Counterfeit.’s Jamie Campbell Bower isn’t even 30 years old, and he has seemingly done it all. From being a model for luxury British fashion brand Burberry to playing roles in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street, Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, three of the Twilight movies and perhaps most notably the character of young Gellert Grindelwald in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Bower’s hardly lived a dull life.
But long before he was a clothes horse or a screen actor, there was a path that he was born into and one that would ultimately lead him to where he is today: music.
“My mum and dad work in the music industry, and it’s surrounded [me] my entire life. Music was our bread and butter–it’s how we grew up,” Bower says. “When I was at school, my friend started this indie band called William K, and on a Saturday night, we’d all try and sneak into a club downstairs at the [now defunct] Astoria like a lot of like the London live circuit did. Then that all fell apart like beautiful things do. Music is something that, for me, has always been an incredible outlet, and I wanted to continue that in some way, shape or form. So, I formed this other band called the Darling Buds with a couple of old school friends and that took various lineups. We did a small tour with the Xcerts, played loads of local venues in the capital, and then we put that to bed and out sprung this thing.”
The “thing” Bower refers to is his latest project, Counterfeit., who just opened for Don Broco at Broco’s biggest gig to date–before State Champs– at a sold out Alexandra Palace in London. “I’m amazed at today’s attendance. I know, I sound like a fucking school teacher!” he says.
Counterfeit. formed in early 2015 and started writing immediately.
“I came to a point in my life where I didn’t feel that the songs I was playing truly represented how I was feeling, and so it was that process of diving into, I suppose trying to find out who I am, which is an ongoing process,” Bower says.
Counterfeit. were signed to Xtra Mile Recordings last year, and this spring they released their debut album Together We Are Stronger. “The record was written over a six-month period, and we recorded it with Tom Mitchener or ‘Mitch’ as we fondly refer to him as, who did the Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes album. He’s got this amazing studio in North London, and I remember being in his back garden hearing the drums on that record and being like, ‘Holy fucking shit, this is amazing.’ This record just sounds like it wants to break you, and I loved that. We were very fortunate to work with Mitch on that.
“The writing process was where I dove into things that I’d been suppressing for quite some time, maybe 10 years,” Bower continues. “Themes of anger and of loss, that I’m not sure I knew how to fully deal with, and the record really helped me to analyze that and to be able to take a step back from myself. It’s not often that we get to do that as human beings. It was quite a fluid process. When something was hitting, it was hitting really quickly, really fast and really hard. I grew up with My Chem, Blink, Linkin Park: All those bands are very influential, but it wasn’t until I saw Gallows play at Radio 1’s Big Weekend that I truly experienced the ‘nah factor.’ They went on that stage, and they just like tore it up. It was wild.”
Counterfeit. have been described as “punk,” and Bower agrees, but more in the sense of the ethos than the genre itself. “We’ve got a rock ‘n’ roll outer shell with this punk ‘fuck you’ attitude underneath it all. Not ‘fuck you to everyone!’ But we’re just going to go out there and do what we do, and that’s punk. Punk music is ‘pick up your guitar even if you can’t fucking play and go out there and do it.’ The Horrors massively inspired me in that sense.”
The band moved into a house together in a bid to write their sophomore record cohesively and at a steady pace. Their aim is to release it next year, and they already have their collective eye on the U.S. for their next tour cycle. The spirit of what they want to convey to fans across the globe is extremely bold, totally relevant and refreshingly clear.
“Our intention is to go out there and prove that guitar-driven music isn’t dead,” Bower says. “Throughout the record, there’s lots of subjects that are touched on, but at the core heart of what we do, it’s acceptance and unity through diversity and through difference. Not to feel like you have to be a particular way–because I felt when I was growing up that there was this social norm that I had to fucking conform to, and I actively rebelled against that. That’s our message, at the heart of it.”
Watch and listen to Counterfeit.’s “You Can’t Rely”:
Counterfeit. are playing Carolina Rebellion in North Carolina on May 4, 2018. You can purchase tickets here.