The Liverpool Rascal may be tired, but he wouldn’t want it any other way, Vicky Anderson reports.
Miles Kane is tired.
He’s yawning so much it seems cruel to keep him on the phone.
But he can be forgiven. As the frontman of Wirral band The Rascals and, alongside Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner, one half of The Last Shadow Puppets, he’s had a lot on his plate in the last few months.
“I’m starting to look like Ronnie Wood,” he laughs. “With having two things to do I haven’t really had any time off.
“My body’s been about to cave in a couple of times. It’s been amazing though, I can’t complain, but I don’t think I’ll ever do and promote two records in one year again. It’s kind of exhausting.”
Although he’s on the phone to talk about the Rascals and their two Liverpool shows next week, it’s impossible for him not to talk about the side project that, for the moment at least, has overshadowed (no pun intended) the day job.
Anyway, for our purposes it’s killing two birds with one stone, as The Last Shadow Puppets are also performing in the city in October as part of the BBC Electric Proms. More later.
The Rascals emerged out of the demise of city band The Little Flames in 2007. The Wirral-based trio of frontman Miles, bassist Joe Edwards and drummer Greg Mighall gelled better together than they did in the bigger band and forged their own path.
It would have happened sooner, says Miles, but “but I couldn’t sing then and didn’t have the confidence.”
A standard fixture on the Liverpool music scene, their debut album Rascalize was released in June, just two months after the Last Shadow Puppets‘ The Age of the Understatement, which went to number one and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize (just won by Elbow).
It’s been non-stop for the singer ever since, with a massive tour schedule that has taken him all over the world and stops back home for two shows with The Rascals at the Picket next Wednesday and Thursday.
“I’m well up for it! I haven’t been out in Liverpool for ages. Last time I was around town with my mates it was quite strange, because a lot of people recognise me now. But I’m really up for these two gigs,” he says.
“I’ve never even been in the Picket but we just wanted to do something different. We’ve played the Academy millions of times.”
They are keen to get writing their second album before the end of the year in the midst of some rare time off. The feeling is, Miles says, that they “really want to make something amazing“.
One more single from Rascalize, I’ll Give You Sympathy, follows on September 29.
About the song, he explains: “I’m really inspired by John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth, the documentary about the making of Imagine. Lennon’s my hero.
“He does these really venomous, really spat out lyrics and it’s inspired me to sing like that.”
Once he gets started talking about music, he stops yawning and really perks up.
“I love Oasis, I love all that, don’t get me wrong. I just got into Billy Fury and Link Wray and 1950s stuff. I love that reverb on the vocal, I always have, it’s great.
“My cousin is James Skelly, the singer in The Coral, and he’d always say “get into this record”, so I’d learn stuff off him. I love going in Probe and getting new strange stuff.
“I got some Italian soundtrack there from ’70s cop shows. It’s amazing, full of great ideas. I’m always looking for something different.”
Miles and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner have been close friends since The Little Flames supported the Sheffield band when both were starting out. He even played on their album Favourite Worst Nightmare.
Together, the pair of scrawny, saucer-eyed 22-year-old Northerners with a penchant for the lavish sound of days gone by unexpectedly created a musical storm.
“The Rascals are like little and dirty, and that’s big and posh,” he laughs. “Puppets is easy on the ear, most people probably get it. Some people maybe find the Rascals a bit weird.”
It’s obviously something truly close to Miles’ heart, as he repeatedly refers how he sometimes feels forced to capitalise on its success and perhaps wishes it was not so hyped. “I never really wanted to do a lot of press with Puppets,” he says. “Don’t get me wrong, I love what we’ve done.
“The record company just wanted us to do more and more press and I felt like I didn’t want to milk it. Its success was a really big surprise for me and Al.
“Both our bands are happy with us doing it and they love it. But you’ve got to keep a happy medium, we dont want to piss our bands off.”
Even though the Last Shadow Puppets have inadvertently (and seemingly unintentionally) become the darlings of the pop world, Miles is living proof that you can take the boy away from the Mersey, but you can’t take the Mersey away from the boy.
He’s ecstatic at the thought of playing at the Philharmonic Hall when the duo, plus their 16 piece orchestra, appear on October 24.
“That’s going to be great, innit?” he grins. “I can’t believe that, it’s absolutely great. I’ve got my mother two boxes for that, she’ll love it. I’m well up for it.
“Normally a band doesn’t have strings I suppose, and we already have them. It’s going to be boss, I can’t wait.
“A gig in the Phil will be a dream night. I want the aftershow at the Beatles hotel and to stay in the John Lennon suite and that would be the best thing ever.”