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THE KOOKS The X-Press Interview

English indie rockers The Kooks have been around since 2004, and their new album, Let’s Go Sunshine, has proved a favourite among old and new fans alike. The band are New Year’s favourites in Australia, and will be returning this New Year to play Origin Fields Festival on Sunday, December 30. KIERRA POLLOCK chatted to singer Luke Pritchard about the album, ringing in the New Year in Australia and what it’s like to make a setlist when there’s so many songs to choose from.

Where’d you get the name Let’s Go Sunshine from?

That’s a good question, I don’t know (laughs). My rattling brain! I really wanted something positive and I think that what we are and what is going on in the world, and what we were presenting is a bit more of a positive outlook than what’s going on in the world so I kind of wanted to present that. It sounds like it could be a Beach Boys album or a Beatles album. It’s a bit on the nose, but we wanted to kind of set it out as a nod to our influences. The “Let Go” or “Let’s Go”; I wanted that feeling of release, and a bit of a hopeful outlook for the future.

This is your 5th studio album, was it difficult to balance between moving forward sound wise but also keeping fans happy who already love your sound?

It’s a funny one because you want a lot of people who listen to your music to still relate and connect to your sound, we kind of moved so far away on our last album, Listen, we did something so different that this album we went back to basics in terms of how we are, and we did some thinking about it and we wanted it to sound nostalgic like the first album, but we also wanted to move on so we used everything we learnt on Listen. There are moments on Let’s Go Sunshine where we are developing and moving on and challenging the listener a bit, but there’s a lot of nostalgia there and a lot of the DNA of the first record, and it was quite intentional to define what we are, because when you go so far away from what your making, from our point of view it got a little confusing, so there are certain songs like No Pressure or Four Leaf Clover that are heavily nodding back to our past and I hope it makes for quite a nostalgic listen for people, that’s what I was trying to create.

No Pressure is such a great track from the album, what’s the story behind it?

I think the lyrical thing is pretty simple. It’s about the haze of first falling in love with someone, and you almost have a weird kind of force field when you fall in love with someone at the beginning, so I was trying to encapsulate that. It’s again, a nod back to our older stuff, but moved on. The outlook while we were making it was, this is going to be a really classic record, very simple, about that first bit of love, and we aren’t trying to do any tricks you know? It’s a campfire song essentially. It’s like a Seaside part two.

You guys played Falls last year and you’ll be back for Origin this year, what’s it like getting to ring in the new year in Australia?

We seem to do it all the time! We obviously like it. It’s so cool, you get to bring in the New Year for the first time in the world, the first country to ring it in, and it’s just a really great time of the year to be over there and Australia means a lot to us. Its somewhere we’ve had amazing times. For us it’s kind of funny, we get around to the end of the year and we’re like, right must be time to go to Australia. We’re thrilled to be doing the triple j supported shows, they’ve been such a big support for us and we have so much love for that station and to collaborate on pretty much our first headline thing in Australia is really exciting, and we can’t wait to play the new songs! Australian crowds are very, very good.

Is it difficult coming up with setlist now that you have 5 studio albums? What’s that process like?

It’s kind of crazy because we have something like 90 published songs to choose from so it is quite hard. It’s going to be really hard now because obviously we want to most of the new album, but I think we’re going to have to play Naïve, most people would ask for their money back if we don’t (laughs). It’s a bit of a squabble between all of us, we just kind of sit down and flesh it out, and yeah its quite hard, but you kind of get into a rhythm and you know what songs work well live. For the Best Of… tour, we literally did the best of so most of the set was singles, but now we really want to play the songs we love not just because people know them, so it will be a little different the setlist.

You’ve had Picture Frame for a while, there was an acoustic version on the deluxe edition of Junk of the Heart, what’s the story behind the track and why did you decide to put a studio recording on this album?

Well there’s two songs, Picture Frame and Weight of the World that I’d been trying to get on records for years and we are sort of somewhat of a democracy so I haven’t managed to get them on, or we haven’t recorded them right. The story really is, those songs, everyone’s always identified them as strong tunes, they just haven’t been recorded right, and Picture Frame, I recorded the whole song on my own and I just think I captured this very intimate kind of moment. I did it away from the guys, like it wasn’t a plan to do it, I delivered the record and it felt good, and so it was a bit of a curveball. When I suggested it, no one was really too keen, they were like, “oh Picture Frame we know that song,” but I think the recording warranted having it on the album. I thought it was a really cool moment. It’s got those Buddy Holly strings, and it’s so modern but it’s got this super sixties feel to it that really works on this album, it definitely wouldn’t have worked on the last album. And Weight of the World just worked this time, with that Neil Young, Americana drum beat, it just fit on the record. I’ve had it for four or five years. Sometimes songs just take a minute. I guess we just nailed the recordings this time.

A lot of your music reminds me of very specific moments during the day, I love putting on Junk of the Heart in the morning, and Let’s Go Sunshine is the perfect driving album, do you have any songs or albums that do this for you?

Yeah, in the morning I love What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, that’s a good morning album, mid-tempo and beautiful. It’s got this real moral outlook which is always good for the morning. It’s moral, but it’s got some fighting. That’s one of my all-time morning albums, or maybe Sam Cooke. And then as the day progresses I might edge into some jazz, Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, that’s one of my favourite records. What’s your afternoon album?

I’m not sure really! The new Arctic Monkeys album goes good in the afternoon…

Yeah that’s a good afternoon one. Mid-tempo, interesting chords, mad lyrics. I love that album. It’s so cool. It’s really nice when you get a record from someone that you completely don’t expect, it’s really exciting.

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