Shoegazed and Confused

Posted October 1, 2009 in Music

The Horrors want you to feel something, perhaps even go a bit mental. 


They don’t want you to think about their transition from 1960s-era style garage rock to shoegazey darkness. They don’t want you to care what the music press writes about them. They want you to judge their music by the emotions the songs unearth.


What most of their fans—young girls and guys clutching to Horrors fanzines, who love Tim Burton movies but whose guilty pleasure is an affinity for Brittney Spears—feel are their hormones gone haywire mixed with commiseration. 


The Horrors are a young British band hailing from London’s Southend. After forming in 2005, the Horrors graced the cover of NME magazine in 2007, the same year they released their debut album Strange House


And in a bit of hyperbolic frenzy, that same magazine’s editor called them the most exciting British band since the Sex Pistols. Proving his point, the Horrors made a guest appearance as the Black Tubes on the cult classic BBC Three show The Mighty Boosh that same year, serious bragging rights on their side of the Atlantic.


More recently, Pitchfork, the notorious touchstone of music literati, bestowed the band with a 7.6 out of 10 rating on their newest release, 2009’s Primary Colours. The new songs garnered a nomination for the prestigious U.K. Mercury Award, and their live shows are anything but shoegazey, often breaking out into mere hysteria on stage and off.


Does all the hype get to the Horrors? Nah. In the 2008 documentary about the band, Counting in Fives, the band made it very clear that they shan’t care either way what anyone says.


 “The pressure is all internal to make really amazing music,” Horrors guitarist Joshua Third says. The Horrors are growing up, and so is their sound. Yet they’ve retained their punky attitude. 


“We do what we want and we don’t care what anyone says,” Third says. 

It’s probably too simple to dismiss the Horrors as camp or revivalists just because screaming girls in Rome chase them through narrow corridors. They know their shit. Initial covers of garage rock songs like Screaming Lord Sutch’s “Jack the Ripper” and The Sonics’ “The Witch” gave the band a psychobilly sonic assault foundation, and showed the kids are alright. 


The band took form while lead singer Faris Badwan and multi-instrumentalist Tomethy Furse attended Rugby School in Warwickshire, a posh boarding school.


But it was at hotspots like London’s Junkclub, which bassist Rhyss Webb was a founder of, that the group truly took form, adding Third and drummer Joe Spurgeon. “We were all going to these clubs where most of the people were over 40,” Third says. “We were the only kids there, so naturally we gravitated toward one another.” 


A few years later and they were paying their dues, getting blackened and bloodied by Arctic Monkeys fans during a tour that, as expected, didn’t go over too well. But no worries, the Horrors don’t make music for positive feedback.


For the band’s latest release, the Horrors tapped producer Geoff Barrow—who some might assume is the impetus for the stylistic changes between 2007’s Strange House and Primary Colours, moving from the sonic Cramps-like overcharge in “Sheena is a Parasite” to the soul-staring nu-gazer sound more akin to Bauhaus or Joy Division.


“If you listen to the tracks written between the albums, you could see the bridge,” Third says. “But that would take some of the magic out of it.”


With rock referrals from the likes of NIN, The Jesus and the Mary Chain and Portishead thrown in, the Horrors have got the CV to prove their NME praise right on. “We’re quite the band’s band, I guess,” Third says.


As for that NME cover and the blogger backlash that ensued, Third takes it in stride. “I thought it was pretty good they paid attention to new bands,” he says cheekily. “Siouxsie & the Banshees made the cover back in the day, so it makes sense to me.” 


Now, please, get mental in the most rational way possible.


The Horrors perform with Japanese Motors and Future Static at the Glass House, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802,, Fri, Oct. 2, Doors open 8PM. $15. All ages. 


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