False North
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False North

Flagstaff, AZ | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF | AFM

Flagstaff, AZ | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Rock




"Bright Ambition: Flagstaff band False North comes of age with a Brit-band fervor"

Follow the process, the band incubation cycle. In these college environs, campus life creates its own pre-radio nature preserve of possible bands. And by now it should be apparent to all that Northern Arizona University produces a hell of a lot of musicians, and downtown Flagstaff’s quick proximity to campus, with guitar shops and music stores at points obvious and ample night spots to feed the band camp culture, is producing results for what can be normally described as a music scene.

As a rite of passage, having a band as part of university life is most certainly taking the experience to the advanced level. Although the members of False North—Sean Wilson, Ryan Orr, Conner Libera and Gregory Grandlienard—admit they began playing together in the Wilson dorm at NAU without having much of a firm ambition that they were rock star stuff. At first, they hedged a bit about making that claim. They found each other, they agree, based on the band stickers of album covers on their dorm room doors.

“I knew they were the cooler kids of the dorm when I saw they were into bands like the Strokes,” says Wilson, the singer and lyricist. “I figured out they did music and talked to them in the hall passing by. We just kinda became friends. I would make EPs of my own music and give them to my friends.”

They were coming from all directions at that point, and the more reserved members of the group to come weren’t sure where it was going. But the tribal identifiers of band stickers led to comparisons of recording collections, as well as soft-sell admissions that they were all musicians to one degree or another. In no time they were jamming with acoustic guitars beneath the din of the dorm, but before things got too outta hand, they did one of several first smart things.

They found a basement to play in. Another smart thing: Instead of just plugging in the guitars and declaring themselves a band, they kept working on it until it was tight—enough to think about recording. Then, they had the gumption to get the financial resources together to record and get a CD out.

“Before we played live shows, we recorded an EP in Sean’s basement,” Orr says. “I wanted a tight band before we played live. I didn’t want to say come see my band and then we play like s**t. It took over half a year before we played our first show, and I’m glad we did.”

As their musical compass has gone, the pointer didn’t really settle on the intense folksiness mountain towns inspire, nor did they take too much to the blues (although they tried). They were outside the box as far as the metal bands went at the Hive, the first place they eventually played. With their first album, Burning Fast, recorded, engineered and mixed by Jeff-Lusby Breault at his studio in the Masonic Building in downtown Flagstaff, their musical journey has taken the direction of the reinterpreted pale thin dudes, Americanized certainly, but nonetheless owing a heavy debt to Morrisey, post-Jam period Paul Weller, and newer bands, ratcheting up the guitar, bass and drum energy, like the Arctic Monkeys, the Kooks and the Libertines. There is a lightness to it, with Wilson’s vocals a melodic, more whimsical style of alternative rocker. Heavy guitars, yes, but with more than a bit of a smile.

The album is a sign that False North has found their own unique direction in a short amount of time. Libera was the “most aggressive,” he says, “about saying ‘let’s be a band.’”

The experience was organic, with the band having the good sense to keep what they were doing to themselves, starting out as a kind of loose jam band, then focusing on stronger song structures. Songs went from being six or seven minutes long to four, with the basement being the perfect incubator as they swayed between indie instincts and the desire to reach an audience.

“The first thing we did was figure out if we all knew how to play our instruments,” Grandlienard says. “We wrote our first song that day. I wanted to do something jazzy, or else something like the Beatles or the blues, like Derek and the Dominoes. But coming in to ask these guys to play the blues … I don’t think we made a very good blues band.”

No, they were more agreeable on what they called post-hardcore.

“We all just loved rock ‘n’ roll,” Wilson says. “We slowly came to think about bands that had similar influences, and that became something we could concentrate on. A lot of bands from the British Invasion like the Beatles and the Kinks, moving on to Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and David Bowie.”

The new album, released in October, finds the band honing sharp, neo-punky guitars with a focused teamwork, with the opening song “Confetti” showing Wilson’s ability to find a melody amid their pile-driving wall of sound. The vocal of “Feedback Fleet” floats across the broad horizon, Smiths-inspired, with the guitars, bass and drums finding that post-hardcore supersonic they are looking for. “A Flare in the Dark” is going to make a lot of people think about Morrisey, again, and it kind of marches in a rollicking, lyrical way. Is this music good for getting the girls? Maybe. This is no pursuit of the tragic haunts. This is music, as the members of the band might agree, about maturing, about living a life before you are even old enough to play (or even go to) bars, about life going by quickly, hence the iridescence of Burning Fast. Down to the album cover, showing two empty wood chairs with confetti all around, like the birthday party is over and they aren’t there anymore. The track “Ambitious Kids” shows how False North is all about creating Oasis-style musical wings by guitar play, socked-in bass and pounding drums and cymbals, while Wilson provides the sonorous, melodic sensibility smoothly over the top, then using his voice as a turned up instrument for the broad choruses.

“At least half of the album is about relationships and coming of age,” Wilson says. “A lot of the album talks about the idea of losing friends, growing up.”

Adds Orr, “It’s the birthday party with nobody in attendance, with empty chairs on the album, like we grew up already.”

After working on the album for more than a year, the band finds itself somewhat in the “what next?” position. They have played all of the major music venues in Flagstaff and after performing in town and graduating from the all-ages spots, are starting to wonder if they need management. Their album is out there on the Internet streaming on automatic pilot. They have a YouTube video out. As graduation day looms for their studies in graphic design, chemistry, film and journalism, they know the clock is ticking before they must address career paths and the proverbial day jobs.

“Because we are graduating soon, we are looking to find how this works,” Orr says. “I’m looking to the film industry to try to get our songs on a soundtrack, with the average feature film paying $25,000 for a single song. We are looking to do the large festivals and do things like South by Southwest. We are trying to go out and find more shows.”

Wilson says they have “hopeful ambition.”

“We have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time,” he says. “We have already done more than we could imagine, so who knows what the future holds?”

Catch False North on Fri, Dec. 11 at Hops on Birch, 22 E. Birch, Ste. #2. The show is free and starts at 9 p.m. To learn more, call 774-4011 or visit www.false-north.com. - Arizona Daily Sun

"False North - Burning Fast (album review)"

I recalling sitting on a friend’s balcony drinking beers circa the turn of this last century and flipping through a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine. Details are hazy but The Strokes were on the cover. They had just released their seminal and albeit best record Is This IT. As I recall the “The” bands, which included The Strokes, The Vines, The Libertines, et al, were going to “save Rock n’ Roll.” I remember asking my friend if he thought rock n’ roll needed saving. “I had no idea it was even in trouble,” he said.

Well here we are a decade and a half later and I’d like to think that rock n’ roll is still doing just fine. And it is for good reasons; one of them being that rock n’ roll, in one form or another will always be omnipresent in music. It continues to inspire bands like Arizona based rock n’ roll quartet False North whose debut record Burning Fast is soaked full of jangle pop ballads and sensitively crooned vocals.

False North wastes no time in letting listeners know who their main influences are. Even if you aren’t privy to the same background information I am, if you’ve been a fan of mainstream rock n’ roll for the last five years you can pick up hints of The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys within the first ten seconds of Burning Fast’s bright, upbeat jangle pop opener “Confetti.” It’s a perfect rock record opener in that it largely lays the groundwork for what is to come and it also draws you in with its big swells of hard to resist guitars. False North then does a costume change and comes back with the Arctic Monkeys inspired “Feedback Fleet.” Later they combine both of these styles back to back on “Minnesota” and “Wolves.”

Later the tune “Distance” takes on an Interpol-esque feel at first before sort of shape shifting its way into a duller version of a Smoking Popes tune. False North is best when they sound more like themselves, which is to say that they’re not trying so hard to sound like someone else. And though songs like “Knifepoint Robbery” and “Nights Like a Noir” obviously still bare a resemblance to their aforementioned peers they remind one what makes rock n’ roll so much fun.

With Burning Fast False North offer up twelve tracks of largely upbeat and glammy garage rock tunes that possess the ability to hook you in with their sparkling melodies. False North may have not re-invented the wheel with Burning Fast, but then again the wheel never really needed re-inventing now did it? - No More Division


Burning Fast (2015)
False North EP (2013)



            False North is an Arizona based, alternative rock band consisting of Sean Wilson (vocals/guitar), Ryan Orr (lead guitar), Conner Libera (backing vocals/bass), and Greg Grandlienard (drums/percussion).

            In late summer of 2013, Conner approached Ryan and Sean proposing they form a band. The two quickly agreed, and Conner recruited his former roommate, Greg, to play drums.

            Inspired by bands such as The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Brand New, Modest Mouse, and The Kooks, False North combines buzz-chimed tones with melodic lyrics and harmonies to create a modern sound all their own.

            Though False North gained a following after self-releasing their homemade demo in November 2013, it would not be until March of the next year that the band would play their first live show. After further establishing themselves through live performances, False North pleased audiences with the release of their debut album, "Burning Fast", in October of 2015. 
            False North has since toured throughout the southwest United States and played with acts such as Katastro, Earphunk, Joel Gion, and many others. The band plans to record new material in the near future. 

Band Members