2016 Artist Survey: Faris Badwan of The Horrors and Cat’s Eyes
Badwan on 2016's Best Albums, Scary Movies, First Kisses, Time Travel, and Memorable Fan Encounters
Feb 08, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary
For Under the Radar's 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Faris Badwan of The Horrors. Badwan is also in Cat's Eyes with his romantic partner Rachel Zeffira. In 2016 Cat's Eyes released a new album, Treasure House, on RAF via Kobalt Label Services. The Horrors' latest album, Luminous, was released in 2014.
For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016's deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn't have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.
Pick up or download Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat's Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.
A shorter version of Badwan's survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.
Top 10 Albums of 2016
1. David Bowie: Blackstar—Blackstar transmits real weight of emotion from start to finish. For a fan, all the nods to his other records are great but even taken out of context it's an incredibly powerful record.
2. Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker—Cohen seemed totally at peace with himself and was in his words "ready to die." In my opinion it's one of the most inspiring things when you come across someone who has accepted their own mortality.
3. Death Grips: Bottomless Pit—I don't like every track Death Grips release but all their music has such conviction and personality that I'm always excited to hear what they're going to do next.
4. Goat: Requiem
5. Swans: The Glowing Man
6. DIIV: Is The Is Are
7. Parquet Courts: Human Performance
8. Weyes Blood: Front Row Seat to Earth
9. Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions: Until the Hunter
10. Dungen: Häxan
Let's discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency?
The presence of a world leader who refuses to accept the science behind climate change is a little worrying!
What are your thoughts on Brexit and the future of the European Union? To what extent do you think the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were motivated by the same factors?
Both outcomes were motivated by fear and discontent. On the positive side, both votes prove the system is democratic on one level, and both are going to challenge the status quo.
We lost three highly influential music icons in 2016. What are your thoughts on the passing of David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen? And what are your favorite albums by each artist?
To be honest with all three I found it hard to conceive that they could actually be alive at the same time as me anyway—they all almost seemed like mythical creatures. And I didn't even really listen to Prince, but I thought he was an incredible performer—I saw him play at Coachella a few years ago. Station to Station is my favorite Bowie album I think. It's the perfect balance of pop-songwriting and punk-experimentation. Songs of Leonard Cohen is one of my most played records of all time. I never get sick of it. As a poet his lyrics have a level of nuance that most musicians can only aspire to.
What do you think Prince and Bowie's afterlife project sounds like?
Any collaboration of theirs would probably sound more devilish than heavenly, given their propensity for hip-thrusting.
What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how'd you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?
I watched Fantasia when I was 3 or 4 and to be honest it's still pretty warped.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
When I was in Chile a group of 10 year olds thought I was in One Direction. They surrounded me excitedly and I signed all their school books.
Tell us about your first kiss.
A family holiday in Cornwall. Parents asleep in the caravan. Drunk in the dark. A park bench, fallen leaves. Her XL Datsuns T-shirt clung to every curve. Total awkward silence. Her friend was watching. Ha ha.
Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?
It's easier to make and release music, and harder to reach people. It's interesting though because new ways of communicating are appearing all the time.
What do you miss most and least about the touring lifestyle when you're not on the road?
I miss sleeping on a tour bus while it's moving. Probably the worst thing is sleeping on a tour bus while it's parked—the bunk changes from cradle to coffin.
What's usually the biggest stumbling block to your happiness?
The feedback loop of thoughts probably. [Cat's Eyes bandmate/romantic partner] Rachel [Zeffira] gave me The Power of Now to read which deals with that.
If you could travel back in time, which historical or personal event would you most like to change and why?
I'd travel back to 1998 and make sure the Beautiful South never wrote "Perfect 10," my least favorite song of all time. Have you heard the lyrics? They are unspeakable. My mum used to like them because they were from Hull, her hometown.
What band, besides your own, has the best name?
The Jesus Lizard chose their name as a reference to David Yow's fondness for crowd-surfing. I always thought that was funny given the disparity between the grace of the actual Jesus lizard and Yow's pot-bellied flailing.
What's the most vivid dream or nightmare you had in 2016?
Rachel woke me up one night, talking in her sleep. This has happened often. Her eyes were open and she was in the middle of a post-apocalyptic fantasy. "Get down!" She hissed. "There are soldiers in the house. Stay Down! Stay out of the line of fire! They're throwing sushi at us!" She was in total control and committed to getting us out of there alive.
What VHS tape or DVD did you wear out growing up?
I watched The Land Before Time over and over again. It has the Diana Ross song "If We Hold On Together" over the end credits. I was obsessed with dinosaurs as a kid but in a cruel parental twist wasn't allowed to watch Jurassic Park.
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