The Horrors have come a long way since their glam-meets-No Wave beginnings with their 2007 debut Strange House. Since then, they’ve dabbled in krautrock dirges, new romantic, and late 80s British rock. On their latest record Luminous they continue the Mancunian trend with a record that adds elements of early house, mixed thoroughly with a continuation of big 80s style production and jangly progressions. We caught up with lead singer Faris Badwan to talk about the record which is out now on XL.
Northern Transmissions: What was your approach to Luminous, that was different than Skying?
Farris Badwan: The big thing was using a 12-string guitar, which was really essential to the whole record. We had this studio we used for Skying and we had it for this record. The first record we did in this studio, we were really learning how to use it, and this record it was more exploring it further and really understanding it. That was probably the thing that made the most difference. In some ways I think Skying and Luminous are kind of a part one and part two. I wouldn’t say it’s such a huge departure.
NT: would say Luminous does have some dancier elements to it. Can you tell me where that may have come from in terms of approaching this record?
FB: I think we’ve always had an interest in Chicago house records. We listened to a lot of music on tour together spending time as a band, but once we begin recording, we kind of stop listening to music really. That’s how we make most things we’re involved with. It’s a lot more helpful to find what’s in the song as opposed to trying to find it in someone else’s song.
NT: You’ve said that you feel that this is the record you personally feel happiest with. Can you elaborate?
FB: I think in some ways it feels like it sounds like it’s part of a complete world whereas I feel like on previous records there’d be one or two tracks that didn’t quite feel the same way [as the rest of the record]. That’s not really such a problem, I just felt like this one was really from one planet. Maybe our records have more continuity than other bands for better or worse.
NT: Luminous feels similar to Skying yes, but does feel extremely far away from the first record.
FB: Well yeah, it’s been ten years. Wouldn’t it be such a weird thing if you kept making the same record.
NT: Oh yeah, of course. What’s interesting though is how each record is only a little different from the last but then once you take both ends and compare them, a great deal has changed over time. Now that the record has been out for about six months now, do you feel like you’re happy with the reception it’s gotten so far?
FB: I never know what to expect when you put a record out. I mean I’ve watched things change, and I don’t mean us change, I mean the way people listen to music. I think now things get absorbed so rapidly. I feel like on this record it does need a bit of distance to get what you can get out of it. And most of my favorite records are like that. In fact, most of my favorite records, I don’t feel are that special the first time I hear them and then your eyes get opened.
NT: Luminous took a little bit longer to come out than previous records. Was there a particular reason?
FB: The reason was because we were on tour for so long. For us to write and record this record was fairly average, but yeah it was more the product of our tour.
NT: You had cancelled a lot of tour dates this year. Why did that end up happening?
FB: It was just bad timing really. We had these dates booked and there was just too many so we had to rearrange the tour to get them all in. It just means we’re going to do more touring next year.
NT: On Your Facebook, there’s a numbered list of songs that you’ve been posting. What is that?
FB: Oh, we’ve been doing that for a while. We would just post a song a day. Sometimes more than one song a day. We like sharing other people’s music as much as ours. I like being turned on new groups by other people.
NT: In recording this album, was there any particular song that was special as to how it came together in the studio.
FB: For “I See You,” Josh [Hayward] wanted to create this sequence that could technically go on forever. He felt that went in the tune pretty well. I liked writing “Change Your Mind” because that was just written with really bare drums coming out of the speaker which really changed the song on top.
NT: How do you guys usually write songs?
FB: We’ve tried a few different ways but we work as a group mostly which takes longer but it does get unique results. Someone will start something and then when it’s really imagined by the whole band it becomes something we didn’t expect or plan for.
NT: How does it differ than your work in your other group Cat’s Eyes?
FB: With Cat’s Eyes, the songs all begin on piano or vocals with guitar and with the Horrors it doesn’t really sound like the band – I’ve tried writing songs and bringing them to the group but in most cases it doesn’t really work, they don’t feel like Horrors songs. But I think it’s cool to try to test yourself and not get too comfortable. Sticking too close to one formula is the worst thing you can do if you want to be creative.