David: 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? Miles: 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 do. David: 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? Miles: 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 track... David: Good one to clear the dancefloor at the end. Miles: Yeah... 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... David: 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. Miles: 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. David: 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? Miles: 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 one. David: Which tended to go down better live - the first two albums, which were more electric, or the later ones with Fiddly [Martin Bell] playing? Miles: 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... David: You've always had a very hard core following... d'you reckon you picked up any fans with the fourth album? Miles: I would say no. David: Was that anything to do with the eventual split-up of the band? Miles: 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. David: Was Gloucester before or after Hull? Miles: God only knows. David: I saw you at Hull, and the general opinion was that you really were not bothered.Hull... Miles: 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..." David: It was never really clear in the press what the reason behind the eventual splitup was. What went wrong? Miles: 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. David: 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? Miles: 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... David: The longer they can get away with it the better. Miles: Sure, yeah. David: 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 that? Miles: 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. David: 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. Miles: 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. David: 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? Miles: 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 song"... David: That was the one you finished on tonight. Miles: 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. David: What kind of style are you aiming for with you own new material? Miles: 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... David: Any chance of a session on W963? Miles: 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... David: Did you see Spearhead when they were on Jools Holland recently? Miles: 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. David: 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?" Miles: I always tell people to say yes. David: Next time I will do.