Indieterria review – Columbia by The Blinders

 

“Dream the most dangerous of dreams” – The Blinders “Columbia”

Dear readers,

So, I have got copy of “Columbia” – the debut album by The Blinders. When I am writing this review (or rather an essay), it is exactly three weeks to physical release of the album and the world is buzzing. Tickets to upcoming tour start to fly out, the performance at Leeds and Reading festivals put the band on radars and lips of thousands of people, series of record store performances and signing sessions has been unveiled for September. Their songs are Radio 1 and 6 Music singles of the week, Guardian mentions, 300-400 tweets generated a day, real talk among A&Rs and business insiders that the album may go into top 40, every indie band I know looks up to them – you get the picture.

This is a young, promising act on the edge of great things to come. They are the new Manic Street Preachers – throwing intellectualism, poetry and art at the world, loudly commenting political reality, wearing war paint and messages on their instruments.

They are once-in-a-generation band, a trio of working class lads from Doncaster with vision, balls and talent to offer the jaded, over-saturated world of pop music something fresh.  And people are drawn to it. You will see more and more fans jumping on The Blinders bandwagon as the time goes by. I`m old enough to see this happen several times in the past. It is exciting and scary, both for the writer and the band. I`ll get to that scary part at the end of this essay.

The Blinders headlining BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival 2018, photo by Sam Crowston https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

But back to the task at hand. How do you review “Columbia”? A deeply personal record for me for myriad of reasons. Do you do a regular review about the music and the cover and lyrics? Do you do a more in-depth account throwing some of your personal experiences into the mix?

I`ll write the emotional account – because I can`t do otherwise. It would not be honest. Especially since I have been championing and shouting about The Blinders daily for the last 2,5 years. And I don’t want this review to look like it`s written by a PR person for the band.

This review is done because The Blinders won me over.

Because we share the same background and love for high art.

Because we have similar determination in life.

And because we have “met” in a “right” moment.

In store appearances scheduled after Columbia comes out on 21st September 2018

“Columbia” is an angry album.  It`s written by musicians who come of age in a dark period – full of corrupted figures that divide not just people but the world with walls and borders, planet full of CCTV cameras and reality shows, party identities, wars, destruction of the environment, zero hours contracts and social media aka Big Brother.

The band grew up in a post industrial town with outdated architecture (“granite building and 1960s concrete bridges and the factories – they were just making electric fridges” from “Orbit”), read Orwell at school (1984 is a constant motive though out several songs on the album such as “Where No Man Comes” or “Ballad of Winston Smith”) and looked carefully around to witness modern poverty (“men and women worked to death”, “darkness seems to take its hold over both the poor and old”), saturation with news (“forgotten stories on the news”), refugee crisis (“fox hunt the refugees”) and general hopelessness (“feel so helpless all time”).

This will lead to righteous anger at previous generations and the state of the world. “Who will stand against them all?” ask The Blinders in “Ballad of Winston Smith” and follow up with a passionate soliloquy in “Free The Slave” against religious leaders, political figures and society in general.

Bleakness takes the center of the stage next to anger on “Columbia”. “They gonna build the Berlin Wall, divide us in two, and kill me and you” – screams Thomas Haywood at one point and this is not the only violent moment. Police brutality is referenced on “I Can`t Breathe Blues,” dragging people in the middle of the night from their beds is mentioned in “Where No Man Comes” and  there is talk about having your throat slit in “Brutus”. “Rat in a Cage” goes as far as to offer us an apocalyptic vision of devastated earth (“polluted and poisoned and dying race, our god doesn’t want to see the end of days”).

Columbia Tour poster for Autumn 2018

It is enough to make any young man pick up an instrument and scream into the void. And this is what The Blinders are doing with exceptional skills.  Their younger listeners will agree, but what about you older, more established members of society? Do you feel the same anger and hopelessness? Do you remember yourself from the way back when you were twenty – something and  you too wanted to change the world? What do you see and what do you feel when you listen to “Columbia”?

I almost forgot how it felt when I breathed anger at lack of prospects, walls and crazed political heads. Until “Columbia” arrived in its 12 track glory and hit me right in the chest. The album caused me physical pain – at the memories of growing up in a rundown mining town (to which I hate to return even now),  living in a Grenfell Tower like building in the middle of a council estate. In a world behind the Iron Curtain at a time when Berlin Wall was still standing and people were shot for trying to get to the other side.  Give or take, The “Orbit” or “The Ballad of Winston Smith” can be about me – for I too read 1984 in class, as art and literature were the only forms of escape. In desperation to have an impact on the world I even picked a tool of trade, but it wasn’t a guitar. It was a camera…

Cover artwork for Columbia Photo by Sam Crowston
https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

“Columbia” was recorded in winter of 2017 at the Magic Garden studio with Gavin Monaghan as producer. It is the final stop in a long journey the band went though in the last two-three years.  It captures the spirit of their live performance to the last sparkle. If you have seen The Blinders live you will notice immediately that “Et Tu”, “Brutus” and “Berlin Wall” come one after another on the record, in the same order as they come on stage. The band likes to use all three compositions to end their shows with a proper punch. Two older songs “Brave New World” and “I Can`t Breathe Blues” albeit in newer versions made it onto the record. “ICB Blues”originally appeared on the 2016 EP “Hidden Horror Dance”, while “Brave New World” was previously released as a stand-alone single in 2017. If one follows the band, there is very little new material you can hear on the record. All three main singles “Gotta Get Through”, “L`Etat C`Est Moi” and “Brave New World” have been on the radio since March. “Brutus” and “Hate Song” are in regular rotation during live performances since last year.  If you watch Pirate Studios performance from 2017 you can see early version of “Hate Song” being named “March March March” (19:00 mins mark). “Rat in a Cage” and “Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)” appeared in live versions on socials in recent weeks, so  the only new compositions that have not been heard are “Where No Man Comes” and  short “Free The Slave”.  Is it bad? Not at all in my eyes.   I regard “Columbia” as crowning achievement of the bands potential so far.  They evolved so much in such a short time that it is incredible to observe. “Columbia” brings and ties all the ends from their career so far in one spectacular album.

Do yourself a little favour  and listen to very early demos from Thomas Haywood`s SoundCloud account. Songs such as “Ballad of Johnny Dream” and “Wither” (or even “Death of Narcissist”) had a huge influence on “Orbit” and “Ballad of Winston Smith”.  There is also a very early demo of “Ramona Flowers” and “You`re So Cold” aptly entitled “The Darkest Thing I Ever Did Feel” on the account for those who are familiar with band`s older repertoire.

It is a privilege to see any band develop, less alone a band that will define the voice of a generation. I`ve been very lucky to discover The Blinders in May (?) 2016. Music Business is a cut throat industry, there are more bands that break up than those who make it. It takes determination, sacrifices, and being single minded to stick with being in a band.

I recently interviewed The Blinders and asked them what profession they would pursue if they haven’t been making music. “We’d probably all be butchers or something” came an answer. And then they added: “At the end of the day without signing a deal [with label Modern Sky UK] we wouldn’t be talking to you about our debut album. We’d still be scrapping around trying get Brave New World recorded. We were given the chance and we took it, and we can’t more grateful for that. We are now in a situation where we can pursue art and writing for a living, so you can’t complain”.

Those words stayed with me and returned to me when listening to “Columbia”. The band put everything what they had into their music and stayed on course despite heavy odds. Both Thomas Haywood and drummer Matthew Neale left university without a degree. They were also lucky to land a recording deal. Without it, who can say how things would turn out?

If I can be very personal for a short moment again. Here comes another reason why I have such an emotional relationship with “Columbia” and the band. I mentioned that we “met” in a “right” time.  Like them, I was pursuing a dream despite heavy losses, ridicule and scrapping by. In ten years I did not manage to break into the industry I loved despite being ready to sacrifice everything for it. Even my personal safety. Even life. Then trauma came and put the end to my chosen career. I relocated to UK in February 2016 with a life long illness and lack of direction. I put together whatever was left of “old” me and started all over again slowly building up a path as an A&R on the indie circuit. Another country, another  career with apologies to David Bowie.  The Blinders were one of the first bands I took notice of. And their music stayed with me since. In an ironic twist of fate our paths seem to cross on the indie circuit. If I seen them live at a venue, the next week one of the bands I worked with would be playing  the same stage. To me and to me only “Columbia” is not just an album that shows true talent of three young lads. It is a soundtrack to my own personal journey to where I am now. The record entangled itself (or maybe I made it this way) with what happened in the last years and will always remind me of the bleakest and most victorious moments. That’s my own “concept” behind the record.

Thomas Haywood (“Johnny Dream”) performing with The Blinders (“Codeine Scene”) at The Sunflower Lounge on 16.02.2018

To anyone else it can be a striking concept album telling a story of a dystopian state of Columbia, where people disappear at nights, where police is free to murder and oppress, where population live in poverty and the young feel anger and solitude. Where Johnny Dream is calling to break out from mental cages and to support one another. Where despite the evil and the suffering there is still place for compassion, love and will to survive.

It can also be a set of twelve songs without any story behind them that try to make sense of the messed up world we live in.

It is guitar orientated  album that is true to the live performance.  Songs are fast and yet catchy, with haunting back ground vocals and  hypnotizing drums. Sometimes there`s spirit of Jim Morrison there in the spoken parts, sometimes you will hear Oasis or The Beatles or even Pink Floyd flirting with David Bowie. You can hear Mark Bolan`s groove.  There are some oriental musical themes that make me think of Kula Shaker. But mostly, mostly it is the fresh perspective on what music should be in 2018 – direct, poetic, enigmatic, political, tearing out your soul  and different from what is happening around. And that is what Thomas Haywood, Matty Neale and Charlie McGough bring to the table.

The album may be bleak as the abyss but I can see The Blinder`s future in quite a positive light. At the end of this review I`d like to refer to one single thing I  find worrying.  Here`s a small appeal to fellow music press folks – please do not treat the bands members and especially the vocalist as some sort of rock gods. I find the comparisons to “messiahs” or “Jim Morrisson” absurd and dangerous. Stage persona is not necessarily how artists are in real life. Please enjoy the show and leave the whole rock god icon in the past.  4REAL.

Columbia is out on 21st September 2018 via Modern Sky UK.

TRACKLIST:
1. Gotta Get Through
2. L’Etat C’Est Moi
3. Hate Song
4. Where No Man Comes
5. Free The Slaves
6. I Can’t Breathe Blues
7. Ballad Of Winston Smith
8. Et Tu
9. Brutus/Berlin Wall
10. Brave New World
11. Rat In A Cage
12. Orbit (Salmon of Alaska)

Introduction to the band:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/

Interview with The Blinders:
https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/08/24/indieterria-meets-the-blinders/

You can follow The Blinders on inter-webs:

https://theblinders.tmstor.es/
http://facebook.com/theblindersband
http://twitter.com/theblindersband
https://instagram.com/theblinders
https://soundcloud.com/theblinders-music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Z8Y3Ek99rukRa1Hdo14GE?si=yx5j8oK-RpG6qE7MQtVU5Q

Or their label Modern Sky:

https://modernsky.uk/
https://modernsky.uk/blinders-debut-album-columbia-now-available-pre-order
https://twitter.com/ModernSkyUK
https://www.facebook.com/ModernSkyUK/

Till the next time,

Malicia D.

Indieterria meets The Blinders

Faithful Citizens of The State of Columbia!

The Blinders are less than a month from releasing their debut album. Each day they cover new grounds and by September 21st the world should know the power of their music. This is your duty as a Citizen to assist them in the conquest for our glorious homeland. Pre-order the record, call your local radio station unit and your local news publisher. Talk to your friends and advise them carefully to follow the same instructions. Your faith and co-operation will be rewarded. This humble blog brings you coverage from the front lines and a State approved message. The Blinders will appear at Leeds and Reading Festivals this weekend. But before they hit the stage – they have gracefully answered our questions. So read this interview, spread the word and don`t forget to eat your meat.

Thomas Haywood (vox, guitar, warpaint)
Charlie McGough (bass)
Matthew Neale (drums, vox)

Fans and music press reached a consensus describing you as “must see band” and “one of most original acts in recent years”. Would you like to introduce yourselves to Indieterria readers?
 

The Blinders: Hello Indieterria, individually we are Thomas Haywood, Charlie McGough and Matthew Neale, collectively we are known as the Manchester based band, The Blinders.

You often describe yourselves as “Johnny Dream and Codeine Scene”. It almost feels like there are two distinctive bands involved. So,  while we do the introductions, would you like to tell us who are the members  of Codeine Scene? Do they have names?  Can you elaborate how did you create the stage personas and their meaning? 

The Blinders: There are no specific members as of such. The Codeine Scene was a title banded about by ourselves when we came to name the band. We dismissed the idea and went with ‘The Blinders’ in its place (what fools we were). Johnny Dream plays a small narrative role on stage dressed in warpaint. However, the whole Johnny Dream and The Codeine Scene thing is a vessel we use in our heads to take on egos outside of our own in order to perform The Blinders’ music to its fullest intentions, all the while allowing us to detach ourselves from the on-stage personas. In short, it keeps us sane and allows us to remain grounded.

Why The Blinders? Are you fans of certain drama on BBC 2?

The Blinders: We are fans of the show. When we came to play our first gig, we were without a name so went with it. We didn’t really see it sticking, but here we are talking to you.

You grew up in Doncaster but relocated to Manchester. Is moving to a bigger city  beneficial for starting artists or is the competition for gigs and recognition not worth the effort?

The Blinders: Both were incredibly important places for us in the beginning of our lives as a band. We wouldn’t be where we are without coming to Manchester and playing its venues whilst friends from Doncaster would travel in busloads to continue on supporting us. This seemed to make a statement in a place that can be cliquey at times but were lucky enough to get in with the right people. In terms of bigger cities being beneficial for starting artists, that’s undoubtedly true because the contacts and resources you need exist in these really quite creative and liberal hubs.

It is hard to categorize your music. The Beatles, Police, Black Sabbath, Sonic Youth, Paul Weller, The Jam, Joy Division, Manics, The Doors and Arctic Monkeys were all mentioned as possible inspirations. If you were to review your own art, which musical heritage would  you subscribe to?

The Blinders: We don’t subscribe to a specific heritage. We obviously lean on certain bands or certain sounds, but it would be ludicrous to pigeon hole yourself as a ‘punk’ band. How could you while there are so many avenues to explore and doors to open in the world of music. We learnt how to write music like any other modern artist in the past 60 years, by having a hunger to listen to all music and interpret it in your own way.

There are many pop/cultural, political and historical references in your lyrics. “Ramona Flowers” is a character from a series of graphic stories by Bryan Lee O’Malley, “Brave New World” shares its title with dystopian novel by English author Aldous Huxley, “The ballad of Winston Smith” is an obvious reference to “1984” and “Swine” comes with the hypnotic chorus “There is no hope” that reminds us of the fated scene in “Terminator2 : Judgment Day”. Your admiration for Jack Kerouac is also widely observed.  You are first band since Manic Street Preachers who put their interest art and literature as a centre point of their music. Is it planned or does it naturally come out during the writing process?

The Blinders: It’s certainly not a conscience thing, perhaps we simply write by immediate influence or inspiration. This can be anything from a piece of literature to walking past the same homeless person every day and their story being impressed upon you. We like our lyrics to have a narrative, which is probably why novels and film seem so natural to draw influence from. Call us lazy.

Response to your music is incredible and it reads like a litany: you have been played on BBC 6 Music by several DJs, recorded a session for Steve Lamacq at legendary Maida Vale, Radio X`s John Kennedy is a fan, you have been on BBC Introducing, Louder Than War featured you in print, NME and MusicGlue offered rave reviews, influential zines such as Northern Exposure and Some Might Say champion you, you have been part of influential This Feeling  circuit and your single “Gotta Get Through” stayed on top of charts on Amazing Radio for weeks. You have achieved more in two years than most bands in their life-time. Where do you plan to go from here?

The Blinders: To the top, Johnny! To the Toppermost of the Poppermost!

You have recently signed to a label (Modern Sky UK). That’s a major step for any artist.  Does it come with losing your creative freedom or does it give more fire power to the band?

The Blinders: There’s clearly a balancing act. At the end of the day without signing such a deal we wouldn’t be talking to you about our debut album. We’d still be scrapping around trying get Brave New World recorded. We were given the chance and we took, and we can’t more grateful for that. We are now in a situation where we can pursue art and writing for a living, so you can’t complain.

Your debut LP “Columbia” will come out on 21st September. So far three singles have been made available from the record: “Gotta Get Through”, “L`Etat C`est Moi” and a new version of “Brave New World”. We can`t help but ask. Is Columbia a concept album? 

The Blinders: It can be a concept album for the people who want it to be. There are narratives and theme to be drawn from the album, however a lot of people will enjoy it as just 12 songs to be enjoyed in their own right. It also means different things for us all individually, we just want people to take what they will. If people simply listen to it, that is enough for us.

We know you try to leave room for interpretation for listeners but, in your eyes, if Columbia was  a real place: would it be a state or a town or alternative universe? Would it be more closer to Oceania with its poverty and lack of resources or would it be a highly advanced society (similar to what  is shown on Fear Factory`s trilogy Demanfacture – Obsolete- Digimortal)?

The Blinders: Columbia is drawn from our own reality. There was never any intention on creating our own dystopian world, it created itself from the worst parts of society we live in today. We used the dystopian narrative and language alongside our interpretation of what is going around us today. So Columbia would probably look a lot like what the UK or America does today.

And a question that must follow: is Johnny Dream a friend or a foe? Can we see him more of a real protagonist like Winston Smith or Edgecrusher  or is it just an idea?

The Blinders: Neither, he doesn’t exist.

One of our favourite songs is “L’état, C’est Moi”. The title can be translated as “I am the state” and is commonly attributed to Louis XIV of France. He established the French absolute monarchy and made France the main political power in Europe in his time. Surprisingly, the song feels very accurate in the current political climate as well. Tell us more about this song and its message.

The Blinders: The song was written around the very phrase that came out of his supposed mouth. It was something we’d picked up in a book somewhere and it stuck with us. As you say, it seems relevant, especially to a world in which frankly insane politicians and other insufferable individuals appear to be grabbing power and moving society in a direction in a way which seems to show a complete disregard for the people.

Once the album is out, you will embark on a 22- date headlining tour around the country. That will be the biggest tour to date. Are there any venues or towns that you are looking forward to visit?

The Blinders: Manchester feels most like home when we play, so that will hopefully be a highlight. We’re not really sure what to expect, we’re just looking forward to getting back on the road.

“Columbia” is being promoted by cryptic advertisements in the press, made out of fragments of lyrics.  What a great idea! What else can we expect? Secret shows?  New single or a video? Are you able to reveal any secrets?

The Blinders: We are working on something here and there, but our lips are currently sealed.

At the end of  August you will  headline BBC stage at Reading/Leeds festivals. What can we expect from your set. And since the show is sold out, will there be a chance to see/hear your performance afterwards? 

The Blinders: We’re presuming that a song or two are going to be filmed, so that will be there for your viewing pleasure.

There is a certain darkness in your music. In “Berlin Wall” you ask if voice of a sole person still matters.  In one of your older songs “Swine”, you sing “I need not to be, a man in the street”.  It is a brazen declaration of intent to escape the routine and grey existence of the common man. Yet, many of the most important events of the 20th century were started by the everyman, those invisible individuals who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. We can mention the Tankman, a still unidentified man who stood in the way of tanks coming to suppress the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in China, Ryszard Siwiec (Poland) and Jan Palach (Czech Republic) who set themselves on fire in protest against police brutality against the Prague Spring, or August Landmesser who refused to perform the Nazi salute after becoming engaged to Jewish woman, Irma Eckler. Their sacrifices contributed to massive social mobilizations and in effect bringing down regimes and corrupted governments. Maybe each one of us is really capable of changing the world?

The Blinders:  As we mentioned before, many of our songs are drawn from the worst parts of our society. Combined with our existential perspective of whether any of this even matters anymore, naturally there is a darkness. In terms of our capabilities as individuals, we can commit incredibly powerful acts. Those acts are even more powerful in unison but that’s the problem we have. How can we stand together while those in power seek to divide us?

In May you have released a short film/video to “L’etat C`est Moi” that was a collaboration between Tom and Sam Crowston. It ends with the mysterious “to be continued”. Are you working on part deux? Will we learn what happened to the messenger and what exactly he was given to deliver?

The Blinders: We had a lot of fun creating that piece, and it’s something we intend to return to. When that will be is another question.

Cover artwork for Columbia Photo by Sam Crowston
https://www.facebook.com/sam.crowston

Let’s say The Blinders were offered to take up teaching residency at the university for the duration of one term.  What subject would you like to teach: creative writing, English literature or political science? Is there something really important to you that you’d like your students to remember?

The Blinders: It would undoubtedly be something on the subject of History, Politics or Sociology. We each have a tutor or lecturer which we were greatly inspired by whilst we attended university/sixth form. We’d like to spark the same inspiration in our hypothetical students.

Let us ask you about the swine masks that are a recurring element in your videos. Your technical crew members were also known to wear them during live shows. Who or what are they?  Columbia’s secret service or symbol of corrupted regimes?

The Blinders: A lot of features in our work tends to start as something trivial, with little meaning attached. We then allow it to manifest into its own ‘thing’. This happened with the masked men, Johnny Dream and our vision of Columbia. It’s a very fun way to work.

One last question. We have already established that you are designed for rock and roll greatness, but if you weren’t in a band, what careers would you pursue?

The Blinders: We’d probably all be butchers or something.

Please read our introduction to the band (long read format):

https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2018/07/07/indieterria-presents-the-blinders/

You can follow The Blinders on dystopian (social) media

https://theblinders.tmstor.es/
http://facebook.com/theblindersband
http://twitter.com/theblindersband
https://instagram.com/theblinders
https://soundcloud.com/theblinders-music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/3Z8Y3Ek99rukRa1Hdo14GE?si=yx5j8oK-RpG6qE7MQtVU5Q

Or their label Modern Sky:

https://modernsky.uk/
https://modernsky.uk/blinders-debut-album-columbia-now-available-pre-order
https://twitter.com/ModernSkyUK
https://www.facebook.com/ModernSkyUK/

or just stream the soundtrack to the dark times:

We will be doing a proper review of Columbia once it comes out. Till then we hope you enjoyed our profile and the interview with the band.

Big, big thank you to Caffy St Luce (A&R extraordinaire and our PR goddess) and Paul Fassam (the manager super hero) for all their help and assistance, the band for answering the litany of questions and their patience and Modern Sky for everything else.

This broadcast has been created for the glory and prosperity of The State of Columbia.

YOU ARE BEING WATCHED.

M/R

. -.././-/..-/…/-../.-././.-/–

Indieterria meets False Heads

Hello dear readers!

Today`s blog is very important as we wanted to conduct this interview for a very long time. It has been a privilege to watch this very special London-based band grow for nearly two years. Things are looking really bright for the trio these days: they got signed to These Bloody Thieves Records, on September 6th they will embark on a 23- dates tour across Ireland, UK, France, Netherlands and Germany. September 21st will see digital release of their new EP “Less is Better”, while physical debut will take place on October 5th at their home coming gig at Dingwalls in London. Without further delay – please welcome False Heads to our humble blog. On the eve of the release of their new single “Yellow”, we sat down with their lead singer Luke Griffiths to talk about the music, Iggy Pop and their upcoming tour.

 

Barney Nash (vocals, drums)
Luke Griffiths (vocals, guitar)
Jake Elliott (bass)

Official bio: Hailing from the outskirts of East London, False Heads formed in 2016. Behind the energy of their live shows, the trio quickly thrust themselves into punk-rock limelight, catching the attention of Punk’n’Roll legend Iggy Pop, ex-Ramones manager Danny Fields and music taste maker Rodney Bingenheimer. Having quickly graduated from playing empty rooms in London to supporting The Libertines on a sold-out tour, the buzz around the young band is undeniable. False Heads are Barney Nash (vocals & drums), Luke Griffiths (vocals & guitar) and Jake Elliott (bass).

You have been making a name for yourselves on the indie circuit since 2015 yet we still wonder, who are False Heads? Would you be so kind and introduce band members to the good citizens of West Midlands.

False Heads promo picture #1 Photo by Alex Hurst https://www.instagram.com/alexhurstphotographer

Luke Griffiths: I’m Luke and I sing and play guitar. Jake plays bass and Barney plays drums and sings as well. Thank you good citizens of West Midlands.

You chose an interesting name for the band. The term “False Head” has several meanings rooted in the theory of communication, journalism and psychology. Our favourite definitions include an informal name for the news caster or a political TV commentator coined in the 1950’s; a social mask worn by an individual hiding their true feelings and an incorrect belief in one’s superiority based on an economic or class advantages (so called “False Head” start). So where does your name really come from?

Luke Griffiths: That’s pretty fucking awesome, that you’ve got that from the name and I always thought it was evocative. Originally, I just misread “False Hood” on a list of names scribbled down and I thought I’d written “False Heads”. I just got an image of all the people I despised from where I grew up – the fake, benign, mediocre, sleep walk through life type then die whilst mocking and turning their nose up at anyone different or creative type moron. I also got the image of irritating “talking heads” on TV of politicians spouting the same drivel they’d had written for them by the same script writer. So, it just conjured up a lot of different things for me. The name seems to be more relevant now, people are carbon copies of each other and base their belief system on what they think won’t get them in trouble. It’s nonsense.

You have been championed heavily by punk rock icon, Iggy Pop himself. He has played your songs on his show on BBC 6 Music. How does it feel to have his backing? It surely seems to be a dream come true.

Luke Griffiths: Yeah, “Raw Power” was and is one of my favourite punk albums. Iggy was a huge inspiration for me and emailing him is slightly bizarre. Him naming us as one of his favourite bands in the UK was crazy. It’s an amazing honour. He’s an incredible person and he still gives a shit about new bands.

False Heads promo picture #2 Photo by Alex Hurst https://www.instagram.com/alexhurstphotographer

Iggy Pop is not the only radio personality who gave you an outstanding review on air. We could mention several others such as John Kennedy of Radio X, Steve Lamacq of BBC 6 Music or  Hew Stephens  from BBC 1. Do you feel you are on the right track to the rock and roll greatness?

Luke Griffiths:  (laughing) I guess so, but I try not to think about it too much. We just try and write the best songs we possibly can and put on a great show. But all of those people, those huge names, we are extremely grateful for the support from them.

You also won a die hard fan on the other side of the Pond in form of senior KRCQ and Sirius FM DJ, Rodney Bingenheimer (and an owner of  his own star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame!) Rodney expressed  sentiment that you are Nirvana-reborn and the best British act that came out of London scene in the last decade. Are you off to conquer the olde US of A anytime soon?

Luke Griffiths: Yes! Another mad surreal one! He’s a living legend, he helped break bands in America and says things like that about us. It’s crazy. He’s another one we need to thank. There’s been some initial conversations about it, yes but we will see.

Tell us more about your beginnings. You met at the secondary school in Upminster and you played in several bands before separating to attend university. Do you still remember the names of the early projects you were involved in? Did they have any influence on your current sound?

Luke Griffiths: We were all born in East London and then moved out to Upminster which is like half East London, half Essex. Just an odd place, really. Barney and Jake were in a band called FiftyFours and I always operated under the name False Heads. I just could never get a proper band going (laughing)! It was extremely frustrating for me, but gave me a lot of time to write until the band finally did happen. I wouldn’t say there’s much influence from those early days, although I did write the “Twentynothing” riff when I was 15. Although, the chemistry between us comes from school. I think Jake and Barney being in the same band helped the chemistry between them and Barney recorded some demos for me to go to uni with to try and make a band, so it was probably inevitable!

New Single entitled “Yellow” is debuting this Friday, 24th of August

False Heads has been going on for three years now and from the start, you have received a strong support from audience and other bands from the capitol circuit. in November 2015, you played a memorable gig at The Black Heart in Camden  and you attracted the attention of  Danny Fields, the former manager of The Ramones. He became your mentor and a friend.  We are sure you have learnt a great deal from him.

Luke Griffiths: Yes, we’ve learnt so much from him, so much. He’s done so much for us, we’re so grateful for what he has done for us. The advice he gave and honestly it is so true. He said to get a lawyer or someone to help you deal with contracts and dealings at the very least (who knows about law). The stories that guy tells us over a few drinks are unbelievable and his company is brilliant. He can outwit anyone, trust me – do not try and mug him off (laughing).  A truly wonderful human being.

Your new EP “Less is Better” will be released very shortly. Tell us more about it. How many songs can we expect on the EP? Where did you record it and who’s producing?

Luke Griffiths: It was recorded and produced by the wizard named Jonathan Hucks and mastered by Tonalex (who are also incredible). Jonny is like our Nigel Godrich at the moment. There’s four tracks on the EP. It was recorded very DIY, sort of all over the joint –  some in his room, some in a little studio near Stanstead and some in the epic Grand Cru Studios. It’s a follow on from our first release, “Gutter Press”. The themes and things I wrote about on that have only got worse. The echo chamber, social media culture is extremely damaging. We’re completely fine with censorship, we can’t tell the difference between a joke and a bigot. We have created an environment where people are scared to say what they think, then we wondered how such fucking awful things like Brexit and Trump happened? But at times, it’s also more personal than “Gutter Press”. “Retina” sort of came about from an acid trip, but every song has a few different themes going on. It’s difficult to just pin point one and I also don’t want to sound like a broken record (laughing). It’s a scary world we live in man and the hope shrinks every day, without sounding too bleak. The cover art for me was like there’s this beautiful open blue sky/colour/whatever you want to think it is and there’s so much space there for discourse. Life and building relationships and changing peoples minds yet we’re just sucked into this horrible black hole or echo chamber and people are scared to step out of it, even though it’s much more beautiful.

You also have a brand new label, These Bloody Thieves Records so congratulations are in order! We are interested to hear how your co-operation started.

Luke Griffiths: Thank you! Rob Hirst, the owner, is an incredible guy. He has been a big supporter of us for a long time. He spoke to our manager, Cargo Records, got involved and we built an amazing team around us. It’s all gravy. Rob deserves some serious credit. He is an amazing bloke with an amazing work ethic.

Tour poster – please check the dates and buy your tickets before the gigs sell out

This Autumn we will have a chance to see you on your first European tour. You will be playing UK, Ireland, Germany and France. Are you excited?

Luke Griffiths: Well, our first European tour was early on this year. Sorry to be pedantic (laughing)! We haven’t played in Ireland or Germany before yet and we cannot wait. We played France and Belgium on our last tour and played Rock Olmen Festival and InMusic Festival in Croatia. Europe is amazing for bands so we can’t wait to get back. And we fucking love Guinness so can’t wait for Ireland either. Whelans in Dublin is so iconic as well. All amazing stuff, really!

The famous last question and this is going to be hard! Name a song you wish you have written that was released in the last 12 months.

Luke Griffiths : “Blind Faith No Future”  by Strange Bones

———————-

These Bloody Thieves Records logo

After speaking to Luke and hearing the praise for their new record label, we decided to approach Rob Hirst himself and ask him few questions as well. We didn’t think he would agree to do it, but he was more than happy to speak to us. This way, instead of just one interview, we got two! And that’s why we absolutely adore the DIY scene. Musicians, record label people, PR teams, fans – they are out there for each other. It is more than just everyday kindness. This is a genuine friendship, a true interest, that can only come from those who really care. People are taking care of one another, they look out for others, they participate and support. It is amazing to see it happen! As our good friend keeps saying: “What a time to be alive!”. We at Vanadian Avenue, are extremely privileged to be a part of that movement.

But coming back to Rob and his record label. This is what he said:

Rob, your dream is coming true. You are now an owner of an independent record label! Can you tell us more about These Bloody Thieves Record. Is there any rock and roll history behind its name?

Rob Hirst: The name of the label was actually the name of the very last band I was in. A very short-lived band that I believe was the best I was in and certainly the best band name I had come up with. I just thought it would be a good way for me to continue my past into the future and I couldn’t be bothered with spending hours of thinking of a label name and branding.

How did you set it up?

Rob Hirst: As you know I already work with bands & my Spotify playlist gets hundreds of submissions a month. I was scouting for other management companies and labels. I just woke up one morning and just thought ‘I’m going to start my our label’ and I did (laughing)! I must admit I have been very fortunate with the support I have had around me, especially coming from Rich (False Heads manager) & Ditto Music.

False Heads are your first release. How did you convince them to join you?

Rob Hirst: They approached me. I’ve known the band for a while and I’m a huge supporter. As soon as they asked I knew I had a label & a solid foundation to show that this label is serious. What a band for a first release.

Besides “Less is Better” EP, do you plan any other future releases linked to False Heads?

Rob Hirst: Er! Really, everything has gone into this release. The band has a great team around them and at the moment it’s all about this release. I’m sure there will be as the band have been in the studio with legendary producer Jonathan Hucks and have a bank of unreleased material in their locker. It’s very exciting times! False Heads have nowhere near reached their potential as a band. Pretty exciting really when you consider how great this EP is.

Are you accepting submissions from an unsigned acts? If so, what are you looking for?

Rob Hirst: I am always searching and always accepting submissions. It’s one of the most exciting aspects of running a label. Nothing better that discovering a band that you instantly gravitate towards and fall in love with everything about them. I don’t have specifics for what I’m looking for. I don’t really know until it comes along and slaps me in the face and says to me ‘Here I am, love me’. The label has a couple of other acts on the radar, one close to signing who I have been following for the last four months and a single deal out next month that is due for announcement anytime now.

You can follow False Heads and These Bloody Thieves Record on social media:

False Heads
https://www.facebook.com/FalseHeads
http://www.falseheads.com/
https://www.instagram.com/falseheads/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqivl1sWLJyZxP3Ywei3HGw
https://twitter.com/FalseHeads

These Bloody Thieves Record
https://www.facebook.com/pg/thesebloodythieves
https://myspace.com/thesebloodythieves
https://twitter.com/TBT_Records
https://www.facebook.com/rob.hirst.754
https://open.spotify.com/user/dbjph28w55odrz4ehj79ckorm/playlist/4ZqYUJXPWs0SFcT7MEQ9FU?si=Xz7oHAGeTauD0k-9TX6nOA

Thank you Luke and thank you Rob for speaking to us! This week is fantastic for so many great new bands and we are happy to be able to witness the revolution in popular music. False Heads will release their new single entitled “Yellow” this Friday, so please come back as we will have a full review for you to enjoy.

Until then, we bid you farewell.
Keep on rocking in the free world and  make sure you listen to your vinyls/cds/digital albums loud. Very, very loud.

Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz