False Advertising are a Manchester-based power-trio that combine pop culture hooks with slacker rock riffs, creating an innovative and unpredictable brand of alternative rock that’s all their own. Having been hailed by Robert Smith of The Cure and Steve Lamacq amongst others, False Advertising are truly on the cusp of huge things.
The instrument swapping trio has been going from strength to strength over the last three years and last month released their debut album ‘Brainfreeze’, recorded between London’s The Church Studios and their own rehearsal room. Known for their chaotic live show, we caught up with False Advertising post-tour to get the lowdown on the album and most importantly, the gear…
Dawsons: Hey guys, thanks so much for speaking with us today! How’s it going?
Jen: Not bad thanks!
Josh: Pleasure to be here! yeah, it sure feels great to be unveiling all the album stuff at the moment!
Chris: All good, excited to have gone public with it all!
Dawsons: Your new album ‘Brainfreeze’ came out on the 8th of November, whereabouts did you record it?
Josh: A combination of both one of the best recording studios in the world and a grotty underground rehearsal room. Really the extremes of both ends of the spectrum.
Jen: We’re really lucky that we got invited by our friend Luke Pickering who engineers at The Church Studios in London to go record with him at The Church in their studio’s downtime. We chipped away at it over the course of nearly a year every chance we got.
Dawsons: For our readers who don’t know your sound, what can they expect from this first full-length effort from you guys?
Chris: Energy, volume, scathing lyrics, epic strings, better production.
Jen: It’s a varied record influenced by all sorts of things, but especially everything that’s good about guitar music.
Josh: Essentially a much broader and deeper view into who we are as a band.
Dawsons: Your tour concluded in November, what new places did you get to go to on this touring cycle?
Jen: We’d never been to Tunbridge Wells before! It was cool to revisit a lot of places and play for people.
Chris: There were loads of new venues though. The Big Top in Cardiff was nuts, King Tut’s was a definite bucket list venue, Fairfield Social Club is new to Manchester and was great too.
Josh: We favour no places over others really, much prefer seeing new faces to going to new places!
Dawsons: Are you still keeping up with the instrument swapping on the new record?
Jen: We are.
Chris: Jen beat me with eight songs to my three this time – we tend to front the songs we wrote.
Jen: One of those is an interlude though – which we both sing on so it’s more like 7 to 3.
Reading It Wrong
Dawsons: Jen, how do you balance guitar and vocals, do you ever find it difficult marrying the riffs with the vocal melodies?
Jen: The way that you hear the guitar and vocal melodies in the final songs is almost always the way it arrives in my head when I first write the song, the lyrics often come later but I’ll always start with the melodies and chords. Often it takes me a while to finesse being able to sing and play parts that contrast a lot or are massively syncopated but I know I can always train myself to get it. For example in Influenza when we play live I do a fairly intense solo type thing while singing all the way through. You just have to work at disconnecting your voice from your hands.
Dawsons: What was your first guitar and what’s your favourite to play live?
Jen: The first one I had was a really old 3/4 size white Vox guitar, then I remember playing a purple Squier Strat for a while before managing to get a Gibson SG when I was about 14. I play Telecasters live and my favourite to play is probably the worst sounding of the two I have. My older blue Mexican Tele that I played in the earlier days of the band is kinda effortless and I suppose I feel like I can take more risks with it because it’s less expensive. I would love to branch out and play a guitar with P90s live at least sometimes though as it would suit our mellower songs better, I prefer the scale length of a Gibson guitar really but Telecasters just seem to suit us better sound-wise in terms of versatility.
Dawsons: Are you a big user of FX? What’s at your feet during a show and which amp are you using for the live shows?
Jen: Chris and I collaboratively built up the pedalboard that we use in the band over a few years, which is one of the benefits of switching instruments! We’ve always had two loops which we switch between live, one used for heavier sounds and fuzz containing a Russian Big Muff and a Plimsoul. Then the other one has a Tube Screamer, Death By Audio Echo Dream 2 and Digitech Whammy in it at the moment, which is used for cleans (which are never actually fully clean) and fuzz-delay stuff mostly. We’ve also got a noise suppressor, compressor and tuner in there too. I kinda like the simplicity of for the most part just having to hit one thing within a song to get the two different key sounds, keeps things simple!
Dawsons: Josh, have you ever jumped on another instrument for a show?
Josh: The demand hasn’t been there yet! Open for that to change though. I’m a dab hand at the electric guitar, but if I was to ever add anything to our shows it’d more likely to add to our sound on the piano/ keys after some practice.
Dawsons: What’s your go-to Bass for touring?
Josh: My Fender Precision Bass, it’s an absolute workhorse, sounds delicious, perfectly everything I’ve always wanted. I’ve modded it with a Badass 2 bridge to help with the drop D intonation. As a backup, I use an old Tokai Hardpuncher which my dad kindly gave me, which really is a thing of beauty. I prefer to save that for the studio as I don’t want it getting beaten up on the road for sentimental reasons.
Dawsons: How did you first get into music?
Josh: Seeing my dad play a festival when I was about 4 or 5. One of the earliest memories I have is watching him play bass on the stage in the sunshine, I think we were wearing matching dungarees at the time too! I think it was the moment I first figured out that music actually came from people and is an expression of them. I thought it was the coolest thing. Even earlier than that I used to get taken to rehearsals whilst I was asleep in my carrycot, so music has always been there, whether I was aware of it or not.
At the Top
Dawsons: And Chris, back to instrument swapping, do you prefer drums or guitar?
Chris: 100% Drums. I have played the guitar for 24 years, but I have only been playing drums for 5 years, I have a lot further to go so it still feels exciting and new. Funnily I may have a natural disposition to drums because I used to be that annoying tapping guy in school who was drumming on the desk or my body everywhere I went. All that stopped when I started drumming, guess it was an itch I needed to scratch.
Dawsons: What kit are you using for the live shows? Do you ever use any triggers or additional percussion?
Chris: We are kinda purist in some sense, we are a very analogue band, we have nothing digital on our pedalboards or drum kit, no triggers or sample pads, oh the tuners, the guitar tuners are the only digital things we have. It was not an especially conscious decision, but we prefer for the performance to be fully live, if we stop moving the music stops. The Kit belongs to Jen, it’s an old Pearl kit from the 70’s, it has had some repairs and replacement hardware, it sounds rad though as it’s mahogany.
Dawsons: Do you have any endorsements at the moment? What are you preferred choice of sticks?
Chris: No, I’m talking to you, Vic Firth! I use 5BX hickory sticks for ultimate power, I could really do with the endorsement too, I destroy sticks but Vic Firth’s seem to last the longest for me and I have tried most.
Dawsons: Thanks for taking the time out to talk to us guys, really appreciate it! Last question, with you being a local band have False Advertising ever bought anything from Dawsons Music before?
Chris: Definitely plenty over the years, I have bought all sorts, leads, tuners, strings, skins, pedals, Cymbals, Oh yeah, I got a Jackson Guitar from Dawsons when I was in my Nu Metal Phase back in the early 00’s hahaha, I almost forgot about that. Your central Manchester store is the nearest store to our rehearsal room so we are in there every so often.
Josh: Loads, I bought my Fender Precision Bass from Dawsons (best bass Iv ever played), I bought our Tube Screamer, Russian Muff, my Chorus ensemble, about 20 Guitar leads and 500 plectrums by now too aha!
Jen: I got my seafoam green Telecaster from there as it so happens and various other things over the years. I used to frequent the one in Reading before I moved to Manchester, but mainly just looked at stuff! I remember seeing Reuben do an in-store in there once too which was the best thing ever.
You can listen to False Advertising’s album ‘Brainfreeze‘ on all major streaming sites. Check out the video for ‘Influenza’ below!