Miles & The Chain Gang [Musician Interview]

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Who inspired you to make music? 

I’m Miles, I grew up in the 80s so a lot of those acts really impacted  on me. Strong hooks, short, punchy songs. All those early 80s pop bands. Later on I listened to U2, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Thin Lizzy. For the other guys in the band, it was a mix of things – Tim really liked Lindisfarne, Billy liked the Stone Roses,  Alan likes jazzy stuff, Stevie Wonder. There are different influences with the band, it’s good to have a mix of things going on. Generally, we take our cues from classic bands like Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd, Blondie, The Pretenders etc.

What is your creative process like? Do you start with lyrics?  Instruments? Concept?

I was thinking about this the other day. For me, I tend to get these little flashes, ideas that come to me. It might just be a glimpse of something – an idea, a phrase. It’s  often a phrase or some words with me. I wrote a song the other day and it really just started with a word. Sometimes the music comes first, usually some chords, and then I’ll match the words. It’s a hard thing to explain. The words and music are very closely  linked, it’s hard to know what comes first sometimes. The bit where it is hard is taking that little inkling and working it into something that really works properly. Editing it, polishing it. That’s the hard part.

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What do you feel is the best song you have written and why?

I wrote a song years ago called ‘Mystery  Girl’. It’s a very simple song, I think it has four chords in it. But simple is effective in pop music. It works. Sometimes it’s important not to be too complicated. It’s a hard thing to balance. Anyway, it’s a punchy little song, it’s got energy, it’s emotive.  Generally, I write emotional things. Music is very cathartic, you can get stuff out of your system. I’ve just written a new song which might be the best thing I’ve ever written. We’ll see.

What is the best advice you’ve been given? 

‘The encounter matters.’ (In other words,  be nice.)

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business? 

It has allowed lots of people to put their  music out, which, overall is a good thing. But it has also decreased the value of music, people think they can just help themselves to what you’ve spent ages creating. So it’s got its good sides and bad sides. What nobody disputes is that it has left its mark!

If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?

I’d like a time machine that takes me back to 1984. Can that be arranged?

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What is the most useless talent you have? 

Berating myself when I make mistakes. That’s what you call a useless talent. 

When you’re done with music, what do you want people to think when they talk about you and your work? 

I hope people will say ‘he was a nice  guy who made some terrific art’, but chances are they will have other things on their minds. Oblivion is tough. Be here now. It’s all we have.

What is your most recent project/upcoming project?

It was written in the spring of 2020 in the UK when lockdown one was happening. I sat down and wrote it one day. It was an attempt to capture what the emotional vibe was, that wanting to connect. It was such a strange time. It wasn’t all bad. I think it woke people up, in a way, made us think about things in a different way. But that hunger for connection, that was hard. That was what I tried to capture. The song was recorded at Young Thugs in York in the summer of 2020, and filmed in September 2020 there as well. We’re working on an album but it’s going to be a while before it’s ready.

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