Luke Pritchard, lead singer and rhythm guitarist of The Kooks, had just had his morning coffee when we spoke. The gang recently released their fifth studio album, Let’s Go Sunshine, charting at number 9 on the UK Albums Chart - the new record marks the band’s highest charted release since 2008. Boasting feel-good tracks such as Fractured and Dazed and Chicken Bone, the release has sparked the band’s return to the road, with an upcoming tour planned including a stint as the headlining act at Adelaide’s ‘Beach Life Festival’. Beach Life has been heralded as an epic sunset festival by the water and boasts a pretty damn decent line up including Last Dinosaurs, Winston Surfshirt, and MANE as well as, of course, The Kooks.
Hey Luke. How are you?
I’m good thanks, really good. I’ve just had my first coffee so I’m starting to wake up. It must be night-time for you.
Sure is. I’ve just had dinner.
Thanks for taking the time after your dinner.
Thanks for taking the time after your coffee. If we just dive straight in – ‘Let’s Go Sunshine’ is brilliant. I’m really enjoying it. Can you tell me a bit about the concept and recording process? How does it differ from previous records?
Yeah absolutely. It felt very craftsy. We tried to go back to our roots and really capture the genuine chemistry of the band. During the conception of the last album I spent a lot of time one on one with a producer, but this record is more of a classic band record. We concentrated on putting pen to paper. The recording process was definitely more impulsive this time. I love working that way. We had a vibe and we executed it. It felt calm and clear. The lyrics and the story of the album reflect where we are now and things are good. We’re a bit more stable and comfortable and I think that comes across. We wanted to make a statement. We wanted to really go against the grain and make a proper band record. It was great.
What’s your favourite song to play live from the new record?
At the moment it would have to be Chicken Bone. I like songs with a bit of humour and I think we do that quite well. It’s good fun.
How did ‘Chicken Bone’ come about? What’s the story?
It’s really just about being claustrophobic in the city. You know, you’re sitting there, worrying about life, and then you go and see this woman on the other side of town and she makes your worries go away and calls me ‘Chicken Bone.’ It’s as simple as that. We’re painting a picture.
I’m from Adelaide and I believe you guys are heading down here to headline Beach Life Festival.
I’m so excited. I haven’t been to Adelaide for about five years.
Do you remember much from your last trip?
It’s a bit of a blur to be honest. We played with Tame Impala who are incredible and I remember going to their show and having a good night. Adelaide isn’t always on the tour circuit so it will be nice to come back and explore more. You’ll have to give me some tips on the hot spots.
Absolutely. Our beaches are great. Did you get a chance to take a dip in the ocean when you were here?
We didn’t have time. We played Groovin’ The Moo, which was great, but we didn’t get a chance to be tourists. I love playing festivals though. You really get to know the bands on the tour. Do you have the best beaches in Australia?
They’re pretty nice. The festival you’re playing at is by the beach so this time there’s no excuses.
Brilliant. I’ll put my sunscreen on.
Speaking of festivals, what can we expect from upcoming tour?
Rock and roll music and bum wiggles. It’s gonna be great. We’ve got another album under our belts and it’s a fun tour to showcase new songs. I’m really excited about it. We’ll try and throw in some surprises here and there. Hopefully the crowd will be up to it.
I’m sure they will be. Talk to me about band’s vibe on tour. What’s a night in the life?
It’s not all private jets and champagne (laughs). We like to have fun. We’ve had to tone it down a little bit. I mean, half our time in the early days was spent just being drunk. We’ve had to work on that and settle down. As an artist you’re sort of allowed to be a Peter Pan and I love that. We like to fuck around but these days we’ll throw in the odd art gallery. You have to have more of a balance. At the end of the day we just want to put on great shows and we’re really lucky with our fans. It sounds cheesy but we’re so thankful for the support we get. It’s allowed us to tour for so many years. We take the shows very seriously and it’s great being on tour with other bands as well. Of course, when we have a day off, shit gets crazy.
Yeah there are some great bands supporting you (Last Dinosaurs, MANE). Are you looking forward to it?
It’s a great line up. I think it’s going to be amazing. New festivals are great and it’s exciting to see some young bands in the mix.
What’s the plan for after the tour?
Have a great tour, and then maybe look at some other options. We’re in such a good spot as a band at the moment and we’d love to get creative and find some new ways of doing stuff. I think we want to do some live recordings. I’d like to look at film or TV, that kind of thing. Shake it up a bit before going back into the studio. I’m already writing though. I’d like to drop something fresh within the next year. It’s all really exciting. I’m also looking forward to people growing into Let’s Go Sunshine. We live in a time where it takes people a bit longer to really listen to records. I hope people dig it.
Last question Luke – what are you listening to at the moment?
Lots of rocksy music. Some older stuff. Parcels just dropped a new record and it’s kind of hipster chic. They’re really cool. I listen to quite a lot of jazz. I’m also loving the new Jungle album. And your boys Tame Impala just dropped a new song. Kevin Parker is so fucking good. The sonics makes you feel like you’re on the beach. It’s all just really cool.
I think our time is up but thanks so much for chatting. All the best.
Thanks so much. Same to you.
Beach Life festival kicks off on the 28th December. Get your tickets here.