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INTERVIEW: Brendan Murphey of Counterparts

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IMG_5997This week Infectious had the opportunity to interview Brendan Murphey, the lead vocalist of the band Counterparts. The band has been wrapping up the last few dates of the Common Vision Tour, and Brendan was enjoying his time in California.  Check out the interview below where he talks about everything from hardcore music to touring, and even the best and hardest times with the band.

To start off, what does hardcore mean to you?

Well hardcore to me is what made me feel like I wasn’t alone, if that makes sense. Being in high school, anyone who’s seen me in real life can put together that I’m not a jock, I’m not into sports, I’m not a popular guy in any regard, but hardcore was when I found out that there’s that entire group of people who aren’t like me, and they hate me, and it’s awful but then there’s a community that basically makes you feel welcome no matter what. It’s basically like if you’re into the same bands that I’m into, we’re tight, you know? Hardcore to me is that sort of a congregation of outcasts in terms of that we know something’s wrong, we know we don’t fit into anywhere but here. Aside from that, the music itself? Hardcore is aggressive music that’s just like “this is real.” A huge band might not sound like hardcore, but if the ideals are the same, and they want play songs that they give a shit about, that’s what hardcore is to me. It’s not about what sick shirt you bought, what cool fest you went to, or making fun of some kid who listens to the bands you don’t like. Hardcore to me, is that community that cares about something and wants to build off of it, if that makes sense.

What has it been like transitioning from just touring Canada, to touring different parts of the world?

I love it! That’s what makes it worth it. I mean, if you play in a band you’ll have to be cool with the fact that what you lack in terms of a pay-out, you will make up for times a thousand in traveling and seeing the world and stuff like that. We’re a Canadian band, and I obviously love Canada, to me it’s the best country in the world, and that’s where we grew up touring, but the priority now is going to the places we haven’t been. In order to grow, touring outside of that is necessary to want your band to progress. For us that’s been America, Europe, Japan, and Australia – But yeah, the transition has been very easy for us. I love it. We all love it.

What has been the biggest change with the band since starting out in 2007?

Ok, that’s a bit of a tough one. Really, not much has changed except for being more business oriented. At the end of the day, with Counterparts, it’s still very much about the music we like playing, but we’re definitely more of a business oriented band and there’s more too it now. We’re on a label and we’re touring the world. Basically it’s not just “do whatever the hell you want” and go from there, as it kind of was before, but the biggest difference is everything we’re doing needs to be planned ahead in order to make things work. I like it, I’m not the kind of guy that can just go and do something random. We need a bit of a game plan. We pretty much just have to plan ahead now, because you need to make sure everything’s gonna work out.

The Common Vision tour has a great lineup. Is there anyone specific you’re really stoked to be playing with?

I think for the most part everyone is stoked to be hanging out with My Iron Lung. Asidefrom the fact that they’re awesome musicians and write really cool music, they’re amazing people, it’s just really cool and almost – not that I mean this in a bad way – but refreshing. it’s cool to see a band who will do what they want and that’s so sick because it was like that when we started out. That and watching them play every night is super sick. My Iron Lung is awesome – all the bands on this tour are awesome. Everyone is cool and we’re having fun. The days are a little long, I will admit that – loading in at 2:00, playing at like 9:00, and leaving the venue at like 12:00 is a bit much, but it’s the price you pay for hanging out with 7 cool bands all day!

Out of all the tours you’ve been on, what have been your favorite bands to tour with so far?

Touring with Hundredth is awesome – we’ve been touring with those guys for the past 4 or 5 years so hanging out with them is great. This year alone I think we’ve done 3 months straight with them so it’s like we go home and go through withdrawal “I haven’t seen Chad or Andrew all day,” haha. Touring with them is really cool. Last year we toured with Living With Lions and State Champs, which was also really cool. Touring with Volumes, those guys were amazing. Our friends back home in Exalt – they’re like my best friends, it’s fun. It’s a good way to spend a month. Realistically there’s not too many bands that we don’t like touring with. Pretty much everybody we’ve met doing this is pretty cool.

Could you pinpoint what has been the best experience for Counterparts so far?

I’ve said it a lot, but our first real West Coast tour was probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing with this band just because it was so new. Being able to say “well I’m a kid from Hamilton Ontario, and I’ve had to deal with shitty weather and snow all my life,” and then being placed into California for the first time, it was really cool. Going to Hollywood for the first time too, is an experience I’ll never be able to recreate. So yeah, that tour especially. I think out of the 7 years we’ve been a band, that tour especially was a really great experience.

Are there any common misconceptions about Counterparts?

I feel like our name sometimes has some kind of negative connotation in terms of being lumped in with bands that don’t really have that much musical integrity. It kind of bums me out because with our band, since day 1 we’ve only ever been about writing cool music that we actually stand behind so it definitely bums me out. Other musicians may have money or image first, and that is so far from what we are as a band. I’m sure there are plenty of rumors or lies that go around about the band but fuck it. At the end of the day I still get to play California once a year so I’m stoked haha.

What, would you say, has been one of the hardest things to go through as a band?

Van trouble! Absolutely. I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I seriously think people think we’re making it up but, I don’t know… we just can’t win. We can’t nail down a van that doesn’t break down. I thought maybe we drive like assholes, or maybe we don’t do enough preventative maintenance, but we just bought a new van that cost us almost 20,000$, it’s 2009, low mileage, and even that thing is breaking down. For us absolutely the hardest part about being in this band is dealing with van issues or trailer issues or transportation that keeps you from getting to the show. We’re renting from now on haha and hopefully that never happens again. Or at least if it happens, it’s not going to come out of our pockets so yeah van trouble and I guess member changes too. A lot of people like to join our band and then just kind of bail after a year. We’re doing ok. I feel like a lot of bands can’t really say that they’re completely happy with everything, and if I were to give this band a grade in terms of how happy it makes me and how much I actually enjoy my time doing it, it’s very high. Every now and then our van breaks down, we don’t make it to shows, and realistically it just makes us stronger we learn how to cope with it.

What has been the most rewarding when The Difference Between Hell and Home was released?

If we’re talking purely about the record, just the fact that that record is what we were trying to do for the 5 or 6 years that we were playing music together. That record is a perfect example of how we tapped into what we were trying to do this whole time. We’re like cool, now we finally have something we’re not embarrassed of, and we have something that we are 100% satisfied with, wouldn’t change a thing in the world about it so that’s awesome. Also, having people come up to us after the show and saying that a song helped them get through a shitty time in their life… that’s the most rewarding thing of all this. My lyrics are very much a coping mechanism for me, so the fact that kids can sort of relate to what I’m saying and that something I wrote down in my room, on my notepad, made them think twice about their life and where they’re at in the world, that is our pay. It’s very cool. Oh and I guess Misery Signals saying “you guys are sick, so come on our 10 year Of Malice tour.” Stuff like that, is very, very cool.

One of my favorite tracks on The Difference Between Hell and Home is “Compass.” What influenced the writing of this song?

I think I wrote the lyrics to that while we were in Europe and it was very much about finding that person in your life that is a necessity to you being alive, whether it’s a relationship, a best friend in the world, even a parent or a family member, anything like that. That song is basically about realizing that you have this one person or these people that help you exist. That’s what that song has been about since day one, there’s never been any doubt in my mind personally. I wrote it about my girlfriend and that’s me just saying cool, there’s another living breathing thing that I love that makes me not want to kill myself. That’s basically the whole message behind Compass, when you find that thing that sort of makes your life worth living I guess.

A lot of your fans already want more music. Is there anything new in the works yet?

As a band we’re always writing. Jesse is writing riffs and tracking it down, and demoing songs out. We don’t have any plans to record yet but I mean The Difference Between Hell and Home has been out for a year now and we’ll be looking at studios. Obviously we’ll go to Will Putney again but yeah, I don’t know when new music is going to be out just yet.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Nah I think I’m ok haha

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Caitlin Shores

Writer and Photographer

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