The Horrors Complete Gear Guide
With the London band's second album, Primary Colours, being voted "Album Of The Year" by NME, now's the time to take a look at the gear they used to create their critically-acclaimed mix of pyschedelia, krautrock, indie and shoegaze. Including vintage synths, cutting edge software and...home made FX pedals!
The Horrors are an English indie rock band who formed in mid-2005. They released their debut album Strange House, which reached number 37 on the UK Albums Chart, in 2007. Their second album Primary Colours was released in 2009 and reached number 25 in the UK. It was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize, and won the voting for NME Album of the Year. They are currently working with Damon Albarn on a new Gorillaz album.
Guitarist Joshua Third uses mostly Fender Jaguar and Fender Jazzmaster electric guitars. He also uses a red jazz-style hollow body guitar, similar to a Tanglewood TSB49 (though this is not the model he uses).
Bassist Spider Webb uses a short-scale Fender Mustang bass. Some photos show him using Orange bass amp & cabs.
Here, things get very interesting! Guitarist Josh uses a mix of normal fx pedals with a few hand-built by himself, a former Physics graduate and the self-styled "mad scientist" in the band. On a interview with Vice magazine, Josh explained that the only reason he started making his pedals was because he had no money and the actual parts that make a pedal are actually quite cheap!
Josh says that all he needs to make a pedal is "...a soldering iron, some chit-chat with the people at Maplins and some resistors and capacitors and transistors. Thanks to the internet there’s a lot of bullshit about parts people need for pedals. They tell you that if it’s 40 years old it will sound better. Unfortunately it’s all bollocks. It’s quite funny watching people spend £100 on something that costs tuppence.... Some guy was telling me he had a part that had aged for 60 years and that it would make my guitar sound like Hendrix. “Yeah, mate! That’s how Hendrix plays.” What? He went into the future to play it?"
Looking at Josh's pedabloard (above) you can see quite a few grey boxes, his hand-built pedals. Since there's no sign of recognisable fuzz or distortion pedals there, it's easy to conclude that his hand-built pedals are all (or mostly) fuzz boxes and distortion pedals.
This second photograph shows some pedals that appear on the previous pic, but also an Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, an old DOD Envelope Filter, and a Boss PS3 Pitch Shifter (discontinued and replaced by the Boss PS-5 Super Shifter )
A big part of his sound is about delays, reverbs and reverse reverb sounds. Amongst other pedals he's said to use/ have used, we can mention: Boss RV-5, Ibanez DE7 Delay / Echo, and Digitech XDV DigiVerb Reverb Guitar Effects Pedal.
He also uses a vintage Binson Echorec pedal, which curently goes on eBay for over £1000! The new Line 6 M9 Stompbox Modeler has an excellent Binson Echorec mode, if you fancy paying a little bit less than that...
A chorus pedal is also used. He used to have a Marshall Supervibe and now it appears that he uses a Electro-Harmonix Small Clone.
Main keyboardist Tom Furse is said to have an extensive collection of vintage analog synths. Previously, they used to have combo organs onstage, such as the Roland VK-8 , a Nord organ and Hammond XB-2 which they don't use anymore. Now, it's mainly synths. If you want to sound like The Horrors, a Korg microKORG will help you get there!
The Horrors are well-known users of Ableton Live . Tom Furse, the synth man, told Ableton:
"A running joke in our band is that I always seem to have my headphones on; that's because I'm always using Live. When I have to work with other engineers and programs the requests I make are often met with a quizzical look, and we always end up going back to Live eventually for something. Its integrated pitch-shifting and time stretching features are second to none and its ease of use and streamlining mean it's always very easy to get your ideas down quickly. It offers new sound possibilities and is constantly offering up new ways of working with sound."
Now, enjoy some of The Horrors' music, and try to figure out how these sounds were created!
For a list of The Horrors-related gear, go to The Horrors artist page at Dolphin