|When I told a friend of mine recently that
I planned to interview The Horrors and expected them to be a
far more interesting and compelling interview than my upcoming
tête-à-tête with Arctic Monkeys,
he said 'this is The Horrors we are talking about, isn't it?'.
An understandable reaction, based upon the media perception of
them as a novelty band, a goth-punk version of The Archies if
you will. But a quick listen to the spooky-psychedelic ramblings
of 'Gil Sleeping' or the Gang of Four meets The Fall majesty
of 'Excellent Choice' tells you this is a band with a bit more
on their minds than being pin-ups for NME readers who wear eyeliner.
I sat down with organist Rhys Webb and asked him about this misconception.
He felt their music spoke for itself...
|"From the offset, from the word go, we did run into that kind of problem. At the time I think it was, for some people more than others, really annoying - I found it really annoying. We all just felt, when the album comes out, that's what's gonna be the turning point, that will hopefully change people's perception. And not everyone [was negative], for people that actually are into music and music history and music that doesn't just span the last 5 years, The Libertines etc, people who look beyond that, can actually see in the aesthetic, the roots and where it's actually coming from, so I think for some people, it's not really a question. But others who aren't necessarily aware of our musical background, or our tastes, who find it slightly out there, who obviously probably don't know better than to have that immediate opinion, so you know, at first it was something that really pissed me off. Then I said let's just wait for the album, 'cause we'd only released stuff on vinyl, there were quite limited runs, people couldn't always hear it. And people probably saw more pictures, or read more about us, than heard the music. People who couldn't look further into it, just went for that immediate thing, missed the point completely. But anyway, the album has been kind of greatly received across the board from critics and fans and a lot of opinion as far as I'm concerned has changed. But, at the same time we're never gonna appeal to everyone, and we don't even want to. I don't want to be in Arctic Monkeys or Oasis or, god forbid, something like Coldplay. I know that's what most bands would say but, to be honest, the idea of mediocrity is something that scares me very much. I'd rather sit on one side of someone's fence and I'll quite happily sit on the [side of] hatred, I quite enjoy that. Especially if you're playing gigs, if you're supporting bands or doing an NME tour for example and you get a lot of people that really hate you, it actually makes you play much better show, and then the people that love you get really into it. I think it's quite a good position to be in."|
However, not everyone judges the monochromatic flåneurs harshly. In fact some do rather enjoy their look, your correspondent included. Thus the question of hair products seemed inevitable, and it was revealed that Spider, Tom and Coffin Joe all claim to use no product whatsoever, whilst Joshua's ragamuffin poof is held aloft with the use of grease, talcum powder and a ratting comb. Only the scraggly hair of singer Faris has succumbed to the devilish charms of hairspray, much to the chagrin of his bandmate.
Rhys (aka Spider) revealed further nuggets to set the messageboards
alight when questioned as to how The Horrors came upon their
|Delving further into the more experimental
side of The Horrors we questioned him as to whether the notoriously
fast-moving band ever did any 'jams'
"Last night [in LA] there was a track at the end that we played that was more of a psychedelic freak out, it was verging on more of a kind of Velvet Underground thing than a pacified idea of a jam, but in the studio, when we're rehearsing, if Faris is wandering around or you know pops out to do an email or something we do play a lot of quite mad psychedelic music like really early Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett-era, like Interstellar Overdrive or The Silver Apples, an American band from NY that experimented with a lot of electronics. We kind of do these mad psychedelic jams which are very unlike the Horrors, just loads of strange noises and kind of pulsing rhythms and then Faris comes back in and says 'What are you doing? Get back to work!'
Do you ever play Gil Sleeping live?
No, we don't, no. That song came out of a jam actually.
Yea, that makes sense, it's very different, more psychedelic, it reminds me of Can actually.
That's it. Cause when we recorded the album we were quite eager to make an LP in a kind of classic album idea of an album that you kind of start with and end with and you have the journey throughout and it wasn't an idea that we wanted to kind of pack it with singles or radio-friendly hits, that wasn't an interest of ours. So, you know, things like Gil Sleeping, was just a way of exploring what you can actually do with an album as a journey more than just a package.
Like Excellent Choice?
Yes, exactly, that one is the same kind of idea.
For me my fashion is about trying to show my individuality
For all the technical nerds out there we asked Rhys a bit
about his organ...
Have you always played keyboards?
Champions of new music as we are here at No-OrdinaryMusic
it was a natural ask if there were any new bands we should be
This reporter, and her mum, were more than a little relieved to have had such a fascinating first interview, Rhys even gave us some tips for our future work for No-OrdinaryMusic; cautioning strongly against my idea to wear a 'Fuck Arctic Monkeys' shirt to go interview them, and suggesting instead that Maximo Park, who's "intellect lies a bit deeper" might find it more amusing.
Later on in the evening I was surprised by Rhys' unique performance, he spun around the stage, leaping and dancing the part of a ghoul or zombie. Alas, his spooky movements seemed to often go unnoticed by the audience of rowdy drunks, hell bent on moshing with a certain No-OrdinaryMusic correspondent and oogling Faris' antics. Perhaps, Faris' mad hair, mangled crowd surfing and destruction of the club's disco ball, next to Rhys' well kept appearance and charming horror-film character dancing, is a metaphor for the band and how people perceive them. Seemingly opposite ideas held at once; tidy and messy, punk and psychedelic, goth and mod, black and white. They are calculating and self-aware, but by their own means, not as the industry pop-tarts one could so easily pigeon-hole them as. The Horrors are a unique experience in a musical landscape cluttered with Kooks and Fratellis and all manner of other bands with no care for musical history or even an interest in a unique style or aesthetic, and perhaps you'll find there's a bit more to them than you expect.