Countress have just released their debut full-length, and we got a chance to talk to their guitarist, Ry, who filled us in a bit on the band's history, inspirations, and favorite ways to burn off a Friday night. Take a look at what he had to say, and be sure to give Ov Sin a shot!
RWTD: Listening to your album, there's a pretty loud sense of occult atmosphere that jumps out at the listener. Just in the first track, “Haellions”, you launch into a big rip at the end with a refrain of “virgin sacrifices” and “black masses”, while psychopaths and violence are fairly popular through much of the rest of the album. Where does the inspiration for the occult and violent sides of your music come from?
Ry: Well first off, I wanna say thank you for listening to our album, and thanks for giving me a chance to speak for our band. When we started this band the biggest 'idea' or 'theme' we wanted to touch on was horror. Horror and true crime are topics that seem to inspire and fascinate us. Our singer Miles, for instance, is very much interested the "Heaven's Gate" saga, which inspired the lyrics for "Black Cloth". It seems he and myself have always kinda bonded over a love of cults just as much as occult imagery. We realise that's nothing new in heavy metal, but a twist we've been pounding out in our music is true crime legends thriving in our back yard, there's a lot of fucked up history here in Reno, and we live to write songs about it.
Speaking solely for myself and myself only, I'd like to say as for most of the people who have been labeled "psychopaths," I personally have a spot in my heart for a handful of them... People like Charles Manson and Chris Dorner who have been labeled by media as "crazy" for being outspoken and active against a system built and run by people who are far more destructive to the human spirit and species than any serial-killers list combined, they just make more sense to me. Anyone who fights back is targeted as a threat and therefore targeted further as a "psychopath"... haha, I can't really go any further on that aspect without an O.K. from the rest of the dudes in the band... that's my opinion and my opinion only.
RWTD: Are there any specific bands Countress' members grew up listening to that you would point to as being influential on the music you're making these days?
Ry: Totally. For me, Metallica made me pick up a guitar. I know our bass player Joe loves thrash metal, and Testament is his biggest influence when writing, that's his shit. Miles loves old school country and that shines through in his lyrics, he loves to tell a story when he writes, I fuckin' love that. Jesse's style comes a lot from Bill Ward, we're all big Sabbath fans so he knows how to make shit heavy when we have a groovin' riff. Alex and I both love Nirvana, Pantera, and a lot of black metal, so all that shit kinda comes through when we write, or at least we try for that, haha.
RWTD: How did the members of your band first get together and decide to make some music? Have there been any line-up changes since first deciding to put Countress together?
Ry: Miles and myself have been jamming together for about ten years now, and he and Jesse, our drummer, had a band that had just broken up. At the time I was working at a funeral home south of town and they asked me to start a band... I moved back up to Reno, we started jamming and asked Alex to jump on second guitar as he had filled in on a tour with mine and Miles' old band... He introduced us to Joe and it's been workin' out ever since. No member changes. When you're in a band that universally enjoys getting fucked up with each other and shares a common goal of writing heavy shit and pushing your name shit just clicks i guess. I feel very fortunate for that and for having them in this ride with me.
RWTD: How did you decide on the band name? Are there any names you almost went with instead that you can remember?
Ry: Haha, I love this question. Funny story, so it comes from the Hammer Horror film "Countess Dracula," but I was watching it drunk and read it as "Countress"... I mentioned it to Miles and he said the word was "Countess." "There's no R, dipshit but fuck it it sounds cool," and that was that!
RWTD: Does Countress do live shows/touring? If so, what are some of the most memorable moments on stage (or back-stage) from your time so far?
Ry: Well, we play pretty fucked-up so I honestly don't remember a lot of it, haha. It seemed like the first 5 shows we played someone or something was trying to tell us to give it up because our shit just kept breaking. Every fucking time we played the first song a kick pedal would snap or a head would fry out. It was a nightmare man but I'm holdin' out for when we start seein' some tits in the crowd, right now its just drunk dudes yelling "Fuck yea motherfuckers!!" after our songs which is still pretty bitchin', haha.
RWTD: Any nutty fans so far?
Ry: Well, we played a biker bar a couple months ago... There was this old dude standing right up front, literally on the other side of my microphone, staring right at me the entire set... He had a big beard and his face was covered in tattoos... He looked just like the bass player of Electric Wizard... He looked pissed, standing there still as a stone... I'm 25 now, I've been in my fair share of sketchy situations, so I kinda thought to myself it was sorta weird I hadn't been stabbed yet, and figured this was time catching up with me... He stared right at me the entire set and when we were done he walked up to me strong and determined, grabbed and crushed my hand and screamed "You motherfuckers are down with the fucking sickness, fuck yea!" and he went to the bar. It was fucking incredible man.
RWTD: What do each of the band's members like to get up to in their spare time? Do you tend to hang out together when you're not working on music, do you tend to need some solo down-time in which to unwind?
Ry: Drugs. We all party together. There really isn't much time when were not writing but during those times Alex and I both do art, Joe drinks a lot of Rolling Rock. Miles collects horror memorabilia and is usually stoned/hammered watching something from his collection. Mijo skates. We all have day jobs, too.
RWTD: How do you usually prepare yourselves for some time on-stage/in the studio? Any intoxicants you'd like to endorse?
Ry: I like a little bit of pills weed and whisky before we play, everyone digs the leaf in this band so that's in heavy rotation as well as Budweisers. Same goes for studio as it does on the stage.
RWTD: What would be your ideal set of bands to tour with cross-country?
Ry: Me personally, I'd like to party with Saviours, High On Fire, Black Breath, Electric Wizard. That would fuckin' rule.
RWTD: What are Countress' plans for the immediate future?
Ry: Were are currently writing the next full length, gonna drop that early '15. We will be releasing Crawling From The Grave, parts 1, 2, and 3 this Halloween on cassette tape, and we're hittin' California dates starting this month in Tahoe.
RWTD: Is there anything else you'd like to say to your fans out there?
Ry: I'd like to extend an appreciation to anyone and everyone that so much as listens to our band or reads this interview, and I'd also like to thank you again for giving us a shot. Haellions Ride!