Interview: Alexis Nunez of The Kooks | Living North

Interview: Alexis Nunez of The Kooks


The Kooks
Having just dropped their fifth album, Let’s Go Sunshine, indie-rockers The Kooks are heading back out on the road with a series of underplays lined up across the country. We catch up with drummer Alexis Nunez ahead of their show at Middlesbrough Empire

What were your intentions for your new album, Let’s Go Sunshine? 
We wanted to make it sound like us as a band playing together, so that was an incentive in itself when we were in the studio: to record as much of us playing live together as possible. Whereas in the past, there was a lot more overdubs and separate takes – I’d come in one evening and put some jumps on something that was already down – but on this one it was much more a case of wanting to get that feel of the chemistry of us playing together, which I think is quite important. It’s been this line up of The Kooks for about six years now, so over the years we’ve done so much playing, rehearsing, there is a chemistry that builds up. It’s nice for people to hear the way we play music together. 

Especially when you’re going out on tour.
Yeah, absolutely. We produced the album in LA; we all really love it out there, we know it quite well and we’ve all got our favourite spots. Me and Pete got into some nice routines: get up in the morning, go for a run, we were in Hollywood so we’d go up to the hills, it was nice – it was healthy, it was productive, we’d go into the studio feeling fresh, just working hard but enjoying it, basically.

What inspires you most when you’re in the studio? 
We feed off each other, really. We’ve all got different tastes and we tend to meet in the middle a lot of the time; we agree on a lot of influences that we love, and then we go off on our own little journey. My first love was jazz, that was what I really into when I was younger. When I was a kid and I started playing drums, I really wanted to be a jazz drummer. I still do really! I still like playing jazz, I just don’t get a chance to do it as much. So there’s lots of different influences and musical tastes in the studio. But then we really feed off each other as well, it’s still very much a band mentality; Luke may have the song but we help arrange it, so there’s a lot of bouncing off each other. 

Who are some of your standout jazz musicians?
There’s quite a lot of them! There’s a drummer called Tony Williams, he played with Miles Davis – he started playing with him when he was 17 and he was part of the famous quintet that Miles Davis had in the 60s. He’s one of my idols, he’s an incredible drummer. Then there’s Elvin Jones, he’s another phenomenal drummer, he played with John Coltrane in his quartet in the 60s. Him and Tony Williams are people that I really, really, admire – they’re wonderful musicians. 

There’s also an electric bass player called Jaco Pastorius, who was a real innovator of the instrument. I remember when I was a kid, I was flicking through my Dad’s record collection and I pulled out a record of him playing with a band called Weather Report; I started listening to it and it was a strange sensation, a strange sound to me, because I hadn’t heard music like that before. They called it fusion back in those days – there was jazz, rock, Latin American music, it was just a real fusion of stuff going on. And it was all instrumental as well. So I got really into that, and from that I started going back to people like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker and the bebop era. You just start investigating. When you’re a kid – there’s a sweet spot I think, when you’re about 13 or 14 – you just become very attached and you feel like you own something that you’ve found. So people like that are real heroes of mine. 

Middlesbrough is part of a slightly smaller tour for you this year.
Yeah they’re like underplays, I guess. We’re doing some small venues. Then, once the album’s been out for a while, we’re going to go into big UK and European tours. So for the moment, these shows are just a little teaser. 

The Kooks will play at Middlesbrough Empire on 9th September.
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Published in: September 2018

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