Miles Kane talks to Ed Power about working on Noel Gallagher’s hush-hush solo album, dating Agyness Deyn and his penchant for sharp dressing
Published 29/04/2011 | 05:00
Miles Kane may be a dapper young rocker with the world at his feet, but occasionally he sounds like a shell-shocked veteran sharing war stories. "Fame is a learning curve," he says in a treacly Liverpool burr. "One minute you're at number one and you're shagging loads of birds. And it's easy. What's hard is when reality strikes and you're back in the basement."
A thin, nervy lad who favours bespoke designer suits and appears to have taken out a long-term lease on Liam Gallagher's bowl-cut, Kane (25) is full of contradictions. He has dated supermodel Agyness Deyn, was in a chart-topping duo with Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and had the other Gallagher, Noel, strum guitar on his forthcoming solo album.
However, he's not quite there as a full blown rock star and, on a sunny afternoon in Dublin's FitzWilliam Hotel, can pass unrecognised among the elderly Americans in blindingly bright sweaters. With a hugely hyped debut on the way, the novelty of the predicament isn't lost on him.
When he talks about being in the basement he's referring to his previous band, The Rascals. Kane had fronted these Britrock also-rans for several years at the time he struck up an acquaintance with Turner. On hiatus from their day jobs, they formed the Last Shadow Puppets, a Scott Walker-esque side project that saw the pair reinvent themselves as turtle-necked, string-soaked 60s crooners.
Conceived of as a lark, the Shadow Puppets became an unexpected success, earning a Mercury nomination, topping the UK album charts and packing venues such as London's Royal Albert Hall. Soon, though, Turner returned to rocking arenas with Arctic Monkeys. Kane, meanwhile, was back on the bottom rung with The Rascals, touring in a beat-up tour van and playing cosy venues such as Whelan's. Crashing to earth was not a pleasant experience.
"After the height of the Shadow Puppets, it was quite a comedown," he says, idly chugging an Americano. "We were doing these little gigs. Nobody was turning up. Also it was getting weird with the label I was on at the time. Then, when we split up, it was even worse. It was depressing, I felt low."
To add to his sense of dislocation, he was exiting a relationship with Agyness Deyn, the Manchester supermodel with the Jedward quiff. Even as The Rascals struggled to draw a crowd, the paparazzi were declaring open season on him because of who he'd been seeing. More than once he popped out for milk to find photographers literally snapping at his heels.
"You start seeing Agyness Deyn for a bit, she's a great girl, you're a lad having a buzz," he says. "Was it weird? Maybe little moments. But I feel different to the person I was then. I've changed a lot."
Having split from Deyn and with Turner otherwise occupied, he sank into a funk. A week on the couch playing Fifa stretched into six months and he started to wonder if he'd ever pick up a guitar again. Then his manager called with a proposal: would he consider writing some songs with Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals?
"I thought, fuck it, I'm going to do it on my own. When I'm not making Shadow Puppets records, it will be just me. Going into the studio with Gruff was fantastic. When I was 14, 15, the Super Furry Animals were one of my favourite bands. They were the first group I went to see. I came home wearing a T-shirt about four sizes too big for me. My mum says I was never the same afterwards. What I learned off that guy... I can't speak highly enough of him."
It was at that point that Noel Gallagher entered the story, though Kane is distinctly cagey about the subject. As is his record label, a representative of which politely requests we not go overboard on the Noel questions, no matter that his guitar solo on My Fantasy is a highlight of Kane's LP. Chatting to Miles before Christmas, the singer was happy to discuss their collaboration.
Today, in contrast, he is crestfallen when Noel's name is mentioned. It's as if you've asked what colour Y-fronts he's wearing.
Why so circumspect? It appears Kane created a bit of cyberspace kerfuffle after he let slip he had guested on Noel's hush-hush solo album, the existence of which remains a subject of wild conjecture. Confirming Noel was working on a record was apparently tantamount to tweeting the third secret of Fatima, and Kane has had to do some backpedalling.
"No offence to you, but the media blow these things out of the water," he says. "All it is is that one song. He came down when we were mixing. We had a coffee and a KitKat. That was it. It's been built out of all proportion. I don't really know him that well. I've only met him a couple of times. But that was a great afternoon, one that I'll cherish."
If anything he's friendlier with Liam, who hand-picked Kane to support his new band, Beady Eye, on their inaugural jaunt around the UK. In what seems to be a recurring theme in Kane's life and career, their first meeting was a bit haphazard.
"I'd only met him once, falling around the bar. We had a chat and got on. He'd heard a few songs and asked me to do the tour. It was a great honour. He'd come and watch me every night from the side. I'm chuffed. Not to compare myself to Oasis, but they've been a big part of my life. You grew your hair to look like them. I think they can appreciate that you are following in their footsteps."
Growing up on the outskirts of Merseyside, he received an early introduction to the music business when two of his cousins formed scally rockers The Coral. Seeing family members in the rock press and on television convinced him a career in the industry was within his reach.
"It was amazing. You'd go watch them in a little bar in Liverpool and they would be wild. Those were the early days, before their first album. They were rocking out, it blew my mind. Obviously they've calmed down now and they don't get into it as much, though a part of you wishes they did."
Sitting twitchily on the couch, Kane presents a more stylish figure than your average rumpled Britrocker. In a figure-hugging suit jacket and pants, brogues gleaming beneath the table, he could saunter straight into a GQ photoshoot. Actually, he has appeared in the UK edition of that very magazine, discussing his favourite clothing labels. Aren't musicians supposed to find the callow world of fashion beneath them?
"I've always loved clothes. It started with Oasis when I was in school. Then, you got into The Strokes -- you grew your hair and had a leather jacket. It was even more important on this record. I wanted to have this cool, suave image to go with it. I love Serge Gainsbourg, his whole look. It comes down to be being like the Gallaghers or Paul Weller -- looking sharp and playing great music. "
The album Colour of the Trap is released next Friday
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