New Noise: Counterfeit

Packed with raw, loud infectious energy, the rising London five-piece are making a determined splash as the UK’s next big punk rockers – that just so happen to be fronted by Jamie Campbell Bower.

Counterfeit make the perfect music to get loud and angry to. Masters in providing a shot of high-octane energy, the five-piece is headed up by Hollywood actor and model Jamie Campbell Bower. The group released their acclaimed debut EP ‘Come Get Some’ at the end of last year, which saw the video for the lead single of the same name directed by Rankin. Now forging ahead with their first full UK single, ‘Enough’ – a riotous yet heartfelt and powerful anthem – it turns out the track was written in Paris during the tragic terrorist attacks of November 2015. Of ‘Enough’, Jamie says. “Even though this song is born out of one specific incident I wanted to try and address the unnecessary presence of evil that exists within our society today and the frustration and relative anger that, that has inflicted on an entire generation. Above anything this song is about acceptance and love. We consider it our marching anthem.”

This month saw the band embark on their first UK headline tour after their debut show at London’s Islington Academy quickly sold out. A slot at 2000 Trees Festival in Cheltenham was subsequently announced, alongside shows in Holland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Poland and Spain – to name but a few. Counterfeit’s remarkable upward trajectory is clear for all to see, so before the group rocket further into space Wonderland decided to set up shop and chat sweat, loud noises, and whether there’s any trepidation with a song that addresses such a potentially heavy topic.

Hello Counterfeit! Tell us a bit about yourselves and your music for Wonderland readers that may be discovering you for the first time.

Hello. We are Counterfeit, we play loud, angry, angular punk rock music for your ear holes. Comprised of Tristan Marmont, Jamie Bower, Roland Johnson, Sam Bower, Jimmy Craig. Born out of a necessity to exorcise the demons that dwell within us all

How did you start making music together as a band?

The band rose from the ashes of Jamie/Tristan/Roland’s previous band The Darling Buds due to the departure of Dan Smith who left to pursue his career in music publishing. Musically it made sense because the writing style changed quite dramatically. Jimmy & Sam joined soon after, thus completing the quintet.

Have you always made such anthemic punk-rock, or did the music sound different when you started out?

Since the inception of the band the style has remained the same. The music has always had a punky/heavy vibe which we think encompasses our collective feelings. It’s hard in a band because everyone has their own interests, but we feel this sound that we’ve created really resonates with us as a whole.

The video for ‘Enough’ was shot at several of your shows and its fair to say there’s a lot of energy offered up on stage. What else can fans expect from a Counterfeit live show?

Expect sweat, loud noises and a sea of black. If you like music and instruments you might enjoy what we have to offer. If you don’t however, we’re going to have a problem, because we have are a very particular set of skills. Skills we have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make us a nightmare for people like you. If you let your inhibitions go now, that’ll be the end of it. We will not look for you, we will not pursue you. But if you don’t, we will look for you, we will find you, and we will sonically assault you.

We read that you guys were actually in the studio recording this song when the Paris attacks took place, notably the Bataclan incident. How did this effect the direction the song took?

It totally sculpted the whole process. We were in the midst of recording another song when we found out what had happened. It’s probably the quickest and most organic song we’ve written to date. Nothing can prepare you for news like that, being music fans ourselves who regularly go to gigs, we keep thinking “that could have been us”.

Was there any trepidation about dealing with quite a heavy topic?

No, that’s exactly what those c*nts want… to instil fear into the western populace. If people hide and cower away from the problems they’ve caused, they win. We need to stand up and face them head on, it’s the only way to move forward.

Jamie, as a Hollywood-famous actor, do you find it necessary to separate the two worlds of acting and music, or do you prefer not to?

It’s a tricky question to answer really. I’ve been playing music for a long time as well as acting. The acting took off a lot sooner than the music. As far as having to split the two I suppose there’s a difference with this as it is very much my words and feelings that I’m putting out into the ether whereas with acting I’m portraying a character and acting as a conduit for someone else’s emotion. But I wouldn’t say I consciously attempt to split the two halves of me. I love them both equally.

There can sometimes be unhelpful snobbery around actors moving into music, and equally vice versa. Do you feel any pressure from that?

We’re under no illusion that because of what Jamie has done in his other career that this has drawn an audience that perhaps could have taken some time to gain, and we’re grateful for the support but this in turn has put pressure on us to deliver. We’re just trying to be as honest as possible. We are prepared for snobbery. I suppose it comes with the territory but before you write us off we urge you to give us a listen. If you don’t like it then that’s cool and if you do well that’s just great. At the end of the day we’re just another band who care about what we do and want to be creative.

You guys are about to head out on your first UK headline tour, what will you be listening to between shows?

Tristan – Killswitch Engage – ‘Just Let Go’. My gateway band into heavier music, clean soaring vocals paired with guttural growls, supplemented by punchy harmonised guitar riffs. A match made in heaven (or hell).

Sam – Landscapes – ‘Neighbourhood’. The first Single off Landscapes new album (‘Modern Earth’), it’s been an incredibly long four years since the release of their first album (life gone wrong), an album that at the time helped me massively. Conceptually the album deals with ‘being in that moment as it falls around you’ – this album continues those themes.

Roland – Moose Blood – ‘Honey’. Great new single from their upcoming record, these guys seem to only be going up and up. Top stuff.

Jamie – Black Peaks – ‘Glass Built Castles’. Recently I have been listening to ‘Glass Built Castles’ from Black Peaks debut album. Huge vocals and heavy riffs!

Jimmy – Uncle Acid And The Dead Beats – ‘I’ll Cut You Down’. It’s dirty.

What else can we expect from Counterfeit in 2016?

After this UK/EU tour we’re returning to Poland, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic in June for a short tour as well as joining Billy Talent and Zebrahead for a show in Budapest. And few scattered festivals after that. We won’t be touring again until the album is finished, although there might be a cheeky single release between now and the LP.

Milly Stockton
New Noise: Counterfeit

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