The fact that it has been five years since Miles Kane released his last solo album is something that caught the acclaimed indie-rock singer-songwriter by surprise.
His second album, Don’t Forget Who You Are, went into the top 10 on its release in June 2013.
However there was also the small matter of Everything You’ve Come To Expect, a second album for The Last Shadow Puppets, which was released in 2016. The Puppets are the band he formed back in 2007 with longstanding friend Alex Turner, who also just happens to be the frontman of the stadium-filling Arctic Monkeys.
‘I hadn’t realised it was so long either until I started working on it,’ he tells The Guide when asked about the gap. ‘It’s crazy. I started writing this album five years ago, it’s been a long one, but then we started doing that second Puppets album and that took over, so this got put on the back-burner.’
Miles moved to Los Angeles to work on the Puppets albums with Turner and ended up staying.
‘Then when that was finished I came back to writing again, but a bit of time had passed, so then all of those songs that had been written previously, they all got scrapped. There’s been a lot of songs written to get to where we are now.
‘Even after the Puppets, there were a lot of songs that got written that haven’t seen the light of day, but looking back now, and with the album we’ve got out of it… At the time it drove me crazy and I felt like I couldn’t write and it was all terrible, but I love where we’re at now, I love the songs we’ve got.’
The resulting new album is Coup De Grace, and is due for release on August 10.
‘We made the record ourselves, we had no pressure, we didn’t tell anyone we were making it at the time.’
And it was hooking up with another old mate that helped Miles finally find his focus, he started writing with indie troubadour, Jamie T.
‘It all came together last year when me and Jamie T started working together and homing in, on taking what was good of all of the old stuff, it all sort of got together then. We really got into a groove, and when we got into that groove we couldn’t stop writing.
‘Me and him wrote about 25 tunes. The whole record is basically me and him, bar two, it’s a lot of great tunes. He’s a good mate, and he’s a great writer. We’d known each other for about 10 years and always said we should work together, but it all fell into place last year. In January he was over in LA and he extended his trip so me and him could try writing, and once we started we were loving it and continued writing throughout the year.’
The album was recorded in quick bursts with super-producer John Congleton, whose resumé reads like a who’s who of modern rock,
‘In general, you’d get in early, and do an eight-10 hour day, no more, so you could be fresh the next day, and he liked working like that.
‘It’s amazing if you hit your groove, how much you can get done, I was super-focused and everything clicked straight away, we were doing like two songs a day, and I put my trust in him with vocal takes.
‘It felt really relaxing. The studios we were in, it was almost like in the ground floor of his flat, so it felt like a home studio, but it had all of this amazing old analogue gear. I liked that more than working in some new, sterile studio. There’s something about that that makes things weirdly quicker too, it just sounds better – and that had a big part to play in it.’
The Birkenhall-native has recently returned to the UK from LA.
‘I’ve been living there for three years. But now I’m back here for the moment - back to work!’
Did he ever feel himself getting sucked into the whole Lala-land celebrity lifestyle while he was out there?
‘I wouldn’t say celeb-lifestyle, but there’s a lot of Lala-lands in this world – it’s definitely the biggest one for sure, though.
‘Some of the stuff you experience - there are moments, when you see a lot of people chasing their tail, and it’s a bit like Jesus! Like me mother says,”God if they did an afternoon’s work in the market, that would bring them back down to earth”. There’s definitely some of that and you can get caught up in that gossipy stuff and people chatting nonsense, and if you’re not hot people don’t give a toss. I definitely learned that. When you’re riding high, they’re all calling you, but when that stops, that’s it: “ Who are you?”
But now he’s about to reframe himself as a solo artist, nerves are the last thing you might expect from this outwardly confident, sharp-dressed Scouser.
‘I do get a bit anxious and a bit nervous, I do, because I’m really proud of the new album and I want people to feel that too. But we’re just starting this now and I’m really enjoying it at the moment, and touch wood, it feels really good, there’s lots more to come.’
We spoke back in May, before Miles had returned to live duties.
‘It’s been a long time since I last played live on my own, it was way before the Puppets. We start rehearsals next week, I think once we start that, I’ll feel… better.
‘I’m nervous to get on stage again, but I know once I’m up there, I’ll love it.’
And as the pictures and reviews from those initial shows, he’s definitely loving it.
While Miles is starting to ramp up this new album campaign, and Arctic Monkeys have recently released the stylistic shift of Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino , which still nonetheless topped the album charts, he never says never to another Puppets album.
‘The nice thing about that, the door’s always open to it. When the time’s right, or we feel like we want to, or we start writing tunes, or whatever it may be, we’ll do it again, but at the moment we’re both starting to do our own albums and we’re both excited about that.’
Still if it all falls apart, he’s always got the LA-based Dr Pepper’s Jaded Hearts Club Band, the super-group Beatles cover-band to fall back on. Led by Muse frontman Matt Bellamy, it has also featured members of Nine Inch Nails, Blur, The Zutons and Jet. They initially got together for the 40th birthday of their guitarist friend Jamie Davis.
‘Jamie called me and said: “Would you be up for coming and singing a couple of Beatles tunes?” And it was like, “Why not?” I thought nothing of it, and then it turned into this little super-group thing, and we did a couple of other little things,’ they’ve played a couple of fashion shows and parties, ‘but it was just a bit of a buzz.
‘Everyone just loves singing and playing those tunes – I don’t know where it’ll go or what will happen, but it’s been fun up to this point. It’s been cracking.’
And he laughs: ‘That’s a lala thing, very lala!’
Miles Kane plays the Pyramids Centre, Southsea, on Thursday, June 28, doors 7.30pm. Tickets £22. Go to pyramids-live.co.uk