The Kooks

The Kooks have always been one of our favourite bands. All of us three writers from indie.vidualist fell in love with their music around the same time of our lives, even though we didn’t even know each other back then. We met because of this band, that’s why they will always have a special place in our heart.

We’re celebrating our 5 year anniversary this year… so we thought, why not sit down for a little interview with them?
When they were back in Munich a few weeks ago, we did exactly that. Enjoy!

So you guys have just released your „Best Of… So Far“. It includes two new songs, can you tell us a bit about them?
Luke: „Be Who You Are“ was the first single. Working on it was kinda like back to basics, you know? I wanted to write a song with three or four chords, really upbeat, maybe reminiscent of the first album. That was the thought process. We recorded it all live together, one take. Compared to the fourth album it was such a different way of working.
Pete: Yeah, it really captured the essence of the band.

And „Broken Vow“?
Luke: I wrote that song with a girl called LP, who‘s a friend from L.A. She‘s a songwriter and she just released a brilliant record. She‘s a buddy – the way we met is a cool story, and totally true! I met her in a strip bar in L.A. We kind of looked exactly the same – slightly dylanesque, and I saw that we were wearing the same shoes. We were kinda like: „Ok, we gotta be best mates!“. So we became really close really quickly.
Anyway, she’s a writer – she‘s written stuff for Rihanna and all these big people and now she’s got a chance to do her own thing. But it was really cool, she had some time, came in and she’s actually in the track!

Is she doing the backing vocals? I noticed them. They’re rad.
Luke: Yeah, that’s her! The song is all about a catholic school girl, out on the weekends… I went to a catholic school and I think she went, too. We talked about our memories, about how religion sometimes is oppression and people go the other way – they rebel. It’s mid tempo, slower than most Kooks songs, real American.
Pete: It‘s a fun song to play live as well, because it is so different.

You‘ve been around for over a decade now… so what‘s the secret? How do you keep a band together for such a long time?
Luke: It‘s actually not that big of a secret I think. We respect each other, we haven’t always get along well, but we listen to each other. We also never had any money or girl problems between each other, haha!

You’ve met lots of cool artist over the last few years… if you could form a supergroup out of all the people you met, who would you pick?
Pete: I think I’d get Paolo Nutini involved.
Luke: Great, that’s the singer, so I’m out. Haha!
Pete: Also Matty from The 1975. And Andy Rourke from The Smiths. He’s on bass, so I’m out too, brilliant.
Luke: Haha! Let’s say we’ll have Paolo, Lykke Li, Andy Rourke – then Al, Hugh, you and me – and maybe Albert Hammond Jr.?
Pete: How about Adam Green?
Luke: Yes I love Adam Green, he’s a cool guy. ALL OF BLOSSOMS! And Ed Sheeran, he’d make us well popular, ha. And what about Will Champion from Coldplay?
Pete: For sure, he’s a great guy!
Luke: Hell yeah, he could play percussions with Al!

The music industry can be a pretty fucked up place and labels can be difficult to deal with & easily ruin your career… which advice would you give to young artists and bands who are just diving into that scene?
Luke: Choose wisely with people rather than money. You have to have managers you trust more than anything. And even when you have a great team it can be tough, they can get fired or move to another label and suddenly you get put together with someone you don’t go along with very well. The worst thing that happened to us was when we did our 3rd album. The head of the label signed some bands whose music he just personally liked better, so of course you go down like 5 places on the list, you know? But you can’t control it.
Pete: Yeah I agree. And choose people who are willing to take risks as well, it shows their passion, so that I think is pretty important too.

I remember that on your last tour you worked with Mind. Recently a lot of artists have opened up about mental health problems… is this generally something that is talked about in the music business?
Luke: Not enough for sure. There are so many people that are opening up about mental health, about having a therapist, so I think that’s changed over the past few years. But it’s still not how it should be. I think when you are an artist, you are also much more prone to depression. That side of your brain is kinda open, you know? I feel like artists are generally more sensitive to these things. Not that other people aren’t, but especially with artists sometimes it‘s that they have been depressed, and sometimes that is what inspired them. But it definitely should be talked about more. Even though I think we‘re on a good way.
Pete: I think the other problem we have is finding people that can actually help, isn‘t it? But I think it‘ll get better. I hope.
Luke: We’re working on a project at the moment, which is not just about people with depression, but people who have mental disabilities, who can’t interact with others in life at all… music can be a massive helper. Music therapy is such a wonderful thing. We as a band are quite passionate about stuff like that. We all have friends – or ourselves – that have been going through some stuff, so we’re really passionate about these sort of things. I hope we’re doing more in the future.

If you could join one band on tour for one week, which one would you choose?
Luke: We got lucky, ’cause we’re supporting Arcade Fire later this year – who are one of our favourite bands!
Pete: Blossoms! Forever!

Which three songs should be part of every roadtrip soundtrack?
Luke: The Weight by The Band, definitely.
Pete: Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen, such a roadtrip tune!
Luke: And Observatory Crest by Captain Beefheart!

And now a really cute one, to end this lovely interview. What is one thing you admire most about each of your fellow bandmembers?
Luke: Just one thing? Oh wow that’s tough. There are many.
Pete: I think we’re a really caring, sensitive bunch. For sure. More than any other band I’ve ever met. Some bands don’t even talk to each other. We’re all super good mates, we go for tea or lunch and actually enjoy spending time together.
Luke: I’m gonna say one word for each member, and you might laugh, but Pete… how brave he is. Hugh… I love how far left-field he can go. And Al… I really appreciate his humility. But it’s really hard to encapsulate one person in just one word, ha. But those things came to mind when you asked this. And especially with Pete, I really mean that, when you first came into the band we were a little mess and you came in like „Alright let’s fucking do this“!
Pete: Yeah, but that was also really mutual.
Luke: That‘s right. You needed us, and we needed you.

The Kooks in Munich / Photo by Lisa Lovegood, © indie.vidualist

Band photo by