Luke Pritchard on the band's brave new sound, Arctic Monkeys and more
michael baggs
13:49 10th July 2014

The Kooks are back, and sounding better than ever. OK, so that line sounds like the opening of a press release, but in this instance, it is very much the truth.

Hugely successful in the mid-late 00s, The Kooks' popularity had dwindled somewhat when they released their third album, Junk Of The Heart, in 2011. Just another band, faded into a footnote in musical history.

Then, in 2014, The Kooks returned and smashed the back doors off their own sound and the indie scene in general, with single 'Down' packing more energy, passion and vigor that rarely a band approaching their fourth album can muster. The Kooks version 2.0 is a very different beast to the mellow, jangly band who lulled the airwaves with 'She Moves In Her Own Way' in 2006, that's for sure.

"We were bored of ourselves," says an honest and hungover Luke Pritchard, clearly horizontal as he spoke on the phone during a recent European tour. "People are a bit bored of guitar bands, but at the end of the day, it's only the feeling behind it, and music needs that to work. Any genre works, as long as there is feeling behind it. I am inspired by the songs, and that's why it feels good."

Listen to The Kooks' 2014 Top 40 single 'Down' below

But don't confuse Pritchard's comments with a criticism on the state of indie music - and he highlights the ongoing success of a certain Sheffield band as a shining beacon on the British guitar-band scene.

"Recently Arctic Monkeys sold millions of copies of their AM album, and people still say there's no guitar music," he adds. "Well, there is. It confuses me, that one."

The Kooks' new music is a brilliant breath of fresh air in a genre that, infamously, doesn't mix well with others. 2014 tracks 'Down', and the superior 'Around Town', are ballsy guitar anthems, but bring with them motown, soul, hip-hop and gospel influences. It's not an easy mix to make work, but the tracks are so powerful and so instant, that Pritchard and the band make it seem an absolute breeze.

"We thought there was a beauty in deconstruction," he says, as he discusses the band's triumphant rebirth. "There was something that happened, when we did that. I started the album really early on my own. I did some demos at home on my own, I got really into working in that way - not going to the big studios, not working in that way - just sitting at home with a computer. It was a natural thing to gravitate towards, more beat-led music."

The Kooks are back on the road with their brand new sound

Indeed, the new Kooks tracks were so unlike their early material, that the band even considered changing their name and relaunching entirely, as a brand new band. They had essentially achieved the impossible - they had recorded a second debut album.

"We could have renamed the band, it felt that different," he laughs. "The first three albums were chapter one, this album is the first of chapter two. You know what? We don't to be an indie band, we never wanted to be an indie band. We want to reach a broader spectrum musically. For us, it was a journey to become more creative, better musicians."

Listen to 'Around Town' below

Much of the praise for The Kooks' 2014 reinvention has also been tinted with an element of surprise. In this day and age, such a passioned relaunch is rare, but Pritchard is taking influence from bands of the seventies and beyond for inspiration, when it comes to evolution.

"With all bands, you get used to bands not moving on like they did in the 60s and 70s. It's actually quite a normal process, as musicians when they start out at 17/18," he says. "If you listen to Rolling Stones, The Beatles or The Clash when they were young you can hear it. People like Damon Albarn, who have smashed the idea of what people think of them. It's just natural, what you're meant to do. And there's not enough of that. What I am saying, is that I thought people would expect that."

But the fact we never saw it coming is exactly why The Kooks suddenly sound so damn cool all over again.

"I think we're going to bring a whole new audience," he bravely concludes. "We might not well get some of the previous audiences, but we're really moving away from that indie-band thing."

It's something many bands could learn from. The Kooks release their fourth album, Listen, on 1 September 2014. They perform at Reading & Leeds Festival in August 2014.

Below: 18 exclusive photos of The Kooks at London's Electric Ballroom