Many things have gone into making Harry Collier the singer and songwriter he is today. Some have been good, some bad, some weird. Things like...the Church... the Caribbean... Ephedrine... Dido's brother... 'Happy Birthday'... But with a life as lived-in as Harry's, all have been, in some way, Things To Learn From. Perhaps that's why the first album from his band Kubb is so stirring. As to why it's bursting with tunes you can hang your summer t-shirt on, well, who knows?

Youth, the renowned producer who most recently rocket-powered Embrace's how'd-that-happen? comeback, has half an idea. He was at the helm for Kubb's pacy album recording sessions at Olympic Studios in Barnes, south-west London.

'Harry's got some strange musical influences from growing up in Tobago, and then from what he was listening to at school in Cornwall. He's very musical: he's got that sixth sense. We've got his auto harp that he was constantly playing in the studio. And he got a real beauty and depth from this mad range of instruments, not just his bass. And his voice: it's a unique thing, it carries a powerful emotion but can be quiet and sensitive too. I've never seen them live but I imagine it's quite an experience.'

Harry Collier was born in Liverpool. His dad is from Ealing in West London, his mum from Tobago. Aged four the family left Merseyside for the Caribbean.  'In Tobago, that's where my love of music started,' remembers Collier. 'I played recorder, clarinet and classical guitar in a wind band.'

When he was 17 Collier moved back to England, settling in Cornwall. He started to play in bands, after a few years spent gigging in different incarnations, he moved to London, just as One Little Indian were attempting to sign his current band. But while working as a waiter in a North London organic café, he got another offer. Rollo, brother/collaborator of Dido, was in for a birthday meal. Harry was deputised from the staff to sing 'Happy Birthday' to the celebrant. Instantly impressed, Rollo invited Harry round to his Highbury studio.

Harry and Rollo would play some football, write a couple of dance tunes and talk of Harry singing on Rollo's second Dusted project. But as happens with musicians, things evaporated. No matter: Harry met Rollo's best friend from school, Ben Langmaid. He had a studio in the same complex. Then he met another friend of Langmaid's, Jeff Patterson. Harry describes both as 'chameleons', songwriters adept at working in a range of genres, on a variety of projects.

A partnership was born. The threesome began writing together. They understood each other, songs like 'Chemical' exactly fitted Harry's own experiences - 'doing too much coke, too many pills and smoking 20 spliffs a day for the last five years,' he says with characteristic candour. 'I used ephedrine a few times when I was performing in 2004. It sucks you down into your gut and also, as a decongestant, it opens up your sinuses. 'But', he winces, 'it's really bad for your heart. Don't do that any more. But when I sing the song, yes, it is autobiographical.' Langmaid and Patterson were never interested in being in the frontline of a band; Harry on the other hand had energy and enthusiasm to spare . 

Before long the frontline of Kubb was in place: Ex Reef member Dom Greensmith (drums) recruited via an old touring contact of Harry's; John Tilley (keyboards) fresh out Greenwich Conservatoire and recruited via an NME ad; and Adj Buffoni (guitar).

Last year, Kubb knuckled down in the studio with Youth. They clicked instantly, banging through nine tracks in seven days. For a record that reaches for the heights of Jeff Buckley, the intensity of a less-goth Muse, and the heft of vintage Radiohead, this is an impressive achievement. But when you've travelled miles to find your musical feet, things can, eventually, happen quickly.

Kubb's debut album is called Mother. The title reflects Harry's thoughts on the 'divine feminine' in religion and the earth. He's worried that he sounds pretentious, but so be it. Both his parents are born-again Christians, and his dad is now a priest, and this is the context in which he grew up. He's wrenched himself away from religion, but the past can't help but stick.

'We all love our mothers and respect them, but we don't respect the feminine part ourselves. Women who get to the heads of companies are all kind of masculine, they've gotten there by suffocating their feminine side. And "mother" is a very beautiful word. The earth is our mother; we're all made of dirt. It's given birth to us. Most people's emotional make-up stems from their relationship with their mother. So it's a very pertinent word and a very beautiful word. And it means a lot to me; it means a lot to everyone.

Harry laughs. 'Yeah, you can say that's a bit soft. But it's also hardcore.'

Some of the album documents the ruinous fall-out from a three or four-year relationship of Harry's. 'Somebody Else' and 'Bitch' are bitter but glorious. 'Sun' is a lighters-in-the-air power-ballad (in a good way), but with an emotionally dark undertow. The lyrics are typical of Harry's honesty, and of his willingness to face up to his conflicted self: "I'd like to say hello/but I'm hiding from the phone/I can't take it all in/I'm still reeling from the blow/I hope the sun will shine again for me/and I will make it in the end."

A more straightforward uplift comes from the surging, 'Tomorrow Never Knows'-reboot that is 'I Don't Mind' and the piano-led 'Wicked Soul'. 'That's quite a sexual song,' says Harry. 'It's just about casting off your inhibitions and fucking the brains out of your missus.'

'Grow', a towering, soulful song complete with gospel choir, is 'a relationship recovery song': "who said broken pieces don't mend?/I say, I say to think again..."  'Coming into Kubb and making our album, I realised it was about simple, lovely, strong ideas, no pretension.'

Harry also gained calmness from reforming his caner ways. He doesn't talk about his drug use to be cool or clever, but because he knows how much they damaged him - and how he used them as a way of blocking out 'frozen' emotions dating from his childhood. It's not a 'bloke' thing to say, but then Kubb are no bloke-rock band. It's that 'mother/feminine' side coming out again.

He's looking forward to getting out there and playing. He won't be taking ephedrine, but he is also honest to say that he may fall of the wagon once touring takes hold. 'Never say never,' he says of his 'addictive' personality and appetite for adventure. With a record as vivid and skyscraping as Mother, it might be hard to keep feet on the ground.

Harry shies away from predictions. All he knows is, 'it feels right to do Kubb. And I'm not gonna look any further. Any further than that -who might like it, who might be interested in me, all of that stuff - is none of my business. That's only fuel for the ego. You need the ego a little bit. But self-importance will bring you down eventually. And leads to pain. And I've had enough of that.'
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