The Count is one third of Chicago heavy psych band Sun God Ra. This month he released his debut EP, which is a departure from his band’s sound, instead having a soft, psychedelic jangly feel to it. Today we’ll review his new EP and talk to him about it.
The EP has four tracks. The Count played all the instruments (except for the synth in “Egyptian Addiction”, which Adriel Lopez played), and mixed it along with Adriel Lopez.
The first track, “Ain’t No Jesus” opens with a jangly guitar, reminding me of the 70s and the many revivals of that sound. The guitar in the instrumental break reminds me a bit of surf and garage rock, two rock subgenres I very much love and never fail to put me in the summer mood no matter the time of year or where I am in the world. It’s a short pop song at 2 minutes and 21 seconds, true to the 60s approach.
Second track, “Glistening in the Sun” is more garage sounding and the vocals have a chanting delivery that works well with the instrumental. It’s catchy and trippy and reminds me of travelling to a tropical location.
Third Track, “Rose Hip” is a short, sweet, and soft track, at only 2 minutes and 16 seconds. I love the sitars in this song and it gives it that psychedelic pop sound. Overall, it’s a bit 60s and a bit modern.
The final track, “Egyptian Addiction” is a bit longer, at 4 minutes and 37 seconds. Beginning with a synth, the song has such a cool title and a nice guitar sound. Definitely my favourite on the album with its 70s-esque guitar solos.
You can play the EP below:
Angie: What was recording the EP like?
The Count: Well, I’ve been wanting to do it for a while. I started recording back in Spring of 2017, but I was not satisfied with how it was coming out. Couldn’t get it to sound like I wanted to.
You know, the usual, artist gets frustrated at their own work, being a perfectionist, etc. Finally, in April I got down to business and recorded everything at my home studio. I was more organised and got rid of that mindset I had before. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
A: What were your inspirations for the EP?
C: I was always into the lighter side of psychedelic rock. A lot of 60’s psych and sunshine pop, as well as more modern neo-psych and even 90’s Britpop. I started writing this kind of stuff years ago, and I couldn’t incorporate it into Sun God Ra, so I thought, why not do a solo thing?
A: What are the pros and cons of recording solo vs recording in a band?
C: The biggest pro is just not having to work with others! All the ideas are from you, so all your output in the music is only yours. No disagreements, no scheduling issues, you work at your own pace. It helps that I got my own little home studio too.
The con is just the opposite, without working with others, you don’t get the other perspective that could possibly make your music even better and have the talents of others all creating together.
A: How did Sun God Ra get started?
C: Sun God Ra was formed in the Summer of 2014, but it goes a few years back to me playing and making these songs by myself that would eventually become Sun God Ra songs.
Years prior to 2014, I’ve been looking for members to start a band, but it’s a challenge to find others that are on the same page as you. Sun God Ra is my first band, and its been such a great experience so far. Its had its ups and downs but now we are redefining ourselves and I’m more excited than ever.
A: Why are you called The Count?
C: It’s a name one of my friends gave me. Her name is Dominique and it can actually be traced back to a Facebook comment on my profile pic back in 2015 haha.
I’ve been told I have a funny accent when I say some words, like I’m Dracula or something, and I guess I also look the part too lol. Also 90% of people can’t pronounce my first or last name, so I had to get a stage name, and I dug this one.
A: Which do you like recording more, hard rock or psychedelic rock?
C: I like to do both, especially when they are blended together. My projects are just different avenues of what I write. Not everything would fit together as a single project, so I had to separate them in terms of direction.
I have more projects than just Sun God Ra and The Count, maybe they will see the light of day in the future, but for now, I write the most for these projects and I dig them equally.
A: What inspires your dress sense?
C: Seeing how all my favourite musicians dressed inspired me so much. They seemed bigger than life wearing all these cool threads. I feel that you gotta play good, and look good. Definitely my biggest inspirations are Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones. They are like my bible for fashion. Those dudes always looked good.
A: What are your favourite places in Chicago? Like record stores, music venues, vintage shops, etc.
C: Livewire Lounge is awesome. I love playing there. The owner Dave is the nicest dude ever. Double Door was really cool too before it shut down. I was lucky enough to play there a couple months before it closed. I dig Reckless Records, I always find some good and hard to find stuff there for reasonable prices.
A: Who have you been listening to recently?
C: I just got into Scorpions like this week lol. A big part of that is Uli Jon Roth. Dude is amazing. I’ve been sleeping on this stuff, don’t know why its taken me so long to realise how awesome of a guitar player this guy is. He’s like Hendrix plays classical, got a white strat like me, and seems to really dig the sun with plenty of his work referencing it. So I like this guy already. I’m slowly going through their work and it’s all really good stuff. Riff and melody central, and Uli just ripping out solos like its nothing.
A: What is the rock music scene like in Chicago?
C: There a lot of great bands here but there doesn’t seem to be a strong enough community for it, at least for heavier/psychedelic music.
A: Are you releasing more solo music in the future?
C: I’m just getting started. I have a lot of songs I’ve been working on that I’m really excited about.
A: What do you wish you knew when you started?
C: I would say I just wish I started earlier.
A: What is your proudest moment?
C: I’m not sure about a single moment, but every time when people tell me they genuinely dig my music its such a great feeling. It makes me so proud that something I put a lot of work in gets appreciated. All the blood, sweat, and tears make it so worth it when someone is enthusiastic about your work.
A: What advice do you have for musicians?
C: Just be smart with what you do with your music. Everything is a process and just soak up as much knowledge as you can. And never ever ever even think about giving up. All this art stuff takes time, and if you put your soul into it, people will notice that. Also support your fellow musician, we are on the same boat here, there’s no competition.
A: Where can people listen to or purchase the EP?