’The Kooks – Around Town’

For a lot of you out there, The Kooks have had a very special place in your heart over the past few years. This Brighton-based indie outfit has been churning out hits that inspire even the most shyest curmudeons to light up and sing along.

Right after their absolutely stellar show in Denver, we were able to catch up with front man Luke Pritchard to ask a few choice questions about this latest album. Surprisingly open about some very intimate details about one of our favorite new tunes, “See Me Now,” this down-to-earth singer/songwriter casually talked to us as if we were a close mate, which is always refreshing.

Before you get too far into this transcribed phone call, know that this current tour is one not to miss. While you’ll hear some of their new tunes (as to be expected), you’ll also come across all of your favorites, ensuring you’ll leave the venue with satisfied ears and hoarse voice.

TMN: Hey Luke, thank you so much for taking a few moments to speak with us. We’ve been fans for a long time! Let’s chat about this tour you’re on – how’s it going so far?

Luke: No problem. It’s actually a pleasure. The tour has been excellent. It’s great that we can see so many places in the US, do you know what I mean? The fans have been pretty receptive to the album too, which is pretty cool for us. So, it’s been great!

TMN: You just hit up Denver, which is where we’re at. What are your thoughts on the mile high city?

Luke: (Laughs) Good! I’m really intrigued by this legalization thing. It’s always fun here though. We’ve had some great times in Colorado.

TMN: You’re of course touring right now in promotion of Listen. The album is stellar, top-to-bottom, but one song that stood out in particular was “See Me Now,” which had a very John Lennon feel to it. Talk to us about how you approached that song in particular.

Luke: Oh, thank you very much! It’s a very personal song. You know what – I wrote it with my producer. He was in the room while I was writing it. We sort of carved it out together. I don’t really feel like I would have written it, if it wasn’t for him. It’s a personal song. It was quite hard to do, in ways. The subject matter was quite…I just had been thinking about my dad a lot – he passed away when I was really young.

We were talking about it and he (the producer) said, “you should write a letter to your Dad, as if you could write a letter to him.”

I started picking up on all these little things like: him teaching you to shave, or tie a tie…those little things. The little things are the things that matter, you know? I found it quite cathartic, you know? It was sort of sad, but also cool to confront it.

TMN: Thank you for sharing that with us. On the other hand, “Forgive and Forget” has that classic Kooks feel, complete with guitar-driven rhythms. How do you guys write these guitar-centric tunes that are catchy as hell? Is it instrumentation first, or lyrics first? Or a blend of both?

Luke: (Laughs) Uh…that one started as a slow, Spanishy ballad, funny enough. I don’t know what happened, man. The catchiness though…we weren’t really going for that. We were just jamming. It really just fell together. I think that’s why that one has that looseness. The lyrics are really tongue-in-cheek. Just having a bit of fun, really. That’s the feeling you get from it.

’Forgive & Forget’

TMN: Speaking of that song, it has some really nostalgic vibes to it. We hear a lot of influences from the 80’s in this, almost as if it could have been in a soundtrack for a classic film. Were you harnessing any particular inspirations while writing this tune?

Luke: Sure. We wanted to write a song that Prince would do one day. We were fucking around one day in the studio, and Alexis (the drummer) is a really big Prince fan. And…that’s what happens when the Kooks try to make a Prince song. That’s basically how I can sum it up.

TMN: “Are We Electric” boasts some modern pop vibes with emphasis on synthesizers. We’re curious, are there any other acts out there you’ve considered working with to take on a more electronic feel?

Luke: I would. I think I’ve come around to it personally, and as a band we’ve come around to it. “Junk of the Heart” was the start of it, where we were like, “Let’s try a synth out.” Also though, I want to keep it organic. I don’t mind the fusion, but I’m not a big fan of electronic music. I never have been.

I like the Frenchies, do you know what I mean? I would love to work with Air. To sing on an Air track would sort of be…the way they approach it…the same with Phoenix. They keep the organic side of it in there. Those guys would be great.

’Are We Electric’

TMN: You’ve had a tremendous career, showcasing tons of chart-topping songs. From “Naive” to “Junk of the Heart” you’ve kept it going for quite some time. What are your tips to other indie acts out there in regards to continually putting out good music through the years?

Luke: I think the construction is really important. You have to construct what you are, and be willing to start again. You can’t hang on to anything. If you have a bit of success, it doesn’t mean your next song is going to be succesful. Success is so driven by a million factors.

We haven’t had true success since our first album, but we’ve done well. If you want that connectivity and longevity, you have to be willing to keep reinventing.

TMN: Speaking of older tunes, one of our writers wanted to know exactly what Paper Dreams were.

Luke: Paper dreams? That’s an old song, man! Paper dreams is quite an ambiguous line, really. The song is about not following the trend. Paper dreams are a fake dream. Like, things that don’t really exist, you know? But, it could really mean whatever you want it to mean.

TMN: We’re curious – you came into the scene before music blogging and streaming services really hit their stride. What are your thoughts on how the landscape of music sharing has come to be?

Luke: I think it’s good for the really big acts. It’s suffocating new music though. I think the sharing isn’t a problem. I love Spotify. I love it. I just wish they’d give us some fucking money. That’s the problem. I don’t know why they’re not, you know? maybe they’ll figure it out.

Bands that are just coming up or staying at a certain level, it’s very hard to come up. It’s still tricky. It’s still in progress though. We’re waiting for that to happen though, as artists. We’re waiting for technology and the music to catch up to one another.

TMN: England has been continually churning out amazing indie rock acts for quite some time. Who are some of your personal favorites? Whose songs are you taken back by when you hear them?

Luke: There’s a guy called Jonny Lloyd that I’m a fan of. His new stuff is incredible. It’s very rootsy kinda stuff. I’d call him a London Springsteen, which is giving him a massive compliment. I really like him.

TMN: What’s on the horizon for the Kooks after this album and the tour?

Luke: Well, there’s living to do, man. We’re going to see where the record takes us. We’re traveling a lot, right through the end of the year. Then there’s more recording to do. We’re in a really positive space with our music right now, so I think we’ll be back in the studio before too long. That’s where we’re at really.

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