“We always try and go against the grain, we always have…” - hmv.com talks to The Kooks
For any band deciding when to celebrate what you’ve done in your career so far is always a tough question. Especially if you haven’t broken up. Go too early and it looks like you’re trying to rip off your fans, go too late and you end up leaving off much-loved tracks.
The best time is when you’re closing one chapter of your career and moving onto the next one, and that is what The Kooks seem intent on doing with the release of their Best Of compilation today (you can purchase it now on the right-hand side of the page).
We spoke to frontman Luke Pritchard about why the band had decided now was the time to look back at their career so far and why a new album isn’t all that far away...
Why did you decide now was the time for a ‘Best Of’?
“We like the tradition of what a band is, but we always try and go against the grain, we always have. We kept hearing stories and seeing it people on Twitter getting nostalgic about the band and we decided it might be nice to have a little celebration of our 11 years. Rather than just touring the first album, we decided we’d put together the songs that really define us as a band for a new compilation. It’s been nostalgic, but we’ve really enjoyed going through all the old music.”
Was it difficult to decide on what tracks would be on the album?
“It was quite straightforward. We all turned up with the same tracks in mind. I was sorry to leave off ‘See The World’, and there’s ‘Lonely Cat’, which is a really great old B-Side, but it’s inevitable you won’t get all the ones you want.”
There are two new songs on there, have they been around for a while?
“‘Broken Vow’ had been around for a while, but ‘Be Who You Are’ was new. I wrote that more in the spirit of the early songs, I went back and just worked with three chords. We wanted to get something fresh on there. Tracks that were straightforwardly rock n’roll.”
You said earlier you could have toured your first album Inside In/Inside Out, was that a serious possibility?
“No, we never properly discussed it, but I knew it was an option, I’ve seen bands do that. We never took it seriously, but we definitely wanted to document our career so far and that’s why we settled on a Best Of.”
Have you enjoyed looking back at the early days?
“It’s been great. It’s been good to look back and just be proud. When you’ve got a new album to promote you’re so focused on new stuff and this is just nostalgia, it makes for a more relaxed campaign, you don’t feel like you need to push your new music.”
Are you guys working on anything new?
“We’re almost finished with the new album. We’re also about to move from our label so this compilation is basically a farewell to them as we move on with the new album. We’ve been with Virgin for 10 years so it’s good to say goodbye. We’ll be finishing the new album over the summer, I was hoping it’d be this year, but I think it’ll be early next year.”
Does this album pick up where Listen left off?
“It’s different. We never really stick to one way of working in this band. That was a great album for us creatively and we learnt a lot, I loved working with InFlo, but the new album is a band record. We’ve been recording altogether, the last album was more like a collage, a very modern record, starting with samples and building a track. The new album is a full band record, so it’s quite different.”
Have you been working with a producer?
“We’ve been working with Brandon Friesen, he actually works with Billy Ray Cyrus quite a lot, they’ve got a label together. We met him at this party and we got on really well and we’ve been working pretty solidly.”
You did your first three albums with the same producer, Tony Hoffer, has it been nice to branch out?
“I like it a lot. I’ve grown to love writing with other people, I pretty much wrote everything on the first three albums myself and the band would finish songs, but the last two albums have been letting people in and working in different ways. I like to keep things fresh, you keep being inspired that way.”
Finally, you’re out on the road over the summer, are there any shows you’re particularly looking forward to?
“We don’t have loads of UK festivals, but we are doing Isle Of Wight, which we’ve got a great history with, we’re supporting Arcade Fire twice that week and I love them so I’m excited to see those guys and hang out. Should be a lot of fun.”