Raw, gritty grunge music has been doing incredibly well over the last year, with the emergence of bands like J.W Paris, October Drift, Fiende Fatale, and new favourites of mine False Heads. The band are made up of Luke Griffiths, Jake Elliott and Barney Nash, and have built up an incredible reputation up and down the UK as one of the most mental, insane live bands out there. With backing from rock giants This Feeling, The Libertines’ Gary Powell (whose record label 25 Hour Convenience Store the band are signed to), and even Iggy Pop who claimed ‘these kids make a lot of noise, I like it,’ sighting his favourite acts as ‘us, Sleaford Mods, and Skepta,’ False Heads are becoming an undeniable force in the industry. A couple of weeks ago, I was able to meet Luke for a couple of hours (and a few drinks) in the heart of Soho, to talk not only about musical influences (notably Calva Louise) and the band’s plans for future gigging and releases, but also about political nuances, ‘fascism with a leftist face,’ religion and his thoughts on the current state of politics in the world.
So to start of with Luke himself as a musician; from East London (with Barney from East Ham and Jake from East London), Luke tells me the local music scene growing up was basically ‘non-existent’ full of ‘Libertines rip-offs, pop punk, and metal.’ ‘All the bands are fucking shit,’ and the idea of a local music scene is ‘non-existent unless you fit into that crowd.’ Essex itself, where Luke lives near (in the more ‘middle class’ area) is pretty much ‘full of cunts.’ In terms of the name False Heads (which a mate described to me as a ‘fucking cool name’), Luke had ‘wrote a load of names down’ and misread the name ‘Falsehood’ as ‘False Heads.’ The band have been around for a few years now, with Luke (now aged 23) having wanted to be in a band since the age of 15. And their music honestly has one of the best sounds I’ve heard in years. It’s so deep and raw, with a raucous DIY punk-grunge sound to it, which really reminds me of bands like Nirvana and Pulled Apart By Horses. Weigh In, Thick Skin and All Eyes are favourites of mine, with Slew being one of the best tracks I’ve heard in years, with the most brilliantly heavy killer riff opening up the track. Me and Luke spoke about his favourite current bands, with him citing punk three-piece Calva Louise immediately as ‘fucking amazing.’ The bands met in Bristol, and ‘someone had a bottle of whiskey and we got really drunk with them’ Luke tells me; since then ‘we’ve just stayed really good friends.’ ‘I think they’re the best new band, and if they don’t make it it’s a travesty.’
‘Calva Louise are fucking amazing’
John Lennon, early Muse, and Radiohead are also cited as influences over Luke, with Radiohead being one of the other bands he got into aged 16 alongside Nirvana, despite not being into ‘karma or any of that bollocks.’ At around 11, Eminem was a ‘pretty powerful force,’ and the ‘last great popular pop culture icon’ for Luke; ‘I’m not saying I agree with him…but anti-establishment, as a kid that’s what you want.’ His ‘terrible childhood,’ with a lot of his lyrics being ‘shock value’ drew Luke in, with him still being a fan of ‘Eminem and hip hop.’ The Beatles and Bob Dylan were also mentioned, with Luke telling me how he ‘wanted to listen to music, watch films, read books…it just completely blew my mind you could get that response from music.’ On the subject of Nirvana, Luke refers to Nevermind as the most influential album, admitting they ‘kinda did change my life.’ He used to listen to the album through the TV when his parents were out, and was ‘obsessed with music from that day on.’ On the subject of US grunge, ‘some of it is quite shit’ he laughs, but Smashing Pumpkins?- ‘they were fucking great.’ Luke describes Nirvana as a ‘musical force that was heavy and angry but vulnerable and sensitive at the same time,’ with Radiohead being the ‘second band I fell in love with.’
The raw DIY nature of False Heads came across throughout the interview too, with Luke discussing how ‘natural growth is better,’ as ‘it took me 5 years to be in a band properly.’ ‘Everything we’ve done we’ve worked so hard for, and I’ve never had a hand out ever- I’m proud of it.’ There’s a very real blunt openness to the band, something Luke seems to respect in other musicians too; like Bowie, ‘you could have a pint with him.’ Speaking again about Calva Louise, Luke exclaims ‘they should be the biggest band in the world-and they’re not?!’ ‘It’s fairly clear that guitar music is back in though’ he argues; ‘I don’t believe people can get the same emotional resonance with fucking One Direction or Beyoncé.’ ‘But there is obviously a group of people that are sick and tired of the shit they are being force fed’ which would explain the appeal False Heads have; ‘we fucking love it’ Luke tells me. ‘The energy on stage is not manufactured, that’s is us!’ ‘I make sure people know how grateful we are’ Luke tells me, and ‘I never compromise our music to satisfy people.’ Growing up, the bands Luke related to ‘weren’t cardboard cut out rock stars,’ and this applies to the whole band. Jake was influenced by Muse and Oasis, and Luke really by Nirvana and Eminem. As mentioned earlier, Luke re-emphasises the impact Eminem had on him; ‘he didn’t give a fuck and did everything on his own terms.’
Catfish and The Bottlemen come up in conversation too, being cheekily referred to by Luke as a ‘slightly heavy McFly. Fuck me, where’s the imagery gone, the poetic melody and beauty that makes you feel something?!’ And although I do love Catfish and The Bottlemen, what he says is true- there does seem to be a grit and overall raw energy lacking in mainstream rock right now; but maybe False Heads are going to be the ones to fill this gap? ‘Indie music is more of the enemy’ according to Luke, and he could ‘see an indie band being the top of the Spotify viral chart.’ On the subject of Spotify though, which has stirred controversy recently over its failure to pay small bands well enough, Luke admits ‘it is a great way of discovering music to be honest; I don’t think it’s the enemy of the industry.’ This leads us on to talk about the music industry as whole, which Luke describes as ‘so cliquey, sometimes you feel like you don’t belong there…to be everywhere, you just wonder how real that world is.’ But that industry and the band’s ever-growing centralised dominance in it is becoming even stronger, with backing from major radio stations, like BBC Radio One and Radio X, as well as promoters This Feeling (who ‘do care about the bands and the music’, with the band’s set supporting Trampolene in November almost like a reward for them) and Scruff Of The Neck (who are ‘brilliant, fucking good…good indie promoters to get on board with.) ‘A year and a bit ago,’ 25 Hour Convenience Store (who are owned by Libertines drummer Gary Powell) got in touch and ‘called up Barney out of the blue’. The band sadly isn’t a full time thing for the lads though, with Luke working in office admin for his dad’s company, Barney working as a chef, and Jake in a pub; ‘it’s annoying ‘cause the band is pretty much full time- a full time job and a part time job…that’s what it’s like.’ In terms of how the band operate when it comes to writing, Luke writes the ‘bulk of it and the lyrics’, with ‘a lot of different stuff’ acting as influences; admittedly he says, it is ‘quite sarcastic’ as ‘it’s hard to write about happy stuff- it’s either angry, depressed, or taking the piss.’ ‘I don’t want to sound like a fucking emo, but you feel like you don’t fit in.’
‘The way the world is at the minute…I struggle to get on board with politics’ he tells me. ‘I never hold back from my opinion, but don’t think you need overtly political lyrics’ as you touch people more so from the ‘image you conjure up.’ That’s what Luke loves so much about Kurt Cobain; ‘you got that without him having to say it.’ On the subject of political lyrics, we talk about VANT (on the mention of them Luke’s response is ‘VANT-it’s like fuck off!’), a band who have never shied away from their boldly left wing anti-Trump anti-Brexit political views. Following the Brexit vote, VANT played Glastonbury festival with Mattie bluntly demanding the crowd ‘if anyone voted leave here, fuck off. Get the fuck out my tent.’ ‘That fucked me off so much’ Luke told me, and ‘I voted to stay in- mainly for freedom of movement and the economy.’ But whilst many voted leave due to ‘bigotry and ignorant reasons…many didn’t.’ And on what Mattie said, ‘that’s such a damaging viewpoint to have!’ ‘You get fucking lynched online, and that’s a really bad thing’ he says, with his views on ‘left wing’ politics clear; ‘I don’t think that’s what leftist politics should be, using right wing tactics.’ ‘I get so angry with that!’ he proclaims, claiming politics right now seems to be ‘moronic right wing people and moronic left wing people.’ ‘The grey mater- like the nitty gritty- is gone’ even though ‘right wing politics has always been black and white, historically speaking, politically speaking.’ On the left wing, ‘they’re worker’s people’ Luke insists, ‘the left represent more nuance and being able to debate. It’s worrying the left now see things in black and white…I find it terrifying.’ Nuance and political correctness and censorship is something Luke was eager to talk about too; ‘what is worrying is how OK these people are with censoring people’ and ‘it seems like a lot of Corbyn supporters are OK with that.’ On the PC nature of rock music, ‘if you’re inciting violence, that’s wrong, but what’s wrong with taking the piss?’ Speaking of the left and the majority of Corbyn supporters, ‘that’s a dangerous thing when you define someone by what they believe,’ and the left are ‘just as fucking stupid.’ On the disenfranchisement of the left, ‘how do they not see that?’ he exclaims. And regarding the rise in right wing politics right now, ‘I don’t think the state of the left is equipped to deal with it.’
‘It’s not just to be said about religion- it’s social issues, political issues… news sources seem to be completely OK with it, the click-bait is fucking disgusting.’ Luke himself was actually ‘brought up in quite a right wing family’ which ‘didn’t go down that well’; ‘certain members moan about immigration, that boring shit, some members are religious.’ The clear divide between these opinions and Luke’s own ideologies to me are what makes the bitter sound of the band’s music so strong and intense. ‘Patriotism is bollocks’ too according to Luke: ‘I got to 16, and thought “that’s absolute bollocks, you’re proud of your country?”’ On the subject of the American election, ‘I thought Sanders had a better chance than Clinton’ but ‘she didn’t get in because she was a terrible candidate.’ But on Trump, ‘how can you lose to that?’ Luke does understand why Trump was able to win though- ‘Clinton came across as a robot, a robot woman, and Trump was a fucking ape-man…but you’re closer to an ape than you are a robot.’ Discussing Trump’s victory (winning 306 votes in the Electoral College compared to Clinton’s 232), the ‘left haven’t understood why- I find it scary. He won states that voted for Obama, that is scary! I mean, what the fuck is going on?’ But despite this, of course Luke wants the left to do well, ‘I do want it to.’ ‘Everything’s so blurred now, this should be a good thing but it isn’t.’ We talked about how blurred politics can be good though, like David Cameron legalising gay marriage ‘without much opposition.’ On America however, it’s just ‘full of red neck Republicans, an absolute mess’ Luke argues.
‘If I had a gun to my head I’d vote Corbyn…couldn’t vote Tory’
The concept of argument and debate is a good thing to Luke; ‘debate? I love it. I don’t know why it’s wrong.’ Luke is a really intelligent person, who’s clearly well-read and informed and educated on politics and religion; ‘I’ve studied Christianity, I’ve studied Islam’ he tells me, ‘and I don’t agree with banning things you don’t like, even if you find it offensive.’ On the burqa, ‘I don’t think that [banning it] puts across a good message,’ and as for Angela Merkel, ‘you’re an idiot, you shouldn’t ban the burqa.’ ‘I don’t know why people can’t talk about certain issues anymore, it’s bemusing. I mean, banning something ‘cause of religion is fucking retarded, but the left hand it over to them.’ ‘It’s very easy to call someone a bigot,’ but once you use those terms against the right ‘in their heads they’ve won the argument.’ Back on the subject of debate and political partisanship, ‘chill out is the wrong phrase because these are serious issues which need to be talked about, but they need to be willing to talk and debate.’ On debate, ‘I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.’
‘I find it so depressing the state of politics, I literally can’t see a way back.’
It all comes back fundamentally to the state of the left Luke argues, the problem being ‘Trump, the rising right wing in Europe, and the Left’s refusal to realise they’re building their own coffin.’ And on the issue of political correctness, ‘offence is taken not given’ Luke insists. ‘I don’t see what’s wrong with offending people- who wants to live in a boring world? Why do people run away from conflict? I don’t get the rules.’ The hypocrisy and duplicity in society seems to piss Luke off too, especially around women; ‘slut shaming is bad, but promoting sexuality is bad??’ ‘Women who are attacked for sleeping around? Like fuck off, whose business is that? Slut shaming is fucking wrong.’ But ‘people love labels now don’t they?’ Luke tells me people are ‘more fascinated now by labels, more obsessed with cultural appropriation.’ It’s ‘almost thought crime’ he insists, basically ‘fascism with a leftist face.’ On celebrity culture and cultural appropriation, ‘all this shit’s going on in the world and we’re talking about this? This is what we’re talking about again, really? Who fucking cares, why do we care?’ To Luke, cultural appropriation/ appreciation is more so ‘that’s a really cool part of the culture, I’d like to take part in it.’ You ‘see something on it once a week’ in the mainstream news, ‘isn’t that dividing people more? I find it so silly.’ ‘There’s so much shit going on and they’re worrying about some stupid celebrity braiding their hair.’ The fact that the news buy into this and report it is ‘definitely worse.’ This leads us on to talk about respect, all coming back to the idea of censorship and our discussion on banning the burqa. ‘I don’t really get respect’ Luke tells me, ‘to me everyone has a physical respect. I deserve respect, I don’t deserve to be physically hurt. But respect for ideas should be earned, that’s the way I’ve always seen the world.’ ‘Why is automatically respecting what people say or believe in a good thing? You end up with no one being able to actually say anything, I fucking hate it. I hate the idea of “you should respect that” I think it’s fucking nonsense. I don’t want people to automatically respect what I’ve got to say, I want to earn it.’
And this ethos was clear throughout the interview- Luke is such a great guy it was more like hanging out with a mate than doing an interview. False Heads have really excited me, quickly developing in to a favourite band of mine since the first time I heard them back in November. In terms of upcoming releases, the band will be releasing an EP in March alongside lead single TwentyNothing (which I’ve already been fortunate enough to have a listen to, and it’s fucking intense.) Their music is so raw and blunt, with sarcastic cynicism cropping up in their lyrics; it’s just really heavy classic grunge rock, with a nasty bite to it. In terms of live dates (and to me, it’s live where False Heads really excel), you can catch them at Proud Camden on January 21st at part of the Camden Rocks festival, with tickets available here.