Counterparts’ Download Festival debut has been long overdue, 8 years since their inception. Holding the fate of their genre in their capable hands, Ontario’s metalcore outfit opened the Maverick stage on Friday with as much fervor as ever before.
Already Heard sat down with vocalist Brendan Murphy and drummer Kelly Bilan, teasing July’s release of their fourth full-length ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’, their responsibility over the genre and trash-talking Gene Simmons.
Already Heard: Hey guys, how’s it feel finally playing at Donington with these insane crowds?
Kelly Bilan: We love playing the UK, and the crowds here specifically are great.
Brendan Murphy: It’s crazy, yeah!
AH: So this is the first time you’ve played Download, how’s that feel?
Brendan: It’s weird that we’re playing like a festival this big, we’re used to those festivals that maybe 1,000 or 2,000 people come out to in the middle of nowhere America.
Kelly: We’re quite new to being a ‘big band’ if you wanna even call us that, it’s just new to us.
Brendan: Doing big festivals and bigger stuff, it’s really new to us so it’s cool, I guess you have to do this, you have to step out and do this kind of stuff!
AH: Considering the length of time you guys have been together, this is quite overdue, right?
Brendan: Yeah! The thing is, we don’t get hung up on how long we’ve been a band because we started when we were in high school and we couldn’t do anything, so from 2009, we all graduated and then we were actually able to be a touring band. Yeah, we were in a band before that, but we were in high school!
AH: We’re waiting impatiently for ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ in July, ‘Collapse’ teased the living daylights out of us! What else has the record got in store for us?
Brendan: It’s just a cool record. It’s a really honest record and we don’t hide anything, we don’t do anything we don’t wanna do. It’s just what we wanted to do.
Kelly: I feel it’s a natural progression from our last record.
AH: It’s inspiring how honest you are on record.
Brendan: The thing is, we could lie and we could bullshit people but if we play it, we’re never gonna make money doing it, so if we were a pop band, I would lie through my fucking teeth to make a living out of it! But why lie when you don’t have to? What’s the difference making $50 extra a month, who gives a shit? I’d rather be honest and be poor.
AH: Everyone talks about how you have this energy and commitment that’s woken up a genre that’s been lying dormant for too long.
Brendan: Do people say that?! If that’s what people are saying, then that’s great!
Kelly: That’s so cool!
AH: Does that feel like too much responsibility on your shoulders?
Kelly: I guess in our genre, there’s not much going on right now.
Brendan: For a while it was going so well, but….
Kelly: I guess if we can have any influence on the way it ends up, then that’s great!
Brendan: If younger bands come out to one of our shows and be like, “wow, they didn’t bullshit anybody, they didn’t flake and they didn’t lie and they didn’t fucking pretend to give a shit, they actually do,” then that’s great. If that makes kids be like, “well we’re not gonna be fake and put on this front and pretend to be someone we’re not,” then that’s great because I fucking hate those people, that’s why I don’t associate with them! Given the kind of band we are, we don’t have the option to sell out, so we’d literally have to start another band to sell out!
Kelly: If you’re in a band, be who you are, there’s only so much room for you because everyone wants to be the biggest band in the world.
Brendan: I’m not against being in a pop band, but that’s not what Counterparts is about. If I wanted to, I’d start a pop band and make all this money then use that to fund Counterparts!
AH: Who was your musical inspiration growing up?
Kelly: NOFX. I grew up on punk!
Brendan: It’s natural, it’s how things were. “Fuck you mom!” If you’re a young kid and you’re not angry, then you grow up to be a fucking idiot.
Kelly: Or a fucking serial killer.
Brendan: Well there’s not much money in that unless the people you kill are rich. I’m sure you can’t get to them because they have guards and shit.
AH: What’s your view on the Gene Simmons debate that rock, and by extension metal, is dead?
Brendan: Did he say that?!
Kelly: Family Jewels himself?!
Brendan: The most I know about him is that I think his kids are nice-looking.
Kelly: Yeah, he had them with a Canadian woman actually.
Brendan: I dunno, he’s probably right, if he says it, it’s probably true.
Kelly: I’m sure he knows what’s going on.
Brendan: But his net income a couple of years ago was substantially more than it is now, so I guess it’s dead, whereas we don’t have any money to begin with. Saying things are dead is kinda wack to begin with, because if you go anywhere, you can find it.
Kelly: It’ll come back.
Brendan: Yeah, it’ll come back. Metalcore’s on top again, early 2000s metalcore is back again and for the longest time, people said that was dead and it seemed to coincide directly with when we started touring, and now it’s coming back, so maybe we have a shot at being a fucking cool band! But at the same time, I think I hear Gene Simmons’ name once every six months and it’s attached to a fucking pinball machine or a yo-yo or something.
Brendan: I’d rather kiss than listen to KISS. I’d rather make out with someone I’m not too fond of. So my only hope is Gene Simmons hears this and starts a full-blown attack on us because that’d be tight PR!
AH: If you could go back and relive any of Counterparts’ albums or tours, whether you were in the band or not, which would you go back to?
Kelly: Oh god, that’s put me on the spot! I love every band I’ve ever been in, they’ve all been completely different. A band I was in around 2007/8 to 2010, that was just the weirdest. We weren’t big or whatever, but we were just cool and the songs were awesome, it was a weird experience.
Brendan: Yeah, they were sick.
Kelly: Well, I’m enjoying it now more so, but that’s when I started to like writing music, so that was my first taste of it. And then it opened up all these other doors so that’s why I’m here now.
AH: If there’s one venue you haven’t already played, where would you most want to play?
Brendan: Oh jeez, that’s tough. Anywhere in the world? I wanna go back in time playing a decent time slot at Hellfest 2003 in Syracuse, NY. Somewhere between My Chemical Romance and Hopesfall so maybe Trustkill Records reps could be out there and they could just sign us and it would be sick.
AH: So we know a setlist can’t please everyone, but what song do you wish would make a setlist?
Kelly: On the last record, ‘Soil’. It’s just long, it has a lot happening. We could play it but it’s just not that kind of song that translates live.
Brendan: If 20,000 people Paypaled me a dollar, I’d talk to the guys to see if we could do it.
Kelly: We often just choose the songs we like anyway, so it’s like “I like playing this one, so hopefully everyone likes it!”
AH: Where do you see yourself musically in 5-10 years’ time?
Brendan: Dead. Musically and my wellbeing – dead. Metal’s fucking dead man, you heard it here first!
Kelly: Tongueman himself said metal’s dead!
‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ by Counterparts is released on 24th July on Pure Noise Records.
Counterparts will be returning to the UK for a headline tour. Support comes from Senses Fail and Capsize.
9th Tunbridge Wells Forum, Kent
10th Underworld, London
11th Sound Control, Manchester
12th Classic Grand, Glasgow
13th Asylum, Birmingham
14th Talking Heads, Southampton
15th Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
16th The Venue, Derby
17th The Key Club, Leeds
View more of Already Heard’s coverage of Download Festival 2015 here.
Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)