After the screeching psychedelia of 2007’s debut Strange House, the Horrors shocked listeners with a luscious and moody follow-up, Primary Colours. They still wore skinny jeans and sported teased hair like Helena Bonham-Carter, but they’d traded in camp organs and ghoulish lyrics for something more thoughtful. Now debuting a third album, the mysteriously-titled Skying, frontman Faris Badwan (né Faris Rotter) talks us through their evolution.
So the new album’s been kept rather secret up till now. Who produced it?
Well, we produced it ourselves. It sort of felt like this was the time to do it, we’d built a lot of equipment and got a studio, so we recorded it there and did the production ourselves.
Did you do the artwork this time around, too?
No, we had this guy called Neil who did the art. Though he turned out to be a huge disappointment. I do like the cover, but it was a bit difficult getting more than that, that’s one way of saying it.
Does it feel odd to be still operating under the name of The Horrors?
Bands invariably transcend the names they pick in the beginning, you always outgrow it. Though it never feels like a ‘reinvention’ at the time, you just get really into what you’re doing. I mean, you alienate just as many people by staying the same. And it’s also about just keeping myself interested, otherwise it would get boring.
You seem to get really gripped by various obsessions. Was there a deciding one for this album, like a theme?
Well, it takes a whole year to write and record the thing, so it’s hard to sum it up in a few bands. You’ll end up listening to over a hundred records in the course of that year, and when there’s five of you as well, it can’t be distilled all that simply. We never aimed to listen to just one decade or even just one genre. I think the main influence on this album was building our own studio.
What’s it like at Horrors HQ?
It’s a big concrete room in London. It’s more like a workshop right now, because Josh is in there shearing metal. I don’t really even know what he’s doing in there. I just don’t know.
After (recent side-project with Italian-Canadian soprano Rachel Zeffira) Cat’s Eyes did you find your yourself singing differently, or wanting the sound more pop?
No it was the opposite. Rachel used Cat’s Eyes as an opportunity to sing in a more natural way than she had done before, and I kind of treated it that way too, just singing in a very natural way.
The old songs were all so much about telling stories, it seems Horrors songs have got a lot more personal recently.
Yes, and it’s a lot more natural. I think bands just have to try to get as much of their personalities into their music as possible. It’s the sound of us, hopefully, getting better at what we’re doing. It’s just more subtle, and some of that subtlety comes from understanding your instruments. What’s the next step from that? I’m not sure.
How did you pull off debuting the album in the Vatican?
That would be telling, wouldn’t it? We wanted to do something we thought no-one else would be able to repeat. Though how we did it I can’t really say. The cardinals didn’t exactly get up and dance, exactly, but they seemed… quietly appreciative.
Ok one last thing, what is ‘Skying’?
It was the name given to phasers at the time when they were invented. They were referred to as ‘the grand skyer’, so we wanted to use that term.
Is it a verb, ‘to sky’?
Well we’re trying to make it one.
Lets see, give me a sample sentence with somebody skying in it…
Hmm. ‘Jenny went Skying down a hill.’
The Horrors third album, Skying, is available from a gazillion retail outlets from July the 11th.
Words Roisín Kiberd