It’s late September in Manchester and I’m putting in yet another appearance at The Deaf Institute. The landmark building just off Oxford Road has become a regular haunt just lately, thanks to an assortment of great bands passing through its doors on a regular basis. Tonight is no different. Put on by the wonderful folk at Trof and The Skinny, the brilliant Menace Beach are headlining a stacked line-up that includes fellow Leeds lads Weirds and scrappy Manc throwbacks Fruit Bomb. The cherry on top comes in the form of Manchester trio False Advertising, who are smashing their way through a triumphant debut year in the public eye.
An hour or two after coming off stage, drummer-cum-guitarist Chris is handing out the beers, as we sit down on the park bench backstage where only a few months previous I’d interviewed a trio of a different variety – Long Beach, Cali hip-hop kings Ugly Duckling. Worlds apart in many ways, but united in having delighted throngs of gig-goers at The Deaf Institute. Though guitarist-cum-drummer Jen is a touch more modest of how the night had panned out up to this point. “It went alright. I think every gig that we play at the moment, we get better in different ways each time” She says with a pause, before concluding “…Shit answer”
“Different mistakes to learn from each time” adds bassist Josh with a laugh.
The trio still appear box fresh, having only played their first show earlier this year in April (at The Deaf Institute, funnily enough.) It doesn’t seem five minutes since they dropped their first single, but in actual fact, the initial seeds were planted years back. Though it began with the formation of a band with innovation at its heart.
“We were trying to innovate blu-metal” smiles Josh, before Jen is quick to pipe up “Please don’t say that.”
The days of combining the blues and nu-metal still appear to be looked upon with fondness by the boys, but its demise has made way for something better as Chris concludes “It was a great idea – didn’t pan out…it was a blessing in disguise.”
False Advertising as it stands has been on the cards for two years, with an opportune booze session between Chris and Jen getting the ball rolling.
“…We kind of just said – ok, so you can produce music, we can both write music; I can do artwork and what not. Between us, we’ve kind of got everything we need that – in theory, in our heads at that time – we were like, there’s no excuse for us to not do it. So that is when we decided to form the band.” Says Jen, adding “But then we discovered that there’s much more to it than you necessarily understand in your head, when you have a sort of…”
“No, I knew exactly what was gonna happen” adds Chris with a laugh.
The initial DIY ethic is something that struck a chord with the three friends, something which remains in every aspect of their work today. Their debut single ‘Wasted Away’ saw them hit the ground running, picking up plaudits and coverage from all over within a month of its release. The infectious, grungey throwback sound pushed all the right buttons, and with good reason – the trio recognising the importance of its release being their introduction into the world.
“We felt – well, at least I felt very strongly, and I told the others this too – we shouldn’t just drip out the odd song here and there.” Explains Jen, “‘Cus we formed and we were writing music and recording it, but it took us a long time to get the recordings to a point where we felt proud of them. We were learning, we were getting better, we were practicing, we were learning new techniques, we were finding out who we were I suppose, and adapting. Then we got to a point where we were like, ok – that’s it, we’ve done it now”
“We didn’t wanna launch with nothing.” Adds Jen. “We didn’t wanna put ourselves out there before we had anything to show for us. So that was the reason why we launched in March of this year, because yeah – we’ve been together for this time, but we weren’t ready to show anything. So we booked this gig in Deaf Institute with Turrentine Jones, and we got this amazing support slot. It put the pressure on and we had to finish a song to share. It was so important, ‘cus you can’t just launch and have nothing”
“You always have to push yourself with deadlines.” Nods Chris. “You set a deadline that’s pushing you; you reach it and it inherently makes you progress. We know we need to progress, we know we need to set short deadlines and we know we need to push ourselves, so we push ourselves as hard as we can – realistically.”
Following the release of Wasted Away came the aforementioned debut show at the Deaf Institute, as well as a spot at Dot To Dot Festival and a brilliant showing at St Clements Church, supporting Young Knives as part of Chorlton Art Festival. Not long after this came the announcement of their debut album. Their self-titled debut was the culmination of a year’s worth of work prior to their debut single, with every aspect of its production being completed independently between the three of them.
Recording was split between a number of venues, with the most exciting part of the process occurring when the trio took off to a converted church in The Peak District. An online snoop at the venue confirmed a good place to set up shop, so long as they could go under the radar of its owner.
“We turned up and we were like – is this cool?” Smiles Jen “We had all our gear hidden…”
“The woman might easily have thought we were gonna throw some crazy party, with all these speakers and mixing desks…” adds Chris, continuing “We had a great week. Hard work, but it was late nights, great food – we all shared the cooking…”
“The number of times we thought we’d finished the album and we had little celebrations…” laughs Jen, reminiscing over the time spent in the confines of the church.
“We did a whole week and it was mixed, it was done. That was mix number one.” Smiles Chris. “We remixed it another eight times. The final master was the ninth mix of the album, so even after that week it was a long time before we were happy with it.”
Chris is keen to stress the nature of their do it yourself attitude, noting the lack of a producer or engineer being a positive as they didn’t particularly have anyone to answer to. “It’s a double edged sword.” He continues “If you’re producing it yourself, you have the luxury to go back and do this and go back and do that.”
“Yeah, we didn’t have to settle really” agrees Josh.
The tweaking and re-touching along the way proved a fruitful gambit, with reception to their self-titled debut being nothing but joyous. The response has not gone unnoticed by the trio, with Chris and Josh pointing out that even the critical reviews are good, providing something they can learn from and develop upon.
“This is our line in the sand. This is our first album and we’ve got so much further to go, we’ve got loads of ideas. This is where we’re moving on from.” Says Chris, continuing “We’re really proud of it, but we’re very excited to do more. A lot more.”
As is often the case when speaking with a band post-release, the focus is generally on what’s to come as opposed to what’s just been released. For Josh, Chris and Jen, the excitement of their debut is still evident, but what lies ahead is what’s driving them now, as Jen comments. “The thing that lead to this album was really inspiring, and I feel more inspired to do the next batch of things”
“It’s arrogant to be inspired by ourselves I guess” adds Josh with a laugh “It’s encouraging – we’ve done this, where’s the next one? Let’s do another one right now”
“For most people, this album is landing on them now and it’s new to them, but for us it’s old.” Confirms Chris “So we are pushing ahead and very very excited for what were gonna do next. We’ve jammed some ideas that I hope people are gonna like, ‘cus we like it. Fingers crossed”
The drive between the three of them is most evident, as Josh comments “I don’t want to be the band that releases an album every three, five, six years. Just keep going”
“Back to the good old days like Sonic Youth or the Pixies. Your first few albums should be quick.” Agrees Chris “We’re ready to do the next one; we wanna do the next one. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t go from this album to the next album and another album. Within three years we’ve got three albums – done. Then we’ve got a set we can pick from”
“I think it’s worked in our favour, as a mind-set – not dripping EPs and singles out.” Sums up Josh “It has its merits, absolutely, but you get sort of focused on those quite a lot, and you don’t focus on doing an album ‘cus that’s distracting”
As is the fashion, the release of the album was initially on cassette. It’s a nod to their throwback sound; an homage to the days when you could pick up cassette tapes of your favourite artists for pittance at Woolworths and the like (I still cherish my cassette copy of the ‘Peaches’ single by The Presidents of The United States Of America…) before they were almost entirely killed off. Chris in particular cherishes the idea of the cassette tape, looking back on his formative years and copying CDs onto tape. I was surprised the release wasn’t put out on vinyl, but with the DIY ethic comes its obvious problems. “We’re doing what we can, right now. We’re not a rich band; we all work full time.” Admits Chris.
“This is something we’re figuring out. We’re looking to next year and perhaps doing a single on 7” as our little step up to the vinyl club.” Pipes up Jen. “It would have been amazing to do a “12, but it’s like aiming for the stars and coughing up loads of money for the privilege”
With the last swig of beer comes the thought of where to next – not just as a band, but for the remainder of the evening, as friends. A successful night at The Deaf Institute calls for further beers and many more frivolities for the trio. “We’re not a massive band.” Says Chris, as we get ready to shoot off. ” For us, especially with this style of music and this genre, it’s all about friendship, togetherness, looking out for each other. It should be relatable. If you relate to the things we sing about then come and find us, because we’ll be your friend”
“..whether you like it or not!” laughs Josh.