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10th December 2008
The first thing to learn about The Kooks (named, need we mention, after the track of the same name on 'Hunky Dory') is that, as their name suggests, they like to take a chance. But let's get nineteen year old singer Luke Pritchard to explain: "Bands tend to do one thing and then stick to it" he says, constructing a roll-up beneath a tangle of Syd Barrett-esque curls. "With The Kooks we plan to do the opposite. When there's so much music to explore, why limit yourself?"
Brighton's The Kooks are that rarest of pop entities: a scuzzy, fresh-faced group to fully restore your faith in the holy grail of English singer-songwriting stretching from Supergrass via (early) Blur to The Kinks and beyond. Their songs are crammed full of incidents on buses, bedroom mishaps -more of which laterand stinging teenage putdowns which will strike a chord with anyone who's ever found themselves fumbling for clues on the sofa, but they're also blessed with a cheerful irreverence most record companies would prefer was preserved in amber rather than rampaging across the nation's venues. It doesn't end there. Pin-sharp and scarily young (guitarist Hugh usurps Jared Followill as the youngest man in rock, having just turned seventeen), they also possess record collections which date back to the dawn of time.
In the course of an hour The Kooks (Luke: vocals,guitar; Hugh Harris; lead guitar, Max Rafferty; bass, Paul Garred; drums) will happily rave about everyone from The Police to The Everley Brothers to Funkadelic to the component parts of medieval folk. Probe further and it turns out the first song they played together was The Strokes' 'Reptilia'.
Conducting his own research program into the likes Of Neil Young, Nick Drake and Chuck Berry, Luke recruited louche bassist Max Rafferty (first gig: Jacques Loussier) and under the tutor-duping disguise of a 'school project' set about becoming The Kooks. Snapped up by Virgin following an incendiary four-song debut at the Brighton Free Butt, they have since found themselves heckled in Stoke, playing to horrifying ghouls (an ill-fated Hallowe'en bash in Liverpool) and mobbed on a national tour with The Thrills, all the while fine-tuning their youthful assault in a dis-used bread factory. "We all write songs and all love loads of different music so we argue a lot about how and what to play" continues Luke. "That's what rehearsing is about for us. But because of the way Max and Hugh play there's a soul and reggae feel to what we do which is vital. We're a groove rock'n'roll band who want to make people dance.."
First proof comes with The Kooks incredible debut single 'Eddie's Gun'. A grinding speed rocker beginning with Luke screeching "Did you see the way she looked at me?" amid an almighty shower of drumming, it ends with a four instrument pile-up and is as deeply impressive as a debut single gets. Second track 'Sofa Song' is -whisper it- even better.
To these ears they're the finest, most ecstatic celebration of youthful misdemanours since Supergrass's 'Caught By The Fuzz' or -pass grandad's ear-trumpet- The Who's 'Pictures Of Lily'. After all, as Max candidly points out, 'Eddie's Gun' is about "erectile dysfunction". The mind boggles at what the album (scheduled for 2006) will be like. "I want the album to include all types of music, no genres excluded" continues Luke, another long afternoon of rehearsals ahead.
"From Bobby Womack to The Clash!" beams Max.
"We don't want to hide from taking risks,"adds Luke.
"I liked the fact The Coral's first album dared to be different. That's what groups are there to do. We want to challenge what's expected of us. But right now we're about making great pop music. So many bands are scared of pop and they shouldn't be. When it's good, there's nothing better. And we mean to have fun with it !"
Your chance to get up close and personal with The Kooks at one of londons most intimate venues.