As an upcoming band in the punk rock music scene, Counterfeit’s a force to be reckoned with. Forming back in June of 2015, the band’s been hard at work playing sold out gigs around Europe and recording their debut album that is planned to be released within the next year.
While Counterfeit may have a hard hitting rock sound with powerful electric guitars and raw lyrics that pack a punch, the members that make up the band – Jamie and Sam Bower, Tristan Marmont, Roland Johnson and Jimmy Craig – are far different from the hardshell exterior their sound presents.
Crammed inside the dressing room of the Electric Ballroom in the heart of Camden Town, the down-to-earth musicians offered up cupcakes that were scattered throughout the room before diving deep into the interview.
Opening up with a chat about their current UK tour, frontman Jamie Bower quickly took control of the interview, instantly showing off his charm and analytical mindset that has helped him gain quite a fan following over the past few years.
“We were blessed in January when we went out on the road in Europe and a lot of the show sold out. But over here in the UK, people are like, “come on then, show us why we should come to your gig and if you play a good show, we will come back again” and that has sort of been a real test for us to not be lazy. Not that we were lazy, but it’s a reminder that we can’t be lazy.”
Gaining a reputation over the past year from their live performance, fans that attend any of their gigs can expect quite the experience. Every night, Jamie Bower spends as much time in the crowd as he does onstage, exerting energy and charisma unlike any other punk rock frontman right now.
All of the members of Counterfeit seem to give it their all during any performance, no matter how big or small the crowd in front of them might be. Leaving the stage drenched in sweat and having not missed a single note the entire night, each musician truly brings something special to the table, separating Counterfeit from many other bands in their scene.
The stage presence and overall performance put on by each member is a quality that guitarist Sam Bower believes attracts many listeners to their gigs around Europe.
“We come in and play like it is the last show of our lives so people just need to come and have fun with us.”
Quick to add on the subject, Jamie Bower pointed out that each member of Counterfeit performs in the way that each of their songs are presented, making it clear that they will never put on a less than energetic gig.
“We leave everything out on the stage. That is what we like to do, that is how we like to play and that is what the songs call for. It’d be weak if we played really fast, punky songs and just sort of stood around. We’re about sweat, blood, and tears. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or a thousand people, we are going to go out there and try and smash it as best we can.”
Since forming from the ashes of The Darling Buds, a band started by Jamie Bower, Tristan Marmont and Roland Johnson that has almost no resemblance to Counterfeit’s sound, the band has virtually been on the road ever since. The road life, while some depict it as endless nights of glitz and glamour, has its downsides as the band opened up about.
For bassist Roland Johnson, he brought into focus the fact that the band does far more waiting around and traveling than actually playing music while on the road.
“We travel around a lot and sit around to play like an hour show, I think that is as worse as it gets. Then, the hour finally comes and it feels like it passes in ten minutes.”
Adding on, it is the strain on relationships from constantly traveling and being away from home that is the most negative aspect for Jamie Bower.
“We miss our loved ones and we miss our girlfriends. Anyone who has to travel for work knows that it can put immense strain on relationships, but it’s the way that it is and we are very fortunate to have family and loved ones who understand and are forgiving in some way because I don’t think a lot of people would really be understanding of that.”
In between hectic tour schedules in different parts of Europe, Counterfeit has found time to release new music over the past year. After releasing their debut EP, Come and Get Some, this past November, the band put out a track called “Enough” that caught the ears and attention of many listeners.
As one of their best written songs to be released yet, the heavy punk rock tune presents itself as a call to action through spoken word style lyrics sung by Jamie Bower and march-like percussion beats performed by drummer Jimmy Craig.
Surprisingly enough, the song’s inspiration comes from a real life situation that impacted the world this past winter, causing Jamie to rework the song in its entirety. Entering the studio with a completely different track, the attacks on the Bataclan in Paris that left 130 dead and over 300 injured hit close to home for Counterfeit, the live music scene, and the entire world.
“The attacks on the Bataclan happened and during the day of doing the vocal takes, I just couldn’t sing what the song was about. It was too frivolous and I was saying all of this tongue in cheek light hearted stuff when I had this opportunity as a writer and musician to stand up and say how I was feeling and really talk about the reality of what happened at the Bataclan because it really hit home for a lot of us.”
As Jamie explained further, the reality and severity of the attacks on the Bataclan caused him to rewrite “Enough” as a call to action, focused on bringing attention to unnecessary acts of violence around the world in hopes that it will help unite people to take a stand and bring peace.
“It all just so frustrating to me, this whole idea of unnecessary violence for something that someone is supposed to believe in. It baffles me and the song just flowed out of me while in the studio. It’s a call to arms in a weird way, but it’s a call to arms for peace. It’s about the unification of people my age who feel confused by everything and why this is happening.”
Releasing the song earlier this year was something the band found as a scary move, but a move that needed to happen, reinforcing Counterfeit’s philosophy that if they have something to say, they are going to say it.
The positive feedback and success “Enough” has had in the punk rock scene since its release last month has fueled the band as they continue to work in between tour dates and gigs on their debut full length album that they are hoping to release by the end of this year.
As Jamie revealed, they are almost done with the recording process and feel that this is their best batch of material yet.
“We are eleven tracks into the recording process and have five more to go. We really need those last five “holy shit” moments in the record. Some of the stuff we wrote at the beginning is not even half as good as the stuff we have now.”
For Counterfeit fans that are anxiously awaiting to hear new material, they are performing two brand new songs out on the road that are already being widely well received by those who have attended their shows.
While the new tracks blend in well with Counterfeit’s released material, showing a consistent sound that will please current fans and attract new ones as the band continues to grow in popularity, their “sweat, blood, and tears” manta that was discussed earlier definitely represents the work that went into this record, as Jamie revealed.
“I think that the record itself sounds great, but there are some moments in it where I think it sounds too nice. I know that some people would say that it needs to appeal to more of a radio market, but that’s not what we are about. It just needs to be nasty the whole way through so I will just go in and make it nasty.”
In case fans are wondering what they are going to be paying for when the album is released, Jamie was quick to turn on this charm and jokingly added that the batch of songs will be unlike anything else you’ve heard before.
“It’s basically just going to be an hour of feedback, that’s what you get for your £9.99! Enjoy!”
With a new album due out sometime in the next year and endless tour dates and festival slots around Europe that take them well into July, it is clear that they have no intention of slowing down. Hitting the scene just under a year ago, they have managed to do what a lot of punk rock acts have been unable to accomplish in such a short amount of time.
Throwing out the bags of sugar and presenting unrelenting punk rock songs that exemplify true artistic talent in both their lyrics and musical performance, they are unlike any other act in the punk rock scene right now.
If Counterfeit continues on the path they have paved for themselves, it is safe to say that in a year from now, we are going to be having a very different conversation with them.
Interview and photos by Rachael Dowd