Miles Kane Unwraps the Sonics and Stories of ‘Coup de Grace’
Prolific UK rocker Miles Kane (formerly of The Rascals) co-fronts The Last Shadow Puppets with Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner. It’s been five years since Kane has released a solo record, and his new release, “Coup de Grace” proves well worth the wait. It’s an album of bangers, retaining the mod-inspired style we’ve come to expect from Kane, but infusing the sound with an unanticipated, sprightly punk element. It’s rich with rock ‘n’ roll signifiers from various styles, and nods to different eras.
The aptly titled album is a deeply personal record, drawing lyrical inspiration from the experience of a break up, but channeling the energy into largely upbeat songs. Kane recorded numerous songs with Lana Del Rey, although only one, “Loaded,” made the final cut, as it fit the general sonic mood and spirit of the album. Kane has fascinating stories about the way this, and other, songs came together. In an interview with Entertainment Voice, he delved into his specific, new musical sounds and influences, lyrical underpinnings, and plenty more.
You’ve stated that you’re a wrestling fan, and that the album and song title “Coup de Grace” refers to WWE star Finn Balor’s signature finishing move. What is it particularly that appeals to you about wrestling?
As a kid, I always loved the entrances of the wrestlers, and the drama of it all, and it’s something I never grew out of, to be honest. I’m 32 now, and it’s just something that I’ve always followed. I just enjoy watching it. And the song “Coup de Grace,” it came about that we were writing this tune, and I wanted a song like when The Clash do that disco-y sort of thing. They’ve got that “Magnificent Seven” song or “Train In Vain,” Clash tunes that we were listening to quite a lot at the time. And then, over the past few years, I’ve become friends with Finn Balor because he’s into his music, and he’s into mine, and we’re mutual fans. I was writing this song, and I didn’t have a chorus for it, and we were just jamming, and for some reason, I just started freestyling “Coup de Grace,” because it sounds cool. It was one of them, it just sort of stuck on the tune. And when I looked it up, it means like, “the final blow,” and “the end,” and some of these songs are quite emotional, and I felt like maybe it just puts this all to bed, for a moment, as well.
What exactly was Lana del Rey’s contribution to “Loaded?”
Me and my friend Jamie T wrote a lot of this album together, and we met Lana at Jamie’s gig here in Los Angeles, weirdly, and I bumped into her. I was going through a bit of a weird time, and I had just broken up out of a relationship, and she said, “You look really down. What is it, girl trouble?” and then we had a little chat about that. And then she said, “What are you doing this week?” and I said, “Me and Jamie are going to start writing for my new record. We’re going to try to write some new songs,” and she said, “I’d love to hear that.” The next day, she actually FaceTimed us, and I was like, “We’re not really in the studio, we’re just in my little apartment, on the couch, with the acoustics,” but she came around, and we started writing “Loaded” that morning. Our chorus was more like the thing at the end, where it goes, “I’m too tired to try to let it go,” and then she started, sort of, freestyling the chorus that’s on there now, and me and Jamie looked at each other and were like, “Woah!” And it really happened so fast. Within an hour or two, we finished the tune. She’s the real deal, man.
We wrote a lot of tunes together that are on the shelf, and hopefully one day they will see the light of day. She is really fast and quick at coming up with things. It was interesting thing to see. She is an actual, and it’s very distinctive.
The new album is largely about a breakup, but you’ve also said that you described it as “more upbeat,” and mentioned that you ditched the other Lana del Rey songs because they weren’t “lively” enough. Why exactly did you want to match dark subject matter with upbeat sounds?
Because to me, that’s my favorite kind of music, and for where I’m at, it’s the record I wanted to make. “Loaded” worked because it’s probably one of the strongest songs, and even though it’s not fast like punk, it’s still got a swagger to it. Setting out on this album, I definitely wanted a lot of fast songs there because I like upbeat music — and I like upbeat music with, sort of, solemn lyrics, if that makes sense. It’s like trying to make music like The Ramones, but with Roy Orbison-style, crying lyrics. And that was always the case. I had a lot of fast songs, and a lot of them became medium/slow, and at that point, I just wanted to continue with the original idea of this upbeat, quite solid, forceful album. When I could go out on the road, I knew it would be like a party, like rock ‘n’ roll-y, punky, disco-y. And we have slower moments just to bring it down, but at the end of the day, it’s like, “Come on now, I’m going to show you how it’s done.” Confidence is what I wanted.
Being a breakup album, the record is, of course, very emotional. Which song strikes you as the most deeply personal, and why?
There’s a song called, “The Wrong Side of Life,” that’s sort of like making an apology, and being like, “I’ll do anything for you, baby.” It’s sort of an unusual song, but I think that vocal is the best vocal I’ve ever done. It’s sort of in the range that’s almost too high for my voice. To sing it, you’ve got to rip your voice a bit, and you can’t hide behind it, and with those kind of lyrics, and delivering a song like that, it doesn’t get much more real than that, for me. Actually, the demo is what made the album because I couldn’t recreate the emotion. And anyone I played that demo for was like, “God, this vocal is insane,” and I was like, “Yeah, it kind of is, isn’t it?” That was my first take, and it’s only the demo that we did in my mate’s bedroom, but I couldn’t recreate it, so that’s got a special place in my heart.
The other song, on the other side of the record, is a little, sweet song, and I think it probably needs an explanation, and it’s called “Shavambacu.”
Yes, what on earth does “Shavambacu” mean?
It’s a made-up word that needs explaining, but it’s a cute story, I guess. My grandmother used to call my mom and her sisters, “You’re a little Shavambacu, darling, Shavambacu” Then, my mom would call me, and my ex picked, like, “What is that word?” and I’m like, “I don’t know,” but then we started using it, like a nickname. Then, when I was writing this album, I asked my mom, and she said, “Oh, I think it was your nan, your grandmother.” She got it from this old Dean Martin song, and it’s called, “Je Vous Aime Beaucoup,” but my grandmother, because she couldn’t hear very well, thought it said, “Shavambacu” for years and years, and it got passed down. So I wrote this song, and I was like (singing,) “I made it up in a dream I had, my friend, she’s bad… I say, ‘my darling, Shavambacu,’” like a little chorus. That’s a little love song. I guess it’s something pretty personal.
Your single “Loaded” features a cryptic line, “Now that there’s nothing to fear / You can just leave.” What were you were going for there?
I think maybe you read it as you read it. Sometimes you can be in something that can make you, sort of, uneasy, it could give you fear or eggshells, and you could get used to those feelings, and think that they’re normal when they’re not.
What are some musical influences that made their way into this album more than into your previous work?
There’re different periods, I guess. I really got into The Damned and The Cramps at one stage, and also The Misfits. There’s quite an angry song that represents a bit of that whole Hollywood thing, called “Silverscreen,” and that’s got a real post-punky feel to it. I guess the song “Too Little Too Late,” as well, is in that world. That was inspired by The Misfits’ song “Last Caress.” These punk songs that you croon in, over the top, maybe you could see a slight comparison.
There’s a prominent, extremely ‘80s guitar sound on the title track, “Coup de Grace.” Any particular inspiration for that?
No, it was just in the studio, just me and Tyler, and our mate Mikey came down, and we were just jamming it. I think we wanted it to be a bit of that Clashy disco thing, and I think that’s like the tone that they had, like ‘70s/’80s, that punk-disco transition. I think the production on that track, in particular, is really strong. I think John Congleton did a great job on that.
There’s a bit of the melody in “Cry On My Guitar,” that sounds like Blur’s “Charmless Man.” Do you agree? And how do you suppose this bit made its way in there?
Oh wow, I haven’t thought of that! That song, I think of a couple things, and I think of T-Rex. So on the bit when I sing (singing,) “And when you push me and you push me and you push me too far… La la la la la?” Now that you said that, I’m going to listen to “Charmless Man.”
What do you think of your The Last Shadow Puppets bandmate Alex Turner’s radical reinvention on Arctic Monkeys’ “Tranquility Base Hotel?”
I think it’s such a brave move. I think it’s an incredible record, and hats off to him. They just thing at London, called “Live at Maida Vale,” a live set of the new songs, and it’s really cool.
You started playing solo gigs again last month after a pause for five years. Has your live show evolved? What can fans expect?
I know, gosh. I was sort of nervous. I didn’t know what to expect before. It’s been a while. The first run of shows, we’ve done sweaty, small, dirty, punky venues, and it was insane, to be honest, man. I didn’t expect any of it, but it was what I hoped for. The crowds and the fans are just the best. I couldn’t ask for any more. There’s a lot of love there. It’s just exciting, and that gets me excited, and I love it when everyone loses their shit, and we’re all singing together. It’s a great outlet. It’s, sort of, the best feeling in the world. I need to get to the US. There’s talks about it because I’ve never done a solo gig over here. And people stop you and ask you. There seems to be a call for it, so we’re looking into it. I’m living in LA currently, so I’m desperate to play over here.
“Coup de Grace” is available Aug. 10 on Apple Music.