Last Shadow Puppets Talk Touring and Everything You've Come to Expect

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Last Shadow Puppets Talk Touring and <i>Everything You've Come to Expect</i>

“It’s different than doing your own gig,” Miles Kane explains when reminiscing about his guest appearance for “505,” the last song during Arctic Monkeys’ triumphant Glastonbury headlining set in 2013. “Say you’re at the side and you’re chain-smoking because there’s four songs to go and it seems to take forever and in your head, you’re thinking…”

“Should I have worn the striped pants?” Alex Turner interrupts, laughing hysterically about the black and white suit that Kane wore that Friday night at arguably the world’s most important music festival. “Have I got time to go back there and change?”

This infectious back-and-forth dialogue between the two best friends is the crux of why their collaboration as the Last Shadow Puppets works so well—there’s an almost contagious chemistry between the two that’s incredibly rare between bandmates. The cliché of finishing one another’s sentences is real; my interview with the two of them at the ACE Hotel in Manhattan this past February was quite fun, though not everyone had a similar experience.

“I think us doing [interviews] together prevents us from taking it too seriously,” Turner mentions. “I think that when have a laugh, it’s more revealing than any intellectualizing could be.”

And he’s right—through all of the laughs, there’s an understated confidence beneath each self-deprecating joke. These are two of the biggest rock stars of their generation in the UK, after all. Turner’s Arctic Monkeys have headlined almost every major music festival throughout Europe over the past decade since their classic Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not became the fastest selling debut in British history. Miles Kane has been very successful in his own right; since leaving the Rascals in 2009, he’s released two solo albums, which charted at No. 11 and No. 8 respectively. Their new album under the Last Shadow Puppets name, Everything You’ve Come to Expect, their first since 2008, dropped on April 1.

Until March 24, the two had only played together onstage for a handful of special occasions since the tail end of 2008, including the aforementioned Glastonbury performance, a half set during a benefit show in Los Angeles in 2010, and during Arctic Monkeys’ massive Finsbury Park shows in 2014, where the two did an acoustic rendition of “Standing Next to Me.”

“It was quite exciting,” Turner remarks when asked about the first rehearsals for the new tour. “We haven’t played a show—either of us—in over a year now. I don’t think that’s ever happened since we started doing this, since we were 18.”

They may be itching to get back onstage, but do they still identify with the Last Shadow Puppets back catalog, which solely consists of their 2008 Mercury Prize-nominated debut The Age of the Understatement and a few b-sides?

“Lyrically, it was the first time I had gone even remotely close to the idea of abstract lyrics that don’t necessarily make sense,” Turner explains. “Sometimes, it creates this atmosphere when you listen to it and you’re distracted at times by the beautiful string parts and everything else that’s going on that you can get away with it, but other times, it’s just like ‘What the fuck were we thinking? What tree were we barking up there?’ Just imagine us fucking stoned, saying ‘yeah that’s fucking cool!’”

The two seem to be more focused this time around. While the previous Last Shadow Puppets album was more of an experimental side project for Turner and Kane, this record was made with the full intention of taking it on tour. Backed once again by a flurry of Owen Pallett’s James Bond-esque strings, Everything You’ve Come to Expect is an elegant record, one that can recall both spaghetti western music and Queens of the Stone Age on the same track. Recorded at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, there’s also an unmistakably California vibe, reflecting the duo’s move to Los Angeles.

At first, however, this wasn’t supposed to be another Last Shadow Puppets album—it was actually meant to be Kane’s next solo record. “We wrote ‘Bad Habits’ and ‘Used to Be My Girl,’ but when we wrote ‘Aviation,’ that was the one when we thought it could be the Puppets thing again, specifically the part in the middle eight when it says…”

“The Colourama in your eyes takes me on a moonlight drive!” they say at the same time with a John Lennon inflection in their voices.

“We did a harmony on that,” Turner says.

“And it soars! Are we back?” screams Kane.

“My wings are growing back! Are yours?” Turner barely gets out through his hysterical laughter.

But through all of the laughs, they manage to get serious. The album was written as a collaborative effort in one of the most beautiful places on earth, but it’s a very personal record for the two of them. “There are moments on this…I don’t think I’ve written a lyric that’s as personal as certain ones on this,” Turner elaborates. “Hopefully there’s enough other stuff in that set or that group of songs that would prevent it from becoming fleeting. But I think at some point, you are performing something from a while ago and you’ve told that joke 200 times but you’re definitely still going back to another place.”

They may have only played about 20 shows on the first album cycle, but it feels different this time around. The Last Shadow Puppets is more than a side project at this point—it seems to be reenergizing both of their respective careers. Both admitted to being on autopilot at the end of their last tours under the Arctic Monkeys or Miles Kane monikers, but after being in the public eye for the last decade, they genuinely feel excited to return to the Last Shadow Puppets. They allude that there will actually be nerves when the tour starts, which kicked off in Cambridge last week.

The album ends with Turner singing, “It must be torture when I talk about my dreams.” Though Everything You’ve Come to Expect is an extremely personal album for both Turner and Kane, it’s a compelling and beautiful listen for everyone else. This isn’t just what you’ve come to expect from these two—it’s even better.