The Kooks’ Luke Pritchard on Getting Personal and Hazy Christmas Memories
While some bands want the quick rush of fame and fortune, England's the Kooks have looked for something a bit more solid. Starting the band when they were still teens back in 2004, they've released four albums including their most recent, 'Listen' (released in September). The album is a testament to the fact that the four-piece have grown both lyrically (thanks to frontman Luke Pritchard) and musically with the help of hip-hop producer Inflo. Taking a new approach to their music with a more soulful vibe pushed Pritchard to dig deeper within himself to create one of band's most personal records to date. He took some time to chat with us about the making of the album, writing a song about his late father and the unconventional holiday tradition his family partakes in each Christmas.
How was your approach to 'Listen' different from your previous albums?
The songs we started with were rhythm tracks, which is why it's more of a dancey, blues-based record. A lot of them started with that in mind, so that was a big difference. And working with a hip-hop producer -- not that we made a hip-hop album -- made us think about music in a different way. I usually bring the songs and we just play in a room and record, but this is more like collaging. I write a lot of songs whilst playing as well, and the lyrics came much quicker, so that was also different.
You usually take a substantial amount of time between albums. How does that help you guys when you go into the studio?
I think we learned a lot from our second record ['Konk'], and that album was rushed in terms of [the fact that] we ran straight in there. I think it does take a lot of time because you have a certain amount of time you have to be on the road for. By the time you come back, you do what we do -- where we write our own music and produce the music these then tour and tour and tour then come back and we need a new record. I think you just need to be human. You can't ever just do that all the time.
'See Me Now' is a pretty personal song to you about your father. Can you talk about the genesis of the song?
I think I was thinking and having revelations about these kinds of things -- talking about my dad, thinking about my dad. And, yeah, it felt like on this album I did a lot of inner thinking. It's quite a personal record in general, actually. I was really searching for some answers, and ('See Me Now') is the natural by-product of that where I really took a bit of a leap. I've not really put myself out there as much before. So I started writing it when we were working with our producer, Inflo, and really felt good about writing a song like that. I don't know if I would have done it without him and it was an inevitably cathartic thing to do, really.
What's your favorite track on the album?
It's hard to say. I think its full of different kinds of songs that fit in different categories which makes it harder to have a favorite one. But I think if I would play one at home, it would be 'Sweet Emotion.' It's just that simple.
How does it feel to play together for more than a decade and what's something you wish you knew about being in a band before getting in one?
Being in the band that's still going just (makes me feel) really appreciative of all the people who still come to the showsl. They still get excited about our records, and that's not the easiest thing to do. There's something really loquacious about that. When we started, I was 18 or 19 and when we reached success, that's when all the hard stuff started happening. Instead of the other way around when you're young, you think, "Get in a big band," but that's when all the hard work starts kicking and starts to gel in. So that would be my advice to my former self.
Christmas is coming up. What's your favorite holiday tradition?
Cheese and Charas. [Laughs.]
That's actually my own family tradition. You eat loads of cheese after you smoke a joint on Christmas Day.
What's next for the Kooks? Will you be coming back to the states?
Definitely. I can't confirm anything yet, but we're going to be in the U.S. quite a lot next year. So we'll release some dates soon and we're excited to come back.