Everything has come together for the Kooks in an exceedingly short amount of time. The quartet, whose average age pans out to 21-22, first put their heads together in 2003 as a “school project.” They officially banded together as the Kooks in 2005, and had been playing gigs in their native Britain for only three months before they signed to Virgin.
Then they entered the studio with Tony Hoffer (Beck, Supergrass) for six weeks. They walked out with an album, “Inside In/Inside Out” and released it in February last year. To date, four singles have charted in the U.K. and the group’s first in the U.S., “Naive,” is currently sitting at No. 24 on Billboard Modern Rocks chart.
“We got together just on a whim, really, and then did up an EP demo. We sent it out to get a gig but then all of a sudden we got managers instead,” says dreamy frontman Luke Pritchard. “We know we got signed quickly — it’s really just outstanding for us. Our label in the U.K. gave us time and energy. They were patient with us and let us develop our style, whatever it is.”
What “it is” is impulsive, melodic rock’n’roll. For what it’s worth, the Kooks sound solidly British, a term and title they’re not afraid to shy away from. “We’re coming from a long line of British pop music, from the Kinks to the Smiths to Blur. I like that thought,” Pritchard admits. “Of course, we’re doing our own thing as well. But, coming to America, being a British band, it’s an important part of who we are. It really is British-sounding.”
Finding a solid, tangible sound was the band’s first real challenge. They initially went into the studio with hundreds of songs from a variety of genres, and it took an “incredible amount of patience” from Hoffer to whittle down the essence of what would become the record.
“Tony’s one of the best in the world. He makes you think for yourself. I’d get a bit assy in the studio, trying to figure out what the hell to do or just mess around, and he’d be like, ‘Just f***in’ do it, quit being stupid,'” Pritchard says. “We didn’t know who we were before we entered the studio. We left knowing who were were. The record wouldn’t work without someone like Tony.”
The group hopes to build on their identity as they grow older, but its their youth, they feel, that has made up so much of their sound.
“I feel the younger you are, the more pure the songwriting is going to be. It’s like we’re much less tainted by the world, less f***ed up by the s*** that’s around us,” he says. “But lots of people talk about us being young, like, ‘You’re so young to be doing this.’ But think of Bob Dylan, how young he was when he did up ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.’ That’s when we think to get humble and make it a serious business.”