Fronted by Jamie Campbell Bower, Counterfeit are a young punk-rock band who have already released two EPs and have performed in the UK and internationally in under twelve months. Having started their UK tour in Nottingham the night before, they kindly let AMBY have a quick chat before they were headed on-stage, in which they discuss the origins of Counterfeit, their rapid success, exciting future, and kettles.
AMBY: So, I’m here with Counterfeit at King Tut’s in Glasgow. How are you guys doing, and how has Scotland been treating you?
Jimmy Craig: Great, Scotland flies.
Jamie Campbell Bower: I love Scotland. I do love Scotland.
JC: Banging deep-fried pizza.
Tristan Marmont: Keen for Glasgow. I’ve already banged an Irn-Bru.
AMBY: I thought that was going somewhere else then.
Roland Johnson: Sounds weird…
JCB: Yea, no, we’re loving it! Well, I mean we only got here this afternoon and literally just loaded in. I’ve been to Scotland before and [to Jimmy] you’ve played here before. [To Sam] Have you been up here before?
Sam Bower: I’ve heard about Scotland before. No, no, I’ve been here a couple of times actually, a very long time ago.
JCB: We’re stoked.
AMBY: Ace, so, first thing first: How did Counterfeit start? How did it-
JCB: How did it happen?
AMBY: Exactly, how did it happen?
JCB: Tristan, myself and Roland used to play in a sort of pop-punky band, and I’d been writing for years and years – I started at school actually, without these guys – and it had taken various different line-ups, and I was always taking my guitar on the road whenever I did press for anything. We started jamming together and I was like yea, let’s get TDB [The Darling Buds] back on the road, and then we did a tour with the Xcerts and had some fun with it. Then it came to this time last year and I was like, I’m not really feeling it, I don’t really feel like I’m representing myself in an honest fashion: let’s put it to bed. Literally yesterday, twelve month ago, we did our last ever show as The Darling Buds, and then Counterfeit was born. It came out of this angry side of me that I had always known was there but had never really addressed, so I decided to face him – or her, doesn’t really matter –
JCB: Decided to face ‘it’ head on. Counterfeit was born and it just started to be this beast and this snowball that started gathering more and more snow and started this avalanche, and it doesn’t seem to stop, thus far.
AMBY: [To Jamie] You’ve talked before in previous interviews about unleashing the angry side of you, how does that go for the rest of the band?
TM: I think that at the end of the day, everybody has a demon side, or whatever façade they put up when they’re speaking to people. Some people are more comfortable releasing that, talking to people about it. Some people just hide away and don’t ever tell the truth about how they’re feeling. I think we’re all just a bit more comfortable now that we’re a bit older to speak our minds. It’s just us.
AMBY: You’ve performed internationally and in the UK, and you’ve released the EP, how does that feel? How are you guys keeping yourself sane?
TM: It has been really fast.
JCB: Yea, struggling. I don’t think Sam Bower ís sane.
RJ: It’s pretty calm to be fair, it’s pretty calm. Just take each day as it comes and enjoy it really. Play better each day and work harder.
JCB: I mean, the great thing is that it’s come from us. It’s come from the five people here and the three people downstairs. There’s been no strings pulled by anybody else, so for it to be really taking off, we feel like we’re in control of it. That in a way is a positive, has a positive effect on us. It also has a negative effect on us because it means that we care about it a lot more than, say, if we were just five guys that were thrown together by Simon Cowell.
AMBY and Counterfeit: [laughs]
JCB: No, hey, all power to Simon, I fucking – Jesus Christ, God know I don’t earn as much money as he does – but, you know, we’re in control of what we do and we want to steer this in the right direction, and so keeping sane is hard. I’m definitely not sane. I don’t feel sane, and I think the music says that a lot as well. It’s mad.
AMBY: All of you do care really deeply then – what is going through your minds when you’re on stage, what are you feeling?
SB: I get a moment of clarity on stage, weirdly.
JCB: Oof. Zing.
SB: I know, that’s quite deep. Basically, for the London show, I hadn’t played live for five years, since I was at school and filling in for little mini-bands, and before I was going on I was like ‘oh God, oh God, shit, shit’. Got on and I was just like [snaps fingers]. Everything was very clear.
RJ: Yea, another side of it for me is that being on stage is the only place I really feel comfortable, in a way that like – I’ve been playing music my whole life, and it’s the only place I really want to be. This is why we’re all in this band, because we all really want to play music. That’s why we do it. We love it, we’re not doing it as a laugh, so I’m on stage and I’m like ‘Right, enjoy it, you’re getting to do what you love, you’re getting to do what makes you feel comfortable’. Music is how we express ourselves, it’s the easiest way for us to express ourselves – to be real and to be ourselves. So that’s what we do: we get up and we let go of all our worries and just do what comes naturally – and that’s what this band is about.
JCB: I’m genuinely concerned that I’ve left the kettle on.
AMBY and Counterfeit: [laughs]
JCB: It’s genuinely in the back of my mind. I’ll be standing there going ‘Yea, this is fun, but did I leave the kettle on? Is the iron on back at home? Did I remember to turn off the washing machine?’ No, that’s not true.
AMBY: I was going to say-
JCB: That’s bollocks, it’s a load of nonsense. It’s very emotional for me, it’s a hard set to play. I leave my heart out on stage every night, and I try and give as much as I possibly can without actually dying – and even if I did do that on stage I think I’d be alright [laughs]. I think I’d be happy with that. For me, there’s a lot of emotional recall going on, and that can be painful sometimes, as well as cathartic.
AMBY: You guys must be doing a lot of rehearsal?
RJ: Not really! Not really – we do a bit of practice on our own, but the only rehearsals we did was three days before this tour, and the majority of that was doing the two new ones that we’re playing on this tour, and then on the last day we ran the set two or three times and went ‘Ah, it will be alright’.
AMBY and Counterfeit: [laughs]
AMBY: So rehearsals were on stage, basically?
RJ: Well yea, I say that like we don’t put work in, but we all go into rehearsals knowing exactly what we should be doing. We go in, we figure it out, we tweak it and make sure we’re happy with everything. We’re putting ourselves on the line. Like I said, this is where we feel comfortable, so we want to make sure that we’re really happy with what’s going on stage and what people are hearing. We just go into rehearsals and fix it up from what we’ve been practicing at home and then it all comes together quite nicely. We’re very pleased with our performances, I think.
JCB: [Sarcastically] Well, we think it’s fucking wonderful.
AMBY: Do you guys look at reviews for shows and that, if it is so personal?
TM: I think it’s hard not to.
JCB: Shall we lie, shall we say ‘No, we don’t care’?
TM: It’s definitely hard not to when you know somebody’s written something about you, and you want to know what they think, because that’s the only real way you get – I mean, you get fans at the end of the day who come up to you and say ‘We went to that show, it was amazing’ and stuff, but to read stuff about you is a little bit different when it’s going out in magazines, because that’s going out to the world. People base judgments on the media, even if they haven’t even seen you.
JCB: I think for us, or for me anyway, it’s not a question of, in a review, whether somebody does or doesn’t like the music. This is always the issue, because somebody will always be ‘Oh they just didn’t like the music’. Well, no – if you’re playing well enough and the message is good enough, the reviewer should be able to say not whether or not they like the music, but whether or not they like the message. And I think for us it’s also important, if a reviewer goes ‘A little bit sloppy in track two and three’, we go ‘Okay, alright, that was somebody’s opinion – maybe we were a little bit sloppy’. We’re not going to be arrogant about it and go ‘Fuck that, we were amazing, the whole way through the set’, because we might not have been. We don’t care deeply about it, but at the same time we respect it and we understand that it’s there, and I think that it’s good for us to be aware of it, because it can push you to go further.
AMBY: Who are your inspirations? Is it personal experiences or do you have particular bands who are inspirations or influences?
RJ: We’re influenced by everything. It’s difficult, because we’ve grown up during the rock scene, listening to rock. I used to go to rock shows every weekend from the age of fifteen, and it was full of underage drinking. We’ve all been there and grown up with it. We take influences from everything around us, experiences from bands who play genres that we are miles away from, but we like the way that they perform on-stage. We’ll grab everything that we like, and that’s what this band is, a collection of things that we’re into. We think that we’re a bit different – a punk band, but we’re not trying to re-invent it. We feel like we’re Counterfeit and there’s nobody doing it the way we’re doing it right now.
AMBY: What can we expect from Counterfeit in the future?
JCB: An album, for sure. More singles. Our plan is to have the record out towards the end of this year, if not the beginning of next. We really want to focus on it. We’re doing a tour in June and then in July we have some shows, potentially some festivals as well towards the end of the summer. I don’t think you’ll see much of us after that, in terms of playing a bunch of tour shows together until the record is ready, just because we need to have it ready and it needs to be out, and we want it to be the best that it possibly can be, for people to dig it and for people to hear it. I know that there’s stuff that I wrote before we even played live, where I now go ‘That’s not going on the record, weak, it’s not good enough’, and that’s how I want it to be. I want it to be like ‘Wow, holy – God, shit this is fucking madness from beginning to end’ and you just go ‘Jesus Christ, it won’t stop, this train won’t stop’, and so: in the future you will be getting an album, within the next twelve months. You’ll be getting some more videos as well, we’ll definitely be doing some more music videos. I’ve got some mad ideas for videos going on in my head. I sent Tristan a very strange text message late at night not too long ago.
JCB: A video.
TM: Oh yea, yea.
JCB: It was a video I found which was so cool on Instagram, and I was like: ‘Right, next video, no band in the video, we just get people to do this’ and it’s really cool, it’s really sick.
Thank you Counterfeit, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Mika Cook | @Awechust