Now is an exciting time for Counterfeit. Having just released their debut full length album, they’re touring the UK right now experiencing new things and seeing how far they can push the limits of their live show in their current position as a band. We spoke to them before their show in Manchester to discuss whether or not the band requires fire, song titles and surprising pop music influences…
BM: I know you’ve only had one date of the UK tour so far, but how’s it going, how was last night in Leeds?
Jamie: Leeds was wicked yeah
Tristan: It’s the first time I’ve ever been so…The Key Club is a cool rock venue as well, it’s nice.
BM: Have you noticed a difference in live reaction since your album came out in March?
Jamie: Yeah I think so, from the shows we’ve played thus far, there’s now people who know the songs and they know the lyrics, so the show becomes a bit more of a shared experience I think between band and viewer as it were. Now they’re a participant as well which is nice, it’s kind of brought it together, they’ve stepped up a level and it’s much better.
BM: Have you changed much about your show since then, in terms of production elements?
Jamie: We did yeah, when we were out in Europe, we massively pushed the production level and then there’s the shows on this run where we’re pushing the production level as well, tonight being one of them. Being a new band of course, you can’t take it to stadium rock level, as much as my inner child wants to put a fucking thrust in the middle of the stage and send it out… We’ve got to be aware of what we’re doing and where we’re placed in terms of just bookings and the venues we’re playing and stuff.
Tristan: One day though…
Jamie: One day! We need that thrust, we’re gonna go full on Jane’s Addiction, flames and stuff.
BM: That was going to be one of my other questions, maybe not an end goal, but what’s one of your bigger goal production wise?
Tristan: For production is has to be pyrotechnics! We saw Architects, and they have pyro a couple of times in the show, and it’s an amazing thing when you’re right next to it. It’s so loud! It drowns out the music.
Jamie: I think production wise, the most exciting thing we can do as artists and as creatives, is to design something for ourselves- we could design something that’s specific to us. It’s all well and good saying ‘well we could put some fucking fire here and a jet cannon there’, but at the end of the day, what’s more exciting and what’s more beneficial I find is designing something and having it made. That’s the dream; to have something that nobody else has, you take it from a place where it’s at now and it doesn’t necessarily have to be bigger, but can it be different, can it be something extra?
BM: Sure, instead of just having fire for the sake of it?
Jamie: Yeah, if I’m honest, does this band require fire?BM: What’s your writing process like? Do you imagine how things are going to sound live when you write them?
Tristan: It mostly comes down to J. J has these episodes, these events that he has to get out of himself. He usually finishes a song in a complete day. He’ll sketch something out in a morning and he’ll have it done by the end of the day.
Roland: I’ve never gotten part of a song. I’ve never experienced you send just half a song.
Jamie: No I do, I send you half! And then 30 minutes later you’ll get the next bit. You’ll get the middle eight, then you’ll get the chorus, then the verse again. I can’t help myself.
Roland: We’ll get an email at half 10, an email at half one, then the song’s done by half four.
BM: Is that something for you where you get on a roll, or is it that you start but then you have to finish within that day because you don’t want to leave it unfinished?
Jamie: If it’s any good, then it kind of has to be on a roll. If you struggle with it, at least with album one, I don’t know what it’ll be like for album two, but album one has a kind of naivety to it. It’s like, I’ve just got so much fucking shit going on inside me right now and I just need to get it out. I don’t care, there’s not a point where I’m thinking ‘oh does this fit together, does this fit together’ song wise. Everything is just happening and it’s got to be in that moment. So it just flows. But then there are other songs on the record you know that we write together, and we’ve worked on a bit more, and I think we can explore more as a band moving forward, writing a bit more together. At the moment, the process is very much that I’ll start it; I’ll do the bones and get most of it fleshed out, then send it over and people will do their touches. There’s one track on there that we just started from scratch together, and it’s different and it moves in a different place, so I think that’s something we can explore a bit more. It’s exciting, we’ve got options!
BM: So how do you develop your setlist and things for tours? Obviously things have probably changed since your album came out.
Jamie: We’re doing everything on this one.
BM: So you’re just changing it up each night?
Jamie: Yeah, we’ll change it up. We definitely think about the show- you asked us about the production value on this run, and we very much thought about it more as a full show from beginning to end, rather than a collection, or a smattering of songs.
Tristan: It does have a beginning, middle and end actually the setlist. It’s very structured like a story or a book. It’s good…
BM: Kind of like a narrative rather than just deciding to play which songs and when?
Tristan: Yeah, it speeds up and slows down. It doesn’t just go really hard and fast and then lull to nothing. It takes you there, on a bit of a journey.
Jamie: I equally don’t think that was necessarily thought about, I think that’s just how it happened. I think it happens with time; when you play shows and stuff, you start at a point where you’ve never played a show before as a band, and there this sort of disjointed element to what you’re doing. In that I suppose there’s an attraction because there’s something quite nice about seeing someone struggle and fail, but then seeing them pulling it together and there’s a great energy about it. But as you play more as a band, and you develop more as a group of people and a group of musicians on stage, there becomes a tightness to it; an innate feeling. It’s unspoken you know? And I think that brings the show together, so that’s something I’ve even noticed from the start of the run we’ve been doing at the moment to where we are now. We know when someone’s gonna do something- we know! Especially when someone’s gonna do something dumb…BM: You kind of have to have that closeness to spend that much time with each other though… I know you all have loads of different influences, so do you write consciously pulling influences from different places, or do you write and then listen to it back and think ‘I can hear this there’, etc?
Jamie: I think there’s always obviously moments in your writing process where you are aware more of your influences than say… others. There’s times when you go ‘fuck, I really love the fast-paced element of… Shitty Future from The Bronx. And in that sense, the influence is a lot more obvious and you’re sitting around, holding your instrument and something starts to happen and then it gets more and more and more. That’s another way of a song coming to life I think… There’s always times where if you get a good verse and then you go to a chorus and you think ‘that sounds amazing!’ and then someone goes ‘yeah but…’ and you know it sounds like something else and you have to change it. But I think that in itself is kind of what creativity and what art is about. It’s about being inspired by those before you, it’s about using that. You look at painters and so-on and so forth, and the amount of progression- and the general public, those who aren’t massively into art are only presented with those… Like Monet; he was a representative of his movement, and Picasso, who was a representative of his movement. But there’s a whole slew of other artists behind them who are all kind of doing a similar thing. And that’s great, I love that shit.
BM: Well that’s what music is about as well really, there’s not one band who isn’t influenced by someone else, and nobody is truly original.
Sam: It’s about taking something and taking it further as well…
Jamie: There is originality as well; I don’t think in being influenced you are unoriginal, you can still have originality as an artist. It’s about being aware of your surroundings is more the idea of it…
BM: So what else influences you other than music?
Jamie: Fear. Failure, honesty- a lot of this record, lyrically, came from a place where I was re-assessing a very large portion of my life in the way that I behave and the way that I acted. And I made some fairly significant changes in my life to basically try and get a hold of it, really. In doing so and in gaining what I suppose could be referred to as a form of clarity, there was this sort of rising sense of hurt, and loss, fear, instability. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked in a creative-sphere for about ten years, and I think in that I’ve been able to see honest, true projects and things. And I’ve also been able to see less honest and true projects, both equally have their merit don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it’s not right. But there’s something when you find an honest project, or you’re involved in something that’s so soulful that there’s such a connection to it, to who I am and to who we are as people in this. That that’s the inspiration… It’s who we are.
Tristan: That was super deep…BM: You just released As Yet Untitled, is it called that for a reason or did you just not have a name for it?
Jamie: Roland wanted to give it a name at some point didn’t you?
Roland: Well I asked if we could change the name. But that was the final one
Sam: Did you ask going ‘are we keeping that…?’
Jamie: It’s got a nickname actually
Tristan: Have we ever said the nickname?
Jamie: No! The nickname should remain secret. It’s nothing spectacular either, it’s very mundane but it means a lot to us. But the song itself is about the idea of… I constantly as an individual and as the person I am, struggle with a very inflated ego, and also a very low sense of self-worth. There’s no middle-ground. It’s up here, or it’s this down here. The day I was writing this song, it was down and I just felt a constant frustration because people are always telling you to do things and we were getting sucked into this world… And I was thinking I just want to play music and it’s about the idea of the struggle and failure, in my own mind I think more than anything. As Yet Untitled; it’s a fairly bleak title I think… At the time when I was writing it I was just feeling bleak as fuck and I gave it that name cos that’s just how I was feeling, and then it stuck.
BM: So who would you ideally like to tour with?
Tristan: Cliffy Byro!
Sam: The Xcerts would be fun to go on tour with…
Jamie: Bands from Scotland in general.
Tristan: Billy Talent would be amazing.
Jamie: Billy would be great… Foos! The thing is, our influences are these massive big rock bands, I always say ‘we’d love to go and play with those bands’, and I’d just be like a puppy at the side of the stage. We were for Billy Talent… and Biffy! We did a Billy Talent support slot last year in Budapest. It was fucking INCREDIBLE. After the show we just stood and watched them and they came up to us like ‘thank you for watching the show!’. I was like ‘are you kidding me? You invited us here and let us play your gear, we love you and your band, why are you saying thank you!?’ More recently, we did the same festival Biffy Clyro were doing in Austria, and we went and stood side of stage. Always just blown away…
BM: I also heard that you like pop music…
Jamie: Love pop music! Pop is not a dirty word…
Tristan: Taylor Swift!
Jamie: Yeah, the song writing- whether or not you buy the whole Taylor Swift package, or the whole Bieber package, if you strip the shit away and get down to the writing, it’s good stuff. Michael Jackson, I grew up listening to him
Tristan: He’s in his own class though, he’s not pop!
Jamie: What, he’s the King Of Pop! If music moves me, I’m in. Guilty pleasures, Demi Lovato… She’s got a killer voice. So yeah, pop as well. Anything.
BM: We’ll end on that note!
Photography by Erin Moore @ Forte Photography UK