Faris Badwan, the 6-foot, 5-inch, black-clad Horrors frontman, isn’t sure when his unique artistic vision kicked in, but it was probably back in childhood when he found unusually imaginative ways to amuse himself on cross-country holiday drives with his parents.
“We’d set off on this long car journey, and it would always be raining. So I’d always try and see things in the raindrops being blown across the window, and I imagined these titanic battles being fought between the different raindrops. And that’s how I’d keep myself busy – for hours,” says the Brit, who brings his band to The City this week to promote its fourth recording, “Luminous.”
Wisely, Badwan’s folks bought him a tiny writing desk. “I would wake up really early and go sit at my desk and draw pictures – it was the first creative thing that I became obsessed with,” he says.
These days, Badwan, who studied illustration in college before forming The Horrors in 2005, carries a sketchbook to capture fleeting images. His art has come to the attention of British and European galleries, which have shown and sold his work, including complex cubist and surrealist paintings.
“I’ve always been interested in human form, and finding different ways of describing it. I just see things differently, things that are real to me, that may or may not be there,” he says.
Musical themes also are rooted in his notebooks – both “Luminous” lyrics and concepts for Cat’s Eyes, his spinoff duo with his girlfriend, Canadian opera singer Rachel Zeffira. (The couple just finished the soundtrack to Peter Strickland’s new film “The Duke of Burgundy,” and will soon wrap its sophomore disc.)
But the genres rarely overlap. “The same things that appeal to me as an artist appeal when I’m making music, too,” he says.
Horrors albums hinge on one breakthrough composition. The quasi-psychedelic “Luminous” has the shimmering seven-minute “I See You,” which leads to the ethereal “Sleepwalk” and two oddly jubilant tunes, “Falling Star” and “First Day of Spring.” It's a quantum leap forward from the quintet's goth-garage-y 2007 debut “Strange House.”
Any Horrors completist will want to own at least a Badwan print.
“If people only realized, they could save themselves some money,” he says. “Whenever anyone asks me for a photo, I say, ‘no, I don’t like taking photos. But I will draw you a picture.’ Then they can get a drawing of mine for free!”
IF YOU GO
Where: Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 16
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com