Counterparts, ‘Swim Beneath My Skin’ – Exclusive Video Premiere + Interview
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For the past ten years, Counterparts has been a force to be reckoned with in metalcore. They recently dropped their new album You’re Not You Anymore, and today they are exclusively premiering their video for “Swim Beneath My Skin” here at Loudwire.
Counterparts have a fierce live show filled with twists and turns from their sheer ferocity and power, and the video captures a bit of what it feels like to be wrapped up in it all. The camera is always moving, imitating the feeling of one of their shows and being in that crowd. The guitar work is a different beast than many other bands in the scene, able to tear off a melodic element before launching head first into a heavier spot. The drama of the song comes to a head during the breakdown, which sounds as though the band has summoned some enormous thunderstorm into the room with them.
See the video for “Swim Beneath My Skin” above, and order You’re Not You Anymore from Pure Noise Records. Check out our interview with Counterparts frontman Brendan Murphy below.
When I heard the first couple of singles, I was really thrown for a loop because Blake [Hardman]’s guitar work is just so different than what Jesse [Doreen] was doing, but then hearing the record altogether, it brings out this whole other side of the band. I hope you guys are really proud of this one.
We are, it’s a very cool feeling. I think everyone we know and trust, all of our friends that have heard it, and even a lot of the media outlets that have heard and reviewed it, the consensus is it’s best Counterparts record yet. I’m snotty in a way where the second kids started posting, “Oh they’re done, they don’t have Jesse, it’s over for them,” I was like, “Yo, f-k you, now we need to bring a good record, the record has to be so good to shut those kids up.”
Also, it’s our fifth full-length. After all this time you get to a point and realize, OK this works for our band and this doesn’t. We’re not going to do some weird off-time tech-y breakdown in the middle of a song out of nowhere because that’s not our band. We tried it before and those are the times when people just stare at us during shows, not knowing what’s going on. We narrowed down to what we’re actually good at, a lot of the older elements are still there obviously but we’re not relying on them to be the base of the record. You know how it is, all the Misery Signals s-t and all that, we’re just a metalcore band and we do this and sprinkle in other elements for flavor, but the basis is us.
Obviously there’s a heavier element in the group, but in a lot of songs there’s this dynamic of a softer more melodic guitar part that will break things up. What do you see that dynamic doing for your music?
I think a lot of that comes from when we first started, our goal was “OK, we’re going to do this heavy metalcore thing and that’s it.” We started listening to stuff like Misery Signals and Shai Hulud and Poison the Well, and even Alexisonfire their first album was a contrast between the clean and melodic elements. They clash with the really heavy stuff. We wanted to incorporate all of our influences to one and it was the easiest way to do so. I don’t think anyone in the world just listens to heavy music. Where they’re like, “Yo, if there’s melody, f-k off, I’m not interested.” That’s kind of whack, and we’re all on the same page. We like catchiness, we like clean instrumentals, a lot of what Taken did.
When it came time to writing, this is our sort of pocket we’re in. That’s what we do well, we blend the really heavy with the really melodic and we do so in one song. In a three minute period, you go through this roller coaster of things from really heavy to melodic, it’s fairly emotional. It grabs at someone and plucks all their strings. Everything someone looks for in a couple bands they can find in us. I think if you take that approach to your writing you open yourself up to a wider audience.
Metalcore is always a hard sell to get people to listen. I think people over the age of 20 have a hard time with it. They immediately think of scenecore. But I think since you guys really do have these different aspects to the music and it’s something that grabs a lot easier and is way less corny than what’s out there.
For sure. I think the hardest part of getting someone to listen to Counterparts, is literally that. It’s the one struggle, getting people to just listen and see if they like it. Back in the day when we started gain a little bit of ground and tour all over the world, we got lumped in with “Oh, they sound like Hundredth, The Ghost Inside etc” which is fine because we did. There were elements of all those bands for sure. But then someone would approach it like, “Oh they sound like Hundredth and The Ghost Inside, I don’t like any of those bands so I won’t bother with them.” If they were to actually sit down and give it a shot, they’d see it’s similar to bands they actually like.
A lot of people like to describe us as this underdog band where we’re doing well and worth tickets, but not in that other world yet, we’re in our own world and can’t break out yet. We don’t do a lot of the scene tours. Closest was maybe Parkway Drive in the U.S. last year, which isn’t that crazy to me. I think we sound like early Parkway Drive, but then a lot of the people who like them now are older and they don’t know us. So we’d play those shows and have them come up and be like, “Yo you guys were awesome, show was sick.” Same thing on Warped Tour, we were on the same stage as Hatebreed. It would remind them of bands they listened to back in the day. And then on the flip side, there’s a generation of younger bands when they think of metalcore they think Beartooth and Bring Me the Horizon. That’s always the problem, we’re too metalcore for a hardcore crowd and too hardcore for a metalcore crowd. We walk that line where people in the hardcore world don’t f-k with us, a lot of them don’t think to think to listen to us because of the world we’re in. And that’s fine.
On the other side we did that Real Friends tour where kids who would never think to listen to us started to get it. When you throw, “They sound like Misery Signals, Shai Hulud” etc at them it’s like, “What? I’m 17.” And it’s like oh right, it’s different for you now.
How do you balance writing something a Counterparts fan would dig, while also not completely pandering? I’ve seen it go both ways where a band will just write for their fans and it’s completely diminishing in results.
For sure, that seems super draining. If you’re writing something you don’t personally give a s-t about, and you never know. I’m sure these bigger scene bands, they sell a lot of tickets and are killing it but I don’t know if they’re in the studio listening to their records like, “This is f-king sick, I love this” or “this is going to make us money.” And if you want that, I don’t really have any problem with it. A lot of people will say, “Oh these scene bands are just in it for money,” but it doesn’t really bug me. If someone can figure out what kids want to hear at exactly the right time and make a lot of money playing breakdowns, that’s actually pretty sick and I back it.
I find for us, we don’t really compromise too much on what we write. There’s never a part in the studio where we think, “Oh we can’t do that, no one is going to like it.” If we truly like it, it’s like screw everyone else, if I want to say this line or write about this, or if Blake thinks there’s a way a song should go, then we don’t compromise. Oftentimes what we want to play and what fans want to hear is the same thing. We never really grew out of this music. It’s saturated and watered down now and the Trustkill/Ferret era is totally gone, I still love metalcore and the music we make.
I’m curious as to your opinion. Do you feel like having a sense of humor allows you to be more vulnerable as a person and access different thoughts for lyrics? There’s a total dichotomy between Brendan Murphy, guy on Twitter and Brendan Murphy, Counterparts lyricist.
I do. The way I see it, Counterparts to me is an outlet lyrically, I’m able to tackle the things I don’t like about myself and hardships and bring it to life. Because of that and that I do have an outlet, I don’t let those things spill over to my everyday life. I think about them while they’re happening and when it comes time to write lyrics and talk about these things I went through. It’s happened so many times, people will come up to me like, “I read the lyrics and thought you would be a certain way but then on Twitter you’re going on about naked Mr. Bean pictures with all album pre-orders.” [Laughs]
Because I have the outlet I’m not walking around with my head sunken all the time. When I’m hanging with my friends I’m never talking about being bummed, it’s always jokes and stuff. I think that’s who I am, I think I’m fairly funny and keep the energy up. So when these things happen I know there’s going to be a release at some point, I can talk about it with Counterparts lyrics or I can sort of put my heart into lyrics that talk about it. If I didn’t have an outlet like the band, the positives wouldn’t necessarily be in my forefront. I like to think people know, “Oh I’m hanging out with Brendan today, it’ll be fun.” In the same sense, if I need someone to talk to, my friends are always close.
On the flip of that, I think if there’s one thing I’ve realized I hate more than anything else is if a band makes humor their “gimmick” when they’re totally unfunny.
Oh for sure. There’s a lot of bands when I see it and it’s like, ugh! It’s so cringey, These dudes that aren’t really that funny. Guys that just don’t act like themselves, where it’s like oh this is the band side of me and this is the real me. What you see is what you get with us. Like at Warped Tour, they do the vocalist voice, “I need everyone off their f-king feet right now!” whereas I’m like, “Yo have fun or don’t, I get paid the same either way.”
Is “You’re Not You Anymore” directed at someone else, or is it directed at yourself?
That’s kind of the beauty of it. It’s from this poem I wrote a while ago, it was directed at one person. When it came time to write the record, I sort of took that line and plugged it into a newer song. It went from this kind of negative connotation like, “You’ve changed, I don’t even know who you are” to “You’ve changed, you’re a totally different person and it’s great.” When it comes for lyrics and stuff like that, I love when you can see something and take a spin on it in so many different ways. When I plugged it in, it went from this dig to this compliment, and when we decided it was the record all these different things started falling into place. A lot of the lyrics have to deal with change on a personal level, so I’d think, “Oh, I’m not me anymore.” It’s sort of when it all clicked, like we all love we titled the record this way. It can be about a person or an entity, positive and negative.
Did you see the Twin Peaks finale yet?
I haven’t, I watched the first five or six episodes before Warped Tour started and then it was really hard to get service on tour to see the episodes. I was kind of waiting until the episodes were all done, just take two episodes and kill it. Is it like the ending of the series, is it done now, like this is literally the ending of Twin Peaks?
I won’t spoil anything, but it ends about as well as the second season did. There’s no way it could ever end cleanly, but I can’t really picture them doing another season. There’s plenty of ideas left for more.
Would you say it’s good?
Oh I loved it, I don’t think there was anything I’ve ever seen like it from a television program.
Totally. My girlfriend and I watched it together, and we got five episodes in when the whole Dougie thing was happening, it was weirder than when it was original. After those couple episodes we were just like, “I don’t know if I like this, this is kind of f-ked up and it’s taken Dougie three episodes to remember anything. This is f-ked, I don’t know if I’ll even enjoy it.” But I haven’t seen anyone blasting it, like, “David Lynch is an idiot.” But I dunno, I hope I enjoy it and I hope it didn’t ruin the franchise. And if it did, whatever I still have the movie and the first two seasons.
I was really skeptical because I was worried it would be so fan service-y, but it’s so out there. Like maybe the most political thing he’s ever done, but in really goofy ways. Statements on processed food being the devil because every evil character only eats Cheetos.
Yeah, it makes sense why he’d say that…but I also eat a lot of that stuff, so f-k off Lynch. [Laughs]
Do you like his movies?
That’s the thing, I’ve seen a lot of them but I don’t like all of them. Twin Peaks movie is sick, Blue Velvet is awesome, I love Lost Highway. But then alot of people will be like “Eraserhead is so cool!” and I’m like dude, that’s not cool. That was whack, the big cheek girl and the radiator. Like yo, OK this is too weird for me. Even Mulholland Drive, I remember I watched it a while ago and even that one I was like “Ah f-k,” I’m biased because I want to love it but I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it again. I think I find with Lynch, the more you watch it, the more you want to read about different interpretations and you end up enjoying more. You see all this s-t, and then it becomes your favorite movie of all time.
I always appreciate he sees these ideas to an end, and somehow makes not enjoying something part of the fun because you can analyze it and figure out why you hate it. All the Dougie stuff especially.
Yeah absolutely, people actually getting mad like “just do something!” That’s true cinema, where you can think “I love this, I hate that.” I think it’s why he’s untouchable. And I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thing, but even that goes to what we were talking about before, like how I approach everything in Counterparts. Like we’re going to do this, and people may hate it or love it, I don’t really know but we’re going to do it. And that’s his whole career, and look how he’s regarded as a person and a filmmaker and artist. That’s sort of what I want for us, when the band is done I want people to say “they did everything they wanted, they didn’t do s-t that sucked. They were in it for their art.” And I think that’s why he’s a respected director, and whether people realize it now or fifteen years if we’ve broken up. If people can hold it in a high regard in terms of art, that matters way more than money ever will. If we can leave an impression in any way, that’s why we’re still going.