Inside In/Inside Out

Luke Prichard and Max Rafferty, like other young hopefuls studying at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, were working hard and waiting for their big break in the music industry. Like the other students they were taking courses in guitar, drums, bass, vocals, songwriting, live sound and tour management. You see, Brighton isn’t your ordinary school. Brighton is a college run by musicians for musicians, and tutors include members of bands like The New Heavies, Asia, Prodigy and Supergrass. In other words, Brighton is the “School of Rock!”

Luke was studying vocals, rhythm guitar and songwriting; Max was serious about bass. After working together on a class project the duo realized they would need more band members to complete their sound. Enter classmates Hugh Harris on lead guitar and Paul Garred on drums. The guys dubbed themselves The Kooks after a David Bowie song and got to work recording an E.P.

Talk about luck - what should have been the beginning of the long haul up the ladder of success turned out to be a rocket ship. The band played Brighton’s Free Butt Festival and were signed on the spot by Virgin Records. Talk about raising the bar for your classmates! But the band’s luck doesn’t end there. Their debut release Inside In Inside Out - recorded at Ray Davies’ studios - rushed to the top of the U.K. charts, selling more than 3 million copies. “Naive,” a song written by Pritchard at the age of sixteen, became the band’s first hit.

So why are The Kooks one of the most promising young bands to debut this year? History is part of the equation. Not the band’s history – they’re very much in the early stages of creating their own story. But listen to their songs and you’ll hear a myriad of rock influences from Kinks and Beatles to punk and soul. This is a band that has learned to copy the greats while in the process of creating their own sound. The songs run fast and furious and clock in reliably around the 3 minute mark. Slamming drums, major guitar riffs and sing-along choruses suggest the band learned their lessons well in how to write ear-catching melodies. The band is at its best when they slow the pace a tad for the melodic crowd pleasers “Ooh La” (Bowie would be proud) “See the World,” “Naive,” and the lovely “She Moves In Her Own Way.” Predictably, for such a youthful band, the songs focus on the ups and downs of young love.

The Kooks are still building a following in the states and are currently working on their second release. There’s no question these boys are talented musicians with great instincts. It will be fun to see how they develop as they move away from their school days and grow in the challenging and ever-changing world of rock music.

Rosemary Welsch, WYEP Afternoon Mix host