The Horrors – Faris Badwan – Interview

The Horrors recently finished the tour of their latest album “V” and they included Oslo as one of several gigs in Scandinavia. 

Photo: Richard Ashton

Lead singer, Faris Badwan, welcomed Disharmoni backstage before their concert in Oslo. As we sat there, Badwan entered the darkly lit room, but left immediately after realizing that I was accompanied by photographer Richard Ashton. Unsure of what was going on, we sat there waiting until he returned all dressed up with a black overall, a plastic collar with spikes, and dark makeup.

The band’s debut “Strange House” came out in 2007, with which they displayed a different style to the rest of the bands of the alternative rock scene. This allowed them to stand out and sat them apart from the rest. At only 18, they signed a record contract and toured endlessly, just three short months after starting the band.

What about now, do you still like playing live after ten years?

― I love playing live. I get the same thing people get when meditating, you think of nothing, it’s very natural and instinctive.

Is there anything in particular that you have prepared for this tour, or is it mostly songs from the “V” album?

― We change the songs all the time. I hate watching a band playing for more than half an hour, I just get bored. There is very few bands I would like to watch for more than an hour.

There has been a lot of mixed descriptions regarding the type of music that you play. It’s been categorized as gothic rock, post-punk, garage rock, among others. 

How would you yourself place your music?

― We are not creating something that has never been done before; we’re a guitar band. We have more of a punk aesthetic in our approach, but we don’t really sound punk. Live we are more aggressive and heavier.”

What are your influences, and what music have you been listening to lately?

But if you asked me last week would be something completely different. 

― Dead Moon «Unknown Passage» (a punk rock band from the 80s). But if you asked me last week would be something completely different. I (also) stopped listening to music, maybe for like three months. (And) I like a lot of classical music. When I’m working there is no space in my head, classical music is easier, relaxing, it gives me new ideas, without being too intrusive.

You have released five albums during your career. Like your concerts, do you also see them as very different?

― Looking back at the albums, we changed the condition for each one  – apart from Skying (2011) and Luminous (2014), they are similar and both were done at our studio -, thus the record ends up being different.

The album “V” has gotten really positive reviews, probably the best of the five albums. What was the process of creating the album like?

―The writing took longer than recording. For us, the thing that takes us more time is to take the record and feel it’s going in the same direction.”

What about recording it?

―I enjoyed the process of recording “V”, we spent nearly 3 records in our studio, 9 years in one space. I think the process of moving to a new studio was something special, more inspiring in a way.

The first, third and fourth album were self-produced. Whilst your second album was produced by Geoff Barrow (from Portishead), and your last album by Paul Epworth (Grammy winner producer of, among others, Futureheads, Babyshambles, Adele, Rihanna,).

With these two very different personas, was it different experience working with the two producers?

― When I produce, or anyone, sometimes the best you can do is to do nothing and to record the band as they are. Working with Geoff Barrow on the second album that’s what he did. He was really good at recording and getting the takes in the right way.

How was the interaction with Paul Epworth?

― Paul is very driven, and very intense, he works at a really intense rate. It took a couple of weeks to understand the dynamic. Working with a band of 5 people it takes people-skills to understand them, especially when it’s a democratic band, (and)  there isn’t one leader…I would say it’s more important on the creative side, if you can figure out how a group of people work together, then you can get the best out of them.

What about the sound?

― Paul is one of the people, although he does have a sound when you listen to the records he’s made, he doesn’t get stuck doing things one way. He has a really good ear for melody, but he is also really into experimenting”.  

What about the future? Would you repeat the experiences with the previous albums or producers?

― I hate when it feels predictable, when you know what is going to happen next. In the future, I don’t care what we do, as long as is different every time.

Why do you think you have this need for constant change, do you feel more comfortable in an unknown situation?  

― The more unfamiliar (the situation), the more creative I get. The comfort zone is really the enemy of creativity.

Have you thought about a new album or are you concentrated on the tour?

― I’m thinking now about getting into the studio as soon as possible. I’m always thinking about what’s next, (you have to) if you want to survive…Although I would never want to know what I am going to do in 5 years, (one thing I know) we will continue doing music.

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