Horrors set sights on moving forward

The Horrors play The Leadmill in Sheffield on Tuesday.
The Horrors play The Leadmill in Sheffield on Tuesday.
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Acclaimed rockers The Horrors are on the move – in more ways than one – as they prepare to take to the stage in Sheffield.

Fresh from the release of their fourth studio album, the band are heading out on a UK tour – but lead singer Faris Badwan has still found time to uproot and move house.

Key to a successful move with his girlfriend Rachel Zeffira – with whom he writes and records as duo Cat’s Eyes – is restoring their home studio.

“I’ve had worse house moves, but it’s important to get the studio back up – it’s where we spend so much of our time,” he says.

But it is the UK-wide tour which is taking up most of his time.

The 10-date tour kicked off in Norwich on Monday and ends in London next Saturday – with a gig at The Leadmill in Sheffield on Tuesday.

Badwan, aged 27, says: “We’ve not been rehearsing as such, but have been really concentrating our efforts on the production.

“It looks pretty cool at the moment and we’re trying new things, which is good.

“The last time we toured, for our third album Skying, in 2011, some people said our light show made them feel sick, so we’re not sure what to do now.”

Since forming in 2005, the band began playing gigs whenever they could, sometimes five in a week.

“All in London, which doesn’t really seem that wise when I think back,” says Badwan.

Nevertheless, it worked, and by the time their debut, Strange House, was released in 2007, their brand of gothic garage was the most talked-about music in the country.

By the time second album, Primary Colours, came about some two years later, the leap in their songwriting and performance skills was clear for all to see.

A similar step forward was made with Skying, which brought Eighties synth-pop to the party and talk of a change in direction for the band – Badwan, guitarist Joshua Hayward, Tom Cowan on keyboards, bassist Rhys Webb and drummer Joe Spurgeon.

Badwan says: “I don’t think it’s been the sea of change that some people would like to believe.

“It’s just exploring and discovery. I’m not frustrated about it, it is what it is.

“I mean, half the population think the Royal family are lizards, so I think we get off pretty lightly in the grand scale of misconceptions.

“We’d be getting wrapped up in ourselves to worry about that. And it’s always interesting to make something and see how it’s perceived. You can’t ever have a clear idea of what you’re doing with your music, because you’re in it and involved, so, to an extent, you do rely on other people’s opinions.”

They also pay attention to crowd reaction when they are touring.

Despite the grand scale of their more recent recordings, Badwan says their songs were always written with the express intention of playing them live in front of people, and that by the end of a tour, one might completely change from how it started out.

“The songs go down their own path and you have no control, really,” he says.

“For us, it’s always been capturing that spark of spontaneity, it’s essential for what makes our songs work.

“Sea Within A Sea, from our second album, is so different when we play it now from the original recording, it’s almost a new song. But that’s what’s exciting, and one of the best things about being in this band.”

And Badwan admits this move towards a more polished sound is an unconscious sign of the band’s ambition.

He says: “I think there’s a cliche of bands being scared of talking about ambition, and then there’s the opposite cliche where a band comes along and says ‘we’re not afraid of selling records’, or whatever.

“That’s equally annoying, that it’s somehow refreshing to be capitalist about the whole thing.

“We are very ambitious, but I don’t think we’ve ever been willing to compromise to get there, it just doesn’t work. It’s hard enough to finish a record as it is, so trying to make it to please someone else, would make it nearly impossible.”

There may be another Horrors album next year, just as soon as they play the rescheduled American tour dates they had to postpone this year, for ‘reasons beyond the band’s control’.

However, he thinks bands need to move more quickly than ever before – and their next album will involve moving studios and trying a whole new set-up.

“Whenever you get too comfortable, you should flip things and turn them upside down,” says Badwan. “It’s time for us to turn things on their head.”

The Horrors play The Leadmill on Tuesday. For tickets, priced £16.50, visit www.theleadmill.co.uk