The Kooks formed at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, where they were all students. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Luke Pritchard, got bassist Max Rafferty involved in a college project, which formed the base of the band. After getting lead guitarist Hugh Harris and drummer Paul Garred involved, they took their name from the song Kooks on the 1971 David Bowie album Hunky Dory. When they tried to trademark the name, they found that in the late/mid 1990s a Swedish band by the same name released an album in Sweden called Too Much Is Not Enough.
The Kooks released a debut EP and played gigs around Brighton, where they were based at the time. They were signed to Virgin Records.