Sometimes it pays to be a squeaky wheel.
A rant on Twitter put the band False Heads in my sites and I wanted to see if they could walk the walk and back up the talk — verdict? Yeah, they got it going on in spades.
The East London/West Sussex band lists their style of music on Facebook as “crack rock punk fuck” …. and yeah, that kind of covers it nicely.
If you let the infectious sounds of False Heads into your ears, you are going to need a hammer and chisel to get it out. It’s that good.
“Steal and Cheat,” a tease to the forthcoming EP planned for early spring, is a sprightly bit of fun, with singer/guitarist Luke Griffith’s snarly and snarky vocals melding with thunderous, crunchy guitar work.
Rounding out the band is bass master Jake Elliott and drummer extraordinaire Barney Nash.
Listening closely to “TwentyNothing,” a rollicking tune released in April, hints of Nirvana-like influences peek through.
“Wrap Up” is another tour-de-force, bass-driven with touches of psychedelia thrown in for good measure.
After giving the lads a good listen and with their earworms firmly implanted, I decided a conversation was in order.
Luke graciously agreed to make time for a two-part interview, answering any and all questions with honesty and occasionally colorful language.
Here is the conversation, as unedited as possible:
Question: OK, Luke, let’s chat. You are which instrument?
I play guitar and mumble/shout.
Question: I can understand you just fine for the most part. I like the cocky attitude. It helps get you noticed.
Ah thanks, hopefully it comes in handy then!
Question: Are you guys in school, out, working jobs or music full-time?
We’ve just finished university and we’ve got part-time jobs whilst we focus on the music stuff.
Question: OK, so Jake plays what?
Jake plays bass and Barney plays drums and does backing vocals.
Question: Do you song write as a group or does one member take the lead?
It’s a pretty natural process and it works pretty well. I’ll write the lyrics and the basic parts of the song and take it to a rehearsal room and jam on it and put it together after chucking some ideas at it.
Question: How many songs have you got at this point? Do you only do originals?
We have about 14 completed songs a few more we need to finish so once they are done we should have about 20 done in the next few months.
We do (originals) currently, but I reckon once these songs are done we might look at some covers. I’m not overly fussed by covers if I’m honest, but if we could take a song and do something different and cool with it, I’d be well up for that.
Question: That’s a pretty good starting point — and that’s only in about the last year to year and a half? If you could turn a cover on its ear, that would be priceless.
I’ve been writing songs for a good four years, but a lot of stuff was shit so a lot of it got thrown out or changed. So yeah, I’d say definitely the songs that we have now are the last year and a half.
Yeah definitely, covers are so hard to get right, but we will definitely give it a go in the future.
Question: Do you play out a lot? How often and where at?
We’ve been slacking lately and have taken December off to write some songs for the EP. But yeah. we play a lot of gigs. Mainly in London, Brighton and places like that, but next year we will definitely branching out across the UK and hopefully beyond.
We are a tad more particular about gigs we play, as London is full of horrible promoters out to make a quick bit of money off you … but London is also full of good people who love music. You just gotta filter the bad people a bit more.
Question: It’s like that everywhere, it seems. Do you have a time frame for the EP? You have two out already, right?
Yeah we have two out. They have different drummers on them. Expect a big step up for the next one. Everything slipped into place when Barney joined. Time frame for the EP will be early March.
Question: At least you finally found a drummer who’s a keeper. I will have to check both EPs out, as I’ve just been seeing the songs on YouTube. Has the sound changed for the next one?
We have indeed. Well, “Steal and Cheat” is going to be on it, but the other songs with we’ve got in mind for the EP don’t really sound like “Steal and Cheat.”
It’s hard to judge, there’s definitely some different sounds, but the others EPs are quite varied as well. There will be a different types of songs in there, but I’d like to think you’ll still be able to tie it back to us. There won’t be anything too crazy — like freeform jazz or something.
Question: That’s good. You don’t want to duplicate and do the same thing over and over. Maybe a bit of disco? A ballad?
Or a disco ballad perhaps.
Question: Ooo, There, I’ve inspired you and challenged you.
Haha, we will see, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a disco ballad.
Question: Haha, disco is not my thing anyway, it was just a bit of fun. Maybe something acoustic though?
Yeah, there’s a lot of slower tunes we’ve got, so definitely a possibility.
Question: Nice. I liked the video for “Steal and Cheat.” You shot it in a shed?
Yeah, I had the idea of a really tight, claustrophobic room that was white but Will Hutchinson (who shot it) come up with a sick idea of foiling his shed — it turned out great!
Question: Yeah, the foiling was brilliant. How long did it take to do the video?
Only took about 2½ hours. It was great. I’m not sure I could suffer really long video shoots.
Question: That’s fun, really cool and fast! Then it doesn’t feel like work.
Yeah, it’s not work. It was fun, Will was class and it felt really easy and not awkward.
Question: Is Will a friend or a hired gun?
He’s a good friend now, but he does video stuff for our label and we met him through that.
Question: That’s great way to make friends. I am sure he will do more great videos for you.
Ah, we definitely hope so. I’ve got some ideas for future songs, so it’s all good.
Question: Stockpile those ideas. Have you applied for any festivals, or conferences?
Yeah, we’ve applied for a few, our label is trying to get us on some as well. We’ve only just signed and put a warm-up single out, so it’s very early days … but we’re definitely hoping to get on a few and then by 2017, be in a position to be buzzing round the festival circuit.
Question: Yeah, tell me about the label. How did that come about?
We were signed to a small label prior, called Hi4Head Records — who did a lot for us and are fucking great — but for a number of reasons they wasn’t going to be able to release another record with us and 25 Hour sort of came along, really liked our stuff and we signed to them. Pretty boring story really.
Question: Is 25 Hour Records a new or established label?
I believe Gary (Powell) tried to get it going in 2011 but relaunched it with Wayne (Clarke) in late 2014. They’re fucking good people to be involved with and have in your corner.
Question: That’s fantastic to hear. Labels need to genuinely care about their artists.
Yeah definitely agree and they definitely do.
Question: Tell me about your influences, and how and when you started playing …
Elliott Smith, Nirvana, Pixies, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Sex Pistols, Muse, Radiohead and Portishead probably cover the grounds of what us three are into. Barney has been playing since fuck knows when, Jake and I have been playing since 15/16.
Question: And you are how old now?
We’re all 22.
Question: OK, so a few years under your belt. What got you started? Why did you want to play and sing?
I just started getting into music really and that was it for me, that’s what I wanted to do. Nirvana was what first got me wanting to play, and then I just thought there was so much shit music about that I just wanted to try and write something half decent.
Question: From what I can hear, you are doing a fine job. Oh, and to me, I think your trademark sound lies in the guitar work and your voice, it’s unmistakable.
Thank you. It’s good that my shit guitar playing and shit singing has finally come to work for me!
Question: You don’t give yourself enough credit. I didn’t say either were bad. Quite good, rather. Are you always this hard on yourself?
Haha, Naa, I’m joking. I think a good mix of self-depreciation and self-belief is the best way to pursue anything creative.
Question: It keep you honest and keeps your head from getting too big too! Where do your song ideas come from?
I think it’s important to take the music really seriously, but take the piss out of yourself. That’s the way I’ve always done it anyway. Anything really.
Lyrically, it is anything that makes me feel a certain way, pisses me off, makes me down or makes me happy, just anything that means something to me I guess.
Musically it’s just from sitting around playing guitar.
Question: Inspiration sometimes comes from just noodling around with the guitar?
Yeah, most of the time that’s all it is really, just sitting around playing guitar and if I hear something that sticks with me, I’ll use it.
Question: What’s the fastest you’ve come up with a good song?
I guess I’ve come up with a basic song structure for a song in about 20 minutes, but it’s never fully formed, that can take weeks, even months to get it how I want it, and more importantly, how the whole band wants it, so we all think it’s perfect.
Question: Have you any songs that you’ve started and given up on, maybe to come back to later and then it clicked?
Yeah, there’s been a few songs that I’ve ended up hating and just not wanted to play so I’ve just left them. But most of the songs that I feel aren’t quite right, I’ll come back to and get something good out of it.
Question: Maybe recycle bits of it into something new?
There’s a few Frankenstein songs that I’ve had where I’ve just taken parts and put them into other songs and made it work.
Question: Cool. Now — does your mouth ever get you in trouble?
Not as of yet, but I imagine it will in the future. I’d never try to purposely cause controversy or anything like that, but I’ll always give my honest opinion.
Question: I respect people who give honest opinions, instead of just saying what people want them to say.
Yeah, I think that’s all you get now, especially in the music world. No one seems to have an opinion about anything.
Question: It’s a sorry state of affairs. Mainstream radio is horrible. How is a young talented band to get ahead these days?
I honestly have no idea. Just gotta give your all I guess.
I mean I really don’t have anything against major labels, if someone comes along offering you top class promotion and money to record and live without having to compromise your music, you’d be an idiot not to take it, but I do find it depressing when like 95 percent of music played on BBC Radio 1 is from major labels.
It’s sort of like what the fuck? So many shit artists and shit bands that are just watered down bullshit and have nothing to say that are huge or immediately get some level of success after signing to a major. It’s just a bit depressing more than anything.
Question: That’s one of the beauties of social media — you get people to notice, with no thanks to labels or mainstream radio. And I do think many of those mainstream musicians have had to compromise their music and image to fit the marketing. Remember, video killed the radio star. Still true today in mainstream. You must fit the mold … or else.
I really don’t know if we do and I don’t care if we do either really. Social media can be a good thing, but I think it has created a horrible melting pot of everything now though, and has also saturated all the outlets for things like music that made it good in the first place.
Question: I think it’s good that you don’t fit that mold. I was never one to be told what to like or listen to. Many kids today are looking for something different.
Well, I hope so. Everything really has gotten so stale, watered down, boring and basically fucking shit. It would be good for an artist or a band to shake that up. I’m not saying it’s going to be us. I’d be right behind anyone that did that.
Question: I’d say you’re making a good start. Was there ever another career option other than music?
The military … haha … Na, not really. I used to really like acting and drama, but that sort of went by the way side when I really starting to enjoy writing songs and such.
Question: Well, with the videos you get to do a bit of acting as well.
Yeah, true. Next video I’ll give myself a really difficult role and try some method acting.
Question: Ah, do you have a song in mind for a video?
I’ve got a few in mind, but I want to record them all first and then see where we are.
Question: Sounds like a solid plan. Watching the video for “Twentynothing,” you used a puppet drummer. Were you between drummers there?
Yeah we were. That was a bit of a jokey/slightly angry response to that. That was before Barney.
Question: I thought that, the video was released in April. It actually works well in the context of the video too.
Yeah, Barney joined about a week later. It was great timing. I called him up pissed and he had just moved back from Bristol, where we he moved after University.
Question: Just like it was meant to be.
Haha, well I don’t believe in fate, but it felt like it for once.
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