Interview The Horrors

DIY caught up with keyboardist Spider Webb to discuss the tour, their album, hair and fireworks!

The Horrors

are currently busy on the road with The Automatic, The View and Mumm-Ra on the annual NME Indie Rock Tour, as part of what is set to be a hectic year for them. DIY caught up with keyboardist Spider Webb to discuss the tour, their album, hair and fireworks!

How is the tour going?
It’s been really good. It’s out first time playing at these size venues. We obviously started playing in small size basements clubs, so to play this kind environment is something new. We’ve been reaching places we haven’t been to before, such as Southampton and Ireland, so it’s been good. The first thing we do when we come to a new place is search out the nearest record shop to go searching for old records. We found a couple of bits in Oxfam Music Shop today which were good – including ‘Everybody Loves Mambo’, which is as fun as it looks.

How is Faris’s knee?
Faris’s knee is fine (laughs). With knees, I find this as well, and I certainly don’t throw myself around as much as he does as I’m behind keyboard, but knees are quite fragile and once you’ve bashed them they don’t recover too well. He is constantly gashing his, so they don’t seem to mend too easily. It’s obviously something that’s always moving, and you can’t really do anything about it. So every night he seems to end up opening a wound that’s already there. It’s just one of those things really.

And how about Coffin Joe’s bronchitis?
He’s just finished the last of his antibiotics today, and he’s pretty much fully recovered, so that’s all good. But it’s weird because we all came down with an illness at the same time. He was advised by a doctor that if he carried on playing he might actually catch pneumonia! But it was funny, well it wasn’t funny, but a couple of the other guys and I came down ill at the same time, but luckily not as bad as him. It was good for us to be ill at the same time!

Has it affected the tour much?
Well we cancelled two gigs, which was really rubbish, especially when you see people sending messages like “I travelled 90 miles to see you and you didn’t even bother to turn up”. But if you look at what would have happened if we did turn up in the long run… well it’s a shame to disappoint. So we were disappointed as well.

(At this time Coffin Joe enters the room with a spaghetti carbonara – he obviously feels much better!!).

Do you hang out with the other bands at all?
Yeah we hang a lot with The View. We share a very similar outlook on having fun. Not similar music, but very similar energies, not in the spiritual sense, but high energy.

What about The Automatic? You’ve had your differences with them in the past, with them calling you “just big hair”.
We haven’t been spending any time with them, and they’re very polite young men, but I haven’t much interest in talking to them. To be honest we didn’t have any problems with them. But the way I see it is that we just had so little interest in their group, no interest in their music – I don’t find it inspiring or creative. If I weren’t in a band I would have so little opinion of it. The fact that I’m in a band means that I have more of an opinion. I couldn’t give less of a shit about their music. I’m not interested in badmouthing them because it means that little to me.

So, what bands do you and your fellow Horrors like listening to?
At the moment I’m listen to a lot of the Silver Apples, and I’ve just bought this EP off Ebay called ‘I Hear A New World’, by this producer called Joe Meek who worked in electricism through to the early 60’s. This was before he killed himself and his landlady as a result of being prescribed amphetamines to combat his manic depression when he was interested in the occult and a lot of space. This EP is the first concept EP, and how he imagines outer space to sound – he creates these planets, characters and aliens. You can hear the personalities of each of them in the track.

Cutting back to last year, you did a tour with The Fratellis, The Maccabees and The Dykeenies. It is renowned for your black paint antics. Did you buy that black paint especially to take on tour and smear over The Fratellis?
It was something Faris had. We sometimes have it on us because it’s easier than using eyeliner – just stick your finger in and run it across your face. So we were playing a gig once and Faris just ended up marking big black hands on people’s faces. It’s more of an idea of unity – the band reacting with the audience and being involved. That’s the inspiration behind it. I happened for a while and then we got bored of it. And we upset The Fratellis, which wasn’t intentional either, but people are easily upset this day and age.

You’ve gone one better this time, with fireworks, I hear?
Well, come on, the thing is, you’re on tour, and for half an hour a night you have a really good gig, and that’s why we’re on the road. But at the end of the day you have twelve hours in the day when you’re either in a van or cooped up in a dressing room, which is quite boring. So you’ve got to make your own fun. The Gunpowder Plot is us having fun.

Have you got any other plans lined up?
Who knows (he says secretively)… I wouldn’t like to say.

How’s the new album coming along?
The album is completed. It comes out on the 5th March and we’re really pleased with it. We’ve recorded it over the last year, so it’s a real introduction to us as a band. It features a lot of the earlier songs we wrote as well as stuff we wrote right at the end of the year. We went away, had quite a big tour, went to the States, played Europe and went to Japan. We came back, with the album almost complete, and had so many new ideas and new tracks, so we recorded a load more stuff. It’s been a journey really as we haven’t just worked with one producer or worked in just one session. It’s an unconventional way, but for us, it’s the best way of doing it, as we got to work in different surroundings and situations.

How on earth did you get Samantha Morton to appear in the ‘Sheena Is A Parasite’ video?
We were in the studio one day and had this call telling us that Chris Cunningham (the director) has heard our single online. Apparently in about a day he had become obsessed and had come up with this concept and storyboard for it. We were really up for doing it and obviously it features Sheena, who is Sheena from The Ramones, but now, almost thirty years later, and her place in society now. Samantha Morton is a good friend of Chris’s and is really into music. She liked the band as well and offered her services to do it. That’s all how it worked out. She was pretty insane as well.

What have been your biggest influences in your music?
I think our biggest influences have come from what we’ve spent the last 8 or 10 years doing. The fact that we’re a band in the first place is because we weren’t really interested in many contemporary groups and stuff you hear on the radio. So we searched out old punk records and went to these weird basement clubs where they played mad garage and punk happenings. That’s where we met and that’s what has made us as people and is why we look the way we do and sound the way we do. So I wouldn’t cite one major influence, but just the willingness to experiment and push boundaries in sound as an inspiration whether that’s in jazz or punk. Deconstructing and putting things back together in music has been an inspiration.

What two words would you say describe your music?
Wild and intense… and psychotic.

Some critics have said that you’re more interested I fashion than music. What do you have to say to them?
I would say we have no interest in fashion, and possible our look reflects the music we listen to. It’s not something that has come about in the next year or two, it’s something that we have been doing since we were in our early teens. It’s just how we choose to dress ourselves. What’s even funnier is sometimes reading things like they have a £50 haircut and £100 pair of jeans, but the total price of one of our usual outfits is about £20 – jeans from Primark for £10, shirts from a school shop for 2 for fiver. That’s the extent of our interest in fashion. It doesn’t go any further than that.

Do any of you wear a hairpiece?
No!

What do you to warm up before a gig?
Faris usual shouts a bit before we go on, and we sometimes have voodoo rituals which I shan’t go into detail about… usually rhythmic and involves black magic.

And that’s what Spider Webb goes off to do now with his fellow band members… after they’ve put on their hair pieces of course!

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