After exploding onto the British music scene only two years previously, Oasis played the biggest free-standing gigs the UK had ever seen over two nights at Knebworth Park in the summer of 1996. Playing to a combined crowd of 250,000 people on what would become the defining weekend of the Britpop era, Oasis made good on their many claims that they were destined to be the biggest band on the planet. What happened next is a rollercoaster ride through the wildest excesses of rock ‘n’ roll; from the highs of mega-stardom, mass adoration and tabloid ubiquity, to the lows of drug psychosis, mindless mayhem and a media backlash. WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG? charts Oasis’s journey from the mid-90s euphoria of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? to the turn-of-the-century comedown of Standing on the Shoulder of Giants; from the all-conquering Knebworth shows through the cocaine blizzard of Be Here Now, the madness and chaos of their 1997 world tour and out the other side.
You should really know who Miles Kane is by now. Even if you missed his turn as the precocious 18-year-old guitarist in short-lived Merseybeat combo The Little Flames or his first front man gig as singer with The Rascals, you will surely have noticed him as one half of the Last Shadow Puppets alongside a certain Mr. Alex Turner. Failing that, his breath-taking work rate during his solo breakthrough year in 2011 should surely have seen the 26-year-old Wirral troubadour pop up somewhere on your radar. After releasing his début album The Colour of the Trap in late 2010, young Miles spent most of the following year on tour. Even if you didn’t catch his own shows, there’s a good chance that you may have seen him supporting the likes of Beady Eye, Kasabian and the Arctic Monkeys.
Despite a musical CV which now spans eight years in the business, and the imminent release of his second solo album, Don’t Forget Who You Are, Miles Kane somehow still finds himself saddled with the ‘next big thing’ tag. For a tender-aged stalwart of the scene, with a long list of fans and collaborators which reads like a Who’s Who of modern rock royalty, surely it must be frustrating for recognition to only now start being bestowed on his narrow shoulders.
“For me, the last five years have been all about working in bands and learning my craft so I haven’t really been that interested in whether people have been taking any notice of me during that time,” Kane says, his chirpy Scouse accent adding authenticity to this assertion. “I was too busy being on the journey, dealing with the highs and lows and taking the learning curves at speed. I’ve started from the bottom a few times and have served more than one apprenticeship. Everything that’s gone before has been driving me to this point so if people are now taking notice, I’m more than happy with that and ready for that because I’m really happy with where I am now and the sound I’ve developed.”
That sound has come on leaps and bounds since the early days as a teenager playing in and around Liverpool’s club scene, sweating through the circuit playing jangly pop alongside contemporaries like The Coral and The Zutons. Don’t Forget Who You Are takes the 60’s rock’n’roll vibe developed for The Colour of the Trap and puts it on rigourous gym regime. It’s another urgent record, full of choppy guitars and brimming with cocksure attitude, but it’s a much more muscular effort than before. The orchestration is more lush and the choruses, as you would expect, border on the anthemic, which suggests a growing confidence. But with lead single ‘Give Up’ screaming along to a heavy, crashing beat and almost metal guitars, it appears the Wirral Riddler is in no rush to lay aside the high octane rockers in favour of the cinematic, John Barry-esque theatricals of the Last Shadow Puppets which so distinguished his work with Alex Turner from anything he’d done before.
“I’d describe myself as a rock’n’roller even though there are some cinematic, grand tracks on the album,” he says. “It was great doing the big wide-screen tunes with strings with the Puppets but my heart’s in the rock’n’roll. I like to dabble with songs which people might be surprised with though, like covering Lee Hazlewood and Jacques Dutronc, and that’s one of the great things about being a solo artist that I don’t have to run that by anyone. I’m just obsessed with music and doing tunes like that lets people know that, it shows what mood I’m in.”
It seems that being a solo artist suits the perfectionist side of Kane’s character, the trait that refuses to allow him to leave the house without being immaculately suited and booted, usually in something from his favourite designer Adrien Sauvage, even to go to the shops. The dapper Miles certainly doesn’t regret his decision to leave The Rascals in 2009, even if it meant having to build a new identity from scratch.
“It felt right to go solo after two years of considering it,” he says. “I asked Alex one day whether I should quit and he said I should do it. To be fair, I’d already decided so it wasn’t a case of Alex Turner splitting up the Rascals. I could have gone on and formed another band after the Shadow Puppets but something beautiful happened with the songs I was working on to convince me to front it myself. It’s been a beautiful time for me. I’m a completely different lad. It’s a total buzz.”
Being a rock’n’roller from Merseyside, the obvious weighty legacy of a certain band hangs over Miles as it does all bands and artists from in and around the port city of Liverpool. There’s no escaping the influence of the Beatles; it’s there in every street, in every bar, in every heart. For some, fighting against the omnipotence of Liverpool’s favourite sons could be a way of asserting their individuality. For Miles Kane, however, it’s been the opposite to a certain extent.
“I’ve never felt any pressure from Liverpool’s legacy, in fact I’ve always embraced that and have never hidden that,” he says proudly. “There have been so many great bands from Liverpool and the influence is clear but you have to tread your own path. I’ve always been inspired by the great Liverpool bands and my ambition is to try and be bigger and better than any of them. Considering the Beatles are in there, that may sound a tall order but you’ve got to be in it to win it. If you don’t want to be bigger than the Beatles, what’s the point?”
With Don’t Forget Who You Are soon to be on general release, could this be the moment that Miles Kane finally goes from being the The Next Big Thing to an accepted national hero? Whatever happens, one gets the impression that it won’t matter to him as much as the quality of the music itself. People can view him how they like. How Miles Kane defines himself is through his art and that is something which won’t stop evolving, regardless of the titles awarded him by the public.
“I just don’t really want to stop working,” he says. “I put everything I have into every record and if it’s a hit or a flop, I know there’s nothing more I could have done. I just want to make every record better than the last; I want to improve my singing, my playing, my writing. I’ve always got to be at it. That’s just how I am. It’s like the music – that’s just me. No bullshit. I approach it all the same way. Full on.”
HOP FARM FESTIVAL, PADDOCK WOOD, KENT, UK.
After conducting a survey of festival goers, the Hop Farm organizers found that many fans felt jaded with modern events and so decided to go back to the good old days when only the connection between music and audience mattered. Hop Farm attempts to return to the roots of the experience by avoiding all branding and sponsorship and promises to give everyone with a ticket the same experience. Getting down with Joe Public will be an eclectic line-up of old warhorses like Paul Weller and Echo & The Bunnymen plus festival feel-good favourites such as Ash and the Fratellis. Try not to sleep in and miss noisy upstarts Johnny Foreigner either – not that you’ll have much choice in the matter. If the music’s not enough there will be a full fun fair on site and the celebrity Soccer Six footie tournament to boot.
SONISPHERE, KNEBWORTH PARK, HERTFORDSHIRE, UK
If moshing to within an inch of your life under a hail of flying missiles is your idea of fun then Sonisphere could be the festival for you. Brand new for 2009, Sonisphere comes to Knebworth, a legendary venue steeped in musical history – from the 70’s pomp and pomposity of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, to the moment Oasis were crowned as kings of Britpop. Sonisphere is gearing up to be Valhalla for hard rock fans with a line-up bordering on the relentless: Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Linkin Park and Anthrax among them. One of the other highlights will be the first reunion show for seminal US metallers Fear Factory. Once you’ve had enough of bleeding eardrums, you can recover in the peace and quiet of nearby Knebworth House and its grounds which reopen once Sonisphere is over. For those still pining for monsters of rock, the concrete dinosaurs in the surrounding gardens will have to suffice.
BESTIVAL, ROBIN HILL COUNTRY PARK, ISLE OF WIGHT, UK
Fans familiar with this edgy little festival’s penchant for theatre will know that one of the things that sets Bestival apart is its love of fancy dress. Those attending this year’s Space Oddity bash will be required to get glammed up in futuristic fashion. Get your look just right and you could even win a prize from Lily Allen and her team of judges. Failing that, you’ll just have to stand around looking like C3PO listening to the likes of Elbow, MGMT, Fleet Foxes and Friendly Fires. Smart people will add a few extra inches to their Chewbacca costumes to get the best view of rising electropop starlet Little Boots. If all the space weirdness gets a bit much, you have the choice of slipping into something more comfortable and heading across to the Big Wheels of Motown festival at the Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park where a host of tribute acts will be getting soulful from Sept. 11- 15.
MELT, FERROPOLIS, GRÄFENHAINICHEN, GERMANY
Situated in an open air museum surrounded by huge, looming machinery, Melt is like watching your favourite bands in the gasoline compound from Mad Max or in a forgotten corner of Blade Runner’s futuristic nightmare. Ferropolis, the City of Steel, makes for a dramatic setting and one which gives the festival an End-Times atmosphere while creating a tribe-like community within the crowd. Providing the headlining vibes in this post-apocalyptic scrap yard will be heavyweights such as Oasis, Kasabian, Klaxons and Bloc Party. Don’t miss acts like jungle legend Goldie on the Red Bull Academy Floor and keep your eyes peeled for excellently titled local electrofreaks Mediengruppe Telekommander. For more German hipness, Berlin with its extensive social agenda is only a short train journey away.
FREQUENCY, GREEN PARK, ST. PÖLTEN, AUSTRIA
Frequency moves from Salzburg to St. Pölen for 2009 with the organizers saying that the new site offers better environmental opportunities, larger arena sites and lower costs. As well as moving, the festival is essentially splitting into two; the Daypark, which is where all the main events and headliners like Radiohead – playing their first show in Austria, The Prodigy, Grace Jones and MIA will be performing, and the Nightpark, where those who never sleep can party on at the dance and DJ stages. There are plenty of new bands on the menu too but make sure you take the time to hunt down Sweden’s International Noise Conspiracy if you’re suffering from Green Day or Foo Fighters deficiency. If you fancy a slower pace of festival during or after Frequency, Vienna’s Summerstage event runs from May to September and takes in everything from food and drink to sport and music, all by the banks of the Danube.
EXIT, NOVI SAD, SERBIA
Started as a form of protest against Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, EXIT has gone from strength to strength while somehow remaining one of Europe’s best kept secrets. Symbolically situated in the18th century Petrovaradin fortress on the banks of the Danube in Novi Sad, the festival has remained true to its initial mission of providing entertainment to Serbian youth while keeping political and social issues on its agenda. It doesn’t do too badly in attracting big names either. This year Manic Street Preachers, punk godmother Patti Smith, Arctic Monkeys and Moby are all making main stage appearances while a bulging list of international DJs such as Carl Cox and Laurent Garnier will spin and mix on the dance stage. The ancient, accommodating and lively city beyond the fortress walls provides a good reason to extend your stay once EXIT is over.
SUMMERSONIC, TOKYO/OSAKA, JAPAN
For those who want to go that extra (thousand) mile, Summersonic is definitely worth the trip. Just like Reading and Leeds in the UK, this Japanese festival rotates its acts through two cities: the unsleeping, surreal capital Tokyo and Osaka, Japan’s commercial heartbeat and the nation’s kitchen. Both play host to an eclectic line-up with something for everyone; Beyonce, My Chemical Romance, Elvis Costello and Keane are set to dominate the main stages. For something new, try and catch precocious teenage singer-songwriter Never Shout Never at some point and be sickened by his undoubted talent. You have two chances so there’s no excuse. If it all gets too much you can eat your way around Osaka or shop ‘til you drop in Tokyo – neither of which will give you must respite from the frantically exciting pace of Japanese life.
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS, ZILKER PARK, AUSTIN, TEXAS, USA
For those who never want summer to end, thank the oppressive Texas sun for Austin City Limits. Avoiding the deadly heat of the high season, this festival brings things to a close in early Autumn. It should be well worth the wait. As well as featuring headliners such as Pearl Jam, Beastie Boys and Kings of Leon, Zilker Park will also play host to current buzz band The Airborne Toxic Event and The Dead Weather, Jack White’s new supergroup featuring The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and various Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age. Set in rolling greenery on the banks of the Colorado River, the festival also hosts a food fair, an art market and a children’s festival running alongside the main event. For those wanting more than the festival can offer, head to Austin’s famous Sixth Street, the reason why the city is known as the live music capital of the world. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, you must be dead.