By Trevor Morelli
CALGARY – While the allure of chowing down on a grilled hamburger at Wrigley Field is enticing, there’s a lot more to see and hear in Chicago than the crack of a bat at a Cubs game or the boats punting off of Navy Pier. Punk and hardcore are thriving in the city right now promoted with festivals like Riot Fest and 350 Fest. And, according to melodic punk rockers Counterpunch, their hometown is a great place to hit the music scene hard and take in some stunning performances by old and new school acts alike.
“We started somewhere around 2002 or 2003, so things have changed quite a bit,” notes Counterpunch bassist/vocalist Jared Rohde. “We’ve lost some great local venues – Fireside Bowl, Double Door, Quenchers – but the biggest change I would say is the birth of Riot Fest and 350 Fest. Two amazing Chicago festivals heavily influenced by the Chicago punk community. Chicago has a long history of punk and I was lucky enough to have found it in my youth seeing great bands. Now we get to play shows with these guys. It’s pretty crazy.”
Vocalist/guitarist Eric Hausser adds, “Imagine seeing a band like NOFX or Bad Religion playing an all-ages show at a 100 person capacity bowling alley! It’s crazy to look back and think of the kind of shows that we as young adults had access to. Inevitably, kids like us would want to start our own bands and do the same thing!”
Even though it’s been four action-packed years since Counterpunch’s last release, Bruises (2014), the quartet has stayed on point; opening for bands like Face to Face over the summer and Strung Out this coming fall. Rohde recalls playing on a boat in New York City as a definite summer highlight. “The Rocks Off cruise goes all around Manhattan, underneath the Brooklyn Bridge and makes a stop at the Statue of Liberty all while this crazy punk show is happening. Its nuts!”
Hausser says his best recent memory is grabbing an axe from Face to Face guitarist Trever Keith and joining his idols for a tune. “As much as I enjoyed the Dramamine-filled set on the boat, I have to go with playing ‘Disconnected’ with them in Lancaster, PA. Trever handed me his guitar halfway through the song, completely unexpectedly, and 14 year-old me instantly went to heaven. It’s an experience I can’t even wrap my head around. They really are the best dudes.”
As for their own material, the Counterpunch cadre say there’s a new batch of anger-fuelled bruises in the works. “We’ve been demoing a bunch of new material for a new album. We had a little over 30 new song ideas that we whittled down to 16. We are putting the finishing touches on it as we speak,” Rohde explains.
Counterpunch plays with Strung Out and The Bombpops October 12 at Rickshaw Theatre (Vancouver), October 13 at Doc Willoughby’s Public House (Kelowna), October 15 at The Starlite Room (Edmonton), October 16 at Dickens (Calgary), and October 17 at The Exchange (Regina), October 18 at The Pyramid Cabaret (Winnipeg).Counterpunch, Dickens, Doc Willoughby’s Public House, Rickshaw Theatre, Strung Out, The Bombpops, The Exchange, The Pyramid Cabaret, The Starlite Room