“It’s usually a question of whether I’m going to write something or burn something” - hmv.com talks to Counterfeit’s Jamie Campbell-Bower
Jamie Campbell-Bower might have been in bands since his mid-teens, but it’s from his work as an actor that you’ll know him best. He’s had turns in Harry Potter and Twilight, as well as starring roles in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, but now he’s got a very different project.
Formed alongside longtime friends Tristan Marmont, Roland Johnson, Jimmy Craig and brother Sam Bower, Campbell-Bower now fronts Counterfeit, a straight-up hard rock band that recalls the screeching guitars of The Bronx and the near-the-knuckle power rawness of early Against Me.
Their first full-length effort Together We Are Stronger is out today (you can preview and purchase it on the right-hand side of the page) and we spoke to Campbell-Bower about channelling his nasty side and why his songs have a matter of hours to live or die...
Your debut album Together We Are Stronger is out today. Have you had it finished for a while?
“The record was written about a year ago, that’s when we got the songs together, but we didn’t go into the studio to record until the end of the summer with Tom Mitchener, who produced the album. Since then we’ve been in and out, but we finally finished right before Christmas so we’ve been sat on it since. We didn’t want to wait too long because I’d have started to really second guess things, you don’t want to be chomping at the bit for too long.”
How do the songs come together for you? Do you write as a five or separately?
“Normally I write alone and get the bones of the song together at home. I work on something in the morning and then send it to the boys at lunchtime. If they like it then we keep going, if not, then I just drop it and do something else. The ones that make it I take it to the boys and they add their flavour and then we take it into the studio.”
Do you have a writing routine?
“Most of the time I wake up super early with this weird feeling of anxiety like something needs to get out, that’s normally two days before the song. It’s usually a question of whether I’m going to write something or burn something, writing is a song is normally better…”
Most people will know you from your acting, have you been writing songs for a long time? Or is this a recent thing for you?
“I’ve been writing since I was 16. I was a drummer in an indie band and we played all round London, I’ve always written, I’ve been in various bands and it’s always been a huge part of my life, it was just about finding the right project, one that sums up what I feel and who I like working with and I’ve found it. With Counterfeit I really want to give it the beans and give it everything. This is the first time me and the band have really got ourselves sorted, before it was more casual, play some songs, maybe do some gigs, all the years before Counterfeit were just development, just learning how to be in a band.”
Could you sum up how the album is lyrically?
“Nasty. It’s wild and erratic. The record has been written in a period of my life where I’ve had to completely re-evaluate who I was. I was coming out of the early 20’s feeling of feeling like I was invincible and could do whatever the f**k I wanted and realising that behaving like that was having a really negative impact on all my relationships. I was wasting too much time being an idiot and not giving what I could. It’s looking back on that time and realising that it was fun, but really wanting to change. There’s a lot of loss and struggling with the ideas of ownership, I’m quite a possessive individual and I’m working on trying to do less of that. It’s very reflective.”
Do songs have to come together pretty quickly for you then?
“For me, if a song isn’t finished, or the bones are there, in 24 hours, then it’s not worth it. For me songs have to be born, they have to struggle to survive, they have to feel frantic and have a real energy. I’m always writing in my lyric book and picking out lines, that’s quite often where my songs come from. But they have to come quickly or you end up overthinking things. We want to be an organic, mad, erratic rock band.”
How’s your touring schedule coming together?
“We’ve got loads of festivals planned, loads across Europe and some big UK ones in the diary. We’ve got a headline run this month and into April and we’re really excited to take out our live show. Our gigs are much of a show, not just us going out and playing the songs, I want to keep pushing what we can do and make it an experience. If people just want to hear the record then they can just go home and listen to it, I’m always trying to up the production.”
How’s it worked balancing acting and the band?
“Having two jobs isn’t easy, but I put my heart and soul into both. At the moment I’m shooting Monday and Friday and then festivals on the weekends. It’s tough, but I’m happy to have no social life, nothing worth having comes easy.”
What are you up to acting wise?
“I’m shooting this show called Will for TNT, it’s about young Shakespeare and his life. I’ve been filming and then going off into the studio when I can. I’m playing Christopher Marlowe, playing him like a sly and slippery little bugger, it’s a lot of fun.”
When you finish with Will, do you have any other acting jobs planned?
“After this wraps it’s Counterfeit and I’ll be focusing on that solely, at least for the album run and the festivals. I need to give this 100% and give the album a proper cycle. I’ll be giving it everything I’ve got.”