Counterfeit.

Pontiac, Michigan (April 26, 2018)The Crofoot, Pontiac, MI – Some 30 miles north of Detroit, MI, a crowd is gathering on the street outside of Pontiac’s Crofoot Ballroom. Fans of the UK based headliners COUNTERFEIT. lined the sidewalk, many with shiny holographic VIP badges glistening in the evening sun. Formed just over 2 years ago, releasing their first EP Come Get Some, the band led by actor Jamie Campbell Bower has amassed a quite the loyal following for their first North American tour. The rest of the band consists of Jamie’s brother Sam Bower and Tristan Marmont on guitars, Roland Johnson playing bass and Jim Craig on drums.

Prior to founding Counterfeit, Jamie got his start in the public eye through acting, playing Anthony Hope in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Caius Volturi in the Twilight movie series and the young Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. The transition from one stage to another was a natural one, as Jamie explained when we sat down with him backstage, “I was born both a thespian and a rock star! I’ve always played music, but I never really took it very seriously up until this project, and until some things happened in my life where I was able to give a lot more things, a lot more time.” Performing comes naturally to him, and he tells us the band runs on instinct. “What we do is we go out there and we let instincts take over. Be ourselves, our most honest and most raw. I think that from being in front of the camera, I definitely learned to get more comfortable being in front of people.”

Leading up to tonight’s show, we reached out to fans on social media to find out what they wanted to know, and fan found faith, asked whether his acting roles affect the music.

“Yes, absolutely. Of course they do. When I was playing Marlowe, obviously I dove quite deeply into his work. I seem to be drawn to these weird, fucked up characters all the time.” Jamie shared with us. “Marlowe is just another one of them, a very interesting guy. I read his version of [Doctor] Faustus, and I liked the whole idea of bargaining with the devil and selling your soul, all that kind of murky, nasty, occult-y kind of stuff.”

The Londoners are on their third stop of this tour, supporting 2017’s Together We Are Stronger. The 10-track album has been described as having themes of anger and loss, backed by a wall of powerful guitar riffs and bashing drums hurtling each song forward. “The writing of that record came out of a very, very dark and twisted place and this need to use my voice, to be able to study myself, was paramount, I think.” Jamie recounted. “Almost a catharsis of sorts?” I asked him. “Yeah, catharsis, exorcism, whatever you want to call it,” he said with a mischievous grin.

The doors finally open and fans proceed up the narrow staircase to the Crofoot’s Pike Room, an intimate venue that excels in showing off the raunchy sound of hard playing rock and punk bands. Counterfeit have been described as both “punk” and “rock and roll”, seeming to fit right in the midst of these two genres. We had a chance to discuss these labels with Jamie Bower shortly before the show, asking which he felt was the more appropriate descriptor for their sound. “I think they’re both appropriate, but we never set out to be a punk band. We never set out to be anything other than sort of what we are.” he tells us. “It’s definitely got a rock and roll heart with the punk aesthetic to it. But it’s punk in the sense that a.) it’s kind of ‘for the people’ and b.), we just want to get out there and thrash, you know?”

The show opened up with local band Dark Serenity, giving us a dose of rock with a classic, unfiltered sound. Vocalist/guitarist Kate Emrich passionately led bassist Zachary Barnes, and drummer Michael Bergamo through the set, the crowd showing their approval with increasing levels of applause after each song.

© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

Middlemen on bill, dubé, hailing from Ottawa, Ontario, pulled out all the stops for a raucous set that evoked a tighter, louder version of your college buddy’s garage band. Brothers Jan, Liam and Quinn energized the crowd with plenty of thrashing, including the most appropriately Canadian instrument of their own invention, the “hockey-tar”, literally a hockey stick strung as a functional guitar!

© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

After a short break to change out the gear, Counterfeit took to the stage in a cacophony of sound with “As Yet Untitled”, a song mentioned by Jamie during our earlier conversation as one of his favorites to play live. Driving drums carry “Washed Out”, as fans sing along to the chorus of “I’m too old to live, I’m too young to die”. The band pounded through several more tracks from their current album, including “Addiction”, “Romeo”, “Close to Your Chest” and “You Can’t Rely

Breaking down the fourth-wall, the mood turned around 180° when Jamie asked the crowd to form a circle on the floor and proceed to step down from the stage, guitar and all, explaining that the next song was about his close friend Ivan who took his own life a few years ago. Deeply emotional, with Jamie’s raw vocals ranging from intense sorrow to sheer anger, the crowd is nearly silent throughout “Letters To The Lost”, the rest of band playing on stage with their backs to the audience.

This isn’t the only time the guys end up in the throng of fans filling the room, with Sam and Jamie singing “For The Thrill of It” together from the midst of the floor, or Sam being paraded around riding on the shoulders of a randomly selected audience member while dangerously shredding one of his solos. This level of interaction with the crowd really shines a light on how much Counterfeit appreciates their adoring fans and the fact that their music is being accepted. On this subject, fan Charlene.W from Toronto asked the following about life since the album release:

Jamie told us, “The biggest shock was the fact that the record was widely received rather well across the board. If I’m being honest, truly, I don’t think any of us expected it to be as well received as it was. I remember speaking to Roland a few months before the release and going, “Is this any good? Are people are going to dig this?” There’s that constant back and forth and that constant self doubt.” Clearly, from the reaction tonight, the people dig it.

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© Splice Magazine – Cheyenne Comerford. Please do not alter images.

The band has been also working on their next album, and two new songs were debuted at the Pike Room to the fan’s delight. Backstage, we asked whether we should expect a similar sound and theme as we heard on Together We Are Stronger. “It’s all about butterflies and rainbows! It’s beautiful!” Jamie gushed with sarcastic enthusiasm. “But, seriously, I think from what we’ve got thus far the anger is still definitely there. This record seems to be touching on a few more social political themes.” Discussing the fact that there are quite a few things to be angry about right now, he continued, “And a lot to be confused about. Then the themes of loss and death. I’m obsessed with the idea of my own mortality and mortality in general.”

Using the crowdsourcing platform, PledgeMusic, to fund the new recording is giving the band a way to offer so much more to their fans as they create this album. “We haven’t even gone into the studio on this record yet.” Jamie explained, “so for those people who have joined the Pledge campaign, even if you’ve just bought an Access Pass, however little it may be, it’s still a lot to us.” When asked why PledgeMusic rather than the traditional process through a record label, Jamie talked about how this gives the band so much more creative control over their art. “The industry’s changing so much. The old format of record labels is no longer necessary. To be able to be in control if one’s own art is the most important thing, in particular for this band.” Noting that, historically, it has only been more established artists that could demand full artistic control, leaving newcomers at the mercy of the label. Jamie laughed as he said that in a way, this reversal of roles is a “Fuck you!” to the system.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

The show wrapped up with the anthemic “Enough”, full of furiously delivered lyrics. Written after the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, including the Bataclan which was hosting a rock show, the song offers to fight violence and hate with love:

“It’s time ‘cos we’ve had enough
You bring your guns, we bring our hearts
And our weapons of love
I hope you watch as we take to the streets
Because together we are stronger
And as one we bring peace”

Leading the crowd, split left and right, to go head to head singing alternating lines of the chorus “Let us live/Let us love”, Counterfeit invokes the feeling that when all is said and done, the lasting effect they’d like to have on the world is one of change. “Someone asked me the other day, ‘What social change would you like to see in the world?’ And it’s like, well, where the fuck do I begin? There’s so many things that need to change”, Jamie related during our interview. “What we do and what we’re about is trying to let people know that no matter how screwed up you may feel, no matter how low you may go, that, really, at the end of the day, your voice still matters, your voice is still heard and it’s necessary. That’s what I want to leave behind – the feeling that the people who come to our shows or are listening to our music can stand up and say something and can make a difference.” Jamie continued. “For the better! God help you if you’re doing it for the worse, I will come hunt you down!”, he added, laughing.

© Splice Magazine – Kate Sumbler. Please do not alter images.

Counterfeit continues the tour with stops in Canada, along the East Coast and more before wrapping up mid-May in California. Check out upcoming tour dates on their site, and be sure to snap up some tickets when they come to your town. These guys are a big deal and only going to be bigger!

COUNTERFEIT.:
     

The Crofoot:
   

 Senior Photojournalist: Kate Sumbler

 Senior Photographer: Cheyenne Comerford

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