Up Close and Personal with Luke Pritchard of The Kooks
By: Cassandra Paiva
When I found out that I would be interviewing Luke Pritchard of The Kooks, the band that I have been absolutely in love with since before I was even sweet 16, there were no words. Thankfully, by the time the interview came around, there were thousands of them.
I didnâ€™t know what to expect, I didnâ€™t want to make an idiot out of myself, and I didnâ€™t know if Iâ€™d even be able to understand him. (Thanks to a few years of watching the good olâ€™ BBC and obsessing over the British music scene [yay half of my teenaged life!] I understood him without any problems.)
I had met Luke earlier in the day at the secret show that WBRU hosted. We made some casual conversation and I asked him if it was Denny drumming that night (I had met Denny, their replacement drummer, when I saw The Kooks in Boston last fall), and then we all took a group picture but that was about it.
When I was lead to the back of the tour bus by their manager, Luke welcomed me with a, â€œOh hey! I didnâ€™t realize it was you who was interviewing me, whatâ€™s up?â€ I have to admit, the fact that I had talked to him earlier made it a lot easier for me.
Even after the interview, we sat and talked for another 25 minutes or so about everything from the differences between the UK and the US, including the areas of poverty that we in the US have, his uncle owning a farm in the Isle of Wight and how much he himself loves the city life so much more (and his uncleâ€™s disapproval of music as a career, ha!), how the band would love to live in New York City because of the rush, how American festivals are so commercialized and Coachella is awful because of the heat, and how he appreciates older music like MC5, Tim Buckley (Jeff Buckleyâ€™s dad), and Bob Dylan.
He even told me about a few European festivals they had played, opening for Muse for 2 shows and hanging with Museâ€™s drummer Dominic Howard (I seriously would have died to go to one of those shows, letâ€™s hope that happens again in the US), and that I should go ahead and move to London because itâ€™s a cool place.
But, without further ado, I present to you, the picking of Luke Pritchardâ€™s brain and the findings that came about it.
Itâ€™s been 6 months since Junk of the Heart was released, how do you feel itâ€™s being compared to the other albums?
God, has it been that long since itâ€™s been out, wow. It feels pretty good, I mean, I think the live set of things, youâ€™re playing gigs where you kind of realize how the songâ€™s actually connecting with people. Thereâ€™s not really like a lull in the set, people know the new songs. So yea, it seems pretty good. Still into it playing songs.
Youâ€™ve already released three singles from the album, do you plan on releasing any more?
I think at this point, probably not, no. I think the way weâ€™d kind of like to get into the studio quite soon. Either put out some new material, as like a kind of EP or something like that, or do another album. So, yea, at this point, we donâ€™t really have any plans to release another single, off of Junk of the Heart.
Whatâ€™s your favorite track off of the album?
My favorite track is â€œFuck the World Offâ€ and â€œNo More Mr. Nice Guy.â€ I really like â€œFuck the World Offâ€ because it was very spontaneous, it was a good moment in the recording process.
A lot of your lyrics deal with love and loss, do you consider yourself a hopeless romantic, or do you find that inspiration somewhere else?
(laughs) I donâ€™t know, like, I just find it probably quite natural to write about that kind of thing. Like the blues or whatever, like that kind of tradition of that. I find it the most natural kind of song writing.
Me, myself, I donâ€™t know. Iâ€™m always in and out. Iâ€™ve often found that, when I pick up a guitar, the first thing thatâ€™s on my mind is probably something to do with that, something to do with girls. I kind of like, kind of complicated girls, so usually get yourself in situations.
Itâ€™s been brought up before, but youâ€™ve amassed a lot of B sides and song you felt didnâ€™t fit albums, aside from the Konk double disc, would you ever release an album of these?
Rak. Well yea, weâ€™ve talked about doing a B sides compilation or something like that. But we havenâ€™t really gotten further than just talking about it. I do think that weâ€™ve got a good amount, weâ€™ve got such a kind of wealth of material. Weâ€™ve got a lot of stuff that hasnâ€™t even been put on Youtube or released. Thereâ€™s a lot of change. So, at some point it would be good to do something with them. But like I say, at the moment weâ€™ve just been really focusing on the album, the new album, and then other stuff. Itâ€™s just kind of and interest, itâ€™s a different time in music as well, itâ€™s more likely that you can just put your stuff out online then you are to kind of put together a whole compilation of B sides where tons of people just download it for free or Spotify it anyway. For us, itâ€™s just like, we might as well, we can do it from our website. Weâ€™ll probably do something like that. Itâ€™s definitely been talked about a lot in the last, probably four or five months after our third album. I think Iâ€™d quite like to do, songs from the cutting room floor, from all the albums, like songs we just took little bits and pieces that we never used. Thereâ€™s some good stuff.
Referring to â€œThe Saboteur,â€ you started recording with a different producer before returning to Tony Hoffer. Would you ever consider going back to or revisiting those track, or is the past the past?
I think, we always keep it in mind you know for like, sections. We always have lots of songs that can be pulled on at any point. You might take the melody or like one of the lyrics and use it for something else, but the actual recordings with Jim we wouldnâ€™t use it.
Have you considered going under an alias in small clubs to test out B sides?
Thatâ€™s a good idea. Iâ€™m thinking about it now. (Youâ€™re welcome, fans). Maybe we should, â€œThe Echoes.â€ Yea, it might be good. It would be good to do something like that. Itâ€™s just, at the moment, thereâ€™s just really not enough hours in the day. Weâ€™ve been so busy, travelling pretty much all over the world, playing the new album, so the idea of that is cool, but I think, we just donâ€™t have time at the moment to do something like that. We could do like a one off, it would be quite fun. But Iâ€™d have to try to remember the songs.
Moving to live performance, whatâ€™s going through your mind before hitting the stage?
(Makes a face and snickers a bit) Depends on the night, really. Itâ€™s one of those really funny things, with gigging, like sometimes youâ€™re absolutely shattered where all you want to do is just hang out, and sometimes those are the best gigs. And then you get on stage and itâ€™s just a rush. And sometimes youâ€™re in a great mood and you go on and it doesnâ€™t work. Itâ€™s kind of strange. Itâ€™s just like, with anything, if you think about it, every day you feel kind of different, donâ€™t you? Like every day, for us, it gets to about 8:30 and weâ€™re doing gigging. So you kind of just go to pull yourself out of whatever youâ€™re feeling and just kind of go on stage and see what happens. But thatâ€™s kind of whatâ€™s exciting about it, because every nightâ€™s completely different. Otherwise it would be fucking dull, wouldnâ€™t it? Playing the same songs every night.
Do you have any preshow rituals?
Not really, I mean, the only thing we do pretty regularly is we have like a little shot of something, usually some rum. And, we get together, play some disco music and go and make people dance. We have like a little huddle sort of thing. But, nothing particularly weird, no.
You released a live, acoustic version of Inside In/Inside Out, would you ever do that again?
Of Inside In/Inside Out? Or like, our new album?
No, no, (laughs) of the new album, or like, anything.
Yea maybe, we wouldnâ€™t rule it out. That was a cool thing to do, we did it at Abbey Road and it was quite special, you know. We got like some fans who sat on the floor. There were some good vibes going. It was a good night. The Kooks has definitely got like, two sides to it. The acoustic and then the rock band.
Do you write your songs acoustic first or..?
Yes, pretty much always it comes from an acoustic. Itâ€™s kind of good to strip them back. But not at the moment, Iâ€™ve actually been writing quite a lot with like creating a comp track and singing over the top. Itâ€™s sort of less organic, more instinctual. So you just, make a track, and just run it and sing something over the top and see what happens. Itâ€™s some kind of stream of consciousness thing, I donâ€™t know. But yea, almost all of the songs on the first three albums were written pretty much on an acoustic or piano and then tracked to the back.
Would you ever release a live DVD?
Again, yea, I think we have to do the right gig for that. I donâ€™t think, I mean we still havenâ€™t, you know, weâ€™ve had things like member changes. And the thing is, the band is, I think, still finding its feet so once we feel like weâ€™re really solid, as a band and we have a great venue to do it in, as well, where we can get proper, like film it properly, then weâ€™d do it. Something like that, I think, you have to, you can easily just put something out, but it has to be something special. It has to be like, when youâ€™re at your best really.
Somewhere like Royal Albert Hall, or something?
Yea, that would be cool. I donâ€™t know, maybe that would be wrong, because the Albert Hall is a quite chilled venue. That would be a great place to do an acoustic set, like a live acoustic set there. But, I donâ€™t know. If we got like, a theatre, like a slightly scummy theatre, would be good for The Kooks.
(After the interview, he said that he and his girlfriend at the time got in trouble at the Hall for dancing around too much at a The Who show. Then, he came to the conclusion that The Troubadour in LA would be the perfect place for The Kooks to do a show for a live album).
Youâ€™re touring with Foster the People, and you recently covered â€œPumped Up Kicksâ€ for Radio 1, are you big fans?
Yes, definitely. Theyâ€™re one of my favorite new bands really. Yea, theyâ€™re good. Theyâ€™re wicked guys, and a great band, and I think that the tour is going to be more like, what a tour should be, because weâ€™re friends, because we have sort of played music together a little bit, and I think thatâ€™s what the tourâ€™s going to be about, is just about having a good time. I think like, every night is going to be us kind of jamming together and just like, hanging out, so weâ€™re really excited about it. So weâ€™ll make some music on the road to. Iâ€™d love to do that, you know, Markâ€™s (Mark Foster) one of the cool guys, they are really up on their production techniques so if we could do some stuff together, that would be fun, that would be good.
What can we expect from The Kooks in the next year?
The stuff weâ€™ve been talking about. Getting new music out before the end of the year, definitely, well hopefully. Get in the studios quite a bit. Not another single, but new material. We took 3 years between the second and third albums, we want less time between this and next album.