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Counterfeit Jeans face down high expectations with good humour

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There’s often an inherent sense of pressure pinned to a band’s sophomore release, depending on how successful its predecessor was. But local rock act Counterfeit Jeans is feeling a similar sort of pressure with its debut self-titled LP this weekend.

The story goes that when Counterfeit Jeans released its first batch of rough-around-the-edges demos on Bandcamp in 2015, they weren’t intended to be any sort of official debut. But it wasn’t long before the songs gained traction, and the four demos were eventually released on tape to serve as an EP of sorts for the trio. Gigs and festival appearances—including a spot at the beloved Sled Island—followed, and the band, which formed in 2014, now finds itself in a position where a captive audience awaits its debut full-length.

“It wasn’t anything we were expecting, or even necessarily aiming for,” Tyler Bedford says over pints at The Buckingham, his bandmates Jed Gauthier and Spencer Heykants nodding in agreement. “We just kind of wanted to get together, make some music, have some fun and put it out there. For one reason or another people seemed to like it, and here we are two years later.”

The band took a similarly casual approach when it came time to record its forthcoming LP, which is also Counterfeit Jeans’ first release on local indie label Sometimes Music. In keeping with the trio’s original DIY ethos, the songs were again recorded by Gauthier in its jam space—but he admits that came with its challenges.

“I would say, honestly, the recording of this album was a lot more painful,” he says with a laugh. “I think recording the first four demos, it definitely sounds a lot more lo-fi. You can tell not as much attention was put into the mixing … whereas this one I felt like, because we were spending all this money and doing it on vinyl, we put a lot more work into it. I was losing a lot of sleep trying to make it sound good. My computer kept fucking up. I think one of the songs I had to record the guitar tracks 30 times, because everything kept screwing up.”

The guys pulled through, despite the technological difficulties, and are able to joke about the whole ordeal now that it’s behind them. It was a learning experience, if nothing else, and the end result is one all three band members are satisfied with.

“I think we just kind of doubled down on what we were doing before, you know?” Gauthier says of the band’s songwriting process. “I think the band chemistry has grown a lot stronger. Every song we write, we write in the jam space with the three of us together. … We just come up with a riff and then over the course of three or four hours, we’ll hash it all out.

“And record it instantly,” Heykants adds. “At the end of the night we always record it so we don’t forget it.”

And while there may be some expectations riding on this record, the guys are taking it all in stride. Not ones to take themselves too seriously—jokes fire readily throughout the conversation with the guys, and the band’s name is a Simpsons reference—Counterfeit Jeans aimed to ride the wave of support that’s come from the Western Canada music community and continue honing its characteristic style of catchy, in-your-face indie rock.

“We’ve become better musicians,” Bedford says. “We’ve learned to play with each other a lot better—not that we ever had a problem—but our chemistry, and honestly our friendship, is really tight. I think that’s really showed now. When we play, we have fun. We don’t take it too seriously. I don’t think we ever will.”

“We do in our jams, though,” Heykants points out.

“We’ve done this together, and we’ve just improved as a unit,” Bedford continues. “To me, the band is really like a second job, a second family. We all deal with each other’s issues and things that may be in the way, and we’re all understanding. That’s what I mean by not too seriously. … Not to be too cheesy, but we’re there for each other outside of the band. We’ve developed that sort of relationship, and I think that has made our music even better.”

Sat, Jul 2 (9 pm)
With Slow Down Molasses, Stepmothers
9910, $10

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