[INTERVIEW] An interview with Counterfeit’s Jamie Bower and Roland Johnson.

Hannover - 31.10.19

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Recovery Magazine had the pleasure of talking to Jamie Bower and Roland Johnson from London band Counterfeit before the played at MusikZentrum (Hannover, Germany), as part of their headline tour through Europe.

They spoke about the new album, the current tour and their goals. Keep reading if you wanna know everything they told us!

-You guys are back on the road with new material. How does it feel to be on tour again?

Roland: Fantastic! It’s great to be back on the road.

Jamie: It’s lovely. We’ve got a new list of live, you know, touring this new music is really important for us and it’s given us such beautiful energy, we’re loving it, we’re really loving it, it’s fun. We’re having a good time.

Roland: We’ve been welcomed with open arms, even though we’ve been away for a long time so it’s good to be back.

-So the reaction of the fans to the new songs is good, isn’t it?

J: Yeah, it’s good. Our manager thought that we were crazy for playing like pretty much only new material but you know, I told him that when we first started this project we went out on the road and we played headline shows and we didn’t had a fucking record out, you know what I mean? So it’s the same thing again, we got new material, we wanna share it, we want people to fall in love with it and the reaction is kinda special, every night feels really special.

-And what can you tell us about the new album?

R: We’ve recorded fifteen songs and we’re choosing from those fifteen. We recorded it in LA and it was produced by Rob Cavallo. He did the first five Green Day records, he did The Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. It’s kinda crazy to be working with someone of that background. We just like picked it up from our dream producers and favorite records and that ended up happening. So it’s all sorts of feels…vibes, going on. We really like pushed ourselves, I think, creatively to get outside of the box and grow as writers and artists and creatives. We wanted to write whatever comes out. There was no like ‘let’s do this or let’s do that‘, we just got together to make music and all of sudden we painted this crazy picture, you know, I describe it as a beautiful picture…but that’s relative, isn’t it? But yeah, it’s very emotional, we went really deep into ourselves to find what we wanted to talk about, sing about. Jamie with all the messages and stuff will tell you a bit more lyrically, but we’re branching out more into like world situations and how we can put out a positive message to make everybody feel welcome.

-It feels like your music is taking a new direction.

R: It’s just the natural progression, it just feels normal for what we’ve done in the past. We’re learning as we go as well and this feel like the good next step for us to take. We want to go out and put a good vibe out into the world, at the shows and create a safe space for that.

-Which artists have influenced these new songs?

R: So many.

J: Many, yeah! Placebo, Deftones, Radiohead, Blur, Nine Inch Nails, still Biffy Clyro, still My Chemical Romance…we going back to everything that we’ve fallen in love with when we were kids, which is diving into our treasure chest.

R: We’ve been listening trap, Hip-Hop…we just take inspiration of sounds and places. Also we’ve been experimenting with samples and with electronic sounds. Just trying to do weird things to try different things, you know. Guitar records have been made, electronic records have been made, so we just like wanted to blend things and see how it goes!

-Do you think there’s a level of elitism in the alternative music scene? Like, sometimes artists are judged for exploring and changing their sound, to put it very broadly, and a big example of that would be Bring Me The Horizon. Why do your think these people cannot accept those changes?

R: I can only speak for me personally but what I have never wanted to do is do the same thing over and over because I’ve already done it! How can you progress if you’re not growing, not learning? The only way the world will improve is with changes and I kinda try to apply the same thing with music.

-So you’re not worried about what people will think about it?

R: You can’t please everyone. You never please everyone. People will always have an opinion and either people love it or not but as long as we stay true to ourselves and we do the music that makes us happy and believe in what we’re doing then, that’s all we can ask for. People like it or not, that’s down to them. So far so good, the reaction that we’ve had, has been really overwhelming. In the first shows we did, we had no idea how to go down and people are really getting into the message. It’s nice seeing that vibe at shows, brings it all back to life and makes you feel like all that hard work was worth it!

J: We never set out to be anything, I’ve never sat out as an artist to be anything other than an artist. I mean in a record is about capturing, a song is about capturing a moment in time…and as you go through life and you experience different things, you have different influences. You can’t necessarily write a love song that is…I mean you can write a love song that is really fucking heavy, but equally at the same time, there’s something in me, a very sensitive creature and I wanted us all to embrace that. For example, someone like Jimmy who hits the drums so hard, we have this song called ‘Lack Of Oxygen’, and I remember being in the studio and I was like: ‘Softly, let it breathe, let it go through you!’ We’re just exploring different sides of who we are and like Roland said, who knows where we go on the next albums. I think we’ve been able to open up so many avenues for ourselves and not box our band in to be one thing in particular and being able to diversify. And I think that at the end of the day, the message of our band is there and that is the most important thing.

-When the next year, 2020 is almost over, what would you like to have achieved through that period? Which are your goals?

R: I always set my expectations low and then I’m pleasantly surprised if they get beaten so if we release the album an it sells 10 copies, you know, that is my goal. There’s all sorts of things like awards and recognition but what does that mean these days? I just want to connect with people really, I just want to put music out that makes people feel like when I went to my first concerts and how music saved me. The response to ‘It Gets Better’ has been massively overwhelming like a lot of people sharing very personal stories about it, it’s like ‘wow!, okay! we’re making a difference, let’s keep doing it, let’s keep going’. Let’s see how it all happens with the rest of the songs but we’ve got a few singles that we’ve got line up to come out and some videos to shoot and we’re just kinda getting it all lined up for a really big push next year!

J: My expectation is to mobilize our fan base and empower those people that come the shows and make them feel like they can go out into the world and make a positive change. We have a really strong group of people who support this project and support this band with every fiber of their being and we’re so grateful for that. They’re incredible strong individuals and I want to see them like go out there and make things, that is my expectation with the record. We got another song coming out soon called ”1144” which is a social movement song and hopefully that will empower people within our community to go out there and make changes and if someone asks them ‘hey, how come you were able to do that?’, they turn around and say, ‘well, I’m actually part of this amazing sort of collective people who believe in this thing’.

-Talking about accomplish goals, this Summer you’ve been part of the line up of the Reading & Leeds Festival, you played at the main stage, that was huge, wasn’t it?

J: I’ll answer this one first and I’ll pass it to Roland because he will talk for hours because he loves that place. It was amazing! We were so fucking lucky to be able to go and play that stage. We were introduced by Huw Stephens who’s a big DJ back in the UK. Before we played Reading we had our family there, our friends there, I had my godson there and his parents who flew over from Hong Kong.
Reading is a little bit of a blur for me cause I was so nervous before we played. Leeds was amazing, I felt really free doing it. It was a total blessing! We opened the stage sure, but equally at the same time it’s like ‘you’re on the fucking main stage!, like man, what the fuck?!, what’s going on?!‘ This is crazy, on a purely selfish as well to have that much space on a stage, which is amazing. I felt like I ran a marathon after we finished it and it was only half an hour but it was so cool. I remember turning to Roland and just seeing his face, he was so happy! Also we had some of our fanbase there, we met new people, new fans that now are coming to our shows which is great. We also were able to see Twenty One Pilots from the tower where they do the sound and the lighting. We saw Billie Eilish, we saw our friends in Dinosaur Pile-Up, Post Malone…We saw loads of bands and artists.

R: Reading is a festival I used to watch on TV when I was a kid every year and I was like ‘I want to play that one’ so I feel super grateful for that opportunity and to be on that stage with such great artists and like Jamie said, our family was there, my parents, my brother…I feel like now I can kind of pack it up and say ‘I’ve done it!

-There’s any band or artist you would love to share the stage with or be in the same line up of a festival?

J: We shared the stage with Biffy Clyro in Switzerland, I think we shared the stage in another festival too, but I love that band more than anything, they’re amazing, they’re so good. I was fortunate enough to meet Simon at a party and from there we’ve kinda remain friends, so he called me into the dressing room at a show and I was a nervous wreck. It was crazy but I’d love to play more shows of those guys!
Who else?

R: Twenty One pilots!

J: Yeah! Twenty One Pilots would be great too.

-Finally, is there any chance to see Counterfeit in our country anytime soon?

J: We would hope so! If I’m being truly honest, we haven’t actually booked any shows yet that we’ve confirmed for next year. We’re waiting to hear on some news which we received yesterday, so we’ll be looking at coming back to Spain very soon, I promise! I promise, we are aware of how much you guys want us back, I get messages everyday, ‘Why aren’t you coming to Spain?, why aren’t you in Brazil?’. Fuck man!, these places sound so great, I’d love to go. I’m calling my manager now! Brazil! I’ve got my mankini! Let’s go!

-Thank you guys for your time!

The band’s yet-to-be-announced sophomore studio album is expected to be released in early 2020, with ‘It Gets Better’ as lead single. You can keep up-to-date with the band and what they’re up to online via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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