Back in the cold winter months of January 2022, indie’s finest frontman, Miles Kane, released his soulful, Motown-appreciating new album ‘Change the Show’. In a 5-star review for The Edge, I noted how the totally joyous feel to it perfectly complemented the mood of a post-pandemic world starting to emerge, with catchy hooks and feel-good horns to life anyone’s spirits up.
The album release was supposed to be accompanied by a UK tour which, due to rising COVID cases, was postponed to May 2022. Ahead of this, after similar months of postponement, I caught up with Miles to discuss the inspirations for the album, his surprising TikTok hit, and what he’s looking forward to on his tour.
First of all, I really enjoyed listening to the album. There was a really interesting mix of Motown, 50s/60s sounds. What were your inspirations for this sort of sound, did you grow up around this style of music?
Yeah, growing up with my mum and my nan’s house and any family gathering, y’know. My diet in music was the Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross, and the Motown Gold album, and I love northern soul music as well so, y’know that, with all the other sort: The Beatles, T.Rex and that was my upbringing. So, it’s kinda been a big part of my life, and it still is to be honest, and I think that’s my go-to if I’m going to put music on to get ready or to chill out, or there’s people over or whatever. That’s what I go for.
It’s quite an unfamiliar genre to me really, I’m sort of delving into it at the moment. Are there any ‘top artists’ for that sort of sound that you’d recommend?
Yeah, the Four Tops probably.
A lot of times where artists make albums inspired by older sounds, it ends up becoming a bit of a pastiche, but I don’t think that’s the case with ‘Change the Show’ at all. There’s always quite a distinctive indie Miles Kane flair to it all. Is that something you set out to achieve?
Yeah, well I think that’s important mate. I think it’s like that, when you’re throwing around Motown soul I guess there’s a preconception that’s easy to attach. You can get labelled. But yeah, I think lyrically and with guitar playing it’s kinda distinctive. I do think it’s probably the lyrics as well that do set it apart from being that pastiche thing because y’know I’m talking about the present day and myself. It’s not just “I love you, I want you,” there’s some interesting words going on. So I think that’s what gives it its edge.
I don’t know if you listened to the Silk Sonic album (‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’) last year, but that sort of delves into a little bit of pastiche for me…
Yeah, right? I don’t mind them.
I do quite like them!
They play into it quite a lot I suppose, it’s exactly what they’re aiming for!
So, it feels to me that sort of around 2018, popular music started to become really quite miserable. But it sort of seems that, in the years following the peak of the pandemic, it’s sort of become a lot brighter again. You’ve got pop-punk in the mainstream again. Comedic post-punk is big, with the likes of Yard Act and Wet Leg. Where does this album fit in with the ‘pandemic timeline’, if you like?
It doesn’t, I don’t think! I think, in terms of stuff that is en vogue, I guess that I sort of stand on my own. I think there are all those things changing and you’ve got, as you said, you’ve got those sorts of bands doing that social commentary but it’s sort of funny as well, and the sort of emo-y punk thing going on too. I don’t think I’m in any of those boxes, to be honest. But I quite like that. I think that’s the way I’ll stay to be honest!
Leading on from that I suppose. You’re certainly not one to be restricted and stay in a single box with your sounds, as you mentioned. I particularly like the 70s glam groove on ‘Coup de Grace’ (Kane’s 2018 album).
Yeah, me too!
When you began writing for ‘Change the Show’, was the intention to make a Motown-infused record. Or did that naturally come about as you were writing the lyrics for that?
Kinda, yeah. I have a side of me that is glam-rock and I’ll wear make-up and think I’m Marc Bolan from T.Rex or a WWE wrestler. Then I’ve got a side which can sort of be a little bit reserved. So I just sort of play into these sort of characters that I have of myself to be honest. It’s like, sometimes, you wanna go and f*cking have it and rave. Sometimes you just wanna sit on the Sofa and watch ‘Emmerdale’, it’s just kinda creating whatever you’re sort of feeling at that time. For the last one (‘Coup de Grace), definitely, I was in jumpsuits and just a wrestling vibe with glam-rock, which is very ‘me’. With this one, after doing that for a couple of years, I just wanna get a bit mod-ish again and get the suit on, how I was when I was younger. Y’know, that thing that is always in me is that mod sort of soul, rock’n’roll sort of thing. So, it just kinda felt like ‘that was it’, and I had a vision of how I wanted it to look and stuff. I guess that sort of helped navigate the tunes.
Yeah I suppose you have got quite a few sides to you! Because obviously there was also the Lana Del Rey collab (‘Dealer’) last year. Now, there were rumours going around that this was part of a collaboration album between you, Alex Turner and Lana. Is there any truth to this, or just an internet lie?
No, Al’ wasn’t involved with it. It was just me and her.
Yeah I thought that might have been the case. Are there any more plans to make music with Lana?
I’d love to! But there’s loads of tunes as well that need finishing. So it’s up to her really, I’m game.
‘Dealer’ was absolutely massive on TikTok, I don’t know if you were aware of that or not?
I hadn’t had TikTok! I got TikTok for the release of the album (‘Change the Show’), but yeah, did it go big?
Yeah I think it charted in the singles chart. (it did!)
Oh really? F*cking hell. Jesus!
Obviously, it’s a shame that the tour was postponed from earlier this year. But now I suppose that your fans have had a few months to become familiar with the songs, which is always good with crowd interactions. Are there any songs you’re particularly looking forward to performing?
Yeah. For me, where my head’s at, I just wanna go upbeat. From old tunes to new tunes. So yeah, the new ones on here we’ll be playing ‘Change the Show’, ‘Tell Me What You’re Feeling’, ‘Caroline’, ‘Nothing’s Ever Gonna Be Good Enough’, ‘See When I See Ya’, yeah all those sort of sing-along upbeat ones. It’s what I want, getting all hot and sweaty, I can’t wait man.
So I saw you at Victorious Festival in Portsmouth last Summer, which I thought was fantastic.
Ah yeah, that was a great gig! We had a decent crowd.
Well, I’d like to ask about the crowd actually. As I noticed that it was a very diverse set of people, sort of young and old. A lot of artists that have been around for a few years now sort of struggle to break away from their original audience. What does that mean to you as a performer?
That’s exactly what you want really. Y’know what I mean? It’s kinda like you want the best of both worlds. So those loyal fans have got your back, but there’s new kids or teenagers getting into music and stuff, and getting those on board is great. Or to see new faces for sure, bring it all on. At the gigs there’s like older fellas, women and young 16-year-olds, stuff like that. Y’know, seeing 18-year-olds, they’re all f*cking having it. Well, they were on the last tour! So I don’t know what it’s gonna be like this time, I hope so! I hope it’s still like that. I haven’t gigged in years, so, the last gig I did was at Victorious, so I hope it’s like what we’re saying, mate. So the youth are there as well, both new and old. I hope it’s chaos like that.
Would you say in general that you prefer performing at festivals or your own gigs? As I imagine they’re quite different vibes.
Yeah, I don’t really. To be honest, I’m happy just to play in the pub, I’m not arsed!
Of course, you’ve got a great selection of new bands and artists opening for you on this tour, I particularly like Red Rum Club. I was wondering if there were any new artists you’ve been listening to recently that you think will strike a chord with people as they grow bigger?
Ooh like a new band? Ah, I’ve gone blank! Y’know those ones that are all on the tour are great. Like Brooke [Combe] is mega, Red Rum [Club], all them. In Europe we’ve got this band called Oracle Sisters, who are really sort of cool and European. Erm, so yeah there’s loads. I’m trying to get into more new music, definitely, but all those we mentioned are decent for sure man.
Do you get a chance to go to many live performances as an attendee?
Wow. Do I [go to gigs]? Yeah, like, if there’s someone I want to see, sure. I was going to see Sam Fender play at the weekend, but I couldn’t go in the end. But, yeah man, I love going to gigs.
Sam Fender’s rise in the last couple of years is insane, isn’t it? He’s just come out of nowhere, from BBC Introducing in 2018 to arenas now.
Yeah, I know! Good on him, man.
So I’ve quite enjoyed some of your collabs over the last few years, particularly ‘Picture Frame’ with [UK hip hop trio] Monster Florence. Have you got any others coming up?
No, I don’t think so mate! There’s nothing at the minute. But I’m always open to that. The Monster Florence boys are talented lads. Again, I don’t understand why they’re not really big, y’know what I mean? I think they’ve got a good crossover of hip-hop and rock’n’roll. Almost kind of very en-vogue for today. I don’t understand why they’re not smashing it to be honest!
Yeah, they’ve got a sort of indie-rap crossover that I think the post-punk bands at the moment owe a lot to.
Yeah, exactly! They do it really well. All three of them rappers, them lads, as lyricists, it’s not cheesy. Y’know what I mean? It stands up for sure. It’s a funny old world man, isn’t it?
So a final question I’ve got is about my favourite song on the album, ‘Caroline’. Is it based on a real person at all?
‘Caroline’, yeah it’s a song about wanting to help a friend really. Y’know it’s a bit of a dark one. But at the same time, I only say that because I’ve been in the same place myself. So it can also be about talking to yourself at times. But it’s definitely about reaching out to someone. But yeah, I put the Caroline name in it just because it sort of suited the melody or whatever. But yeah it’s a great tune, some great lyrics in that tune.
Alright, thanks for speaking to me today. Best of luck for the tour!
Miles wishes me the best too, then ends with a fittingly Mersey “ta-ra, ta-ra, ta-ra”.
Change the Show is now available to stream and purchase, and Miles will be heading around the UK on tour this coming May (including a date in Southampton). Tickets can be purchased here.