How would you describe Miles and The Chain Gang’s music?
Basically we’re a rock band with influences including new wave, soul and singer-songwriter. I’m tempted to say we sound like The Police jamming with Van Morrison. It’s not quite accurate, but it’s close. We’re energetic, we like good songs, and we’re not too cool for school.
Tell us the history of Miles and The Chain Gang?
We got together in late 2018 after a series of strange co-incidences in the summer and September of that year. We’ve been out and about playing this year, and have recorded a track. We’re good. I think we have a lot of potential. It’s early days at the moment.
What are each members influences/ musical heroes?
There’s loads of influences. I love tons of stuff, but I’m really into Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, REM. Tim (bass) likes The Jam, Pink Floyd, a bit of funk and disco. Billy (drummer) likes The Police and The Pretenders – I like them too. Billy also likes The Stone Roses. Alan (lead guitar player) loves Stevie Wonder – as does Tim. There’s a lot of overlapping influences, which is great. Mainly I’d say songwriters, classic soul and new wave are the main influences.
What inspires you personally?
Lots of things. Sunsets. Good poetry. Bruce Springsteen’s live recordings from the ’70s. A good film. Talking to friends. A bit of The Who. A bit of Joan Jett. A bit of Dylan. Life can be hum drum but it’s great when you feel alive and awake, like anything is possible. There’s a great Van Morrison line, he talks about feeling ‘wondrous and lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life’. I love that.
Do you write whilst gigging? Or do you prefer to take time off and write in the studio?
It all blends into one for me. I tend to write when I’m feeling energised or inspired – that could happen any time. I’m very slow though. I’ve written a few things over the years but generally I’m like a tortoise. I think I’ve come up with a couple of new songs this year that will work. I was a lot faster in my 20s. As you get older everything slows down. You get a lot more self-critical.
What is your favourite Miles and The Chain Gang song to perform live?
I like Mystery Girl a lot. It’s a hit waiting to happen, but it’s never been recorded quite right. One day we’ll nail it and when we do it will be magic. It was written in 1998 when I was 26 years old. I was living in Hull and admired some attractive women in the city centre in the summer. It’s like that thing in Wayne’s World. ‘Schwing!’ So much of rock ‘n’ roll is driven by amorous intentions. I fancy you, let’s get it on, etc. It’s primal stuff. Music and dancing is sexy. What can you do?! It’s not a deep song, but it’s got a lot of energy. I love playing it. It’s a lot of fun.
What would be your dream tour to be a part of?
I’d like us to go on tour with Del Amitri, Counting Crows and Bruce Cockburn. That would be heaven! Or open for Bruce Springsteen. Or Van Morrison. Or The Pretenders. I’m not fussy. Honest. I think Tim and Alan would like us to do something with Stevie Wonder. Billy would probably go for The Stone Roses.
What are your current thoughts on the music industry these days?
It’s pretty shallow, isn’t it? But it always has been. It’s always been driven by money. And yet, good stuff emerges. It always seems to. The good thing, these days, is that bands can be independent and do their own thing. I’ve always been very independent in my mindset. I’m not crazy about a lot of recent music. I grew up in the 1980s and – wow – the music then was good. So many great pop songs on the radio – much better than now, I think, even the pop stuff. The best thing I heard in 2019 was Sam Fender. I really like his album, a lot. Best thing I’ve heard for ages. We’re not a million miles away from him – we’re a bit more ‘pop’ if anything, but it’s similar territory.
What is the funniest/weirdest experience you have had on tour?
We played a few weeks ago and this couple from Manchester were in the pub in York. They had a few drinks and the woman started yelling into the microphone, which was handy when we played “Mustang Sally”. She was out of tune, but it was a lot of fun. I love that about gigs, that feeling that anything can happen. A gig should be a totally live experience. It’s never the same twice. That’s how it should be, I think.
You have an exciting gig in York coming up just before Christmas. What are your future plans for 2020 and beyond?
2020 – lots of gigs. We’re finishing off our recent recording and getting a video made. It should be online by the end of February 2020. Basically we’re just going to get out there and play as much as we can. Bradford, Doncaster, Leeds, Hull, Newcastle, Manchester – bring it on! The road beckons!
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