The Horrors: ‘Touring stadiums is weird. We played in the biggest places I’ve ever been’

The Horrors. Picture: Wolf Tone and Caroline International

The Horrors. Picture: Wolf Tone and Caroline International - Credit: Archant

The Horrors are releasing their new album on September 22 and playing Koko in Camden in October

The Horrors - V. Picture: Wolf Tone and Caroline International

The Horrors - V. Picture: Wolf Tone and Caroline International - Credit: Archant

The Horrors are about to reward fans with V, their fifth album to be released on September 22 and preceded by two singles, Machine and Something To Remember Me By.

“V can stand for whatever you want: it’s our fifth album, we’re five, it’s V for victory and it’s a sort of f**k you,” explains guitarist Joshua Hayward.

A provocation to those who believed they were done after three years of silence from their last album Luminous.

Against all odds, they’re back, after working with producer Paul Epworth at his north London studio.

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“We managed not to get bored by constantly striving to do something different,” says Hayward.

“Some bands wouldn’t find boring to make the same record or a slightly better version of it. We’ve never been really happy with that.”

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The Horrors had been the protagonists of one of the most dramatic changes of direction in the history of music. They went from having stage names and big hair, playing a mix of gothabilly and garage rock 90-second songs, to dismiss that well-established image only two years later with the neo-psychedelic shoegaze and drone-rock of Primary Colours, a record which stunned critics and fellow musicians in 2009.

“Before Primary Colours was released, I’d had this awful nightmare when My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields would phone me up to accuse me our sound was too close to his band’s,” confesses Hayward.

“One day I woke up and he did phone us up and said ‘I love your record, you can come play at my festival’. That was quite nice.”

V is bound to be as interesting and different, although Hayward admits they “think nothing can shock people as much as Primary Colours, as that was the very first surprise”.

The two singles from the new album, however, showcase the band’s potential: on one hand, the heavy, garage rock of Machine; on the other, the catchy electro-pop of Something To Remember Me By.

The already high expectations are higher now that band have supported Depeche Mode for a few dates across Europe.

“Touring in stadiums was weird. We literally played in the biggest places I’ve ever been to,” recalls softly-spoken Hayward.

“We thought we would go down terribly, apparently that’s common with everybody who isn’t Depeche Mode,” he laughs.

The band were received very warmly, turning their terrified prediction into a memorable, possibly life-changing experience.

The Horrors have come a long way since that infamous time when they supported Arctic Monkeys in 2007, booed and thrown objects at by the crowd.

“If you’d told me back then we’d still be doing music, I would have been confused. We hadn’t really thought about the future. We live in the present. It’s the only thing you can do, isn’t it?”

This present is their upcoming UK and Ireland tour, which will bring them to Camden Koko on October 29.

“We didn’t tour much for the last record so it’ll be good to be up there and play a good show.”

The band might even dust off some tracks from their first album, Strange House, released in 2007.

“We’re proud of that record. It didn’t really fit in our setlist before, so we didn’t play it because of that, not because we were embarrassed or scared,” says Hayward, who was known by the stage name of Joshua Von Grimm at the time.

“It may fit a bit better now, so yes, a few songs might pop up during the new tour.”

Nonetheless, there is one track from V Hayward is particularly eager to play.

“Weighed Down is the best song we’ve ever written,” he says. “There’s always this one song when you write a record, the one that makes you feel good about it, that makes you feel like you’ve come down to something and give some new direction to it.”

The making of...

V is the fifth studio album by the Southend-on-Sea band. In order to create the ten tracks of the new record, The Horrors left their own studio in Dalston to work with producer Paul Epworth at The Church, a 1850s church building in Crouch End turned recording studio.

“Working with Paul was great. He’s very good at the creative momentum, he always keeps things going constantly. He never let anyone say no to anything,” says guitarist Joshua Hayward.

It is the first time since 2009 that the band has relied on an external producer, after having worked with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and legendary video director Chris Cunningham on their second album Primary Colours.

A long-time friend and fan of the band, Epworth had once spent a whole summer listening to Primary Colours and had previously produced one track on Luminous, their fourth album, released in 2014.

“The five of us, we’ve been known each other so well now that we’d got to a stage where we’d bunker down and chat about something for ages. Paul wouldn’t have any of that. You had to try everything,” adds Hayward.

“He’s so obsessed with action: ‘F**k it, just play it.’ It’s refreshing.”

To Hayward, submitting to an outside producer was a blessing, as he used to be in charge of the sound engineering for their previous albums.

“It was a massive boon. I no longer had to worry about the studio, constantly blowing up for not working enough and not sounding correctly,” he says.

Epworth and his team of engineers have worked with musicians of the like of Adele, Rihanna and Coldplay, amongst many others. Those big pop names shouldn’t trick you, though, as The Horrors are a world away from Chris Martin’s never-changing band. They stayed true to their only constant: experimenting and challenging themselves.

“It is a risk,” says singer Faris Badwan, discussing the band’s bold refusal to stand still. “But life isn’t much fun without risk. It’s the antithesis of being creative if you know what you’re going to be doing every time.”

The Horrors are playing Camden’s Koko on October 29.

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