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Hugh Harris: "David Bowie left us so much treasure"

Ahead of his debut solo album, The Kooks guitarist Hugh Harris talks about visiting Dumbledore's grave with his daughter, the inspirational David Bowie and his idea for a inclusive members' club 

Hugh Harris

For those of a certain generation (OK, this writer's generation) The Kooks were an integral part of their adolescent summer soundtrack.  

Tunes such as Naive, Seaside, You Don't Love Me and She Moves In Her On Way – God, they had some bangers – can only be properly appreciated while drinking cans of cider in a sunny field, a barbecue on the go and a gorgeous August evening stretched out before you. 

Guitarist Hugh Harris is still part of the band he co-founded, but 33-year-old has also struck out solo with his self-titled debut album. 

Recorded across four continents, the album's creation has been an eight-year process, tackling the big themes such as love, parenting and loss. 

Check out the video for debut single Earth Like You below, and read the interview to discover more about Harris's life and style – including his pitch for what sounds like the best members' club in the world. 

Life

What upcoming project(s) are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about my solo record. I’ve spent eight years crafting it and it’s taken me to some really interesting places both emotionally and physically.

It’s a diary of my life recorded across four continents and deals with love, life, loss and escapism.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Being a father to my daughter is my proudest accomplishment, I wouldn’t say I’ve turned pro yet but I’m definitely getting there!

I’m currently taking her around the lochs in Scotland in an inflatable kayak. She loves it. We visited Dumbledore’s grave yesterday.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

I would go back in time and, in a Terminator 2 style sequence, find the person that created the digital music file and make it so that revolution never happened to music and we all still listened to vinyl. 

What do you hope to achieve that you haven’t yet?

I want to play my songs with a full size orchestra some day. But not in an opera house or concert hall, rather in a car park, or a forest, or somewhere the pressure is off.

Outside of your family, who is/was your biggest inspiration?

David Bowie. He is such a father figure in so many ways to so many creative industries. He never ceased to be inspired in his work. He has left us so much treasure to share and enjoy

Tell us something nobody knows about you…

I started out on stage as a kid performing in various operas at Glyndebourne. I was in the youth opera programme there and only really stopped when I became a teenager.

I’m hoping somehow through my solo project that I will find my way back there. 

Hugh Harris

Style

What’s your favourite item of clothing – and what does it mean to you?

I have a Moroccan gown that I sometimes wear to cocktail parties that was my mum’s. I bought it for her as she was undergoing chemotherapy so that she had something glamorous to wear on the ward.

She sadly lost her battle with cancer but the gown reminds me of her smile and childlike excitement in receiving it, and whenever I put it on it makes me feel profoundly happy.

Favourite accessory – watch/jewellery / etc – and why is it special to you?

I don’t wear accessories or jewellery because I’d never invest money into something that would be upsetting to lose.

My dad once gave me his ‘40 years of service’ work watch and I wore it out clubbing in Brighton when I was 18. I lost it on the dance floor whilst moshing to Killing In The Name Of (Rage Against The Machine).

What items do you take on holiday and why?

A guitar because my daughter is just starting to sing and write songs and needs accompaniment.

A Philip Pullman book for if the escape isn’t escapism enough.

Sunscreen factor Dulux because my pale skin can’t cope.

An open itinerary because you can’t rehearse fun.

Is there an item you threw away – or lost – that you really miss?

I have given out countless guitars of mine to friends and family that I sometimes miss if I’m reminded of them.

It’d be really strange behaviour to ask for them back, however, quite cool to hear what’s been written on them sometime

What’s next on your shopping list?

I want to buy a proper stay-in-the-family-for-generations piano. Something that’ll be used and loved forever and sang around and toasted across.

What would you buy if money was no object?

A huge house in central London with lots of bedrooms and studios and fill it with artists and not charge rent as long as everyone is creating and being respectful. I’d put on great festivals with music and art and dance and food.

A bit like a member’s club but with inclusivity at its heart instead of exclusivity.

Hugh Harris's solo album is out 11 September

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