Up the fucking Gutter Press: Interview with Luke from False Heads

I’ll never forget the first time I saw False Heads, back last year at London’s Water Rats. The woman next to me in the crowd turned to me after their set exclaiming ‘what the fuck? This is like seeing Nirvana!’ So by definition that makes lead vocalist Luke Griffiths this generation’s Kurt Cobain? Possibly. He’s got this very cynical and blunt view of things, be it the music industry, politics, or religion. But this sense of raw cynicism makes for open and real honesty in his band’s music, and this gives False Heads an undeniable edge. The London based three piece are made up of Luke on lead guitar and vocals, drummer Barney and bassist Jake. Luke and I got to catch up the other week in London, talking about the band’s latest EP Gutter Press, the current state of UK politics, and the ‘fucking depressing’ state of the media.

IMG_2019
False Heads: Jake Elliott, Luke Griffiths, & Barney Nash

So the last six months since I last interviewed Luke have been big to say the least. March saw the release of blinding EP Gutter Press, a collection of filthy raw riffs and cutting, bluntly rough lyrics. The ‘reaction to that was really good’ Luke tells me, the name ‘more a statement really about social media.’ ‘I can’t deny it was a dig at the tabloids also’ he admits, describing the ‘absolute click bait’ of outlets like BBC news as ‘fucking depressing.’ ‘Nothing good comes out of social media politics,’ he insists, telling me even the one post he made about the election wasn’t something he was comfortable with; ‘I even felt dirty doing that one political thing on Facebook.’ On the subject of Twitter, ‘I hate it’ Luke tells me, the EP ‘a dig at the tabloids and state of social media.’ On the topic, he tells me that social media ‘has become so political that people get their news off it- that’s not healthy.’ ‘I voted Corbyn, clearly’; ‘first time I ever voted so fair play to him.’ ‘I do believe that he has a vision for the country’ and ‘Theresa May was so despicable.’ ‘Although I will say I do get sick of this blind worshipping of politicians’ Luke tells me- ‘I don’t think you should ever unconditionally worship them.’ On the DUP, Luke bluntly describes them as a ‘bunch of shit cunts,’ where ‘most of their policies revolve around their sick beliefs.’ We spoke about Glastonbury festival too, and Corbyn’s appearance there. ‘I’m not convinced of the path Corbyn has taken into being this rock star politician; I can’t explain why I feel weird about him. It reminds me of blind worship to a leader, but I guess it’s better to worship him than Theresa May.’ ‘Theresa May is a fucking careerist, she doesn’t give a fuck about the country.’ Luke compares this seemingly blind worship of Corbyn to Blair, though ‘Corbyn is the antithesis of Blair before people fucking jump down my fucking throat.’ There’s definitely an element of respect though on Luke’s part, and we discuss the importance of ‘respecting people you don’t believe in,’ with him telling me ‘people that don’t like Corbyn have complimented him, even Farage believes in him!’ Back on the subject of Gutter Press (which was written ‘more about everything’), Luke laughs at how certain tabloids picked up on the EP’s name. ‘Loads of tabloids picked up on that- it’s clearly a dig at the tabloids!’

Luke False Heads
False Heads live at Nambucca

Back on the subject of music, we discuss the recent set the band played at Isle of Wight festival for the This Feeling stage; ‘it was incredible’ Luke tells me. ‘We turned up, conquered it.’ For Luke, Strange Bones and The Blinders were highlights, with him also noting Paves and The Americas as ‘really good.’ ‘The Jack Rocks stage was pretty busy the whole time,’ and ‘people wanna listen to the new breed of music.’ This Feeling have done lots for False Heads too, with Luke calling what Mikey does ‘incredible really.’ In terms of favourite upcoming new bands, Luke mentions Calva Louise, The Blinders, Strange Bones, The Americas and BREED as the new bands he’s most excited by. BREED are a killer force live, and described by Luke as ‘a lot heavier live…Max could write riffs for fucking years.’ Of the bands he mentioned, ‘I’ve seen them all live so feel like I can say that.’ Like Luke I’ve seen those bands live too, and can vouch for him when he says how ‘fucking great’ they are. We discussed new music for False Heads too. May 13th saw a wicked performance by the band at Camden Assembly, where they did a single launch for upcoming track Retina. ‘The video is done for it’ I’m told, and ‘we’re gonna put two singles out by the end of the year.’ Retina is unreleased still, but I’ve been lucky enough to hear it already and it’s fucking insane. Riff wise it’s on par with tracks like Slew, and is just a proper heavy rock track. ‘It’s the most recognisable riff’ Luke tells me, ‘I’m well happy with the bass line.’ On the subject of how he came up with that iconic bass line, ‘I was playing it in rehearsal and Barney and Jake were like “that’s so fucking good, what is that?”’ The track is composed in a more classic style he tells me, ‘a bit more slow and verse chorus verse chorus, then a False Heads jam.’ I asked Luke what tracks he was most proud of writing, to which he tells me ‘to be fair Retina is one of them, Twentynothing too, I really like Twentynothing.’ We talk about track composure too; ‘Retina and Twentynothing have something in them, riffs in them that are quite catchy and Barney has his own vocals too.’ In terms of upcoming releases, False Heads have a few tracks ready; Remedy (which Luke describes as more of a pop track), Retina and Fall Around.

Live though is where False Heads are at their best; whilst their heavy filthy rock sound is perfectly replicated on record, seeing them live is always an extreme privilege. The band have a series of big festivals and gigs coming up, including a Jack Rocks show at Nambucca later this month (28th July), and a gig with BREED, Calva Louise and Trampolene in September (21st September), as well as Tramlines festival. ‘There’s some tour announcements and stuff soon’ I’m told. The subject of live music takes us on to Glastonbury, Luke describing Radiohead’s headline set as ‘pretty incredible.’ ‘I know a lot of people don’t really like them but I dunno why, they pack such an emotional punch.’ ‘I’ve seen them twice live, and they’re one of the greatest bands to ever exist’ Luke exclaims, describing them as ‘the real deal.’ ‘Their music it makes you feel something weird, a cross between euphoric and feeling miserable.’ Nirvana are another band Luke is heavily influenced by, referring to them as ‘my favourite band.’ Referring back to Glastonbury, ‘Foo Fighters have some great tunes, they are a great band- but they don’t really have an edge.’ Luke notes his favourite musicians as Bob Dylan, Frank Black (Pixies frontman), Iggy Pop, John Lennon, Sex Pistols and Elliott Smith. He refers to Elliott Smith as ‘amazing, in my top five,’ and mentions XO throughout the interview as one of his favourite albums. The aggressive post punk nature of the band makes the mention of the more soft artists almost surprising, but Luke discusses how the band want to record and play more light tracks, such as Comfort Consumption off the EP.

false-heads-two
False Heads

Coming back to Luke’s love for Nirvana, he tells me Nevermind is his favourite album, describing it as that ‘album where I was like “fucking hell”, like I listened to that album once a day when I started playing guitar.’ ‘Cobain is a pop culture icon!’ On the subject of the album Nevermind, Luke tells me ‘if I could write an album half as good as that my job would be done.’ We come back to Radiohead and Elliott Smith, with Luke describing OK Computer and XO as having ‘similar effects on me.’ Regarding False Heads’ discography, ‘we are talking about the album’ Luke says; ‘there’s a good 4/5 tracks we’ve just got to press together but the parts are there.’ ‘We wanna go into the studio with 20/25 tracks and pick the best 12/13.’ ‘There’s a couple songs we need to get finalised’ I’m told, ‘and we’ll hopefully debut one of them at Tramlines.’ I asked Luke about covers too, to which he told me ‘Barney wanted to do a Gorillaz cover.’ ‘We did jam on Insomnia by Faithless actually- that sounded pretty fucking cool.’ In terms of how the band write and record, Luke tells me ‘songs come in mini batches,’ and ‘we’ll write three new songs then do a month’s worth of gigs,’ promising that the band will ‘definitely be playing new songs in the next few months.’ Their writing process varies though; ‘mainly I write all the lyrics’ Luke tells me, but Retina is a ‘fucking great example’ of how the band work together on tracks, with Luke coming up with the bass line and Barney (who ‘dabbles in all instruments’) writing the track’s chords. ‘I write something to hook the song around, but it’s definitely becoming more of a group effort.’ Their tracks come about from a ‘really natural process’ and ‘some tracks can take quite a while.’ The meticulous intricacy to their tracks is evidence of this, as Luke explains to me how False Heads have ‘fucking high standards.’ Discussing possible release dates for the band’s debut album, Luke tells me how ‘last year we said end of this year but that’s not going to fucking happen.’ Laughing though, he tells me the album is ‘100% out next year,’ with the ‘artwork already done.’ The band have closely worked with photographer Chris Hanvey, and Luke tells me ‘Hanvey had this print, pretty sure we’re gonna use that.’ ‘Mid 2018’ is a realistic time for release, ‘I can’t wait!’ Luke exclaims; ‘it’s the epiphany of what you want to do as a band.’

The success of the band so far in all honesty has been blinding. ‘Our new manager’s a fucking boss’ Luke laughs, telling me about the surreal excitement behind ‘talking about a fucking record label and albums and shit.’ ‘It’s still inconceivable that would happen’ Luke tells me, especially when it comes to support from major labels and radio stations. Rejection in the industry doesn’t scare Luke either; ‘rejection doesn’t upset me…it’s the biggest “fuck you, I’ll prove you wrong.”‘ We spoke about school and uni, which is when Luke properly started playing in bands. ‘I didn’t enjoy school, I was a bit of a twat, got suspended a couple of times’ he grins, one of the suspensions being over ‘a prank on some mad fucking RE teacher, we put red jelly in a sanitary pad’ he laughs. ‘I was friends with the chavy lot and rough lot,’ but ‘enjoyed sixth form more.’ Being at the same school as Jake and Barney, Luke tells me how he ‘got into music and stuff’ around year 10. He tells me about the ‘reality of school, cliques in uni, cliques in jobs, cliques in bands- I dunno if they ever go away.’ ‘People grow up,’ but whilst some kids from school have done so, ‘some are fucking cunts’ he laughs. Band ambitions are something Luke and I discussed too. ‘I’d wanna get to a point where we could headline festivals’ he tells me; ‘I imagine the reality of it,’ but ‘why settle for doing less than you possibly can be?’ ‘I wanna play to as many people as we can, tour as much as possible, record as much as we can.’ This brings us back to Radiohead, as Luke talked about the impressive longevity of their career. Despite not liking A Moon Shaped Pool that much, Luke states ‘Radiohead in terms of longevity are the band to aspire to.’ ‘To pull out something that’s new, that’s contemporary. I like to think we could do that.’ ‘Radiohead have been puling out effortless records, I think we could do it.’

False Heads
False Heads, shot by Gregory Hesse-Wagner

Describing Barney as ‘into the electronic stuff,’ Luke discusses other genres and influences in music, arguing ‘I think we are quite experimental.’ ‘I love hip hop’ he tells me. ‘Not a huge fan of grime- I like Skepta but don’t get Stormzy to be honest.’ ‘I’ve not got a thing against pop though, everyone has a guilty pleasure’ he laughs. ‘Pop music is easy to moan about, it’s so fucking boring.’ ‘But fucking Madonna had some absolute tunes, she has some tunes.’ But Luke raises the problem with mainstream pop music, and the lack of real deep meaning to it; in terms of emotional resonance, ‘I can’t remember the last time I had that with a pop song’ he tells me. ‘I couldn’t even hum an Ed Sheeran song honestly’ he laughs, before digging into the bland music by Adele; ‘fucking Hello is the biggest pile of shit to listen to’ he exclaims. ‘If it’s a good song, it’s a good song’ though. We come back to the subject of 90s music, leading us to talk about Britpop. ‘Oasis are great’ Luke tells me, and ‘Suede was the first proper band from Britpop I listened to.’ ‘It took me a bit of time to get into Oasis’ he admits, but notes Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? as ‘fucking genius albums,’ referring to Noel Gallagher as a ‘fucking legend.’ Apeman Spaceman, The Blinders and Strange Bones are mentioned again by Luke; ‘there are some fucking great bands filling a void.’ We talk about independent grassroot forms of promotion for bands, and new studios like Pirate Studios which Luke describes as ‘filling a void of Radio One and Maida Vale.’ ‘People that wanna discover new music are turning to This Feeling and Pirate Studios; This Feeling, that’s where it’s at.’ ‘We’re gonna aim bigger’ Luke tells me, sighting Cabbage’s recent headline slot at Scala as something bands like False Heads would definitely aspire towards. ‘It does feel like guitar music is about to make a comeback’ Luke argues, and I’d definitely agree with him. Guitar music is making an incredible resurgence, and if you’re looking for raucous DIY guitar rock then False Heads are 100% the band to listen to. Get on this band now.

False Heads feature on my 25 Upcoming Bands to Watch blog post, and you can read my interview with Luke from December 2016 here

For updates on the band, you can sign up to their mailing list here, and keep up to date with their live dates here

 

 

 

Advertisements

Author: saherawalker

Rock music journalist and promoter working with upcoming DIY post punk, indie rock & grunge bands. Based in London For blog related enquiries drop an email to sahera.walker@gmail.com For zine/ promotion related enquiries drop an email to somemightsay@gmail.com Thank you for visiting my page! x © All copyrights reserved to Sahera Walker 2018

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s