FAULT Magazine: Keeping it real with Counterfeit




Going back a FAULT issue ago, you surely remember Jamie Campbell Bower as our Menswear and Back Cover. Fast-forward and it’s about time we caught up again and had a little chat about his new punk rock band– Counterfeit. This isn’t Jamie’s first go at music – most of you remember The Darling Buds – but Counterfeit is nowhere near that. You can throw it in the ‘past tense’ bin and grow up a little because the boys are miles away from the bubble gum that they used to be. Call it a family affair if you will – you do have two Bowers in the mix now – and add some hardcore spice to it as well because the guys are nothing short of mind-blowing. We won’t be giving away too much; this is definitely a band that you need to go and see live in order to get the point. Throwback to our last interview, Counterfeit was only just taking shape. A year later and with nearly 30 shows under their belts plus a nomination from Kerrang! Magazine, it’s safe to say that they’re here to stay.


You toured Europe and the UK with only a few tracks under your belts. Can you remember what your first show was like? 

Jamie: The first time we played in December was the first time we’d been on stage all together, at the O2 Academy in Islington. And we sold it out. It was mental. At that stage, for me anyways, it was a stage of ‘I know how these songs have been written, I know how they’ve been recorded, but are they going to work live?’ Like ‘Is this band actually going to be a band on stage’? We played the first song and, all of the sudden, we realised that it works. Doing something that was a) personal and b) a venture into something that was a completely different beast was an exciting experience and I think we all learned lessons from that show. It was a great first gig, but at the same time, how far the set has come in only 3 tours is miles apart from where it was. It’s a lot angrier, it’s a lot faster, and it’s a lot more fluid than it was back then.

Tristan: If you were to watch that show back to back with our most recent show, you’d see the progression clearly.

Jamie: But the last tour that we did, we started in the UK and went out in Europe. Not being on home territory, there’s this sort of forgiveness that you give yourself. There isn’t as much fear, I suppose. But because we were doing like home territory gigs and the UK is awash with really great bands in whatever genre, there was a trepidation and a definitive apprehension there. So we had to go out there and prove ourselves to the people who see bands every week.


As you mentioned earlier, the UK has a pretentious music market. How big was the pressure to prove yourselves?

Jamie: We had to rise to the top. And that’s what we continue to strive for. And yeah, there is loads of pressure to make your presence known. When we write, we’re always very aware of that. We’re very aware of Counterfeit – the band. Cause we can all write very different songs, but at the end of the day, it has to be Counterfeit – the band kind of material. The pressure is not put on by anyone else but ourselves and that’s a good thing. That’s where ambition comes from. We’d be cocky and ignorant if we just went out there like ‘Yeah no pressure we’re fine’. We want people to come to our shows and be like ‘Bloody hell that was mental’. There are a lot of people that come to our shows that have either never been to a punk rock show and then there’s the other side of it – where there are people who go to rock shows all the time. So, for those people who have never been to one, we want them to go away, go see another band and just go like ‘that’s nowhere near Counterfeit’. You want the show to really stand out.  You want people to go home and really talk about it.


So which one of you does the lyrics?

Jamie: *raises hand*


Are you okay?

Jamie: *laughs* I’ll be fine, I’ll be fine. I just need a cuddle.


Most of your tracks come from personal experience, there’s raw honesty in there.

Jamie: The whole reason that this band came together was born out of a necessity for myself to really be honest with me. And to be as upfront as possible.


You’ve been brutally honest with yourself, in all fairness.

Jamie: I try to be. It’s more of an exorcism than anything else. It’s not an exercise it’s an exorcism. And it had to come from the heart. Cause I’ve written before, but it was all a bit like ‘Everything’s great, I’m having a wonderful time’. You know, roses are red, violets are blue. But actually, that wasn’t my reality when we started this band. My reality was being forced to look back on quite a large portion of my life. To re-evaluate whom I was. And through that, came this sort of fear, anxiety, anger and general frustration with not only who I am but also with the world that I was in and how I perceived my world to be. I needed to do that and yeah, I am a bit mental.


Doesn’t this exhaust you, both mentally and emotionally? Over time, it can get a bit too much.

Jamie: I wouldn’t say it gets too much. I mean yes – it is exhausting and yes – it is emotionally and physically and mentally very taxing to perform these songs for all of us, but I’ve got the energy and the want and the will to do that. It is a necessity more than anything – to remind myself of who Jamie really is. The decisions that I’ve made in my life have brought me to this place and that’s wicked. There’s really nothing better than going to play a show. Nothing better than going out there and just screaming the songs that mean the most to me. Because at the end of the day, you can go and watch a band that talks about things that are a bit wishy-washy, but you’re nowhere near as connected to a band like that than you are to a band that’s out there literally putting their balls on the line. It’s by no means an easy listen, but it sure as hell is fun.



Talk me through your live shows. They’re quite intense from what I’ve seen. You’re spending most of your time in the crowd or doing something potentially life threatening. Thoughts on health and safety? 

Jamie: I remember the first time I went to a rock festival. The shows that I was witnessing were like nothing I’d ever seen before. That inspired me. And I had been to loads of shows before, I’ve seen bands like The Strokes and I know that there’s a massive difference. A difference between going in to see a band like The Strokes and then going to a super heavy rock festival where people just go mental. My thoughts on health and safety are that they’re fucking pathetic and unnecessary. And yeah, I know I put myself on the line a bit, but I want to share my experience with the people that are in the crowd. One of my favourite shows that we’ve ever played was our show in Barcelona. We had maybe 150 to 200 kids there. So, for us, a relatively small show. And, basically, I played the whole set in the crowd. I walked off stage and there was this instant connection between the band and the crowd. It was so sick and I didn’t want to be standing on stage, I didn’t want to feel like I was in a fucking zoo. I wanted us to have this moment together. That’s what it’s all about for me. I like to feel exhausted and I like to feel shattered cause I’ve always felt like that when I’ve worked. If there’s any point in time when you go home from whatever it is that you’re doing in a creative industry and go like ‘I could’ve given it a little bit more’, it can be very soul destroying. It’s not a nice experience. Every night is a new challenge and it’s good to physically push yourself. I like that.



Do you have a particular show in mind where things got a bit more intense than usual?

Jamie: There are some shows. The Italy shows that we play are always very intense for myself because I spend a lot of time in the crowd. With a crowd that’s over 800 people, you can get swamped very quickly. Literally, like actually completely covered by people. Those shows are very intense and they are very… grabby. We put Sam in an inflatable dinghy and sent him out into the crowd, being held up by these people.

Sam: It worked too well, I have to say. It worked way too well.


Is this something that you actually previously agreed to?

Sam: It was actually brought upon me. I think these guys had a meeting when I was out and then they were like ‘So, basically what’s going to happen is this.’ I was keen for it. And Jamie came up to me before the show and was like ‘Is this actually happening?’ and I was like ‘Oh yeah’.

Jamie: All I could hear in the back of my mind was out mother’s voice. If he goes and knocks a tooth out I’m going to be the one that’s in trouble, obviously. It’s always going to be the older brother. So, that was pretty fun, that was a good show. But like, as I said, Barcelona for me was a really good show – it was a real turning point for us as a band – to realise that you don’t have to have a crowd of however many hundreds of people to have a killer show.



You’ve already given us a taste of who you are as a band. When do you plan on releasing an album?

Jamie: It will be towards the end of this year beginning of next. We’ve pretty much got the record ready in terms of writing. I mean, obviously, we took out a certain number of songs on tour. But we’re ready to go in basically. It’s all about finding the time.

Jamie, this one’s for you. Last time we spoke, the only thing you seemed excited about was voicing a boat on Thomas and Friends.

Jamie: Yeah and? *laughs* I mean, I’ve got a lot of strings to my boat and when we last spoke, Counterfeit was only just taking shape. Like I said in the beginning of the interview, I didn’t know whether this was going to work on stage, it was a fear that was in the back of my mind. I like to downplay things that aren’t quite solidified yet, you know what I mean? So yeah, obviously Skiff was great and I loved that, but this right now is what I’m stupidly stoked about.

Hence the point – you seem more content right now. And for good reasons. Things escaladed massively and all in the right direction. Looking back on everything that you’ve done, do you all feel proud of Counterfeit?

Jamie: Hugely. We’re all proud of each other. We all want to be better. The only question is ‘Will we ever be satisfied?’ There’s always room to improve. We’ll never stop pushing and we’ll always want to get better and want to pick up on things.

Never settle.

Jamie: That’s what I think this band is about – it’s about being unsettled. It’s about, you know, not being comfortable in where we are and who we are necessarily. I know I always felt like that growing up. I’m comfortable now with whom I am, but still it’s like – this band has to be about becoming the best band in the world. That’s what it had to be about for us. There was no point in doing this if we didn’t want to become one of the greatest rock bands ever. That’s not me saying that we are – that’s me saying that this is what we strive for on a show-to-show basis. And the moment we become relaxed and comfortable and calm is the moment that the band dies and we start writing folk records. Not that I’m saying folk is comfortable!

What’s your FAULT?

 Roland: I can never decide between black and white socks.

Jamie: I’ll speak on Jimmy’s behalf: Jimmy’s biggest fault is that he’s not here. And that he’s always late.

Sam: Personal hygiene. Not as in me, but us.

Jamie: Don’t lump this on me, I showered last night. I think, musically, my biggest fault is that I find it hard to let go of the material. Once it’s done, I just can’t let it be because it’s so personal.

Tristan: I try to be too much of a perfectionist.