Faris Badwan The Horrors singer on record before Dubai performance
In an era where DJs rule the charts and the guitar has pretty much been left for dead, The Horrors are a ragingly cool anachronism; an old-school idiosyncratic rock band who are just keeping calm – and pretending it’s 1977. Over the course of four albums, the British quintet have shocked, thrilled and appropriated, from the Gothy, garage squalor of 2007’s debut Strange House to the woozy, shoe-gazing psychedelia of last year’s career-high, Luminous. Tomorrow, the lead singer Faris Badwan stops by Dubai to spin a DJ set for Fred Perry Subculture.
Your father is Palestinian. Have you spent much time in the region?
I used to spend a lot of time in Palestine, until my family were forced to move out. They live in Jordan now so I’ve been going there since. I’ve never been to Dubai – I would have thought it’s a little bit different. I’m really looking forward to it. My friend’s already packed his suitcase.
You’re coming out to DJ. The Horrors famously began as a group of rare record-collecting friends who decided to form a band. Who’s got the biggest collection?
It’s not really a question of size – it’s about value. We all collect different things. The main thing I collect is girl groups from the late 1950s to mid 1960s, and they’re just not as rare as the psych records, which sometimes go for more than £1,000, (Dh5,536), which is insane. Rhys [Webb, bassist] probably has the biggest collection. I’ve got about 3,000 records.
Geeky question: how do you order them?
By country, and then alphabetically. And the Joe Meek ones I keep all together.
Speaking of records, you must be surprised by how well your last album, Luminous, was received?
No, it wasn’t received out of the realms of what I thought possible. The music is accessible, so to some extent people should hopefully like it. When you make something, all you can really do is trust your own taste. The other stuff is kind of meaningless; you can’t judge a record until it’s been around 10, 15 years.
Have you started work on a follow-up?
We’ve been writing it. We’re working with Paul Epworth, who worked on the last Adele record and has done lots of other cool things [with Florence and the Machine, John Legend, Paul McCartney and Coldplay].
This year marks 10 years since your first gig as The Horrors.
That’s pretty weird – I’m 28, I’ve been in this band my entire adult life.
You’ve grown up in public.
It’s nothing. Compared with, say, Tom Cruise. That’s pretty strange, it’s a weird thing, the combination of public exposure and controversy.
You’ve clearly matured in 10 years.
I definitely don’t think I developed a sense of consequence until I was about 26. I used to do really crazy things.
Crazy how? Like throwing TVs out of windows?
TVs out of windows? I wonder if that would be satisfying. Maybe it would, maybe it’s something to try in Dubai. I went through a phase of letting off fireworks indoors, which was definitely spectacular, and also very loud. I haven’t done that for a while.
So are you enjoying this new, calmer, post-firework stage?
Er. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s as cut-and-dried as that.
Worried about turning 30?
I haven’t given it much thought, actually. That’s what makes people old, the assumption that you suddenly can’t do things. If Harrison Ford can crash a plane at 70, why shouldn’t someone else do something else at 40?
Think you’ll still be in The Horrors at 40?
When I was younger, I never even thought I’d live that long. I don’t know what I’ll be doing. I’ve been spending a lot of time recording with my other band Cat’s Eyes, but I can’t imagine not being in The Horrors.
Cat’s Eyes is a duo with your girlfriend Rachel Zeffira. Being in a band has been described as being like a marriage – isn’t that the worst of both worlds?
I think I realised not that long ago that I couldn’t really be in a relationship with someone without being able to make music with them, because otherwise I would kind of lose interest. She’s taught me more about music than probably anyone has.
So has Cat’s Eyes got a longer shelf life than The Horrors?
No, because the thing with The Horrors is we all understand that the stuff we make together is better than it would be separately. I know everyone probably thinks the band they’re in is the best, but I do think we’re unique in some way.
How much do you guys fight?
We’ve had some pretty insane fights, but I’ve had worse fights with my brothers, to be honest. We haven’t put each other in headlocks, yet.
Have you ever done the lead singer thing and threatened to quit?
No, and I don’t think anybody else has. I was recently thinking about who would be the first one to leave if the band did break up, but I don’t really see anyone leaving. They’d probably all say me.
Would you like to do a solo record?
Yeah. I’m always trying things with other people. It’s just about being interested in things. I’d like to try lots of different records.
Why should someone go and see you spin in Dubai?
I don’t like convincing people to do anything, I’d prefer people to come of their own will. But that doesn’t really happen, does it? If I promise them latex body suits, are they going to turn up?
I reckon. Anything else you want to tell me?
I think I’ve told you everything I know.
• Faris Badwan is at Fred Perry Subculture, at Dubai International Marine Club, on Thursday, March 12 from 9.30pm. Tickets cost Dh100; visit www.timeouttickets.com to book