This interview was supposed to be done via email, where egos are kept wrapped and tones pacified through a wall of ones and zeros, but after reading the questions the Horrors wanted a face to face…
Enter room. Faris Badwan is a picture of seated serenity, reading either Camus or Mark E. Smith. The rest of the band are packing up their gear from rehearsal. And Spider Webb wants to “finally take it out on these fucking journalists”…
I couldn’t really care less about journalism y’know, let’s do it anyway…
“I know, but it’s not worth it,” says Faris, “in the long run.”
_No, it is: I want a vicious, garbled stand off; an interview of cutting the tension with my drooling tongue…
Not to be. Instead, Joshua Third and Tomethy Furse lead me to a nearby pub. Familiarity breeds contempt, apparently, and the two were chosen as Kharas and I mercilessly chewed their ears off weeks before in a gurning Bethnal Green squat party. But they were never particularly aggressive and I was never particularly antagonistic; they know you can apply these questions to most bands and they’ve the balls (and public school education) to see through it all. So, bear in mind subtle tones rendered harsh type.
Why couldn’t I interview Spider?
Joshua Third: He’d just have got really angry, given you really long answers and probably have quite offended you.
Pity. A common criticism of the Horrors is that you’re just garage rock revivalists - so why should anyone listen to you over the Sonics or the Monks?
Tomethy Furse: You can listen to them and listen to a great band or you can listen to the Horrors and listen to a great band. The Monks and the Sonics are the first music I really got into when I was 15 and found it hugely exciting. It’s like punk 12 years before what punk was and I found that exciting. We’ve got another 20 years of retrospective than what they had, music we can look back on, take on and work with. We’re not doing exactly what they were doing.
JIII: We haven’t gone in trying to copy something we just like the sound of it. That’s completely against the idea of why we started making records. It would completely defy the point of making music now.
TF: Those bands are just one influence from many, we just like good music. We don’t really sound like that garage music at all...
JIII: I think the Horrors owe more to the no-wave scene than garage. It’s more of an art thing. It’s really easy for people to slap on labels, that’s how the world works, but there are some things which you can’t really do it with. I can’t put a finger on what we’re doing, we just sound like the Horrors and we’ve always sounded like that.
TF: The original idea was to be in a band playing garage covers, but as soon as we started writing our own songs it was painfully obvious that this was not going to be how we were going to sound ourselves.
So were you formed self-consciously from a set of forced influences - or did the band evolve organically from shared interests?
TF: It was organic. We all met in weird underground clubs. It was really obvious that we got on, it was kinda fate. We just started playing and it all made sense. The influences crept in very naturally.
JIII: I detest contrived bands, those who try to make something better from just deliberately molding two genres together. It’s interesting to cut and paste, but if you want to make something meaningful that’s not the way to go about it.
You’ve been equally cursed and blessed by press exposure. Is your success a result of being outsiders to fashionable indie culture? Or conversely a product of the same forces?
TF: I don’t think you can put your finger on it, we just existed and people made from it what they would. The fashion press don’t know jack shit, they just like things that look interesting, but they did us a lot of favours. The music press thought ‘no one’s done this before, this is great’. Newspapers didn’t know what to make and were scared. You make of it what you will, even those who hated us encouraged others to like us.
JIII: It’s got us a lot of exposure, and that’s why there are so many opinions of us, we’ll always create that because we’re dividing opinion and not trying to please anyone - we’re selfish in making the music we want to hear and that does generally upset people.
TF: It was the same with Klaxons, people liked them for different reasons - music and otherwise.
Did you ever court the fashion press?
TF: No, we found it all horrible. We went along with them for while… and then drew the line at just being models.
JIII: We played a handful of gigs and they wanted an interview and to take some photos, which we did, and all of a sudden they’ll be like “put this on”, and we’ll be like NO. We didn’t really understand it all.
TF: We hadn’t done our time, there’s always a queue of bands with singles and albums and tours and we hadn’t done any of that. To an extent I agree that it wasn’t our turn but we’re not gonna turn it down, y’know “sorry we haven’t done our time yet”, that’s not how it works. But it got to the point when it became silly and we didn’t want what we do musically to be obscured by silly press men.
Whilst you have never carried pretensions of caring about your reputation as songwriters - your album opens with a cover - there have been rumours on the grapevine that you drafted in external songwriters to help you write…
TF: That’s not true at all. If they did they did a rubbish job! That’s absolute rubbish. There’s also stuff on the grapevine that we paid the NME ten grand to be on the cover. Rumours we’re just meant to be a boy band and are manufactured. It’s just common sense that that isn’t the case.
JIII: If it’s all that simple why doesn’t everyone do it? It’s quite laughable. People have been writing pop songs for 40 years and it’s become pretty formulaic, you’d be able to tell straight away.
TF: Producers do suggest things in the studio - _“make that break twice as long” - but that’s perfectly normal.
JIII: When people don’t like or understand things that’s what they do. A person came up to me and said a very reliable source had said we used to be a jazz funk band! And that we just thought we could make a lot of money doing this. It basically doesn’t just work on any idea. Unfortunately.
Don’t you think Strange House (review) would have been better without the instrumental ‘Gil Sleeping’? Were you trying to prove something?
TF: Not at all. Silver Apples are an amazing proto-electro band and we loved their sound and just tried to do something like that, cut it all up and just tried to do something interesting. There’s so many approaches to writing a song on the album and that’s just one of them. It wasn’t trying to prove anything, because what is there to prove?
**That you’re capable of a degree of musical variation and writing songs longer than three minutes…
TF: We could’ve had 12 ‘Sheena…’s, some people would have liked it but I would have found that quite unrewarding to be honest.
JIII: If we wanted to do that’d we’d come back with a completely electronic album to prove we’re above it all...
Quite a few kids have started dressing like the Horrors - just go down White Heat for example. Have you been assimilated into the ‘scene’ or has it changed to accommodate you?
TF: The reason people became interested in us is because we did something different. I think those people have just found the idea that you can do something interesting and important.
JIII: That’s nothing we did. Some get the wrong end of the stick. There’s a big difference between doing something different and doing the thing that is different!
TF: The best thing is when kids come up to us and say we turned them on to all these amazing things - and now they’ve started an industrial noise band. That’s the most rewarding thing. That’s why you get kids starting to dress differently, because they’re being lead into something different.
Okay, but as much of the Horrors’ impact is derived from being musical and social outsiders how will this affect you when you begin performing again?
JIII: No one can sustain themselves on the way they look.
I know. But if much of your original impact was on being outsiders, where have you to go when you’ve created your own niche?
TF: Ermmmm. I think if we had top ten albums etc. that would be the case. We were never underground, we got chucked in the deep end. I guess time will tell, if people like what we’re doing with the next album. The people interested in the first place may hate it, but we haven’t changed our ideals and the outsider may start to hate us and those that hated us like us.
**JIII: Southend is full of horrible people and a handful of disillusioned kids who spend time indoors listening to music or making it and they just happen to make good music. There seems to be more individual minds.
TF: When I first went down there it was just amazing, I’d never been somewhere with that amount of likeminded people, and they all listened to amazing music and they were actually enjoying it. London should be a really exciting place but I hate going out here. There’s only a few places I like to go out, it’s shit. There are so few places worth your time and it just installs a feeling of averageness, and the worse thing is most people seem happy with this. And this doesn’t really happen in Southend.
Do you worry that people might not take you seriously?
TF: Music should be for itself, and if you don’t like it I don’t care. If you do fantastic, and you probably don’t care Coffin Joe is called Coffin Joe… Anyway, my name’s my real name! If you really want to like the music you should forget about all the bollocks.
JIII: That’s not really a concern. It only gets in the way if you let it. I think people should open their ears and read a few more books, get a wider lexicon, before they consider us.
Where do you see yourselves five years from now?
TF: I can’t even see past next week. I don’t know, whatever it is it’s gonna involve music - that’s the only thing that actually drives me. I don’t care about much other than music and that will probably always be the way. Whether that will be producing bands or making music, I literally have no idea. Anything could happen in six months.
JIII: It’ll be nice…..
Please justify your existence in five words.
JIII: What did Hadouken! say?
“We Are Not The Fratellis.”
JIII: Hmmmm that’s pretty good to be fair.
TF: I don’t know. That’s a really hard question. Who knows? You’ve stumped the Horrors. That’s the first time anyone’s stumped the Horrors.
JIII: Still no on else is doing this and it’s not bad music. It’s really not something you need to justify.
TF: Yeah we’ve put ourselves completely into creating this, and our music revolves around it. I can’t think saying anything beyond that is necessary, we justify ourselves by that, and nothing can say anything against that.
The Horrors will play the following dates in December:
5 London Electrowerkz (over 14s w/Ipso Facto, Electricity in Our Homes)
8 London Alexandra Palace
9 London Alexandra Palace
11 Manchester Central
12 **Manchester Central
14 Aberdeen AECC
15 Aberdeen AECC