When London rockers, False Heads became the hundredth band to be featured in our Brits in Hot Weather feature, things were looking very rosy indeed. With an extensive tour in the offing, including their SXSW debut, plus some big promo opportunities, Spring was going to see the band go stellar. Cut to just a few weeks later and, we find ourselves amid a pandemic that threatens to rip the heart and soul out of the music industry, and, for False Heads, it has been nothing short of devastating.
However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the band, made up of Luke Griffiths (vocals/guitar), Jake Elliott (bass), and Barney Nash (drums/vocals), has released one of the best British rock albums of the year. It’s All There But You’re Dreaming sees the band serve up a platter of jagged licks, pounding drums and rumbling basslines that will (eventually) rattle the rafters of clubs around the world. It’s an album that fuses the best bits of ’90s rock and hauls them into the present. From the anthemic Pixies-Esque alt-rock of “Fall Around” and “Twenty Nothing” to the neo-grunge of “Steady on Your Knees”, and “Slew” to the psychedelic infused indie of “Comfort Consumption” it’s an unforgettable, lasting statement from one of the best new British rock bands around. Here Griffiths delves into the making of the album.
Who were your musical heroes growing up?
Elliott Smith, Eminem, Thom Yorke, Frank Black, Kurt Cobain, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon.
How did you guys get together?
Jake and Barney were in a band at school, and I was constantly trying to get a band going, but we were awful. I was going to call it a day, and then me Jake and Barney met up after university, and it all fell into place.
What was the first song you wrote as a band?
The first song we wrote as a full band was probably “Slew”, I think? The first thing I ever wrote was the riff to “twentynothing”.
How would you describe your individual approaches to making music?
I think it all works well because I’ll just spew out ideas, and I don’t really know or care if they make any sense. Barney throws lots of ideas out as well, but Barney can kind of be more technical and knows where certain ideas should go. Whereas I will just be like, “nah, fuck that if it sounds good, it sounds good”, and we find a nice compromise a lot of the time through Jake, who knows when we’re too self-indulgent and will throw shit in the trash without hesitation.
How has your relationship as people and musicians developed?
As people. We’ve known each other since secondary school and Jake and Barney even longer, so we’re friends first and foremost. But we can be unbearable with each other, but that’s the nature of being in a band; you spend so much time with each other. But whatever it is, it seems to be working, so I’m not sure if it’s grown. Maybe we know how to manage each other more.
As musicians, we’re just really good at throwing ideas at each other now. I think that’s the biggest development. We’re fairly seamless and building music together.
How are you guys feeling about the album release?
Obviously, SXSW and the States being canceled was absolutely gutting. It has derailed our campaign a bit we won’t lie. We had lots of press plans, and we were releasing our album in New York, but we can’t do that either. Having said that, we are very proud of it, and early reactions have been great. I’m still confident.
Did you start off with an idea of how you wanted the album to sound?
Not really. I mean, we had rough ideas and everything, but we didn’t have one set goal of the sound. We just wanted to make a great record. We re-recorded any old songs that were going to go on it to get it in line with the other production, so I guess we had that idea, but that was more just to keep it streamlined.
Musically, what were the touchstones for you on “It’s All There…”?
The Bends, X/O, In Utero, Definitely Maybe, Suede, Nevermind the Bollocks, London Calling, White Album, a couple of like literature ideas as well, I suppose. Catcher in the Rye, Watchmen, God Is Not Great.
How much of the album was written before recording?
All of it. There were five songs that were old/had been around for a while and five that were brand new. Our manager was just like you’re going into the studio March, so we just finished off songs and ran with it.
Can you describe the typical journey of a song from the idea in your head to the finished product?
It’s very much we turn up to practice with an idea and throw so many ideas at it and then trim it back, and we have something useable. Lyrically I’ll just fuck around with ideas, or something will come into my head, and I’ll just write it down. I love writing lyrics and find it fairly easy, so that’s kind of the overall process for us.
Was the writing and recording of the album always harmonious?
To be honest, considering how turbulent our relationship can be as a band, it was. I just think we were all in a really good place. It was genuinely seamless, and we all threw every last bit of ourselves into it, and we didn’t really row once. I got food poisoning one day, but that was about it.
Have you ever considered intentionally fostering a little bit of antagonism and tension to get the creative juices flowing?
We have been known to throw bare-knuckle boxing fights before writing sessions.
Which songs were the easy ones to come together and which were the most frustrating?
“Twentynothing” was really easy to come together, but the verses were very frustrating for us. We took ages getting that right, and sometimes we still don’t like them, so I’d say that’s the answer to both questions. It was easy to come together but also the most frustrating.
Were there any tracks that didn’t quite make the cut that you may revisit in the future?
Yeah, loads, man. I wish we would have put “Yellow” on it. Everyone goes mad for that. Not sure why we didn’t if I’m honest. But there’s loads of old stuff knocking about to revisit.
Do you think you have fully realised your vision of what this collection of songs should be?
Yeah, to be honest, I am. It says what I wanted it to say and it sounds like I wanted it sound.
What lessons do you think you have learnt to take into the making of the next EP/album?
Don’t eat fish in the studio.
What’s been your most memorable show so far?
Still INmusic Festival on the main stage. I just remember thinking if we can do this here on a massive stage in a foreign country before QOTSA, then we can do this shit anywhere.
What’re the best and worst things about being a touring artist?
The best thing is just it’s what you want to do. Traveling around playing your music to people and seeing new places every day. The worst thing is the fact there’s not loads of money in music at an indie level anymore (unless you’re one of the rich hand-me-down trust fund indie kids which there are a fucking lot of) so you’re always thinking about having to come back and work. It can fuck with your mental health as well, and I do suffer from pretty bad mental health at times.
Have you had any surreal moments in your career to date?
Meeting Josh Homme and emailing Iggy Pop.
What are your thoughts on the state of British music at the moment?
To be honest? It’s a state. I find it extremely bleak. It’s megastar pop singers forged in factories with the same five songwriters, which is why it all sounds the same. I mean Lewis Capaldi is an audio lobotomy – Unilad’s finest. And to be honest, the indie scene is 80 percent of kids with parents in the music industry. I think that’s why it’s so stale. I can’t relate to it, really.
Which British bands/artists would you recommend to our readers?
Calva Louise, Strange Bones, Calvacade, Snash and pengshui, and Dinosaur Pile Up
What would be your three desert island records?
The Slim Shady LP by Eminem, OK Computer by Radiohead and Either-Or by Elliott Smith
If you could only keep one song from your career so far, which song would it be?
What kind of advice do you give to newer bands you take on the road?
Sleeping on people’s floors gets very, very tiresome quickly – at least bring an airbed it will make a world of difference.
How do you cope in hot weather?
Eat spicy foods.
It’s All There but You’re Dreaming is out now.