“I wanted the record to have more of a post-punk feel, to be more aggressive…” - hmv.com talks to Miles Kane about his new album Coup De Grace
It’s been five years since we last had a new album from Miles Kane on shelves, but that changes today with the release of his new album Coup De Grace.
Kane, for better or worse, is best known for his friendship and collaborations with Arctic Monkeys mainman Alex Turner. Kane’s first band The Little Flames were a key early influence on Arctic Monkeys and the two first met when they were invited to support the Sheffield arena fillers on tour.
While the Arctic Monkeys quickly went on to huge success, The Little Flames dissolved and Kane’s follow-up project The Rascals would only last three years and one album. Kane, who had stayed in touch with Turner, began to write songs with his friend and together they formed The Last Shadow Puppets, their 50s inspired baroque pop project.
Their debut album The Age Of Understatement was a huge success, it wound up going platinum and taking the band on a world tour. After that finished and Turner returned to the Arctic Monkeys, Kane decided to pursue a solo career. He dropped his debut album The Colour Of The Trap in 2011 and a quick follow-up in 2013 with Don’t Forget Who You Are, which establishes him as a force in his own right.
The gap between Don’t Forget Who You Are and Coup De Grace is largely down to The Last Shadow Puppets, who reunited to record second LP Everything You've Come To Expect in April of 2016 and headed out on tour once again.
Now with Turner back with the Arctic Monkeys, Kane is on his own again, and, as Coup De Grace arrives on shelves, we spoke to him about the lengthy writing process for the album, working with Jamie T and why wrestling inspired the LP’s title...
Can you talk us through the writing time for this album? It’s been five years since your last album, but a lot of that time was taken up with The Last Shadow Puppets?
“I’ve been collecting songs for that whole time. After the touring for Don’t Forget Who You Are came to an end, I went straight into writing. I wrote for a year and a half, came out with loads of songs and loads of half songs. Then me and Al (Alex Turner) started working on the Last Shadow Puppets and by the time I came back to the songs when we’d finished all that, none of the songs felt fresh. Looking back now, they just weren’t good enough, something wasn’t quite right, there were some good bits, but no solid songs, so I just started again. To get to the end product where we are now, I must have written three or four albums’ worth of material.”
Did you have a goal in mind about how you wanted your album to sound? Did you want to do things differently from Don’t Forget Who You Are?
“I definitely wanted the record to have more of a post-punk feel, to be more aggressive. Tracks like ‘Silverscreen’ and ‘Cold Light Of The Day’. I’ve always loved The Fall and when we were doing the Last Shadow Puppets tour we were covering ‘Totally Wired’ and I was getting a lot of compliments, people saying that style suited me and that really inspired me to go in that direction.”
You did quite a lot of writing with Jamie T for the album, how did that come about?
“I’ve known Jay for about 10 years. We’ve always said when we’ve been pissed that we’d love to do something together, but we’ve never got around to it. Then last January he was in Los Angeles for a gig and I was over there and he agreed to stick around for a week and see what we could do. I’d just been through a break-up and my head was all over the shop, so I just showed up to his hotel and I played him a few demos, one of which was ‘Silverscreen’”
“I didn’t think any of them were any good, but he was really positive, telling me it was mega and I needed to keep going. We just worked after that, just on acoustic guitar, I came over to London a few months later and we’d write a song a day. We wrote a lot of tunes, it was fantastic working with him, a really special time, it got me into a great routine.”
Even though you wrote for a long time, you recorded the album in less than two weeks…
“I did one week in August last year and one week in October and I was so well prepared. I had everything mapped out, I knew the players really well, I’d been playing with them in the Puppets and I knew that John Congleton likes to work quickly. He’s a guy who’s all about being in the moment and not dwelling on things and I feel like these songs needed that approach. I didn’t want someone who’d spend two days faffing around with a hi-hat, I wanted to keep the energy going. I really put my trust in John and he wanted to only do a few takes, it’s worked.”
What kind of album is this lyrically?
“It’s a very personal album. There are songs about my break-up, songs about anger and jealousy and songs about love. It’s the classic things, things I’ve written about before, it’s all I can do, write about what I’m going through.”
How are lyrics for you? Do you need a melody or are you always writing?
“It varies. I’ve just bought a nice new Moleskine to start jotting down more, that’s the better way to do it. I’ve had writer’s block before and it is horrendous, you need to keep going.”
When did you decide on Coup De Grace for the album title?
“I love wrestling and I’ve become friends with this wrestler called Finn Balor. We were rehearsing the song and he text me and I started shouting ‘Coup De Grace’ down the mic, it’s his finishing move. Everybody was asking me what it was, I didn’t even know, then when I found out it was the final blow, it felt very dramatic and it felt good for the album. Then it stayed for the album, it just felt right, it’s putting all my emotions for these songs to bed…”
You’ve got three records now, how’s your live set coming together?
“We’ve been playing about three or four new ones in the shows so far and they’ve been doing well. The set’s rocking now, it’s really full on, I’m having a great time, everyone is having it. I feel like these tunes are made for the stage, no one can rock it like we can.”
Do you feel back in solo mode now? Are you thinking about your next record?
“I want to keep going. We’re booking up right up until next summer. I want to keep on pushing and getting new tunes down, it’s tough out there, you need to keep things fresh.”