TAMA :The Kooks started at Brighton Institute of Music. When and how did you all meet and decide to join the band together?
Paul : Luke, Hugh and I originally met at college in Croydon when I was 18. It was a performing arts school but I was doing a course on back stage production (which funnily enough has been helpful whilst in The Kooks). Luke and Hugh, then 18 and 16 respectively, were doing the music course. I met Hugh whilst traveling to College one day and I mixed the sound for a performance Luke played. I remember talking to Luke and realizing that he and Hugh were going to the music college that I would be attending the year after. He joked about starting a band while we were there. I wasn't so sure as I was playing with a band that I had been loyal to for six years.
At Brighton Institute of Modern Music I continued my hobby of playing drums. I loved it because I could meet like-minded people who spoke about the things I loved. Luke insisted that we should have a jam, so along with Hugh we made nice racket together. I met Max whilst cooking round a mate’s house. I knew he was at BIMM playing bass as well. We needed a bass player so we invited him to play on a demo for us. He obliged and because of this demo and lots of hard work we got signed.
TAMA : How did you all come up with the name, The Kooks?
Paul : The name comes from the David Bowie song, Kooks on the album Hunky Dory. It's funny because at the time we couldn't agree on any favorite bands, but David Bowie was an artist that we all loved. So it seems not only descriptive of us as people butalso rather appropriate.
TAMA : The band's debut album Inside In/Inside Out, came out last year.
What was it like working on that record? (What were some of the challenges you faced as a drummer, how did you come up with the songs, what was the producer like?)
Paul : The way I play has always been dictated by two things: the vocal pattern and melody, as well as the dynamic of the song. The vocal helps me determine where I can fill and open up the song. Because it was our first record we were eager to show that we could play. Listening back to 'Inside' now I feel we gave each song time to breathe but also demonstrated our ability to mix things up a bit. The hardest song that we did was 'She Moves'. I originally played a marching feel to compliment both verse and chorus. But in the studio it became apparent that there wasn't enough texture and clarity between the parts. So I set about creating a part that would be simple but also strong. I ended up playing a 'smash and grab' swing pattern which ended up giving the chorus a definite boost. I'm glad that we kept it simple because the melody was always more important in this song as it stands out on the radio because of that.
TAMA : What inspired you to start playing drums? Did you have formal training?
Paul : My initial fascination with drums came from seeing a gig with my uncle. Sadly it was 'Gary Glitter' who is famous for other things other than music these days. But his band played with two drummers and I couldn't take my eyes off of them. They were brilliant! They played in unison with each other and took the odd solo. I was only six but it instantly became this fascination. The sheer size of the drums and the look of them drew me in. When I was 9 my friend bought a second hand kit and this led me to being around his house the whole time learning the basics. I had a few lessons with a teacher who was just a few years older. He was classically trained so this refined the basic rudiments and handwork that is needed to progress. My passion for the drums has never left me since and I try to practice every day.
TAMA : Who were your major drum influences growing up and how do they compare to some of your favorite drummers on the scene today?
Paul : When my mum mentioned to me about her old school mate who played drums in the industry it gave me a carrot to see if I could replicate his achievements for myself. His name is Pete Thomas and he plays with Elvis Costello and the Attractions. I started listening to his playing and became totally inspired. He has such an all- rounded feel about his playing. It probably helped that he had a song writer in Elvis who could write really catchy tunes, but his speed and articulation around the kit is something that drew me in. He's played on many other records other than the 'Costello' records since because he is so in demand. Coming from the same energetic background is my other all time favorite drummer, Stewart Copeland. This guy just optimizes to me how a drummer can take a tune that could have been pretty straight forward and completely flip it and make it more exciting. He's the real front man in that band as far I'm concerned. It also shows with The Police that learning all the 'World music' rhythms out there can benefit not only your playing but also completely change a song and feel. Stewart does this masterfully. He's a rock god in my eyes. Out of all the new players that have come and gone I would have to say that Jose Pasillas of Incubus would have to my favorite drummer of the moment. He has a totally different take on playing grooves. I love all the ghost notes he sticks in a normal groove pattern and also his subtle cymbal work. Especially with the little splashes he uses.
TAMA : What got you interested in Tama drums?
Paul : The main reason for me using Tama was Stewart Copeland. I loved the sound of his kit and the way it made him look. All those Octobans just looked impressive. Even back in the day when he didn't have all fancy extras the kit just looked cool.
It started to make sense when I saw Taylor Hawkins using the Tama
Starclassic with the Foo Fighters.I just couldn't use anything else from that point on. It was a case of "Well, if it's good enough for these guys then it's good enough for me". They were not wrong.
TAMA : Tell us about the kit you have and what made you decide on it?
Paul : Well initially I had a Starclassic 8",12",16",22" blue sparkle kit which served me well for two years of touring small clubs and medium size
venues. In the past year I have been playing a slightly modified version with shallower rack toms in Orange and black finish. But because our music is growing and changing in the set I'm in the process of developing a new kit even futher.I'm thinking of maybe trying Bubinga to mix things up. The great thing about all the kits for me is that the drums have power, but when
played quieter they have nice overtones, and the hardware is so robust, simple, and easy to alter. This definately makes touring a whole lot easier.
TAMA : What are the sizes of your drums and how do you set them up?
Paul : As I say it's simple set up. It seems the more I play, the less drums I'm using in my set up.8",12",16",22"and two snares. But as I say I might add an 18" floor.The tuning has changed through the years depending on what I've used at the time. This has been dictated mostly through getting the right sound live for my sound engineer to mix with. So it needs the cut but also the weight to shine through in a big room or outside at a festival.
TAMA : Tell us about some of your most memorable experiences since joining The Kooks?
Paul : Well, supporting the Rolling Stones was cool for starters. It was at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.
Playing in front of huge crowds in tiny tents at Reading and Leeds festival was scary at the time,
but now it is such a good memory of how the band was taking it to the next level.
Doing David Letterman was another nerve-racking experience but to say I've played on it is pretty cool.The thing about 'Letterman' is that the theatre it's recorded in is the 'Ed Sullivan' theatre so i'm pressuming that is where the Beatles did their famous t.v shows with
him...there's a lot of history in that place.
TAMA : So what's next for the band?
Paul : Well, at the moment of writing were gearing up for pre-production with our producer, Tony Hoffer.It's a been quick year for us because other than a few festivals here and there, we have been held up in a practice studio for the duration of writing songs. We came up with 80 and are still writing.(A few of them are mine!!) Our new record will be out early next year. I can't wait!
TAMA : Are you involved in any other projects or are you pretty consumed with the band for now?
Paul : At the moment it's all about getting The Kooks out to as many people in the world as we can. There is a lot in store with songs always being written, so we have some work to do in the future for another record. But after that I wouldn't mind playing in a few Jazz clubs or Blues bars for a laugh before getting back on to more serious stuff with The Kooks again.They say life
starts speeding up around your mid-twenties and belive me I'm feeling it! So I just hope that I can fit everything I want to do in it.To be
in such a positive position at my age is something I never ever take for granted. Hard graft is the key to getting things right in my eyes. I just hope I can utilize that theory for other things as well.
TAMA : Do you have any advice for young and aspiring drummers?
Paul : Practice, Practice and more Practice.Learn things really slow so you get your 'sticking' right, and then speed it up gradually.This is harder than it sounds because you want to play things at a normal speed straight away and you can get frustrated. Belive me I remember! But as soon as
you take things slightly slower you will find your technique will shine through. Oh, and the other thing.....don't give up.