The Kooks – New Influences, Old Friends and X-Factor(y)

With the recent release of their third album and an upcoming summer tour with appearances at Falls and Southbound Festivals, there is a lot to talk about with Luke Pritchard of the Kooks, but quite frankly, if you’re reading this interview you’ve probably heard the album and you’re probably going to one of their shows (if you were able to get tickets in Brisbane); the point of this being that a band as prolific and unique as The Kooks probably has a lot more to say about life, the (music) universe and everything.

When I get the call from Luke, he sounds groggy and like he just awoke. While I’m half right, he informs me that the reason for this is the band have just touched down in Los Angeles after touring the North West Coast of the US. As we start to chat about the ups, the downs, the round and rounds of touring (The Kooks will fly from LA over to the UK, back to the US then back to the UK before coming down to Australia in the next three weeks), I realise I’ve got a time limit so we better get into what people want to hear.

Getting a bit behind the latest album, Junk of the Heart, Pritchard delves into the recent influence of dance music, specifically LCD Soundsystem’s, The Sound of Silver.

“We were particularly into the LCD Soundsystem drum sound and beat; it is almost club-ish and we wanted to take the upbeat bounce of our sound and take out the heavy guitars and replace it with that electronic sound. Things like Lykke Li as well, I think she is one of the best new artists around … well, new when we began making this record. But I think a lot of that drum sound (on Junk of the Heart) is derived from Lykke Li’s sound and style. But we also wanted to keep the roots of what we do so we didn’t get too far into it.”

Having asked my standard album question, I can move on to more interesting subjects such as the reported tiff between Pritchard and Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys over the past eight years. What has been portrayed in media as a bit of a rivalry amongst Brit-Pop frontmen turns out to be another shameless fabrication stemming from an off-hand comment about a drunken night.

For those who don’t know, in 2005 it was reported that Alex Turner began unplugging Pritchard’s guitar during a set and Pritchard responded by kicking Turner in the face.

“It is funny, I mean … fuck it, I saw Alex a few months ago and things were fine. I saw him after the gig and we had a few beers. It was actually quite funny, because we had never met and he was just really off his face that night. I don’t know where it surfaced. I think I just said it off the cuff to someone, then all of a sudden that week became about that. It is not like it was a fist fight or anything though. Me and Alex actually get on really well. We’re just two guys in bands”

Though Pritchard seems relaxed about this whole media hype, we touch on a nerve at the mention of X-Factor.

“I love great music and I love great pop music as well. There is a lot of influence in our stuff from a lot of pop bands, but I just find things like X-Factor to be a fucking factory. Rather than people being developed behind closed doors, and you do get some great talent coming through, but they do it in front of people on a TV screen, getting no money and getting exploited to be laughed at. One or two of them might make a half decent pop song and that’s it. It is just so obviously bullshit. It is cheap television made with a lot of money to make and I think everyone should stand up at some point and say we’ve had enough of it. It was quite funny for a few years but let’s fuck it off. It is killing me that when it gets to Christmas time and all you see are Pop Idol and X-Factor people in the Top 40 and I just think that is clearly wrong. And I think most people would agree with that.”

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