We recently had the opportunity to speak with Counterpunch, a punk band from Chicago! I always find it fascinating speaking to and learning from musicians from a wide variety of genres. While the majority of us are only witness to the final product, we rarely get that behind the scenes perspective of what it takes to make a band successful and the work that goes into finishing a record.
Big thanks to the band for an awesome conversation!
The GM’s Perspective: In 60 seconds who is Counterpunch?
Counterpunch: A punk band from Chicago. Technically we’re from Chicago. One of us lives in Detroit and one of us is moving to Denver. So we’re kind of all over the place! You know, just like mid nineties, skate punk, melodic punk, and some thrashy metal. There’s pop in there. There’s lots of harmonies and we’re all about having fun.
GMs: You’ve been doing this a long time. How have you been able to evolve over the years, but still stay true to your scene?
CP: Honestly this is the music that we love to write. Eric and I have been writing together for forever, seems like almost 20 years. It’s the music that we’re passionate about and it just pours out that way. I’ll come up with an idea and I’ll bring it to Eric and he’ll add something, something beautiful to it. Or I’ll have a finished song and he’ll just write all these lyrics and it makes something sound completely different. I’ll have an idea or Kyle has an idea and everything just kind of forms organically.
GMs: There’s a lot of different personalities in a band, a lot of different egos, and a lot of different opinions. How are you able to co-exist for so long while still putting out good music?
CP: That’s kind of the beauty of it! Everyone has strong opinions about a certain part or you know, a certain lyric or something like that or how a song should evolve or where it should go as we’re in that writing process. But when it comes down to it, those bitter arguments happen because everyone cares so much.
GMs: How do you continue to do what you do and what you love when this type of music is not popular as it once was?
CP: I think when it comes to song songwriting our ideas can start super basic like an acoustic idea or a couple of little notes on a voice memo. Some songs you just know want to be an uptempo fast beat song. The stuff that’s coming out on the new record, we’re doing things that we probably haven’t done on our older records. So I guess there’s that evolutionary process, but there’s also the kind of bread and butter of what a Counterpunch song might sound like if you know the band.
How do you continue to evolve and keep doing this for so long, but still stay true to what you are? I think that’s always in the back of everyone’s head when you’re writing new music or coming out with new material. It’s almost as if “do we want to do something like this… this isn’t something that sounds really like us…?” I feel like if you’re not pushing the envelope, if you’re not growing, if you’re not changing, then you’re putting out the same album every time. And that’s not fun for the listener or for us.
GMs: 2020 has been a different animal. Everything has changed. When you’re talking about putting the new record out and everything that goes along with it, how are you able to accomplish your end goal?
CP: There’s really no way to do any viable live show. We kind of resigned to the things that we can do, which is plan and hope that things will get better. We got our masters for this new album three days after the pandemic hit and a couple of weeks later we’re all on lockdown.
Thankfully we have the ability to record those offsite, but we’ve been sitting on this record for quite some time and it’s like, it doesn’t really make sense to try to put it out immediately when we can’t even tour on it. We might as well just wait a little bit. It sucks. I would have loved to have had this out months ago, but when it comes down to it, we sat on it and we sent it out to a couple people and tried to get some opinions to see if there was any interest from some labels.
SBAM has been after us for years to go over there to one of the SBAM band festivals or put something out with him for like two years or three years. And my answer has always been, we got to finish this new record first before we can come over. It’s the nature of the beast. I’d rather be on the road playing in front of people as much as possible. I wish the new album was already out, but the smart decision is to wait a little bit because by the time this pandemic’s over or relatively under control, people are going to be sick of what they were listening to every day.
And the good news is we’re actually going to be able to release a new song before the end of the year. The second song will come out in January. And the presale for the actual physical copies of the seven inch starts on December 15th and the actual release date of the whole thing is the 29th of January.
GMs: What goes into finding a new label and signing with them?
CP: You wish you could be on X label, but that’s not reality because behind the scenes, that business or that label has a release time. Their entire year’s plotted out of what they’ve already committed to as far as what bands and what releases they are putting out. Coming along as an outsider, unless you have something that’s completely mind blowing or an inside track, you’re probably not even going to get a response to be honest.
Finding the right label is a partnership. It’s almost like you’re adding another member of the band or business and having a business partner that’s just as excited about your product as you are. It’s a huge deal.
Starting a dialogue and a conversation with these people is priority and would they be interested in listening to this? It’s also about developing individual relationships more than it is just trying to find the people that you want to work with.
GMs: What’s some words of advice you can give bands that are starting up?
CP: Don’t quit and have fun. That’s the biggest thing. If you’re short-sighted and you just want something immediate to happen, it’s not going to happen. Be yourself and find people that you can have fun with musically and grow creatively from. If you can’t live in a van for a month with them it’s not going to work!
Don’t sweat the small stuff. When you’re in a van for six weeks with the same people in the same small spaces eating the same food and smelling the same smells, there’s a lot of small stuff to sweat. So if you can, ignore that kind of stuff. Just realize that you got there because you created something and somebody appreciated it. Be grateful for all those moments.