Faris Badwan resembles a gangly effete character out of a Tim Burton movie. He’s emaciated in the troubled artist sense – long sinuous limbs, a mop of fashionably disheveled hair, and he’s almost unhealthily pale. He rather awkwardly stoops his neck when talking.
The lead singer of The Horrors is witty, perhaps the reason the garage-punk five-piece (Badwan, Tom Cowan, Joshua Hayward, Joseph Spurgeon and Rhys Webb) have survived and flourished in a fickle industry that has seen most of their contemporaries disappear. Their latest album “Luminous” is another stylistic hop, this time into psychedelia, which 28-year-old Badwan believes is going down well because “we’re not trying to remake the same record every time and we’ve got more scope – it sounds like a new start.”
You’re often described by the media as “odd.” Is this an image that you cultivate?
Do they? If being in The Horrors means being odd, then I’m quite happy being odd, thank you. When we started, we were into garage music and that’s just part of it. Like if you’re into hip-hop you end up falling in with people with similar interests.
You had a bit of a moment on tour where you were left behind by your bandmates. What happened?
I got off the bus at 3 a.m. without my phone. So I had to buy a phone and I could only remember one phone number and it was some office number so no one would be in there for another few hours. I ended up reading the whole of “The Hunger Games” and walked down the freeway.
Are you a prolific reader?
I suppose, but it’s not the most challenging subject matter, although I did like the films. I caught up with the tour bus at 2 p.m. the next day. It was a long trip.
You must have been exhausted…
It’s funny, I don’t really sleep.
Were you sleepwalking?
My girlfriend sleepwalks. She actually was in a hotel once and sleepwalked out of her room and into someone else’s. She was waving the bed sheets above her head and the guy thought she was from a mental asylum, but he kindly took her back to her room. She has a lot of unexpected traits like that.
You collaborate with your girlfriend [Rachel Zeffira] in your other band Cat’s Eyes. Do the rest of The Horrors feel like you’re cheating on them?
[Laughs.] No, it’s a completely different thing. They’ve done other creative things as well like Spider And The Flies and Rhys Webb has done The Diddlers. Cat’s Eyes did a film soundtrack, which was a really amazing experience and the film was good. It was an unexpected bonus because you always think you’re going to jump on some terrible thing but it’s a Peter Strickland film and it’s really, really good.
Do you want to work on more films and commercial projects?
It’s a natural thing for Cat’s Eyes. It’s an indie film and it’s a really good film and we got to do what we want, so it was the ideal job really. But yeah I would like to.
Are there any advertisements or projects that you might say ‘no’ to?
I don’t know. Portishead had a good outlook on adverts, which was ‘take them all’. I don’t know if I would go that far. For example, we got offered this cider advert but we didn’t want the song to be associated with that, so we said ‘no’.
You keep a diary. Are you one day going to publish its contents?
I don’t want to put the others on edge and say ‘yes’. It’s more of a visual diary. I recently lost this year’s sketchbook [Laughs.], which has never happened before and I’ve kept them since I was three. I managed to leave it in a taxi so I’ve been delayed somewhat but next year I will be doing paintings again.
You don’t seem like the social media sort. Is it important for you to connect with your fans in this way?
It’s definitely important to connect but I’m not sure if social media is the way to do it because it’s so disposable. We’re a touring band – that’s how the songs are written – and I think playing live is how you really connect with people. I’m a bit old-fashioned with things like that [social media]. I want to resist because it’s only going to come full circle.
So you’re not going to get in any Twitter spats?
No, come on. Twitter… I’m not sure I’d be able to handle that for more than a week.
Your family is from Palestine, do you have any interest in getting involved on some political level?
I think it’s difficult because I think there is such a big temptation for musicians and their egos to get involved with things that they shouldn’t. Being Palestinian and not having a pathological hatred for Jews might be a view worth sharing. The anti-Semitism is ridiculous.