False Heads Challenge Us To Wake Up – Interview with Luke Griffiths

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Because the ex-manager of the Ramones Danny Fields calls them “one of the best live bands in the world,” and Iggy Pop says: “they are young and talented and going places…if they came to my town, I’d show up for that, if they come to your town, you might wanna show up,” False Heads need to be on your radar.

Hints of Prong with a modern touch

Montreal Rocks spoke with Luke Griffiths, who humbly acknowledged: “You can’t really ask for more than that.” 

Childhood friends Luke Griffiths (guitar/vocals), Jake Elliott (bass) and Barney Nash (drums) formed a band that is already being recognized for explosive live shows.

The Origin Story

Luke’s love of music was a “two prong” approach.  

At the age of 10/11, Luke shares that his “first real love, in music, was Eminem.  I just thought it was so rebellious.  He spoke about stuff I hadn’t really heard in pop music before.”

The Slim Shady & The Marshall Mathers were “all I listened to.”  The contrast of Eminem with what was playing on the radio was the appeal.

By the age of 15/16, Rock’n’Roll, the second prong, was the tipping point that made him want to make music. 

Luke’s aunt lent him Nevermind and it changed everything.

“What is this?  I’ve never heard anything like this before!”  

Of course, he knew Smells Like Teen Spirit, but it was the other tracks that made an impression on him.

His musical exploration began, and he next discovered OK Computer.  “I can’t believe there is all this music out there that I’ve never listened to.”  

His dad balanced his musical education with the Beatles and Bob Dylan, while over the course of 2 years the Pixies and Elliott Smith were added to the list of artists that shaped him.

When the song Luke calls “one of the best songs ever written” Where Is My Mind plays, what does he picture in his head?

It was one of the songs he used to jam on with his friends Jake and Barney, along with other songs from Surfer Rosa, so memories of that time come up.  It intersected with is new passion for film and literature.  

It’s no surprise that Luke pictures The Fight Club scene with Ed Norton and Helena Bonham Carter holding hands in front of the exploding credit card office buildings, while the song plays to add sonic impact to the visual carnage.

Credit card debt is a big part of many families, and those most vulnerable to that eternal slavery to debt are the ones who start off poor.  

East London

East London was where our trio would meet.  Luke, born at Newham Hospital, was in Canning Town.  Jake was from Seven Kings and Barney from East Ham.  All three families escaped to a “more middle-class area on the outskirts of East London.”

“We had that weird bridging of the gap where we were the first kids to go to university.”

Even now, returning to Canning Town, Luke can appreciate the efforts his parents made to get them out of there and give them a chance against the “class system which is a horrible unrelenting cycle.” 

Even in “Uni”, he didn’t feel like he fit in with the other kids from the upper middle-class.     

Three friends, too rich to be poor yet too poor to be rich.  

“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that us three are in a band.”  

The birth of Punk was a rebellion on the class system, yet Luke gravitated to US bands, which showed a desire to break free of those shackles.  

“I can’t pretend that I had a really rough time,” admits Luke.  

He was given opportunities in life that many did not have, and for that, he is grateful.  

The Music Industry Class

The harsh reality hit, when he realized that many the music industry, “if we are all being completely honest, are from the seriously wealthy.”   

Luke reveals that the music industry now is full of kids that are “extremely posh, never really had a job and had everything handed to them on a plate.”

Their influential parents, already in the music industry, are giving them an unfair advantage, such as paying for their rent in Camden, Central London or other gentrified areas.

Luke reflects on others, who might still be stuck in the poverty class, and he can’t imagine how they can make it with music, against those stacked odds.  

“Hip-Hop and Grime are the only genres left where you can come from a working-class family or a poor area and there is a support system there.”  

The class system is very present in music, to this day.  

“Rock-N-Roll is a very middle-class endeavour now.  A wealth gap.  Even the accents you come across…they all speak like the Queen.”  

While Luke appreciated The Clash and The Sex Pistols, it was Kurt Cobain, The Pixies and Elliott Smith who had the lyrics that helped with Luke’s “mental health I realized that I struggled with since I was about 10.”   

Luke isn’t elitist.  He acknowledges that Radiohead, for example, where privately educated.

“If the music is brilliant and speaks to me, it speaks to me.”  He won’t discount a band because of their class.  

He can equally love NWA, Mobb Deep and Radiohead, letting the music be the judge.

According to Luke, the conversation on diversity is important, yet the conversation that isn’t being had is that of class.

The elephant in the room, for Luke is that both actors and musicians that make it, seem to be related to someone in the industry.

Luke points out an exception, like John Boyega, but notes that since the financial crash, your class will more often than not dictate your success.

False Start

False Heads had a false start, so to speak.  

For almost 5 years, the band held “horrible jobs” and paid their dues.  They had a new record label, agents and a team behind them.  Things were looking up.

They were the hot new band, and a plan was developed to introduce them to the world.  Then…a punch to the stomach:  COVID-19 hits. 

“It was very frustrating, obviously.  We released the album on the Friday, and on Monday, the whole country (UK) was locked down.  By the following week, most of the world was locked down.”  

After a few months off, the band got to work on their Social Media campaign.  

Their first label, which gave them a legal headache, released a few EPs.

Now was a chance to take some of those older songs, rework them in the way they wanted, and added 5 new tracks. 

“It was a nice match of our of old songs and our journey up until that point.”   

They re-released their album and have a rough idea of their path forward as they create new songs for an upcoming second album. 

It’s All There But You’re Dreaming

Luke suffers from Night Terrors and Sleep Paralysis.  Dreams and reality, in that frightening situation can get blurred.

“Most dreams don’t come true, but nightmares do.  A lot of the album was a reflection on how dreaming can mean a number of different things.  Your dreams and your nightmares process what is going on.  Sometimes your external world and your internal though process align in ways you don’t want them to.”

Most dreams don’t come true, but nightmares do!” – Luke Griffiths

Social media, according to Luke, is often responsible for that, another theme of the album.

We are often exposed to the dreams of others and strive to live a life that is based on a counterfeit lifestyle. 

“It’s almost like a dream, the way we communicate through social media. It’s fractured and disconnected.  We are having really heavy and important conversations about the world and politics in 140 characters, back and forth.”

Like a broken mirror, dreams are made up of fragments of random thoughts that can’t give an accurate reflection on a coherent thought.  It’s the reason dreams often don’t make any sense, like many social media posts on important subjects.

Luke will limit himself to 1 minute of Twitter a day, got rid of Facebook and prefers Instagram as a way to communicate with their fans.

“It’s dangerous.  It’s like a weapon we’ve given every single person.  Everyone’s got a detonator.”

For Luke, it’s the 3 or 4 people who control the news that gives him nightmares.  They adapt to the medium by using headlines as the source of news.  With only a superficial knowledge of events, it’s no surprise that many take polarizing sides, without facts.

Twenty Nothing

My take on Twenty Nothing is a contrast between what is really going on in the world and being distracting from the truth.  You have people dancing seemingly oblivious to the real world.

Luke agrees, but adds religion as another theme of the album.  

As a self-declared far Leftist, he sees this weird “religion for the non-religious on the Left popping up” which is very dogmatic, anti-humor and anti-art.  “Totalitarian disguised as tolerance.”  

In contrast, the Right, which he sees as more embracing of the traditional religion ideology, under Trump veered into “Christian Nationalism” with an alt-Right QAnon world. 

The Internet being the fuel that powers both sides as they grow more divisive every day.

The “echo chambers” each side is fed by the algorithms will either make them angry, or feed them information to confirm their point.

“The battle lines people are drawing just seem to create more armies.  It fills me with an existential dread.”  

“I want to read an opinion that I don’t agree with” is the noble goal Luke has.  

To challenge your beliefs is the core of personal growth.    

An example of politics crossing the musical divide was the attack at Bataclan when Nick Alexander was killed running the merch booth of an Eagles of Death Metal gig, along with 87 other souls.

A Peaceful Noise

Out of such tragedy, Nick’s sister Zoe, harnessed the positivity from the music community to create A Peaceful Noise event to raise money for charity, while honoring the 88 who lost their lives that day.

“Horrible religious fascism versus beauty and art” explains Luke.  “No, we are not going to cower to this andbut put a show on.  We will celebrate life, instead of death.”  

Art won.        

At the 2017 event, False Heads got to play an extended set, along with Frank Turner, Josh Homme (QOTSA) and Band of Skulls.  

Gigwise spoke of their performance as “retina-shaking rock’n’roll.”  

Not only did their performance shine that night, but they recognized the sheer positive strength in Zoe, who became a close friend, supporter and mentor for the band.

In the end, music was used both to heal and celebrate life.

The nightmare was released, and music was able to fill the void with beauty.

Once live music starts again, the first song False Heads will pay will likely be Whatever You Please.   

Unlike the song, it will be an awaking from our long COVID-19 nightmare.  We have been paralyzed in this half-awake state, ready to take life on with new meaning.

Luke and False Heads challenge us to wake from our social media slumber and celebrate life.

They challenge us to allow art to enter us and replace the darkness with light.

Are you up for the challenge? 

False Heads online:

https://www.falseheads.com
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Interviewer & Writer: Randal Wark is a Professional Speaker and MasterMind Facilitator with a passion for live music.  You can follow him on InstagramTwitter and YouTube. His Podcast RockStar Today helps musicians quit their days jobs with out of the box advice from Ted Talk Speakers, Best Selling Authors and other interesting Entrepreneurs and Creatives.

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