“It’s the Most Polarising Music We’ve Made”: The Horrors on Their New EP

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Horrors 1 - credit Charles Jeffrey LOVERBOY
Photo by Charles Jeffrey

After a four-year break, the band are back with their “nastiest” release yet: an industrial metal collaboration with Isamaya Ffrench, Jordan Hemingway and Charles Jeffrey

The Horrors are back with an ear-shattering bang. Four years after the release of their critically acclaimed album V, the London-based band are making a return with Lout: a ferocious industrial-metal EP loaded with thrashing guitars and pummeling drums. It is, in the words of bassist Rhys Webb, the “nastiest music” they’ve made in years. “It’s exhilarating,” he explains over Zoom, “it’s just intense, mechanical music.”

The driving force of Lout is its title track, which is released today as the EP’s main single. As well as marking a bold new sound for the band, the record also comes with a striking new visual identity, headed up by Nowness’ creative director Bunny Kinney and designer Charles Jeffrey. The first teaser of this can be seen in Lout’s accompanying visual short – a minute-long blast of body horror – which is directed by Jordan Hemingway and stars Isamaya Ffrench.

“We wanted to make music that was challenging and we wanted the visual side of things to reflect that too,” explains Webb. The goal was to “immerse” themselves in a completely new creative territory, with an army of collaborators known for pushing boundaries. “It’s the most polarising music we’ve made in a long time. It’s been quite invigorating.”

The Horrors have experimented a lot with different sounds and genres during their 16-year career. Since their enigmatic emergence in the early 00s, the band have played with garage-rock, psychedelia, avant-garde krautrock, and arena-ready maximalism. Their fifth album V – which was their last release in 2017 – was the band’s most accessible, pop-centric release yet, which makes Lout’s brutal new direction all the more surprising. 

“We love pop music,” adds keyboardist and synthesiser player Tom Furse, “but there are other things to do. You don’t always have to go on the same rides or eat at the same restaurant. You just get a little bit restless and you want to explore different things.” Lout, he explains, is less about continuing this chase for musical sophistication, and more about paying tribute to the band’s early aesthetics. “I think there’s just something to be said for the raw satisfaction of some very deep, distorted guitars.”

This return to their sonic roots was partly inspired by the pandemic. The band members ended up dispersing across the country, splitting up and temporarily leaving London for their respective rural hometowns and seaside retreats (when I speak to Tom, he is at home in Margate, while Rhys is in a studio in Leigh-on-Sea). As a result, much of Lout was made remotely, passed around back and forth between members digitally. Although the process has been tough for everybody – both financially and emotionally – it also served as a much needed moment of reflection. “I came to the conclusion that I just really wanted to think less about choruses and hooks, and just to try and create something that was sonically exciting and visceral and intense,” says Rhys.

It was also an opportunity to reassess the way they worked, and their own relationships to music-making. “There was that sense of euphoria during the first lockdown,” remembers Tom. “It was very interesting, and like a mass hysteria, where people felt lucky to be alive, but it wasn't particularly good for creativity. It has been hard to sit down and work on stuff for hours on end, in the grinding way that I definitely used to do. But I think it’s healthy to have that disrupted, and to question whether the norm is to sink all your energies into whatever your work is.”

Despite the difficulties of the last 12 months, The Horrors are feeling hopeful for the post-pandemic future – both for the band and for the creative industry more generally. “On a personal level, I feel great, which is lovely,” says Tom. “And I think inevitably, over the next two years, cool stuff will begin to come out of all this. People will approach things differently.” That being said, he adds, “I do really miss just having a bit of a boogie and being a bit fucked.”

Lout is released on 12 March via Wolf Tone/Virgin Music Label. The title track, Lout, is released today.