 

Kane’s impressive 2011 solo debut Colour of the Trap achieved gold status in the U.K. Two years later, the follow up Don’t Forget Who You Are also made the top 10 at home. Half of the former release featured Turner co-writes, plus backing vocals by Noel Gallagher and Corrine Bailey Rae. The sophomore effort included lyrical assists from Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie, XTC’s Andy Partridge and Paul Weller.

Collaborating with the former Jam leader was a career highlight. “Paul is definitely a big influence on me and forever will be,” affirmed Kane. “We played the songs we wrote together and a T-Rex song at a Brighton gig [in June]. To work together and be friends means the world to me. I have so much respect for him.”    

A headlining U.K. run just finished. Now the big question for U.S. fans is whether Kane will finally perform in America. To date, he has only appeared here with the Puppets, including a memorable performance at Coachella ’16, where they encored with an epic cover of The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

“I’ve never done a solo gig over there. It’s something that I really want to do,” Kane said. “I love America, you know? I like playing there. Hopefully, with this record we’ll do some little club dates on our own.”

The Fab Four is central to Dr. Pepper’s Jaded Hearts Club Band. Kane is part of the Beatles cover band, which includes members of Muse, Nine Inch Nails, Jet and The Zutons.

After their live debut last September, the group took part in a Rachael Ray-hosted party at SXSW and Roger Daltrey’s Teenage Cancer Trust show in London (with guest Graham Coxon of Blur) this past spring. Paul McCartney joined the guys in Los Angeles for the launch of his daughter Stella’s new clothing line. Kane even took part in a panel discussion online about the new Beatles White Album box set.

Coup de Grace was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Decemberists, Future Islands) and recorded in LA. Acclaimed British rock/rap artist Jamie T. co-wrote the bulk of it with Kane.

He immediately “clicked really well” with the producer, who “likes to work in a similar vein as I do - quick and in the moment. It was a real enjoyable experience.”

Collaborating with Jamie T. served as a creative jump start for Kane.

“Every song that we wrote seemed to be a step above anything that I was writing - either on my own or with other people at that time.

“I’ve known Jamie for 10 years. He’s one of my best mates. I felt so comfortable chatting about emotions we all go through so we could portray them in the songs in a way I hadn’t done before. I like to write about love and jealousy.” Kane professed to admiring the way John Lennon could write a melancholic or angry song equally well. “I go down that road naturally.”

Pop chanteuse Lana Del Rey met the pair at a Jamie T. club gig in LA and later ended up helping them out on the chorus to “Loaded.”

photo: Lauren Dukoff
While Kane’s past solo albums touched upon Brit pop, Mod-inspired rock, psychedelia and blues, punk acts like The Damned, Cramps and Ramones partially inspired some new tracks on Coup de Grace.

“When we were doing the Puppets tour, I was covering The Fall [song “Totally Wired,” off LSP’s The Dream Synopsis EP] in the set. Everyone was saying, ‘that style suits you’ and it felt good. I was mad on The Fall when I was 17-21. I was revisiting that and thought I should get a bit wild and aggressive; try a bit more of the punk thing.”

Taking such an approach also provided Kane an opportunity to distance himself from the mostly luxurious pop/rock vein of LSP material.

“I definitely knew I wanted it to be upbeat and in your face.” The LSP rocker “Bad Habits” was a “punky thing I really enjoyed singing. It’s a style I can do very well, you know? I knew I wanted it to slap you in the face and then have a couple soft moments.” The edgier vibe, mixed with “the emotional side of life, is something I’d wanted to get down for a long time.”

Frantic, fast-paced tracks “Too Little, Too Late,” “Silver Screen” and “Something to Rely On” are prime examples. Then there’s the sinister, Kasabian-styled title track, a T-Rex glam rock groove amid “Cry on My Guitar” and Queens of the Stone Age aggressiveness to “Cold Light of Day.”

Yet the standouts ended up being the midtempo ones. “Wrong Side of Life” finds Kane singing “I was sitting on the throne/Like Marc Antony, I’d die for you” with a soulful, anguished delivery.

Since some lyrics revolved around a breakup and “what I was going through in my life at that time,” it’s not too surprising that he’d reference the tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra.

“That’s how I felt. Maybe it’s an over the top comparison. I’m crying out on that one. It’s my favorite song on the album; I love the vocal on it,” Kane admitted.

The title of the luxurious “Shavambacu,” which could’ve easily fit on the recent TV reboot of “Twin Peaks,” was based on a loving family pet name that stemmed from his grandmother’s mispronunciation of a 1962 French cover tune by Dean Martin. 

“It’s a beautiful song and nice to end the record on a positive note.”

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