The Kooks have announced their sixth album ’10 Tracks To Echo In The Dark’ by sharing new EP ‘Connection – Echo in the Dark Part 1’. Check out everything below, along with our interview with singer Luke Pritchard.
Work on the album started in Berlin with local producer Tobias Kuhn before the pandemic, and features collaborations with German duo Milky Chance and Swedish EDM musician Neikid. Although the album was finished with Tobias in London, the European flavour was a deliberate response to the continuing problems for British musicians after Brexit.
’10 Tracks To Echo In The Dark’ is the first album The Kooks have made since Luke got married to singer-songwriter Ellie Rose and the couple became parents to son Julian, who is now 10 weeks old. It also contains ‘Sailing On A Dream’, the first song on a Kooks album to be written by the full band of Luke, guitarist Hugh Harris and drummer Alexis Nunez.
The release of the ‘Connection’ EP, also featuring the songs ‘Jesse James’ and ‘Modern Days’, comes as The Kooks begin a delayed 15th anniversary tour for their debut album ‘Inside In/Inside Out’, which starts on Monday (January 31) and climaxes with three shows at Brixton Academy on February 17-19. We spoke to Pritchard about what went into the new music, and what’s to come.
Hi Luke. The Kooks’ new song ‘Connection is an upbeat love song – is it about your wife?
Luke Pritchard: “It is, 100 per cent. It’s about the night we met, at (legendary Soho pub) The French House. We drank martinis all night and then Elle beat me at chess. That’s when I fell in love with her. I didn’t expect to fall in love. I’d given up on love a bit, and then there she was. ‘Connection’ is pretty pure. You can try to be too clever when writing a love song, and I just wanted to write a song about falling in love at first sight.”
As well as getting married since The Kooks’ last album ‘Let’s Go Sunshine’ in 2018, you’ve become a favourite among a new generation of students. Why do you think that is?
“’Inside In/Inside Out’ has got a lot of energy. It’s a coming-of-age album with a lot of angst, which is probably why teenagers still discover it. Really, though, I don’t know. Maybe it’s an algorithmic thing. The world is mad like that, but it’s exciting for us. Coming into this album, we wanted to make an album with a youthful, fresh spirit. That’s what The Kooks are all about. We’re comfortable with who we are and we’re having fun with it. We’re not trying to smash up our back catalogue on this album. There are fresh ideas, but this is an album for our fans.”
What’s the thinking behind releasing ’10 Tracks To Echo In The Dark’ as three EPs and then compiling them into an album?
“We’re not trying really hard to be Number One. We just felt like a change, and EPs seemed a fun, modern way of doing that: an EP is not too much and not too little. Ironically, this is maybe the most cohesive record we’ve ever made, we’re just releasing it as EPs instead. It’s called ’10 Tracks To Echo In The Dark’ as I like the idea of it being a cassette playlist. That’s an idea that came about from the front covers of old sci-fi novels I’d been reading in the pandemic. So it’s a cassette playlist, but one you can play on Spotify too. I feel like ’10 Tracks To Echo In The Dark’ sounds more like a movie title than an album title too.”
Why did you start making the album in Berlin before the pandemic hit?
“I wanted to work in Europe. We’re such a European band and, after Brexit, I wanted this record to have a European connection. Berlin has got a relaxed lifestyle and I just wanted to chill. London and LA can be very hyper, which is exciting, but I’m a family man now. If I wasn’t in the studio, I was hanging out in cafes. If I’d gone to Berlin five or 10 years ago, it would have certainly been messy. Berlin caters for that too.”
How do you feel about the impact of Brexit on British bands in Europe?
“It’s really sad. When we started, touring was so easy and gave us a fanbase. It’s been done for, in my view, not a lot of reasons and I predict we’ll re-join in five or 10 years, because the situation now is so unfair. We’ve got to be on our toes in British music. We’ve made some of the greatest albums ever, but that can change quite quickly. We’re in danger of musicians not being supported enough in this country. In 10 years, we could look back and think ‘Why don’t we have another huge band?’ It’ll be because the support isn’t there.”
As a family man, are there any songs about your baby son Julian on the album?
“I wrote ‘Beautiful World’ on the morning I found out Elle was pregnant. I was obviously feeling super-positive and wrote this song about how new life is amazing, even when the world is complete chaos. Milky Chance feature on the song, which is great as they’re both dads too.”
Presumably it’s too early for Julian to be showing any signs of inheriting his parents’ musical talents?
“Well, he listened to a lot of Beatles in the womb and he loves female power pop. His favourite song is ‘Coconuts’ by Kim Petras. That’s definitely a breastfeeding anthem. If he tries to rebel, it’ll be seeing me and Elle and going ‘Yeah, that’s great, but I’m going to be a doctor or an accountant.’ There are obviously guitars in the corner of the house, but we won’t thrust what we do upon him. Hopefully, by the time Julian is 18 we’ll have got out of his way. As a dad, you lose a bit of ego and realise it’s all about the next generation now.”
Speaking of kids, where did the children’s choir on ‘Cold Heart’ come from?
“The Pauline Quirke Academy – Pauline [of Birds Of A Feather fame] is the actor, who’s started a singing group for kids. They came to our studio and did an amazing job. The song is about a woman who kept dumping me, getting back together with me, dumping me… The ethos of the album is about the inner child and trying to find compassion. ‘Cold Heart’ ends with the inner child – children talking back to you when you’re an adult, trying to figure it all out.”
You sing about your insecurities in ‘Oasis’. Do you feel insecure as a singer?
“Oh yeah. You have to be vulnerable to be a good artist. There was something missing before this album, an inner peace. Before, I was this edgy, angsty, anxious guy. I didn’t want to be interviewed, didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to do anything. Now, it’s about trying to enjoy the moment. I still drink, but before, it was a crazy circus. I’m not saying I’m there, but I’ve been enjoying trying to be at peace with things.”
Although ‘Connection’ is a straight-up love song, the final track ‘Without A Doubt’ is a much darker ballad about “Wanting to be someone else”. What inspired it?
“When I met Elle, I was in quite a bad spot. I’d had bad relationships and was looking for answers in all the wrong places. I was successful. On paper, I should have been happy, but I was completely miserable. The line you’ve quoted refers to a time when, yes, I was ready to walk away from everything. Elle sorted me out and I turned my life around. Meditation has been amazing for me – I think it should be taught in schools. It’s why the universe is mad: you turn a corner, walk into a pub and your life changes completely. It’s an acoustic song, but we made it with the EDM producer, Neikid.”
You mentioned your love of sci-fi earlier. Do you have a sci-fi novel in you?
“I keep starting to write one, so I’m going to say yes. I keep coming back to a story about Element 115. It’s an element with a proven potential reality, which can create universes. It’d be a love story, based within the government covering up universes made with Element 115. That’s the hypothesis so far.”
You made an album with Elle as Duo in 2020. Do you have plans for any more music together?
“Who knows, we might make an album for Julian. We’ve got a little studio in Whitstable and sit in nature, writing tunes. It’s very chill. We will do more music, but we probably won’t promote it that heavily. It’s great to work with your partner. But I don’t know if we’d survive touring together, that might be a step too far.”
The Kooks release new album ’10 Tracks To Echo In The Dark’ on July 22 via Lonely Cat/AWAL Recordings. Check out the tracklist below.
2. ‘Cold Heart’
3. ‘Jesse James’
5. ‘Sailing On A Dream’
6. ‘Beautiful World’
7. ‘Modern Days’
10. ‘Without A Doubt’
The band will also tour their debut album ‘Inside In/Inside Out’ from Monday (January 31), following a 15th anniversary reissue of the album in August 2021.
The Kooks’ tour dates are below. Support comes from The Snuts.
31 – O2 City Hall, Newcastle
1 – Pavilions, Plymouth
3-4 – O2 Academy, Birmingham
5 – Centre, Brighton
7-8 – O2 Academy, Glasgow
11 – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
12 – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
14-15 – O2 Academy, Leeds
17-19 – O2 Brixton Academy, London