Being tabloid targets and earning the ire of their contemporaries hasn’t slowed young Brit-rock throwbacks the Kooks. The tousle-haired foursome, with blessings and approval of their hero, Ray Davies, have just dropped a hot follow-up, Konk, to their unexpected debut smash. Prior to their show at Kool Haus Wednesday (June 4), guitarist Hugh Harris takes time to discuss the futility of band feuds, press politics and what it’s like to attend “fame school.” www.thekooks.co.uk.
Considering you lost a member (bassist Max Rafferty) right after its completion, was there a lot of tension making Konk?
Yeah, it was quite stressful because of relationships, friction in the band. There were a few days when I was going to lose the plot completely. It was quite obviously not working out. I think everyone is a lot happier now.
You formed this group at 16. Do you feel you’ve grown up quickly in the past four years?
You have to grow up in a hurry, but it goes the other way, too. Being on the road can be quite childish. But, yeah, being uprooted and going from having an anchor to a suitcase is a big feat. Touring is just extreme ups and extreme downs; sometimes you feel like shit, sometimes you don’t. It’s funny, because yesterday I was hung-over and hadn’t really slept, so I went into a university and tried to find a lecture. I got in there and just remembered classroom politics and what it’s like to be at college again. I’d like to get a degree at some point, but I don’t think I have the concentration at the moment.
What did you think of NME’s review of Konk? I’m guessing you didn’t like it.
I dunno, what did they say? Is it bad or good? They don’t really like us, so I imagine it wasn’t too inspiring. We’ve always gotten shit off the press for going to music college (Brighton Institute of Modern Music) and whatnot. Fine – we’ve never really been a proper press band. We’ve built up a fan base through touring and playing good pop music, not hype.
Do you think the media here will care as much about whether you went to BIMM? (Kate Nash is also an alum.)
It’s only England that has that musical snobbery against “fame school” or whatever. We didn’t have the best time there; it’s not like we learned our craft there. It’s just a place you meet other musicians and have fun. I think it’s quite soulless, the media, how they treat people in the public eye: build people up, then knock them down. It’s fucking childish.