Source: RetroActive Baggage Magazine

"The Miles Interview"

Written by David Addey

Considering you're traditionally indie, you played a lot of hip-hop
tonight, and I think you've upset a lot of Blur fans. 
What did you play?

Well, the guitar music that I'm into at the moment,I played Girls
Against Boys, Archers Loaf, Bartmarket...  I wanted to get round to 
stuff like Shellac, Shudder To Think and things like that, but..  the 
thing is, with that sort of music, it's really good, especially 
Shellac, Shudder to Think, but itŐs very hard to tap your toe to, let
alone dance to, so it's kind of in the wrong setting.  Then I played
some Coolio, Spearhead, which is Michael Franti's new band, who was 
with the Disposable Heroes, Portishead...  that stuff's good for the
dance floor, not that I claim to know anything about what works on
dancefloors, but it seems to make sense.  It's weird, y'know, I played
stuff that I like to hear myself, and then stuff that would hopefully
get people's toes tapping, that would appear to be what they're here to

Just before you came on there were a lot of Idiot t-shirts wandering
around, so you were probably guaranteed a full floor anyway.  Have you
done any of these student things before?

Not student things. I did something at a club in Birmingham, just before
Christmas, which was the first thing I did, and I did much the same
thing. It's one of those things where you think, oh, I'm just playing
records, but it does take a great deal of thought, and I haven't done
any preparation at all. I'd like to have played Quincy Jones, Isaac
Hayes and stuff like that, which is brilliant for the floor, and then
I've got some weird can stuff, like this eighteen-minute drum

Good one to clear the dancefloor at the end.

but like you say, people like Blur and stuff, people like things like Oasis,
but I guess I should, if I'm going to do anymore, I should give it some
thought.  I could do stuff that influenced me when I was at college,
like the Jam and the Clash, but... I'm very against retro, I used to
go to school with a kid that was always complaining that this summer's
never as good as the last, and I thought how do you know, you're
too busy moaning about it, so I really do try and get away from being 
retro.  I'd much rather...  I don't care if people dance or not.  I
suppose it'd be easier to have a few people sitting round my stereo and
going, look, check this Steve Albini record out, it's amazing...

Well, the DJ's at Supersonic... what did they make of it?  They can't usually
get away with that kind of thing, they've got to play Blur.

Yeah, some kid said to me "I've paid three quid to get in 'ere", and like, 
more fool you, that was always my thing with the group, play so-and-so, no, 
we'll play what we wanna play.  It'd be a tough lot being a professional
DJ, I guess.

Moving on to The Wonder Stuff, your fourth album got a bit of a slating
critically, and yet the third album went down really well.  
What happened between the two?

Well, it'd be an option to sort of follow the same path, and one of the
things that I disliked about!  Never Loved Elvis, the third one, was 
that it was just too acoustic.  The production of it was very soft.
Basically, the whole album was written in the recording studio, we had
the ideas, and I'd sit there with an acoustic guitar and say "this is
what I've come up with", and then we'd piece it all together in the
studio, and some of the tracks worked, and things like Donation didn't
work at all, it was always a good live track after, but constructing 
that in the studio was useless.  So we built our own studio, I put away
the acoustic guitar, got a decent electric, and we were just writing and
jamming and trying ideas through for the last album.  We were
consciously trying to do stuff that had a bit more of an edge to it, 
more of an electric edge, like sticking the fiddle through Marshall
stacks, things like that, which worked occasionally.  What happened to
us was after Never Loved Elvis we went to America and did seven weeks on
the road with Siouxsie and the Banshees, and I liked the Banshees and I
appreciated what they were doing, but it was very theatrical, they
dressed up in a totally different suit every night, and I think Sioux 
had a costume change.  That's what she's into, she's like your punk rock
Liza Minelli basically, and the rest of the band follow suit, but we
thought if we're on that tour, we've got to be the absolute opposite to
make any mark, so we used to just stand there dressed in black, and
played electric stuff.  I remember my wife came over to New York to see
us, and we were really relying on the electric stuff, which is
basically the first two albums.  And she said it was like seeing the
Ramones, it wasn't like seeing the Wonder Stuff, and three weeks in to
the tour, we'd just stop one song, and then like "go!", into the next

Which tended to go down better live - the first two albums, which
were more electric, or the later ones with Fiddly [Martin Bell]

Well, the thing which I was always happy about live, when 
you're doing a new album, obviously people are cool, they hold off on
it because they don't know the tracks so well, they haven't had time for
the songs to mean anything to them in their lives, which is basically
what music's for.  And again, the nostalgia thing comes into it, y'know,
"oh my God, they're doing Unbearable, that's eight years old, I never
thought they'd do that again"...  we'd toured with bands like Zodiac
Mindwarp, who wouldn't do what they were really good at, and there is a
point to gigs where it's like a fifty-fifty exchange, you give what
people want, you do the singles, and then you throw a few curve-balls in
there to get off on yourself.  The thing that I was always happy about
with the Wonder Stuff and with the very last show that we did at 
Phoenix, things like On The Ropes went down just as well as Give Me 
More or It's Yer Money I'm After Baby.  People accepted our mood swings,
'cos Golden Green was a ridiculous favourite, y'know, it was a joke when
we did that...

You've always had a very hard core following...  d'you reckon you picked
up any fans with the fourth album?

I would say no.

Was that anything to do with the eventual split-up of the band?

No.  We had a lot of fiery letters saying, "I've spent this much time
giving you the time of day, I've spent this much money on your records
and your gigs, and I think I deserve an explanati on."  The reason we
didn't give an explanation because it was so dull that people would
just've gone "oh, great", so we just thought we won't say anything,
because there was nothing to say.  When we sat together, eight years of
history was done in half an hour, we sat in a dressing room in
Gloucester in the middle of a tour, and I just said, look, I've had
enough. And then there was somebody breathed a sigh of relief, and said
"thank God, so have I", and then we actually really enjoyed the rest of
the tour once that was said.

Was Gloucester before or after Hull?

God only knows. 

I saw you at Hull, and the general opinion was that you
really were not bothered.Hull...  

I do remember Hull.  
Hull terrible. That was probably about three or four days before, as I
remember I went into a serious personal decline, and that was when I
plucked up my courage to confess that I'd had enough.  And I got the 
same feedback back, y'know, which was good - it would've been horrible 
if someone'd said, "oh, Milo, no, it's not time to give up yet, we've
got to pull it back together, 'cos I really had decided, y'know.  And in
conversations I've had with other members of the band they've said, "oh
man, if you hadn't said that, I was off after that tour, I couldn't
stand it anymore..." 

It was never really clear in the press what the
reason behind the eventual splitup was. What went wrong? 

It was just literally...  there's only so many permutations you can have
when it's the same brains working on an idea, we tried things like
bringing other instruments in, and sometimes they just ended up getting
in the way.  There's only so much you can do with it, and I personally
have a very limited attention span, and I didn't have the time or the
motivation to sit down and really think, what can we do with this band 
to save it's ass.  Without giving myself a major headache, this is over,
y'know, it's done what it's done, I can't see that it can do any more
without drastically repeating itself. And that's not the point. A lot of
the bands of your era, like the Inspirals, the Neds, are having that
problem now, they do the same thing again and nobody's interested
anymore.  What can they do? Well, I mean, I wouldn't say they're doing
the same thing, I've been privileged to hear stuff from the new Ned's
album, and they're exploring some new avenues, and it's good.  It's a
problem, because the climate has changed, one of the things me and
Treecey talked about, the guitarist in the Stuffies, I will always be
the big-mouthed guy in the tartan suit, however you try and reinvent it
or change the permutations of it, that's what you are.  And the music... 
it's easy to use this band, but Nirvana, once that went fucking huge,
everything seemed to change.  I think people viewed alternative music
in a completely different way, not that the Wonder Stuff were
particularly alternative, we were essentially a pop band.  But it was
hard for me to sit there and think, where do we fit in the scheme of
things, which I know is wrong, because basically you should just be
writing songs, but...  I think for those bands that you mentioned, and
there's more, from the late eighties, it's a different climate now,
everything's changed, and what do you do?  I dunno...  I hope they've 
got more imagination and more motivation than I had.

Well, Pop Will Eat Itself...  they're friends of yours, and there were a
few of them here tonight.  They have been doing different things.  D'you
reckon they've got a future to them?

Yeah, definitely.  The Poppies did their first EP, five one-minute
tracks, just guitar buzz sort of stuff, and within three releases they
were into drum machines and rapping and trying all sorts of different
stuff, and they were one of the first of the indie / alternative
bands.  Again, they're essentially a pop group, I mean, they're song
writers, to try remixes and stuff, and they've always been willing to
take new things on board, they're very good at ... they're great
listeners of music, they're really big fans of music, whereas I close
down sometimes, and they take new influences on board. I think they have
got a future, in the same way that a band like Sonic Youth, there's just
something about them, they reinvent it, they do what they do, and they
carry on.  The day the Poppies tell me they're knocking it on the head
I'll be really, really surprised, because...  there's another thing
about the Poppies, which I think is sometimes the membership of the band
is stronger than the actual love of doing the music, they all knew each
other when they were about 18, when they were coming out of school and
going to college, and I think the band, to them, a lot of the time is
just an excuse to keep that era alive.  They didn't have to go and get a
job, they didn't have to go and be responsible or any!  thing, they
still clown around...

The longer they can get away with it the better.

Sure, yeah.  

With you personally, you're currently presenting 120 Minutes for MTV - 
is that a permanent thing, or are you going to be moving on from

Well, it's weird, I tried to leave recently, and they wouldn't let me. 
Which was a very odd experience.  First of all they said is there
anything we can offer you to stay, and I said look, it's not like that,
it's not about not enjoying the work at MTV, I have, I've absolutely
loved it.  I find the presenting a bit strange still, I'm not totally
comfortable with that, and I don't know if I'm cut out for it, but, erm,
I like the atmosphere of having your ears wide open, and your eyes wide
open to lots of new stuff.  I like the people I've got to work with, I
like the way they work.  I've learnt a serious lesson in humility, I
can't just stamp my feet and get my own way any more, and there's been a
lot of really good personal lessons that I've learned.  The reason
why I wanted to wind it down is because I've started a record label, and
I'm working on new music with two other people, with a vision to be
doing gigs by the end of the year.  And it's kind of like I need the
space in my mind, because it's the first ever job I've ever had, and 
it's really strange to get to 28 years old and suddenly have a job and a
boss, and you have to do this, and you have to do that else you don't
get paid, and the rent doesn't get paid, blah blah blah.  The strangest
thing...  the decision to actually go in there and tell them, I think
I've had enough, it was a harder decision to make than to quit with the
Wonder Stuff.  Finishing the Wonder Stuff was obvious to me because I
just thought it was dead on its ass, whereas I've come to no conclusion
with MTV, it's still up, running, and it could bring a lot of new
things to me, I've only done it for six and a half months, so...  that
was a hard decision to make.  But what we've decided to do is that I
take a month off, do some stuff that I wanna work on, get things set
up, and then go back, see how I feel, and see what we wanna do. 

What's it like being on the other side of music journalism?  You've
always been  interviewed by people, now you're doing it yourself.

It's difficult again, those are some of the lessons that I've learned. 
I reckon...  not all bands, it's unfair to tar them all with the same
brush, I mean I've had some genuine surprises.  I wasn't looking forward
to interviewing Oasis, for instance, and they were absolutely brilliant. 
I just came away thinking all the things I've read in the press about
them that made me think they were arrogant, I thought that's not
arrogance that they've got going there, it's just ultimate and supreme
confidence.  And I just thought, every band should be like that.  Liam
said to me when we were off camera, there was a dEUS video on, and I
said "have you seen this", and he goes "nah, I don't like it", and I
said "why?", and then he qualified himself, he said "no, I'm being
unfair, I've never even heard it"...  and he goes "there's only three
good groups in the world, The Beatles, The Who, and Oasis", and I just
thought you are brilliant, that's a fantastic thing to say, and it's
good that he believes that, and I honestly think he does believe that,
and I think all bands should believe that of themselves. 

Well, every single they bring out, Oasis keep saying "Oh yeah, it's the 
best single yet" Do you reckon they're going to keep going?  

I hope so, I mean, when I went to see them live the first time, and they
played 'Slide Away', and it was just before the album came out, and I
just thought...  I was with with a mate who's in a band as well, and we
both just sat there and go "what would you give to have written that

That was the one you finished on tonight. 

Yeah, the last track I played tonight...  there's a major songwriting
talent in that band, and whoever it is or whatever it is that makes them
or him do it, I can't see that going away, to be honest.  I think, even
if the group knocked it on the head in the format they are in now,
which I hope they don't, there's a genius songwriter in there, and I
think when you've got that sort of talent you can't help but do it. 
Even if the guy's just in his bedroom writing them and playing them to
himself, I think if you've got that kind of talent you just keep 
churning it out.

What kind of style are you aiming for with you own new material?

It sounds kind of poxy, but just to enjoy ourselves. We're not thinking
at all about a record, we're not remotely interested in going through
that game, everything changes once there's a record out.  The fun stops. 
So, we just want to do gigs.  It'll be kind of difficult...  I mean, you
could do stuff on, say, radio sessions, do it like that...

Any chance of a session on W963?

Yeah, alright...  That type of stuff would be great.  Or just, y'know, 
in a situation like this, if you could get...  we've got loads of
portable recording equipment, if you could just record gigs, and like in
America, there's millions of alternative radio stations, and they have
like Christmas bashes, and they record them, and then they play the
stuff live, so do a gig somewhere like this, record it, and you have the
rights to it and play it when you like.  I'm a great supporter of radio,
the way it should grow in this country...  America and Australia are
both light years ahead of us, and you look at the wealth of talent of
bands coming out of America right now, okay, I know the population's
bigger, so there's gonna be a difference, but...  there's a very
different outlook with a lot of the American bands, not the big things
like your Pearl Jams, and all that, I'm not interested in that, but on a
roots level...  and I think a lot of that's to do with the fact that
their ears are open wider than ours.  'Cause they've got a bigger outlet
of music to go and catch it.  But with the group, at the moment it's
just a three-piece, but everyone plays different things, like I used to
play drums before I was in the Wonder Stuff, so I'm gonna do a bit of
that, drummer plays guitar, bass player plays keyboards, and er, so
we switch around, which I know can be quite irritating if you see a band
do that.  One band that does it brilliantly is the Beastie Boys, just
breaking the set down into sections, I really like that...

Did you see Spearhead when they were on Jools Holland recently?

Yeah, the girl played drums too...  I saw them up at Manchester at In 
The City, and I was just blown away. I was a big Hiphoprisy fan. 

To finish, you've had a bit of a reputation in the past...  even talking
to people tonight down at Supersonic, people say "ooh, you've
interviewed him, what's he like, was he really arsey?" 

I always tell people to say yes. 

Next time I will do.

Copyright 1995 RetroActive Baggage
Used with permission
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