Always where they need to be, still – an interview with Pete Denton from The Kooks

By Zsófia Borsi

For the past 6-7 years, I’ve been obsessed with The Kooks to an almost embarrassing degree. The Kooks are an indie-rock band from Brighton that most people in the UK have probably heard about and maybe even seen perform.

Elsewhere in Europe, it wasn’t always so easy to see them live, especially for under 18’s. I remember pretending to be my 30-year-old brother’s girlfriend in Barcelona in 2011 or climbing onto strangers’ shoulders at SZIGET Festival in 2014 just to get a glimpse of Luke Pritchard. Needless to say, it was all so worth it.

However, I had never thought that one day, I would be ‘casually’ chatting to Pete Denton on the phone, for a solid twenty minutes. After all, why would such an accomplished band accept an interview request from a student newspaper? But then my phone rang, and it was their manager asking if I would be ready for the interview with Pete in about an hour. I spent that hour ‘preparing,’ mostly by dancing in my room to the funkiest Kooks tunes and perfecting my fake British accent, rather unsuccessfully.

Not knowing what to expect, the interview itself was such a positive surprise. Pete was extremely chatty, friendly and honest, and I could sense the excitement in his voice whenever he mentioned their upcoming record.

 

You joined the Kooks in 2008 as bass guitarist, right? How did that happen?

I actually met the guys in 2006. But they needed a couple of years to work me out, to see if I was the right one to take… turns out I am!

First, I was asked to play the bass at a couple of their shows, even though I had only played the guitar before. They’re quite a different instruments. Playing the bass was rather tricky in the beginning. After two years of playing together on and off, we both just thought, you know what, let’s stick together. Luckily, joining The Kooks got me out of my job at Sainsbury’s.

You’ve just announced on Facebook that you’ll do some ‘intimate’ pub gigs on Saturday in Brighton, where everything started. I can imagine you haven’t played at such small venues in a while.

Oh yeah, I honestly can’t wait! Two shows in one day sounded like a good idea  and it usually is. It’s nice to have a little cheeky gig to get people excited. I hope they still want to see us, though.

Your ‘Best of…’ album is to be released soon, including your favourite tunes from over the years. Any personal favourites?

All of them! Just joking. But from the new record that is coming out later this year, I’d say pretty much everything.

How would you describe your two new songs featured on the album?

‘Be Who You Are’ has the same kind of genetics as older Kooks stuff, but ‘Broken Vow’ is quite a departure from that, so is the rest of the record: it is just a bigger sounding album. Song-wise, they’re all fantastic.

‘I’m not going to say that I really, truly love every single song we have ever written, because that just wouldn’t be true. At the same time, I am very proud of everything we do.’

It’s very difficult to have a favourite from our new record though, because they really are oh-so-good. The process of recording it and having a little ‘sesh’ together again, just worked massively well. I can’t wait for you guys to hear it because it is great. We should be the new U2 soon. Fingers crossed!

Recording or touring?

To be honest, until this last session, I didn’t really enjoy recording. We’ve been in this industry for a long time, and sometimes all you want to do is leave. But recording the new album was a much freer process. We decided what we wanted and when, but we ended up always being in the studio anyway: everyone wanted to be part of each thing, which I think must have contributed to the whole record as well.

And obviously I love touring, especially in the summer. I’ve got two small kids, so touring means I can sleep more  wink wink.

What’s the most insane place you’ve visited while on tour?

Oh, we had a few  for both good and bad reasons. But Brazil was pretty amazing, Rio especially, with its real carnival atmosphere. Also Australia, I remember when me and my friends just got on this yacht and spent the whole afternoon cruising around. These are the moments when you just check yourself again and think, wow, what a cool job I have.

Does it feel different to play in the UK than in front of an international crowd?

Well, we are British boys, aren’t we? Of course you want to be successful in the place where you’re from. Luckily, we’re not solely dependent on that as we have a massive international crowd, too. But it’s nice to see that there’s still a lot of love here, as it’s been a long time and we’re an older band now. We are lucky lads, really. And we do appreciate it  we are not arses.

Last question: Any advice for readers, what bands should we look out for in 2017?

We’ve got a couple of cool bands playing with us on this tour: one is Clean Cut Kid. And another band called Fickle Friends. Both of them are great, make sure to check them out!

 

The Kooks will be playing in Newcastle at the O2 Academy on 27 April.

Less known Kooks songs worth checking out:

  • Melody Maker
  • Time Above The Earth
  • Tick of Time
  • Lonely Cat
  • Brooklyn
  • Nothing Ever Changes
  • Eddie’s Gun

Photograph: Facebook

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