Miles and The Chain Gang “Charlie”
York (UK)-based band Miles and The Chain Gang release their fifth digital single, Charlie, on April 21st.
The feel-good song was written by band leader, vocalist and songwriter Miles Salter in the summer of 2023. The project has taken eight months to come to fruition. The song was recorded at Young Thugs Studio in York in September 2018, and the video was shot in January 2023, also at Young Thugs.
‘Everything takes an age,’ says Miles. ‘I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and like time to revisit things. We did several mixes of the song before we finalized it.’
‘Charlie’ has an infectious energy and is a bit of an earworm. Was that intentional? ‘In the end,’ says Miles, ‘it’s all about good hooks. I grew up listening to 80s pop. Everything on the radio, from Joan Jett to The Specials had a hook in it.’ A diet of stadium rock (U2, Bruce Springsteen, Dire Straits, Thin Lizzy, The Alarm etc) led to a first band forming in 1989, followed by numerous independent releases in the 1990s.
‘Later on, I really got into singer-songwriters,’ says Miles. ‘Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Leonard Cohen, Justin Currie from Del Amitri is a bit of a hero.’ Fast forward to 2018…Miles and The Chain Gang formed in September after a series of chance meetings at open mic nights in York during the summer.
The band played its first gig at The Crescent in York in February 2019. Miles takes up the story. ‘We were just getting going…then Covid hit. We focused on recording and an album has been recorded at Young Thugs in York. We’ve been working with Jonny Hooker who worked with York band Bull (later signed to EMI). To date, the album has taken over four years to make. ‘Jonny has files going back to 2018,’ laughs Miles. ‘It’s become a bit of a joke.’
During this long gestation, the band re-configured with a new line-up. ‘Charlie’ features Steve Purton (drums), Tim Bruce (bass), Daniel Bowater (keyboards), Mathew Watt (lead guitar), Ava Hegarty (backing vocals) and Ruby Salter (backing vocals). The video features Rachael Delaney as ‘Charlie’ and video director Dave Thorp makes a cameo as ‘the producer’.
So what’s the song about? ‘Charlie’ is about the fantasy element of love and sex,’ says Miles, a little sheepishly. ‘Charlie, the girl who’s being sung about, is a sort of idealized person. We get to the last verse and find out she isn’t real. Idealized versions of love are so often projections, fantasy creations. There is an element of rock n roll that is pure fairy tale – pop songs rarely mention doing the washing up or buying apples at the supermarket. It’s a type of escapism, for the writer and the listener. Most entertainment is escapism. That’s okay as long as you don’t forget about real life. The car needs taxing! The dishes need to be put away. The dog needs a walk! For artists, balancing these two worlds can be a challenge.’
Since the start of 2022, the band have played dates around Yorkshire including Doncaster, Helmsley, Saltaire, Malton, York and more. They currently enjoy an association with Victoria Vaults in York, opening for bands such as Five Points Gang. ‘Love Is Blind’, released May 2022, was featured on indie / internet radio around the world but recorded in York. ‘We’re proud of our York links,’ says Miles, ‘but we are also ambitious to spread our wings, get out there, and be heard. I like to think the songs have a sense of urgency to them – live now, stay hungry, enjoy being alive. Music wakes us up, calls us to be in the present moment, demands that we are here now. I love that.’