One of the perks in working for Atlanta Music Guide is being asked from time to time to interview an artist who has an upcoming show in the area. Often these bands are up-and-coming, ones that can use every bit of extra buzz they can squeeze out of a city before showing up to perform to a hopefully packed out room. On rare occasion, international acts will reach out and it’s always an exciting feeling being asked to interview an artist who has clearly impacted the world of music. This week I had the opportunity to hop on a call with Luke Pritchard of The Kooks, whose hits include ‘You Don’t Love Me’, ‘Naïve’, and ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ found a recent resurgence in popularity through streaming services like Spotify, after spending a few years on the sidelines as their immediate popularity gave way to changing trends. I asked Luke about this and other experiences he’s had in his life writing songs and performing with The Kooks.
Jason: Hey Luke, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me! Since we’re on a bit of a time crunch let’s dive right in. Is being in a band like The Kooks something you always dreamed of? How has your life in music differed from your dreams or expectations?
Luke: For me personally, I always wanted to be the songwriter behind the band. I sort of fell into being a singer. When I was younger, it wasn’t really what I was thinking about, I didn’t really let myself go there. I loved writing music but the performance side felt quite distant. My life with The Kooks has truly surpassed what I ever thought it could be, but you also find yourself at airports a lot, doing mundane things between the excitement. Living in the music world is incredible, music is good for the soul and allows you to connect with people. You can never really prepare for people to be singing your songs in their bedroom and at your concerts.
Jason: It’s pretty interesting learning how famous musicians may have not intended for the version of celebrity that they find themselves in. The Kooks seemed to find overnight success when songs like “Naïve” were coming out. How did it feel to hear your music on the radio for the first time?
Luke: We were tuned in, it was wild. One of the best feelings you can imagine.
Jason: From the America side of things, it has always felt like the UK has a special influence on Pop and Rock music. Did you feel that as The Kooks were coming up?
Luke: America and the UK have such a push/pull relationship, with each having an ear on the other. I’ve thought about it, but it’s not really until you start doing well that you get the chance to think about it on a broad scale. We were in a batch of really exciting music. The Strokes and Jack White really helped blow up Rock Music again and were very influential for us like artists like us and the Arctic Monkeys. And maybe we influenced those bands as well, but it’s really hard to see yourself from the outside like that. You can just write the music and hope people feel what you feel. As far as how we might be influencing music… the band has eclectic taste, on the first album there were jazz chords, pop progressions, acoustic songs. We hope that we’re helping break down the idea that Pop is lame or a certain sound. It’s easy to dis a pop song but it’s incredible hard to get it just right.
Jason: The Kooks were exploding in the late 2000s but based on online streams it seems like you’re bigger than ever. It seems like Artists have more power than ever to directly control and promote their music, with that coming more and more competition as the tools to create and distribute music are handed to the creators themselves. As an established band does this excite you? What tips do you have for young artists navigating this new space?
Luke: It’s interesting, in a way Spotify kinda saved us. We had kinda fallen out of favor with the current taste-makers which is normal. We made one of the best records I feel like we had ever made called “Listen” but it commercially flopped. Bad Habit did well in The States as a single, but other than that the record label wasn’t happy with our numbers. Then it was kind of a surprise we suddenly are getting all these streams and we’re getting offers to play shows that are bigger than we’ve ever done before. It is nice that we have more control but it also forces us to create more and release more which can be hard to do for some artists, especially those not chasing the fame or reality celebrity aspect of social media. There’s a huge push to be releasing content constantly, but artists need to remember that they are creating something that will be lasting forever, so going for longevity is important for the lifetime of you’re career and what you leave behind.
Jason: How do you see The Kooks evolving over the next 10 years?
Luke: I think we still have a lot to prove and I feel like we have our best work ahead of us. We might take it easy for a year or so, keep putting music out as we want to. We’ve been running our own ship and we have the freedom to decide what we do, but we still want that feeling of making the best record we’ve ever done. We want to fight for it which makes it that much more exciting.
Jason: That’s amazing to hear! For fans that have maybe only heard the hits, why do you think they should listen to the new record (Let’s Go Sunshine)?
Luke: Because it’s full of hits that aren’t hits yet! It’s a definitive record for us, it has some really cool moments. It’s a real guitar band record which is going against the grain of what a lot of Pop artists are doing right now. I think people will like it if they know our music.
Jason: Is there anything that you’d like to do with The Kooks that hasn’t happened yet?
Luke: Play Glastonbury Music Fest. For someone who grew up in the UK, it doesn’t get bigger than that.
Jason: Alright Luke, we’re almost at the end. Before the interview I posted online asking for fan questions, here’s the Lightning Fan Round.
Luke: Go for it!
Jason: Liam or Noel (Gallagher)?
Luke: Ahhh, you got me, that’s a hard one. Liam (for now), his last record is really something.
Jason: What’s your favorite artist reaction to a song of theirs that you covered?
Luke: A song that we covered? It would probably be Dangermouse, we covered Crazy. We told him it was by far the best cover version of the song, he said he hadn’t heard it, but if it was us then he was sure it was fantastic. I’m still not sure if he ever actually listened to it.
Jason: Favorite American food?
Luke: Vanilla milk shake with fries dipped
Jason: Boxers or Briefs?
Jason: Do you enjoy listening to your own music?
Luke: I do, but it has a shelf life. Once it’s out in the world I usually don’t like listening to it, but between the recording and the release I can’t get enough.
Jason: Alright that’s it for the questions I have. You’ve honestly been great, thanks again for taking the time to do this and I can’t wait for the show on Tuesday!
Luke: My pleasure, hope to see you there!
The Kooks will be playing in Atlanta next week for the very first time. If you’re a long time fan or a relative newcomer, make sure you catch The Kooks with support from Barns Courtney and FUTURE FEATS at Buckhead Theater this coming Tuesday, February 19th, 2019.