After a mere 8-year break we welcome the return of The Last Shadow Puppets with open arms and ears. Literally, I tried to hug them, but cordial handshakes were exchanged instead.
I suppose it’s understandable that a duo pulling from the forefronts of The Rascals and Arctic Monkeys might have been a teensy bit busy over the past decade so we’ll let the gap slide. We sat down with the pair over a dwindling plate of sweet potato fries and the largest cup of coffee I’ve ever seen to talk about Everything You’ve Come To Expect and sing Beatles songs.
Hey guys! I love the new album.
Miles: Oh, thank you. What are your highlights?
Alex: I knew he was going to do that, master of the double compliments.
I’d say it’s a tie between “Everything You’ve Come To Expect” and “Used To Be My Girl”.
Miles: Ooh. I love “Used To Be My Girl”, we’re off to a great start here.
Alex: We haven’t talked much about that one, have we?
Do you guys have favorites?
Miles: Right now I’d agree with you.
Alex: Yeah, I dunno.
I’ve heard there’s an interesting story behind the live footage you used for the “Bad Habits” music video.
Alex: Oh yeah. Well, we recorded at a studio in Malibu and were in a bar down there one night; there was a band playing covers like “Sweet Child Of Mine” and I’m pretty sure there was a girl up there at one point doing a cover of Beyonce. Anyway, we were on one and at some point we asked, ‘Can we play a song please? Can we play one of our songs?’ We just got excited; we thought it would be amusing. I think we suggested it and then Lawrence from the label, he really wanted it to happen.
Miles: Yeah, he had just come over to listen to the record; it was near the end I think, and our friend was there with the camera to shoot some footage of the studio. Lawrence was so quick to say, ‘We should film this!’ Lawrence is clever that way, not missing the opportunity to get a free video.
Alex: And there had been a discussion of what the video should be but there was something about this that was real and you couldn’t have gotten that any other way.
Miles: You couldn’t have even if you tried to, I like the way it was off the cuff.
Alex: It was a bit of a mess.
Miles: Yeah, it’s not like we planned to make a video where we go to a bar and do a shoot. I mean it’s a bit shabby and I think it’s a bit cool. The instruments aren’t even ours; they were the cover band’s.
Is that how you approached the record? Off the cuff and natural?
Alex: That is kind of the whole deal really, yeah. It certainly was the approach the first time we did this and we tried to retain much of that attitude this time.
Have you been accumulating songs over the past eight years or did you wait until you were back together?
Miles: We’ve done a few things together over that time, like my first solo record we did some songs on the Colour Of The Trap and then we’ve shared the stage a couple times. And then a couple of years ago we started writing again for maybe, what would be my third record or whatever it would be, and when we wrote “Aviation” and put the harmonies together it sounded so much like The Shadow Puppets that you couldn’t really fight it.
Were there ever any other times when you’d be writing songs for your own, separate projects and you thought you had to save it for this album?
Alex: That never really worked out, no. There were a couple of songs where I thought that that could be for [TLSP] but they didn’t end up making it [on the album]. I think it’s important that we do it together.
I noticed that you two wrote everything together with the exception of “Miracle Aligner.” You had Alexandra Savior come in for that particular track. How did she come to be a part of this?
Alex: Mmm busted! Do you know Alex?
I’ve only ever heard one song and it was a demo of “Risk” but it’s fucking incredible.
Alex: Cool, yeah well she and I were working on something last year and [“Miracle Aligner”] was a song that we wrote that didn’t work out for that project. I remember it started when I was playing it around Miles.
Miles: I remember that.
Alex: Yeah, and then Alex and I worked on it for a bit and that song turned out great. I think she’ll be releasing her own thing this year. But that’s the only song that anyone else is involved in but when were doing that we weren’t writing it for Everything You’ve Come To Expect, it just happened to work out, which is kind of a complete contradiction to what I said earlier about only writing together. [Laughs]
Miles: I was fine with it; not a touchy subject at all. [Sniffs]
You guys are going to tour in support of this album which you’ve never really done before, have you?
Alex: Yeah, we only played two shows in the US last time didn’t we Miles?
Miles: Mhm. I have never really played in the US so I’m very excited to get on the horse.
Alex: You know when Jagger comes out in this sort of American hat like a ringleader? That’s what Miles is going to be like.
Is there anything you guys will play live that’s off the record?
Alex: We’re going to play this record and half of the last one, that’s probably going to be it, maybe, a cover. What cover should we do? Maybe the Beatles?
Miles: We did “I Want You” on the last album so we may do that again.
Didn’t you guys almost get cast as John and Paul in a Beatles film?
Alex: Miles was almost cast as John, I was never in the frame. He passed on it though; do you remember that Nowhere Boy film? That was almost him.
Miles: I passed on it. I would have done it better though, right?
Oh, hell yeah.
Miles: In another life.
[Insert a few minutes of the guys talking in Beatles accents and singing, “I’ll Follow The Sun.”]
Settled then, Beatles cover.
Alex: I don’t know, or do we do something else? You decide.
What was the last metal song you guys remember the cover band playing the night you filmed “Bad Habits”? Do that.
Alex: Oh yeah, fucking hell, “Enter Sandman”.
Miles: I can’t remember anything from that night.
Did you notice any changes in each other when you started writing together again?
Alex: Yeah, I think I definitely noticed an improvement in this one over here (points his thumb at Miles) in you know…
Miles: [Singing] In my voice? [Laughs]
Alex: Yeah, and you know the first time we did this thing it was the first time we’d ever sang like that and I think that with part of [The Age Of The Understatement], what’s kind of cool about it is that we’d fallen a bit short there, where as now we’re both a bit stronger in that department. We tried to experiment a little with it again, you know, singing very quietly.
Miles: Or very loud. I can be a foghorn but I found a whisper that I didn’t think I had.
I definitely feel like coming from The Age Of The Understatement to Everything You’ve Come To Expect, it’s a little subtler, a little softer.
Alex: And that was deliberate, it was something we hadn’t really done before, especially in the vocals. Just like thinking, last time it was a new thing entirely, so what’s a new thing we can do this time.
Everything You’ve Come To Expect is out April 1st on Domino Records.