Manchester-based False Advertising are a three piece DIY grunge band born in 2013 out of a desire to prove what is so vital about raw, energetic live music. They feature Jen Hingley and Chris Warr on vocals, guitar and drums, with Josh Sellars on bass. They have been featured by NME in their print edition as one of the UK’s leading unsigned acts and catapulting them to Texas’ SXSW Festival.
I recently caught up with them on the concluding date of their 20-day tour across the UK on an eerily quiet Monday in Snobs.
Can you tell me where you found inspiration for your name?
Jen: That’s a really good question. I’m not sure actually!
Josh: I remember us making a list quite a few years ago of potential names. It was on Jen’s list of band names. We had gigs coming up where we had to announce our band name and we were like “Ahh! We need a name!” It was just a pretty strong one on the list – I thought it was quite tongue in cheek and mirrors a lot of what our music is about.
Jen: Yeah I think I was watching a lot of Mad Men at the time, and the advertising was in my brain. It’s not an exciting story is it?
Josh: Yeah I thought the name fits since we are part of the generation that’s part of social media – it’s very poignant.
When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music?
Jen: We used to be in a band together previously. Josh and I knew Chris as mutual friends. Chris and I used to play open mic nights together year ago. I guess we just decided to end up playing in a band I guess!
Oh, so were you like 15 or 16 when you started playing open mics?
Jen: Oooo no! *Laughs*
Chris: *Laughs* I think we’re a lot older than you think we are. We’re all 12, really.
I think that’s the age I want to be again. So, Who are your musical idols away from your genres? I know you sound like Dinosaur Pile-Up; Slint; The Pixies etc.
Josh: I think we all have a broad music taste. I like Radiohead.
Jen and Chris: *both nod* Yeah yeah, Radiohead are cool.
Chris: Deftones. Both old and new.
Josh: Smashing Pumpkins. I only started listening to them around 4 years ago.
Jen: I was really into Bjork growing up. And Foo Fighters. I think they kinda informed how I approach melody and how I write songs. And Supergrass.
Chris: I like Beck now, but I didn’t when I was younger. We always seem to find music now that’s considered old, so like The Pixies for example. But there’s new stuff we like as well – Tigercub, Kagoule. I mean they’re no bigger than us and they’re playing similar venues.
Your new EP is called ‘I Would Be So Much If I Just Stopped Caring’ – is that meant to be a more passé outlook of the band? Or is the title meant to convey empowerment?
Chris: I came up with that actually. What was going on in my head was that you can take a lot of what’s going on in the media to heart, and it can really get you down, and it can make you feel bad about society or humanity. It was acknowledging it’s okay to feel like that and that in some ways if you stuck your fingers in your ears it might beneficial.
It’s a bit like the whole debate around ‘Fake News’ – I know me and my friends jokingly callout each other’s using that phase.
Jen I think it’s easy to not watch the news especially over the last year. It feels like entertainment, and the only way to sort of treat it is to almost accept that it’s not real.
Josh: To be fair though, I think Elon Musk is gonna save us all.
Chris: We love Elon.
Hopefully your next EP is entitled “We Love Elon”.
Jen: *Laughs* The other day we actually played a gig where we dedicated all the songs to Elon Musk. Apart from one we dedicated to Bill Gates. Oh, and Steve Jobs.
I noticed recently you played a house party here in Birmingham – how did that come about?
Jen: Well well well, shall we start from the beginning?
Chris: John’s here tonight isn’t he?
Josh: Our friend John yeah.
Jen: So we played a gig in Derby actually and—
Chris: John travelled 60 miles to see us!
Jen: Yeah I don’t think we met John at that point. I talked to him online and he spoke to us. When we played in Derby and eventually met up with John, we didn’t realise he travelled from Birmingham all the way to Derby to see us.
Josh: I think he had no way of getting home. So he just said he was gonna stay up all night, wander around Derby, and then get the first train home. We were so impressed by his commitment. It’s amazing someone would do that for us, so we were just like: “Hey, let us know if we can do anything.”
Jen: Yeah he asked us if we could play on his birthday the week after. And then we did!
While on the subject of Birmingham, how do you feel coming back to play here?
Josh: Excited. We played Sunflower Lounge once before back in January.
Chris: We were supporting a band called Dead. And since we last played here the venue’s been done up. I mean it was good before but now it’s amazing! Good to see.
Are there any local records you’ve been digging either Birmingham bands or Manchester bands?
Chris: I’m never very good at knowing where the bands are from.
Josh: The band that are playing tonight – Wax Futures – they’re really cool. Bit of math-rock in there or early Biffy Clyro.
Jen: The only band I can think of from Birmingham that I’m liking is Superfood and they’re new album. I really like their old stuff too.
Chris: I like The Hyena Kill. They have a song called Panic Womb which is cool.
Jen and Josh: We actually did the music video for that song. It’s super aggressive and heavy.
I started listening to you guys through Spotify when I discovered the song ‘Scars’. The lyric “You like me more than I like you, but it’s not me who chose it” I really like that song because it helped me through a particular nasty break up. How did you come up with that lyric? What is your song-writing process?
Jen: I was thinking about this the other day. Its actually got something to do with when I was 16 or 17. I used to go see Reuben all the time ‘cause they were my favourite band, and there was this guy there who really liked me, but I didn’t like him. He’s really nice, and I feel really bad about it still, but it was a bit awkward.
Chris: Oh dear.
Jen: Yeah there’s a Reuben DVD actually where you can see it all play out, ‘cause we were on the front row.
Chris: To answer your question the song process usually starts with Jen writing a melody alongside a guitar riff. It’s not one of the other, they’re like together. Usually the lyrics at this point are speaking in tongues and don’t really make any sense.
Jen: It’s useful to write that way. For example, ‘Wasted Away’ was written in that way. When I realised it was a song I was gonna finish I was thinking ‘what did I mean by the gibberish on the scratch track?’
Chris: You usually know when you are on to something when the song leads you. You put enough down so the song forms itself.
Josh: It’s great to listen to some of the demos that we’re writing at the moment. It kinda sounds like the language The Sims use when they talk.
Since everyone was a start up band once – can you give any tips to smaller bands who are looking for airplay or just to break out?
Jen: One of things we did when we first started was spending a lot of time on our songs and recording them. We didn’t share anything, or even have a Facebook page until we had an EP.
We didn’t even have a band name until we had to choose one for the gigs and when we put out our first songs.
Josh: We exploded into existence rather than dripped into being.
Chris: I think the ultimate thing to take from that is the concept of patience. What I’ve noticed is bands who immediately go out and gig and develop very publicly end up renaming their bands or a rebrand because they need to get away from the reputation they’e created.
Josh: It’s about playing the long game. If you care about it enough you have to make sure you do things properly.
Jen: Combine a lot of practice and demoing. Get a feel of what you wanna sound like as a whole, and get really good at doing it.
Chris: You need to become not just great musicians but also a great voice, great songwriting, and dedication. You gotta figure out your lives practically for rehearsals, so everyone can commit.
Josh: You gotta be an easy person to work with and put up with a lot of stick from other people.
I think rehearsals is the main issue. Trying to sort the logistics to get everyone into one place is tough.
Chris: For me, if people are cancelling rehearsals – don’t even bother. You’re onto a non-starter.
Jen: Unless something really bad happens.
Josh: Yeah you just got to make life as easy as possible.
Do you guys practice while you’re touring?
Jen: Not when we are away. We do a lot of weekend gigs, so when we are back in Manchester we practice like 2 or 3 times a week.
When you’re on stage does your mind wander as your playing?
Jen: It’s almost like you’re dreaming. It’s when you realise you’re thinking about something else until you stop.
Chris: It’s at that point you make a mistake.
Josh: It’s the realisation of waking up! I think live at a show though, I’m quite engrossed and soaked into what I am doing. I don’t really daydream because I’m so excited to be on stage.
Jen: Maybe it’s different when you’re singing. When I play guitar I don’t really think about it and I feel I’m on autopilot. But when I sing I like to try and keep that in my head. I do concentrate more when I play drums though.
Chris: I think when I younger I used to blackout on stage. In the sense I’d come off stage and then I wouldn’t be able to remember a single thing. Maybe I was just really high on endorphins being on stage. Whereas now I like to be really conscious of what I’m doing.
Josh: I agree.
Chris: I think the only time I concentrate is when I see a photographer up my grill. We’re well rehearsed enough that I can concentrate on giving him a good shot.
Jen: You wink at the photographers.
Chris: Make a kiss face, or stick my tongue out.
So if you’re winking tonight I know you’ll be impressing the photographer?
Chris: Yeah, it’s quite special tonight because as it’s the last gig of the tour, we’re all gonna dress up for Halloween, and put decorations all across the stage.
And what are you dressing up as?
Josh: Well people will have to come to the show to see our costumes.
Jen: I mean Chris doesn’t even know what he’s dressing up as yet, he’s just got a can of hair gel.
Does our city rate up compared to Manchester? There’s that classic debate of which city should crown the title “Second City”
Chris: I thought Leeds was the second biggest city. I think to compare cities to London is a bit s***.
Josh: There’s no comparison. If you have a bad night out in any city, then it’s your fault.
Will you ever play with Wolf Alice?
Jen: Of course.
Chris: We would 100% play with them.
Josh: You sound like you know, y’know— Unfortunately I don’t know them well enough, but it would be fun.
Chris: Yeah we’ve been listening to their new album on this tour and it’s a solid album.
I mean I raise this because I remember listening to a band called Japanese Voyeurs who were really cool. I feel like maybe since Paramore have turned to a more funk-rock album there’s a gap in British music for a female-led rock band.
Josh: I really like old and new Paramore.
Chris: It’s these two guilty pleasures! The same as The 1975.
Jen: It’s just really high quality.
To be fair, I do like The 1975.
Chris: They’re good. They write their own material. I should know because I played with them once.
Oh wow! That’s a big claim to fame.
Chris: Yeah so when I was 14 I was doing work experience in a music shop and he came in. There was a guitar pedal he was interested in, but none of the other staff knew how to work it, but I had it. So I showed him how it worked.
Do you know what it was?
Chris: It was a Digitech Multieffects.
Jen: So you’ve basically taught Matt Healy how to play guitar.
Chris: I must say at the time, he was very young, nerdy, and polite. But his band Drive Like I Do were mint.
How do you guys feel – as Mancunians – of Liam Gallagher going on stage for the benefit gig but Noel never went?
Chris: Well if he was busy touring, he’s busy! He can’t cancel on shows he’s already booked.
Josh: I guess you just gotta be as professional as you can.
Chris: I do have a soft spot for Liam at the moment, since his new record came out though. I actually feel that the new Liam Gallagher record, for the first time ever, might be better than Noel’s stuff.
Jen: Well I guess I can’t speak ill of my design clients.
You’ve designed stuff for Noel Gallagher?
Jen: Yeah the company I work for just did his new website.
Chris: Jen has his Instagram log in details.
Does that mean you could potentially hack into his Instagram?
Josh: If anything bad happens, Jen will get blamed for it.
Jen: And fired.
And finally what are you looking forward to for tonights gig?
Jen: I’m really excited that we will doing each other’s make-up for our set tonight.
Chris: It’s a new experience for us all. I’m probably gonna have a rash in the morning.
Josh: For other reasons though, maybe.
You can listen to False Advertising’s new EP – ‘I Would Be So Much Happier If I Just Stopped Caring’ out now on all streaming platforms.