The Kooks’ Luke Pritchard on five inspiring evolutions
British rockers the Kooks are difficult to classify. For most of frontman Luke Pritchard’s career, he produced the kind of off-kilter indie rock that infected most college radio stations. But on last year’s “Listen,” the days of tunes like “Naive” and “Always Where I Need to Be” feel distant in light of an upbeat, poppy new sound, riddled with global beats and handclaps. Pritchard, who collaborated with hip-hop producer Inflo and sought inspiration in African jazz, says that fans don’t mind the change. “We kind of have this microcosm, with so many people coming to shows and so much love for the new albums, but we’re not pushing it down people’s throats,” he said in a phone interview. “They like that we’re taking new risks with our new albums, and doing something a bit deeper.” Calling from Austin, Texas, Pritchard reflected on his top five inspiring musical evolutions.
David Bowie: It’s a very obvious cliche when you talk about it. . . . Even like if you think about “Hunky Dory,” which has the song “Kooks” on it — it is a funky record. The way he could pick up new music that was around him and jump from one style to another, and obviously working with different producers in the same way, was definitely inspirational to us.
Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz): One of my absolute heroes. . . . Blur was quite a diverse band anyway, but Blur into Gorillaz was this huge jump musically. . . . [When working on “Listen”], I found a lot of really interesting Ethiopian jazz music, which led me on a bit of a path. What Damon was doing really tuned me into that stuff.
Bob Dylan: He’s so stubborn, so brilliantly stubborn; he doesn’t want to be bored. He never wants to repeat the same thing twice. In the concerts I’ve seen of his, he doesn’t even sing the same note anymore. (laughs) He’s challenging himself, he has so many sides to him. If you even think about “Nashville Skyline,” he completely changed his voice — he sounds like a different singer.
Beck: I didn’t really get into Beck until I was a bit older. I was obviously massively aware of him from his “Odelay” days, but where he went to “Sea Change,” which is almost like Neil Young — that record is quite eclectic, but each record has a distinct sound. The Kooks, we always try to do that: The new album is very eclectic, each song is in a different world.
Quincy Jones producing Michael Jackson (“Thriller”): Inflo hit me up with a lot of knowledge I wouldn’t have known about. You look at Michael and how he pushed from “Off the Wall” and his next solo record after being in a pop band with his brothers . . . he was almost like, “I’m going to forget that album ever happened.” But the fact that Quincy could just jump genres and bring his jazz influence into this dance world was why the production was so incredibly special.
The Kooks perform with Young Rising Sons at House of Blues on Sunday at
7 p.m. $25-$35. 888-693-2583. www.houseofblues.com/boston