Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Oct 20th 2009 5:30PM by Shelley White
The Horrors are happy to talk about their music. Just please don't call them Goth.
"It just seems to apply to anyone who wears black," synthmaster Tom Cowan (aka Tomethy Furse) gripes to Spinner while nestled amongst neatly-pressed stage clothes hanging in the band's tour bus. It's a makeshift closet back here, a mass of black skinny pants and button-down shirts. But here and there, flashes of wine, grey and slate blue poke through. Sartorially and musically, it seems, the Horrors are branching out. At least a little.
When they first burst onto the UK music scene, the Horrors were noticed for their scary style. They specialized in freaky music videos -- the animated 'She Is the New Thing' featured a zombie girl, an eyeball-plucking crow and lots of blood while 'Sheena Is a Parasite' starred Samantha Morton as a gut-spewing witch -- and took spooky stage names like Coffin Joe and Spider Webb.
And, of course, they boasted all-black wardrobes, pale faces and Robert Smith-style hair. It would seem to follow that these garage-punks were five dark souls with some serious interest in the underworld.
"Not at all," Cowan says brightly.
No late-night horror screenings of 'Night of the Living Dead' to get them in the mood to compose? "No, I have a really overactive imagination so if I watch a horror movie I just imagine those things happening to me and it really freaks me out."
The Horrors' second album, 'Primary Colours,' has earned widespread critical acclaim, including a Mercury Prize nomination. Still in their early 20s, the band has created a genre-bending masterwork, a swirling blend of post-punk, shoegaze and garage rock with layered guitars, moody synths, raw vocals and more than a hint of menace.
"People always say, 'You make this really dark music,'" says Cowan. "But when we were making this album, it was the summer and we really thought, 'This is jubilant.' It was joy. It was about making uplifting music."
Regardless, critics have often compared the Horrors to Joy Division, the patron band of the dark and depressive.
"I have to put everyone straight with this," says Cowan. "None of us really listened to Joy Division. When we started getting that reaction -- 'they're just like trying to be like Joy Division' -- that just never crossed our minds," he shrugs. "Music doesn't come from nowhere. If you've listened to 'Negativland' by Neu, it's really Joy Division's entire career summed up in one song. When people say you ripped off Joy Division, well, Joy Division just ripped off NEU!"
Okay, so no Goth, no darkness, no Joy Division. So who are the Horrors, really?
"I'm going to tell people we sound like the cantina band from 'Star Wars' from now on," Cowan says with a laugh.
Greedo would be pleased.