You can't have too many Kooks

THEY'RE back, that much maligned band from Brighton. Mocked by their peers for being graduates from Croydon's Brit School, and accused of being too poppy by the music press, it seems they can't please everyone.

The fans are not complaining, though. Record sales speak for themselves and The Kooks' debut album sold two million, while its follow-up, the just-released Konk, is a new entry this week atop the UK album charts.

A prime example of how they are seen in the eyes of rival bands can be read from lead singer Luke Pritchard's recent exchange with Caleb Followill of media darlings Kings of Leon.

Pritchard recalls, "We were in this horrible club, sh***y boom-boom-boom music, table full of vodka, and I said to him, 'Look, I know this really great blues bar round the corner, it's open mic night. Do you want to go there and sing a song? It'll be really funny'. And he just looked at me like I was from another planet.

"Surely you'd rather be there than surrounded by ugly girls who think they're models, listening to sh***y hip-hop? It's boring.

"I just think it's us," muses the 23-year-old. "It's whatever they think of The Kooks.

"But I can't worry about it – life is far too short to be sat round looking moody in a club. Come on, smile, come and play some blues."

And if, as in the words of Kasabian, The Kooks make "music for girls" that's just fine by them.

"It's true, though," says Pritchard. "We do make music for girls. We love girls. Why wouldn't we want to make music for them?"

Love them or loathe them, it seems the success of the band stems from their understanding that having catchy choruses gets you further than a pocketful of cool vouchers ever will.

And The Kooks, who come to the Corn Exchange on Tuesday night, are more than capable of penning a catchy chorus – half of the 14 tracks on debut album Inside In/Inside Out reached the Top 40, while the first single from newbie Konk, Always Where I Need To Be, was a top three hit for them back in March.

Little wonder their record label Virgin has classed them as a "priority act" for 2008.

So it's simple then, The Kooks (who also include lead guitarist Hugh Harris, bassist Dan Logan and drummer Paul Garred) understand what makes a good pop song.

"If it doesn't make you feel good, then what's the point?" insists Pritchard, who dated Katie Melua for several years after meeting the singer-songwriter at stage-school.

"There's too much drab shoe-gazing around. I hate all that," he adds.

Bandmate Harris concurs. "Music should make you happy. It should change you in some way. That's why our fans are so crazy and committed to us. There's that connection."

Pritchard nods, "We give people a great night out – that's really the whole point. And I probably buzz off the crowd more than they buzz off us.

"Music's all about getting everyone together, he continues. "How can you be cynical when you're at a festival and there's 20,000 people – all different kinds of people; young, old, black, white – and everyone's singing the same songs?"

The Kooks' current chart-topping second album was recorded over six weeks at the tail-end of last year at Ray Davies' Konk Studios (hence the album title) in north London, plus a week at Los Angeles.

The sessions reunited the group with Tony Hoffer (Beck/Air/The Fratellis), the acclaimed producer with whom they recorded their debut.

"It was a brilliant time," enthuses Pritchard. "It was like a school reunion. Tony's a genius; he's a really talented guy and he's fun to be around. We had the best time," he adds.

At the end of their daily recording sessions, The Kooks' downtime was spent mostly in the nearby Irish boozer, where the four lads were a big hit with the locals.

"The owner would give us a lock-in," recalls Pritchard. "And we'd end up having a drink with all the Irishmen."

With the new album on course to become as big a seller as its predecessor, this is shaping up to be another massive year for The Kooks, who are already lined up to place in places as far afield as Dubai, Brazil and Hawaii, not forgetting an appearance on the main stage at this summer's T in the Park festival.

"We came through (in 2006] with some great acts – Arctic Monkeys, Amy Winehouse, Beirut – but, for me, last year was a wishy-washy time for bands," opines Pritchard. "It feels the time's right for us to come back.

"We've made a really good album. I love the idea of people putting it on in their bedrooms and then going mental."

&#149 The Kooks, Corn Exchange, Newmarket Road, Tuesday, 7pm, 16, 0131-443 0404