Tom Furse: Slinking Across the States with The Horrors
This is Departures – five creatives on the journeys that shaped them. We have collaborated with Fred Perry to create a zine and online series featuring the stories with exclusive photography by Charlotte Patmore. Get your hands on the zine at Fred Perry’s new London store at Coal Drops Yard from 2 November.
Back in 2007, The Horrors were infamous for their cartoonish jet-black world. But touring North America that year with his gang of goths, bassist and composer Tom Furse found maturity.
I don’t really remember much about making The Horrors’ debut album – never mind that first tour across America. And I don’t mean that in a ‘we were so fucked up’ kind of way, I can just only put together bits and pieces, because so many of them have blurred into one. At that point though, we had no idea where our future was going to go; we were just bumbling along and enjoying it.
It’s kind of magic, that feeling of being in your early twenties and being on this bus going across the States. That first US tour in 2007 felt like a milestone in our career, as it must do for any musician. (We really romanticise the tour bus, by the way. In reality, you’re staying with 10 other dudes in a tiny metal box that hasn’t been refurbished since 1983. It’s not a pleasant place to be.)
You get to take in the scale of it though, and the landscape, which was so inspiring. When we first started these shows, we’d never knew what would lie on the other side of the country, but landing on the east coast sort of felt like we were preparing to go on this epic journey. We’d gone through so much shit to get there.
We never played subdued sets on that tour. It was always wild. We were an intense live band, but I do remember thinking about the sonic potential of the group then, and wondering how we could get all of our interests, those greater than garage-punk, into the music.
Aside from the shows, the weird stuff from the trip all rolls into one after a while, like strange little stop offs in middle America’s tiny towns. You get dropped into it, and it’s a really bizarre place. The people were alien to us and we were so alien to them. You end up meeting the strangest people. Stunt drivers and potato barons with speed boats. As musicians from Britain, we kind of look out of place, and so people either ignored you or were incredibly curious and asked you questions.
© Charlotte Patmore
We got banned from Boston for a bit after that date, because Faz [The Horrors lead vocalist Faris Badwan] accidentally – and he still maintains to this day that it was an accident – smashed an Elvis bust that was treated like a sacred object in this tiny venue [called Avalon]. It was part of this legendary institution, and now, even when we go back to Boston 11 years later, journalists will still ask us about it.
We were going into record stores on the way: picking up American Garage rock records in Texas; Chicago had all the great house. We bought so many records on that tour that it cost us as much as we’d spent on them to get them shipped back to the UK. Even up until a couple of years ago, I was finding stuff from that initial trip.
Last week, I wrote some pieces that were performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra, and I find myself asking sometimes: how the fuck did I get from that to this?! I guess we didn’t really know what we were doing then, and we haven’t stopped to dwell on it since. In retrospect, that first trip across America really taught me how to grow up.
As told to Douglas Greenwood