An Interview with The Kooks
Our deputy music ed/self-confessed Kooks fangirl Chloe caught up with bassist Peter from the band ahead of their gig at the Olympia last month, and tried not to embarrass herself in the process…
The tour starts tonight in Manchester, are you looking forward to it?
Yeah man, of course, it’s gonna be amazing! We did a bit of pre-production yesterday. I love that venue man, it’s such a cool venue.
Where is it?
The Academy. We’re doing two nights, so it’s just really nice when you’ve got a few days in one f*****g city, and you can actually enjoy yourself, and you know, put your socks in a drawer. But it’s been cool, man, I think we’re all pretty excited.
You played some warm-up gigs in Brighton, how were they?
They were cool! It was all quite last minute, or it was all perceived to be last minute, obviously we knew we were doing it for a while, but it was amazing. Obviously the band started there, didn’t it, so the venues that we played, like The Albert, that’s where [frontman] Luke and [former drummer] Paul got their first gig, so in terms of the historic side of things, it’s pretty cool. We put the tickets out that morning, so there were people queuing round the block from like 5am. It was absolutely bonkers. It was a really fun day.
They’re proper intimate venues, aren’t they?
Super intimate, yeah. The Albert was like 80 capacity, and I think The Haunt was like 250 or something. It was pretty weird, but it was really fun to do, because we don’t get to do that s**t any more, d’you know what I mean? So it was fun, it was cool. And people take that away with them as well. Because we don’t need to do that, but it’s just wicked, we love doing that kind of s**t anyway. It was really cool, and it was such a nice day as well. It was quite difficult not to get smashed in the afternoon on the beach, but we kept it real.
How would you say new single Be Who You Are compares to the music The Kooks were releasing when you joined the band in 2008? Would you say it’s a good representation of where you guys are at as a band now?
I didn’t play on [debut album] Inside In/Inside Out, but I was in and out, me and [former bassist] Max were sort of flipping the coin as to who was playing that day. I joined a week before that came out, so I kind of grew with their music, especially that record, which is obviously a pretty life-changing record. You know what this band’s like, man, every record we try and do something a little bit different, not like massively, dramatically, not so that it’s unrecognisable, but that’s what we’ve always wanted to do, and I think it’s a cool way to do stuff. It keeps you on your toes, keeps everyone excited internally. In terms of the new single, I think, obviously it’s got elements of very early Kooks, and that’s kind of where we’re at at the minute. It’s not like we’ve rewritten the first record again, but we’re close to finishing the fifth album, which has kind of gone full circle, in terms of big guitars, big drums. I think Be Who You Are is probably the song that’s closest to the early style of the band. There’s a method to why we put that song out. There’s another f*****g fifteen songs that we could’ve put out, but we didn’t, and I think it’s a clever move because it’s recognisable, it’s kind of an ‘oh, The Kooks are back’. It’s our formula, dare I say it, of a jangly f*****g pop song. In that sense, it was a bit of a no-brainer, really, to go with that for the single. There’s loads more music which obviously you’re not going to hear for a bit, but it’s there, and it’s great, and it does lend itself to the early days of the band.
As a band, were you expecting to still have such a huge following today even after forming 14 years ago?
Yeah! No, I mean, you never know, do you? I think we’re eternally grateful that we can still function as an international touring band. We know the darker side of it where bands don’t last. It’s hard work, man, it’s hard to have longevity. I think we’re lucky because we are an international band, and I think that people forget that sometimes. We’re very lucky in the sense that we can tour globally, and we forget. We go to places and it’s like ‘s**t man, there’s like 10,000 people here’. We’re always still shocked, and I think that’s quite humbling. We’re always blown away. Some places it stays the same, some places it goes up, some it maybe goes down a little bit, but it’s always still going. It’s amazing, man. Even getting to the point of having a Best Of… album is amazing. We’re all over the moon, we’re celebrating that, that we’ve been together that long and people still wanna come to our shows. Fans stay young, too. I used to make this joke, years ago, like ‘f*****g hell, I’m old enough to be their dad’, as a joke, but now it’s true! And I’m like ‘s**t man, I’m so old’. But again, that’s a great thing, because the audience stays the same. Obviously there’s older fans, but there’s also still new fans. People sing along to songs that maybe they were like, two when the record came out.
I was like ten when the first record came out, and I love you guys!
There you go, it’s mad innit!
What’s your favourite song to play live?
Obviously we know the ones that the crowd go mad for, but it depends on the night. You can play She Moves In Her Own Way a million times, but the reactions could all be different. It’s just like, sometimes you can be like ‘I don’t wanna play this song any more, I’m so bored of hearing it’, and then sometimes you can get a whole festival full of 40,000 people all jumping up and down to it, and that changes things slightly! We’re like ‘this song’s awesome!’ We like playing new songs, d’you know what I mean? Like I’m sure if you spoke to most bands they’d say the same, playing new music is something we all wanna do. Personally, Westside, from [2014 album] Listen is a great tune, we all love playing it. I think it’s one that we all look forward to in the set. The set’s full of bangers on this tour, so we can’t really fail. Touch wood! I don’t wanna tempt fate. But people know what they’re coming to see, don’t they? It’s a Best Of… tour, we’re not going to be playing an hour and a half of b-sides, are we?
If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
The boys call me ‘Leopard’, I don’t know why, we’ve all got nicknames for each other, which I won’t go into, so I’d have to be a leopard personally. They call me ‘Leopard’, so I’d have to go with a leopard, wouldn’t I?
Feature Image: Dawbell PR