HotStar: The Kooks
For a group that named themselves The Kooks, it’s fitting that one of its first singles was "Eddie’s Gun," a tongue-in-cheek song about a guy who fails to rise to the occasion during a romantic moment.
Although it may not be a funny subject to some, the Brighton, U.K., band, which took its name from a David Bowie song and is composed of frontman Luke Pritchard, drummer Paul Garred, lead guitarist Hugh Harris and temporary bassist Dan Logan, has had a lot to smile about since its whirlwind to success began back in late 2003.
Garred told Pollstar that he, Pritchard and Harris, along with former bassist Max Rafferty, all attended Brighton Institute of Modern Music and found that after starting to write songs together, they "hit it off, musically."
One reason the band works so well together is that although Pritchard is the chief songwriter, the rest of the band helps write songs, contribute ideas and "chip in what we can and where it’s needed," he explained.
"It’s learning to understand the fact that you’re not just on your own. Your opinions are not necessarily valid, because everyone has their own opinions about how something should sound.
"It’s a real sort of collective mentality that we have. We just want to write as many songs as possible that are good and just get our music out to as many people as possible. And that was pretty much the first thing that connected us and we’ve been doing it ever since."
On the flip side, Garred said not always seeing eye-to-eye helped the band develop its unique indie rock sound, which includes a blend of everything from reggae to punk influences. When the guys "couldn’t agree where we wanted to take the band, we just kind of threw everything in the hat."
After compiling a four-song demo, the group sent it to a guy they were hoping to get a gig from, who sent it to his friend, who became one of their managers.
The Kooks are managed by Robert Swerdlow, David Nicoll and Mark Nicholson and Garred explained that for the band, three heads are better than one.
"Within the diplomacy of our band we’ve also got a diplomacy in the management side of things as well. One of them will disagree with the other two or whatever and they eventually come to an agreement, which is the way we can go forward. … It’s been great because the people who work with us are absolutely phenomenal. And it’s helped our dream so we’ve been able to take it to the next level."
Swerdlow told Pollstar that the team of managers was just as impressed with the band.
"We were blown away by the quality of the songs and the performances on the demo," Swerdlow said. "There was an incredible sense of youth and vitality drawing from many, many influences and styles. It was the best demo we had heard in ages."
Paradigm’s Steve Ferguson, the Kooks’ North American booking agent, agrees.
"It was just one of those things where you listen to the music and you’re like, ‘Wow.’ And every track you listen to is just as good as the first one that you listened to. And that’s always a good sign," Ferguson told Pollstar.
Garred said their management "put the feelers out there" to get A&R to check out the band live. Within four months of forming, The Kooks inked a deal with Virgin/Astralwerks Records.
"It just snowballed," Garred said. "Every time I talk about it, I just feel like it’s a bit of a dream. … It’s a bit of a blur, to be honest.
"The one thing that I always say to myself is that you can never take it for granted. It’s just the best job that I can ever dream of," Garred said. "[We] just enjoy traveling the world, seeing people, and hopefully giving them a good time when you play a gig, which is exactly the reason why we started a band."
Ferguson said the live show is even more exuberant and lively than the sound on the record that first won over Paradigm.
"They love to get the crowd into it and the crowd reaction from the shows I’ve seen, both here and in the U.K., is pretty much over the top, screaming and shouting all the words. It’s kind of nice that it’s not just a bunch of people with their arms folded that are too cool for school like, ‘Oh yeah, impress me.’ The fans do come out in droves and they’re real fans."
Garred described their live audience as "almost like a sedimentary rock."
"There always seems to be plenty of girls at the gigs, which is never a bad thing. And they’re all at the front dancing. And all the blokes seem to be just behind them," Garred said. "And just behind them you’ve got the slightly older people. It’s always been like that. … We’ve got a real nice cross section of fans."
After touring nonstop during 2006, The Kooks played roughly 30 gigs last year and spent the rest of their time in the studio writing and recording their sophomore album. Konk is set to be released April 14th.
The Kooks have dates lined up throughout Europe and the U.K. for April and the beginning of May. Next they’ll tour the U.S. with a couple of Canadian dates thrown in through June and then it’s back to Europe and the U.K. for another slew of dates through July.