Cat’s Eyes: From The Horrors to gate-crashing Buckingham Palace

Cat's Eyes

Cat's Eyes - Credit: Archant

Cat’s Eyes are The Horrors frontman Faris Badwan and soprano Rachel Zeffira, who recently pretended to be Renaissance musicians to get into Buckingham Palace and perform their new single for the Queen’s guests.

Badwan speaks to Valerie Browne about the stunt as well as their third album, Treasure House, ahead of their show at The Lexington on June 14.

Would you agree you and Rachel have a relationship where each of you raises the stakes?

Yeah, I would say so, sometimes that kind of thing could be quite disruptive, [but with us] a big part of our relationship is being competitive about songwriting. When we first met I would write a song and send it to her and ask what she thought. And then she would send two back to me, just to be really annoying. It went on like that until we had written enough songs to make an album.

So you both like to outdo each other – is that how the Buckingham Palace stunt came about? Did you want to out-do the stunt you pulled back in 2011, when you gate-crashed the Vatican?

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More than once people have said, ‘I guess you won’t be outdoing the Vatican performance anytime soon, the only way would be to perform at Buckingham Palace without invitation’. Then of course we started planning it. It took about three years. It was completely insane and so much harder than the Vatican.

So now I have to ask, how will you top that?

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We’ve got a really good idea actually and a way of doing it. We just want to do things that are fun and I guess we are drawn to the element of risk.

You and Rachel wrote the soundtrack for Peter Strickland’s film The Duke of Burgundy. Did some of the soundtrack influence the new album?

Only one song called Teardrops on Treasure House was actually originally written for the film, but it didn’t end up getting used. Although that was regrettably, Peter [Strickland] actually said he wished Teardrops had been used in the film when we sent him the new album a couple of months ago. Aside from that, the projects were entirely separate.

The video for Drag depicts you being extremely violent towards each other, why?

It’s quite divisive – some people get quite annoyed by it. We wanted to show a surrealist take on the way people speculate on other people’s relationships and what happens behind closed doors. It’s easy to make fun of sensitive issues but that wasn’t really our aim; for one thing, there are no victims in the video – we wanted it to be equal.

Did you have fun filming the video?

It was actually really fun; I’ve never done things with a stunt coordinator before. At one point Rachel let out the most blood-curdling scream I’ve ever heard. The entire crew stopped still; it was one of those intense situations where I don’t think the crew really knew what they’d signed up for.

Was she ok?

She was fine; she was just lost in the moment, it was a primal release, I’d never seen from her before.

Lastly, what’s been the biggest highlight working on Cat’s Eyes?

Being in a band can become like being on a treadmill. Cat’s Eyes isn’t really a band, it’s two people responding to each other, it never really settles, it’s always adapting and shifting. I like the fact that Cat’s Eyes isn’t really a band.

Cat’s Eyes perform at The Lexington, Pentonville Road, on June 14. Treasure House was released on June 3.

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