“You’re only as good as your last gig” | Counterfeit. at Leeds Festival interview

Punk rock newcomers Counterfeit. have had a belter of a year. Since releasing their debut album Together We Are Stronger back in March, the band has toured non-stop, headlining a European tour in the spring, and taking on the summer’s festival circuit.

We caught up with the band at Leeds Festival to chat all about touring, festivals, and keeping things sweaty onstage.

CelebMix: How was yesterday for you?

Jamie Campbell Bower: It was awesome! It was a blur, but it was a wild 35 minute rock show. We had a wicked time. 

Roland Johnson: When I was a kid all my friends would come to Reading Festival but I was always on a family holiday so I always missed it. I said to myself you know the first time I go is when I play it, and this is the first time we’re playing so it is nice to tick that off from when I was young.

CelebMix: Do you have any festivals left on your bucket list to play?

Tristan Marmont: Download Festival and Rock am Ring.

RJ: And then Coachella. 

JCB: I’d like to do a big Counterfeit free festival, so a Rolling Stones-esque show with all of our favourite bands, and just screw up Hyde Park. 

CelebMix: So you’ve been on the European festival circuit this summer—what’s been your favourite so far?

Sam Bower: We played a festival called Woodstock Festival Poland, which is a free festival just like Woodstock. It’s like it all just carried on in Poland, they kept the spirit alive. I think that’s the idea of it, and that was mental. It was ridiculous. 

RJ: It’s Europe’s biggest festival—Europe’s biggest overnight festival—and we got an 11 o’clock slot on the second day.

JCB: That’s PM not AM, so PM’s good you know. We like PM. 

SB: Yeah, so that stood out for me. But we’ve been to some amazing places and played some amazing shows.

RJ: We went to Romania for a festival, you know, none of us had ever been to Romania, so it’s cool to tick new places off the list. There were some great festivals in Germany too, Hurricane Southside was great, so many amazing bands. I mean I look at the line up and I’m like “holy shit, we’re playing alongside these guys?”—some bands that are infamous basically. 

CelebMix: Do you get much time to explore the cities that you’re in?

SB: Yeah, we try to. I think we always try and seize the day, as it were, if we’re not doing anything and we’ve got a bit of time going. We try and explore a bit—I think you have to always have a look around.

RJ: Some of the festivals though it’s like we get in, play the set, then we’ve got to leave straight away to make it to the next one. We did a festival recently that Blink-182 were headlining, and we were kind of pulling our hair out that we had to miss it, but hopefully we’ll see them soon. 

CelebMix: You’ve been on the road quite a while now, do you guys get much time to write when you’re away from home?

JCB: It doesn’t really happen for us. I mean, I think the shows that we play and the way that we play is that we have to give everything. This means when we’re not on stage and when we have travel days or whatever, the time is rest and recuperation. Not only are we physically fucked but we’re mentally on the brink as well, and it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to what I would describe as the most beneficial creative process. 

RJ: I also think that we’re a relatively new band, and we’ve been touring now for a year and a half, so we haven’t been on the road for such a long period that we need to be writing new material. We tour, we come back, things happen in between, maybe in the future if we’re on tour for ten months of the year, you then have to force yourself to write on the road—we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. 

CelebMix: You guys played a headline tour earlier this year, how was that?

JCB: It was amazing! We started in Europe and then we came home and it was wild, you know.

We’d just released a record and we went out to Germany and played these big shows, and it’s all of a sudden—I wasn’t really thinking about it at the time, and then now I look back and I think—it wasn’t a festival, it was an hour show, and people were coming to watch our band. That’s a difficult thing to wrap my head around really, but it was sick.

I think we had a wicked time. It was long, it was hard, it was everything that we wanted it to be and more. Difficult, which is good. 

CelebMix: Do you have to approach things differently at festivals than you do at your own headline shows?

SB: I don’t have any switch, I don’t have a decision to make really.

RJ: I’ve just got to play every show better than the last. 

SB: Yeah, I never really decide what it’s going to be like before I go on, it just happens.

JCB: You’re only as good as your last gig.

CelebMix: Do you have a favourite city to play in the UK?

JCB: I’ll tell you what, I’ve got a massive soft spot for Birmingham. Every time we play Birmingham it’s just wild.

TM: That’s like Glasgow as well.

JCB: Glasgow’s always a riot, it always goes off in Glasgow.

RJ: London as well, obviously. 

JCB: Manchester too! Jimmy lives in Manchester, so it’s always an important gig.

Jimmy Craig: Manchester’s got an amazing music scene, and there are so many great venues as well. It’s quite a big city, so it’s always good. 

CelebMix: Is it ever weird to play venues you grew up going to?

JC: It’s not so much strange it’s just a good feeling to have been able to achieve what you wanted to, to be able to play stages that you’ve seen shows on your whole life. It’s amazing, and you always feel lucky that people come and see you. 

TM: We played The Underworld in London really recently, on our last tour actually, and that was pretty special for me because I’ve been there about 30 or 50 times to see other bands that I love. It was very weird being on stage for me there, but it was amazing, an amazing feeling. 

JCB: Yeah it is an amazing feeling. I mean, if you want brutal honesty, when I was a kid and I was going to shows, I would try to imagine myself up there. So to be up there all of a sudden is a realisation that actually if you are that kid, it is 100% possible and 100% doable.

I remember standing at those shows being like “I cant wait to do this”—it was never a question of if, it was more of a question of when, you know, and I know that might sound odd but that’s the truth.

CelebMix: So music’s always been the goal for you all?

TM: It’s not really a goal, music has just always been a part of my life, so playing music is just an absolute bonus. 

JCB: For me it’s where I feel most comfortable, it’s where I feel most like me. In that sense, it’s the most organic thing that I could possibly be doing. When I was a kid I wasn’t going to be a scientist, it just wasn’t something that I was good at, so this is 100%, it’s like music or jail. 

CelebMix: Do you have anything in the works at the moment?

SB: There are a few things, yeah. We’re plotting also at the moment. Plotting world domination.

TM: There’s a short moving picture that should be arriving shortly, and also a new territory that we might be visiting.

JCB: That we’ve never played. I don’t think, apart from Jimmy, I don’t think any of us have even been to it before. And we’re playing the Don Broco show at Alexandra Palace.

RJ: That should be exciting, and then it’s just pre-production for the new album, which involves all of us getting in a creative space.

JCB: Getting weird—weirder than we already are.

CelebMix: Is there anyone that you’re excited to see play today?

JCB: I just watched Deap Valley, who I love, and I was just blown away never having had the opportunity to see them before, I’m just so stoked by that band. I clocked on to those guys maybe two and a half or three years ago, I think it was through an online magazine actually, and then I just loved the sound, so I was really happy to see them. 

We’re all actually going back to Reading tomorrow, on Sunday, so we’re going to try and catch Architects, and Muse are on tomorrow. 

CelebMix: So you’re playing The Pit stage later on today, what should we expect from your show?

JCB: Mayhem. 

TM: A lot of sweat, a lot of sweat. There was a lot of sweat yesterday. 

SB: If you want to see sweat, come to a Counterfeit show. See five guys sweating on the stage.

JCB: Uncoiling cables… Yeah, just carnage I guess, we sort of just go in there and we always do our thing. People tend to ask us “what is it that you do” and I don’t tend to know. I just tend to walk out there and sort of black out.

Stay tuned for more Reading and Leeds reviews and interviews still to come @CelebMix!

Written by Faith Ridler

Faith Ridler is a UK based student, music journalist, and twenty one pilots aficionado. Follow her on Twitter @FaithLRidler!