“You’ve got to do the right things to keep the fire going inside of you”
Having recently shared stages with The Libertines and Queens of The Stone Age, East London’s False Heads are proving they can transition from punk-rock basement gigs onto bigger platforms without compromising the intensity of their live show. With new recorded material soon to be released, Frontman Luke Griffiths discusses the importance of keeping your internal fire raging, and how to stop negative mental thoughts from putting it out: “Why does Shawshank Redemption get the number one film on IMDB? It’s life-affirming innit, it’s that hope that things can better”.
What are you working on at the moment?
We’re going on a 22-date UK/EU tour in September. Our latest EP ‘Less Is Better’ is being released across September and October. First as digital release in September, then we’re having the physical release and launch show party at Dingwalls, Camden in October. We’re already talking about an album too. We’re thinking about it pretty seriously, we’ve got the songs ready. I want to re-record some of the old songs for it and I’d like to record our more delicate stuff that we never really get a chance to show off live. I don’t want it to be flat out heavy punk music, I want it to be diverse, we want to create a body of work. Looking at the timeline, we’re looking to have the album ready late next year. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on.
What has been your biggest life challenge so far and what did you do to overcome it?
To be honest, I’ve suffered from depression for as long as I can remember. Since I was 11 maybe, pretty heavily. I get bouts of it, then it sort of goes away then comes back. I’ve got a condition that causes me to have seizures that led to anxiety. I tried counselling for a bit and I tried antidepressants -they didn’t really work. I’ve got a good doctor that’s helping me deal with anxiety. The way I overcame it – well not overcame it because it’s not something you ever really overcome – is channelling it into something.
For me that was music, it was always music. It was writing lyrics, it was playing guitar that helped me channel that pain and misery that I felt. And also being a bit more open about it. I didn’t quite understand why I was feeling so miserable all the time. It’s that cliché of ‘Do I have a reason to be this miserable?’ I know the people I can talk to about it now: my girlfriend, and eventually my family. That stuff is never an easy conversation.
Depression tries to put out your fire, and you’ve got to do the right things to keep the fire going inside of you. Channel it into something you love – a hobby or a sport. Don’t let it define you, accept you’ve got a mental health issue, but you don’t have to let it take over your life, you can fight it . You’ve got to be willing to face it front-on and not allow that fire inside to be put out.
What would constitute a ‘perfect’ day for you?
Probably write a good tune, having a few drinks with my friends, playing an amazing gig and hanging out with my mates and girlfriend afterwards – that’ll probably do the job. Or even things like sticking your favourite sitcom on or something.
What are you listening to, reading and watching at the moment?
I’ve been listening to quite a lot of Strange Bones and Calva Louise, and also a bit of resurgence in Elliott Smith, who I’d say is one of my favourite artists. Probably not the greatest example to give on mental health because he stabbed himself in the heart…or did he? There’s conspiracies surrounding it.
I read Radical by Maajid Nawaz. A story about his upbringing, he joined an extremist Islamist group, went to prison, read George Orwell in prison. He left prison, tried to secularise and reform his religion. Safe to say I’m not a fan of organised religion at all, he’s a bit of a hero of mine.
I watched Mindhunter, the one about the FBI detective after the Manson killings, and he goes around interviewing all the serial killers at that time. Based on a true story. It’s on Netflix, It’s incredible.
For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
My family, my friends, my girlfriend and music. I’m grateful for the drive I’ve got to make the band work. I’ll take some credit for that. I don’t really mind sounding like a conceited prick because I work really hard with the band and our music to get where we are. I’ll take it as far as I can possibly take it. I’ll take it to the very end.
Complete this sentence: “Ace mental health for me means…”
I’d say it’s waking up and being glad that you didn’t die in your sleep. If you wake up and you look forward to the day, that’s ace mental health.
What do you eat to stay healthy?
When I’m at home I do try and eat healthy. It’s difficult when you’re on tour, you do eat shit – until you’re getting catering and that when you’re in U2 or whatever. I’m trying to be a vegetarian, I’m trying to cut fish out. I don’t know if that’s had any real impact – that decision wasn’t because of any mental health issues, I just didn’t want to eat animals anymore. I don’t really miss it that much.
Do you have a daily routine of exercise or do you make it up as you go along?
I do a bit of boxing, a bit of jogging, sit-ups in the morning that type of thing. It does make a difference. I don’t have any real routine or anything, I just try to get in some sort of exercise. It does just make you feel better.
Here at The Mind Map we remember playing football and ‘tag’ – running around the playground everyday and loving it – can you share a similar memory?
I used to get these little Thomas The Tank Engine things, these wooden train tracks when I was a kid and my Mum and Dad got me a load of them. I think it might have been my 5th birthday. The whole day I was occupied with this little train set and I was really happy. Apart from that I’m really struggling to remember. Oh, and Florida. I went to Florida, I think I was 10 and I went on The Hulk ride with my Dad. Quality ride. I was in my element as well because I loved comics, I loved Spider-Man, they had Spider-Man wandering around in a pretty sick costume, and the Spider-Man ride where he webs you. That day was amazing.
What three songs lift your spirits?
A Question Mark by Elliott Smith – even though the lyrics are still pretty dark, I think it’s a great song.
Karma Police by Radiohead, for that uplifting awe-inspiring feeling. The ending, even though it’s still quite melancholy, there’s something about ‘For a minute there, I lost myself’. I actually think that section of that song is one of the greatest bits of music ever made. Including classical music and everything. It’s otherworldly.
Guerilla Radio by Rage Against The Machine if I was just gonna go for a flat out something that would get me pumped up.
What advice do you offer to friends when they are feeling overwhelmed?
If you feel like you need to speak to someone – speak to someone. Don’t question yourself. Speak to the person that you feel is best to help you, if they’re not about, speak to the second best person. And if you’re feeling completely overwhelmed there is no weakness or shame in it to ask anyone for help. Don’t let that fire go out inside of you.