Back in 2006 when five skinny boys, coated in black and faces full of make-up arrived from the Essex seaside town of Southend, many laughed like they were just a fad fashion band. But with their obsessions with sixties psychedelic groups, The Horrors proved the haters wrong, attracting a cult following with garage punks.
At a time when Franz Ferdinand were ‘edgy’ compared to the clean-cut sounds of The Kooks and The Fratellis, it seemed like something from a different universe. The group, led by Faris ‘Rotter’ Badwan, a tall figure with taller hair, who was a charismatic and frightening front-man when performing. The band's debut album, 'Strange House', was chaotic but underneath the screeching guitars and screaming vocals, good songs could be found. Perhaps understandably, it wasn’t accessible for the mainstream media who only started taking notice when Faris began dating ‘celebrity’ Peaches Geldof.
The relationship terminated, the paparazzi stopped - but not The Horrors, who returned with a second album, 'Primary Colours'. It had a different sound including influences coming from eighties shoe-gaze and post punk, which helped attract a different audience. All those who slated their debut as “style over substance” came back this time with approval for the birth of their next evolution. It won over critics from every direction, and as they began to dress down and became known for the music, rather than their image. This would be a huge achievement for any band, but even more so in this short attention span world we now live in.
That was two years ago. Now, The Horrors are set to release their third record this summer, but it’s Faris’ side-project that has yet again caught everybody off guard.
The man who used to throw paint into his audience has now partnered up with opera singer Rachel Zeffira to form Cat's Eyes. The duo performed their first gig at the Vatican, and on their self-titled debut album they have created an angelic sound, a million miles from the material featured on The Horrors' 'Strange House' - yet the influences are similar, mostly from the sixties. The album is focussed towards Phil Spector’s Motown girl group sound along with production that even the revolutionary Joe Meek would be proud of.
In just five years Faris Badwan has spun-away from the art-school/goth and turned into a well-respected musician. When The Horrors arrived they weren’t meant to get very far, they were the outsiders of the outsiders, yet now people are not only excited to see their next direction but they can enjoy Cat’s Eyes – a surprise package that seemed to come from no where, yet, in hindsight, with Faris' impressive track record it was almost obvious.
This is a man who's always looking in new directions and willing to experiment. Indeed, one wonders whether he's the UK's answer to Jack White?