False Premiere Their Devastating New Album, Portent
In the face of tragedy, the comfort of a creative outlet can temper the pain. Solace, like grief, takes many forms — and for Minnesota black metal sextet, False, that solace comes in the form of stunning long-form melodic compositions. Ferocious riffing and synth-heavy arrangements coupled with poetic vulnerability drive the band’s newest full-length album, Portent.
False has always emphasized a strong, familial bond amongst its members. Those bonds between friends not only bolster the black metal they brew but build vital lifelines for each individual. In the throes of writing Portent, those lifelines were woven together in a resilient display of extreme metal that amasses to one of the year’s strongest records.
We recently sat down with guitarist, Jimmy, and keyboardist, Kishel, late one night to discuss some of the deeper stories behind their brilliant new album. Read the brief exchange below and listen to an exclusive stream of Portent now ahead of its release on Gilead Media this Friday, July 12.
There is such a strong sense of family and unity with False. Seeing you live, and in listening to Portent, your collective cohesion is very apparent. How long does it take six of you to reach that level of trust and companionship as a band and as friends?
Jimmy: The group as a whole was pretty immediate. It didn’t feel like there was a ‘breaking in’ period with the band. Niko, Travis, and Skorpian had been playing in bands together so their already established cohesion helped with False a little bit. I always felt a strong connection with everyone – that’s kind of rare nowadays.
Kishel: I think there was a lot of affinity right away. The first two tours cemented that family idea, especially since that second tour we went on was a lot of fun.
Who were you all on the road with between these two tours and what made it so fun?
Jimmy: The second tour was with Thou and Cloud Rat actually hopped on a couple dates because they had a bunch fall through. The Thou and Cloud Rat folks knew each other, and we knew Thou. It was nine shows in Florida, so it was basically an extended vacation in Florida with a bunch of friends. The drives were relatively short, and we were able to spend more actual time together.
Shifting gears to the record, I’ve always viewed black metal as a means for emotional catharsis – there is something about it that has that effect on me whether the band intends it or not. With False, and maybe Portent specifically, that catharsis and vulnerability seem to be the intention, yes?
Kishel: Absolutely, that’s kind of how the music came to be for us and by the time this record happened, it was definitely intentional.
From my understanding, a lot of Portent’s narrative and emotional affect comes from your own personal tragedies. Given that False has pulled back the veil recently, is it difficult for you all to present these personal stories or do you find some relief in this whole process now?
Jimmy: It’s a mixture of both. The writing during the record itself was very cathartic in dealing with trauma and grief. Doing the interviews about Portent, it gets difficult to talk about this stuff because it is really personal. There are times when it is easy and times when it is hard. That may just be grief in general. You learn to better cope with it.
Kishel: There is a lot of solidarity and persistence that comes out in the music — a lot of getting through those harder parts that have happened. I think that can make it a bittersweet experience of performing the music.
Jimmy: Definitely. Navigating the music itself and being together is a good release, but also it is walking a fine line between being miserable and using misery to create your art. In extreme music, there is this focus on suffering, and it can be hard. If you’re suffering and miserable the whole time, you could burn out quick.
That’s what I appreciate about Portent and what drew me to it. There is a resilience to it, it’s not a despondent piece of art. There’s resilience in coming together to grieve and become stronger together.
Portent is dedicated to the memories of Berta Claypool among others. What can you tell me about her and the impact they have on your life or even Portent itself?
Jimmy: Berta was my grandmother. My brother’s and my life revolve around music and we definitely got that from our grandmother. She played piano, cello, she sang. She was always super supportive of what we were doing, and she passed while we were writing this record.
I recently lost my grandmother as well. She had been dealing with progressing dementia and to see it slowly take her away and then ultimately – along with a number of health things – she passed. There was this weird sense of finality.
Jimmy: Yeah. I lost my father as well after we had recorded. You have a better understanding of mortality and negotiating relationships with people even if they were nuanced and strained in the past. Having Travis and Skorpian to talk to about it because we lost family members in close proximity — having someone understand — because losing a parent is really fucking difficult.
To have someone there with you that you can share those feelings, especially someone as close as your bandmates who are there as friends but they are also there to empathize as well.
Jimmy: Definitely. Niko, Rachel, and Kishel as well. We’re all there for each other through everything. That falls back on what we talked about earlier, that closeness with the band. We’ve all been emotionally supportive of each other through it all.
False’s Portent — due out this Friday, July 12 on Gilead Media – is now available for pre-order. On July 13, you can also catch the band live in Saint Paul, Minnesota, at the Turf Club.
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