Text Hidzir Junaini
The Kooks came out swinging back in 2005 with Inside In/Inside Out, a record that was resounding, resonant and triumphantly reminiscent of classic Britpop. That indie introduction spawned the band’s most memorable singles such as ‘Eddie’s Gun’ and ‘Naïve’ but as impressive as that LP was, one could easily see the rawness in their retro rock. That album was merely an ember of The Kooks’ talent, not its flame, and in the aftermath of its success came Konk and a harder edge – more The Kinks than The Libertines. And now with a third full-length called Junk Of The Heart unleashed, we found lead singer Luke Pritchard reveling in his band’s progressive production ahead of their highly-anticipated maiden gig in Singapore last July.
The new album seems a lot more polished. What inspired the shift?
Junk is a much more produced record, we had made two practically live albums and wanted to take what we do and f*ck with it. It was experimental for us to use much more modern gear and a lot of the songs started out on the laptop. Songs like ‘Runaway’ and ‘Junk of the Heart’ we built from the drums up. We enjoyed working in a different way and we’ll take a bit of that to our next record.
How different was the creative process like with this one?
There was a very small amount of pre-production going into it so it brought a spontaneous energy to the start of the record. Tony Hoffer really was a massive part of this album too; he kind of jumped in and out of the band and played a few parts on some songs.
Word is that ‘Time Above the Earth’ was written in an airplane toilet. How true is that?
Very true. I like to do that sometimes on long flights, you sometimes connect up there. When I came off the plane and had the song; though I couldn’t finish it. It just felt so wrapped up as it was, so Hugh Harris wrote a string arrangement and we did it as is.
The Kooks have a habit of genre-hopping and reinvention. Do you guys enjoy the versatility of your discography?
Yeah, we like to be free with our music and we like so many kinds of music that we enjoy trying stuff out. When we first met we were all into different things so The Kooks has always been a clash of genres and ideas.
This year marks a decade of The Kooks. Looking back, is there anything you guys would have done differently?
Not really, I’m sort of a believer in fatalism, I think life is best left that way. Of course I would’ve preferred it if things hadn’t gotten so bad with Max our original bassist and that Paul was still playing with us, but in a way that has kept the band fresh too so it is what it is. We’ve been very lucky in so many ways I’d be a fool to get caught up thinking about the negatives.
You guys have had your fair share of adoring praise and scathing criticism from the press over the years. Does the band take what the media says to heart?
Sometimes it f*cks you off because some of the criticism can be so poorly constructed and it’s frustrating when you’re really into what you’re doing and it feels like it’s working so well with the audience. I think in a way though it’s cool that we’re not loved by the press because we don’t love the press either. It’s never been our thing.
JUICE Singapore was the official magazine of The Kooks gig at the Esplanade Concert Hall last Wednesday 25 July. More on The Kooks at www.thekooks.com.