Interview by Hilary Porter

INDIE rockers The Kooks are celebrating a decade together with a 'Best of...' headline tour and album that includes classic singles, and fan favourites such as ‘Naive,’ ‘She Moves In Her Own Way,’ and ‘Bad Habit’ plus two brand new tracks, the lead single, ‘Be Who You Are’ and ‘Broken Vow.’

In a tour statement lead singer Luke Pritchard announced:"It's been the greatest pleasure to work, travel, fight, hate and love the best and most talented people I've met in my life. It's the greatest job in the world and we don't intend to stop any time soon."

Now as the Brighton foursome look forward to playing Southampton 02 Guildhall on Thursday May 4, O2 Academy, Bournemouth on Saturday May 6 and the Isle of Wight Festival on Saturday June 10, Luke, 32, took time to talk to the Daily Echo about the band' s survival despite the rocky road that is rock n roll!

With a few tour dates already under the belt, how was it going so far?

"It's been really, really, really good for so many reasons. I've been pretty blown away by the response because we haven't got any new music out and it's not like we are on the Graham Norton show, so it's great people still come out in force for us, and people go nuts. It's great that they are reacting to the new single 'Be Who You Are' like it's an old favourite too.

We are playing a couple of new songs but in a way we are obviously playing songs that define us and people want to hear."

He apologised for his voice sounding a bit husky down to the 'long sets', including a big Bruce Springsteen cover; the yawning was due to the late night travelling between gigs and then staying up watching documentaries!

These celebratory shows are very much about pleasing fans rather than trying to plug new material:

"We have a new album pretty much finished but we won't play anything from that; people pay to hear songs they know. I still enjoy them. When you play them on stage you get a kick out of it".

Was he surprised to be celebrating this ten year milestone?

"Sometimes but time is such a strange concept. It's gone so quickly. There's never been a time that we thought the band would end so I can't say I'm surprised. We are a great band. We believe in what we are doing and I've never doubted we deserve to be where ever we are .

For whatever reason we've had a tough ride but we never thought it would end. I do think it's so cool, so old school to be doing the 'Best Of' . I love the fact that we are so traditional. You go out and talk to people and it feel like you are celebrating it with them; they are talking about our songs reminding them of when they were at uni or when they fell out with their girlfriend or when someone died and that's better than having a Brit Award : it's an awesome feeling to feel you are part of their lives."

So has it been a particularly bumpy ride for the Kooks?

"It's very hard to compare because every band is very different. Maybe you don't see things below what's on the surface with some bands. When the first album came out and we were just getting big our bass player Max (Rafferty) had a big problem with drugs. I was walking down the street and saw my 1937 vintage Dobro guitar was for sale in the window of Cash Converters. " ( Max had taken it and sold it).

"It was weird because he wasn't that kind of guy and watching him change ..the way becoming famous smashed into your brain and the drugs, and seeing that happen to your best mate was frightening. We had a lot of pain and seeing someone go through that is hard and I don't wish that on anyone.

"As for the outside world I don't know what happened; we felt like we were getting detached by every angle and we wanted to play outside of the UK and it felt like they didn't want us.

But it only made us stronger. All that stuff is so fickle. We shot up the charts, and we shot down the charts. For 20 year old kids it was quite a lot to cope with and that's quite cliche. If you talk to 20 bands it's the nature of what we do and of the industry and you have to have very thick skin and have to realise it's not personal. You just keep putting your music out and have to be at peace - and a bit of a hippy! And we do feel blessed."

So how have you managed to survive, other than by producing really good music?

"Ahh, thanks for saying that! We have some very cool, emotionally connected managers ; our manager has kept us together and having very good friends and being good friends with the band.

Pete, our bass player, we don't see as the newbie as he's been in the band for nine years!He was amazing through that Max thing; he's been the rock of the band. He's been great and kept us all in line with a bit of glue and reality!"

Luke says he is looking forward to playing both the Guildhall and the Isle of White Festival and has strong family connections with the island.

"We played the Isle of White Festival twice. One time we came on just before The Police which was amazing. I love that part of the world. I have lots of family living on the Island and my cousin lives in Southampton.

My uncle has the Garlic Farm on the island and my granny lives there. If you go on the ferry you see an advert on TV where there's this mad 60 year old on horseback- that's my uncle! My family is awesome and I love going there!"

The Kooks local dates are:

May 04 O2 Guildhall, Southampton

May 06 O2 Academy, Bournemouth

June 10 Isle of Wight Festival