Count’s 77 is the band fronted by lead singer Danny “The Count” Koker, star of the hit television series Counting Cars.
With roots in 70’s hard rock, Count’s 77 is powered by the twin guitar team of John Zito and Stoney Curtis, the latter of whom has an international following as a recording and touring blues guitarist. With musical roots as diverse as Thin Lizzy, Foghat, The Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin, Count’s 77 stands poised to be one of the leaders of the new classic rock revival, with a sound reminiscent of one of the greatest musical eras of all time.
Producer and label owner Mike Varney had this to say of Count’s 77, “As a fan of hard rock and guitar-oriented music I’m always looking for a CD that rocks from top to bottom. Count’s 77 combines gifted instrumentalists and a charismatic frontman with a strong voice that culminates for an uncommonly good hard hitting rock and roll record that is apparent from the first note.”
Koker was singing long before he came into international fame as the owner of Count’s Kustoms, his Las Vegas-based hotrod and chopper shop. He splits his pastimes between his love of all things automotive and his passion for music on Counting Cars and has included Count’s 77 on previous seasons.
The platform afforded Koker by Counting Cars places him in front of millions of viewers each week and has given the band the opportunity to appear on the show. With fans of the hit TV series spanning from the United States to Canada, South Africa, Europe, Japan, Israel and South America, Count’s 77’s fan base is reaching exterior markets as well. Having performed at motorcycle rallies and large-scale corporate events for thousands of people, Count’s 77 is rapidly garnering exposure and has headlined shows in Colorado, Texas, Mississippi, Chicago and many more.
Stoney Curtis, lead guitarist for Count’s 77, has amassed an international following as a recording and touring blues guitarist, releasing a steady flow of product for the last ten years. The remaining integral members of the band have paid their dues in a variety of recording and performing situations. Tommy Paris is not only the band’s incredible keyboardist but has been known internationally for more than 25 years as the lead singer of platinum rockers Britny Fox. Rhythm and slide guitarist John Zito forged a career on the LA rock scene before bonding with Koker and Curtis after displaying his savant-like command of 70’s rock guitar chops. Also growing up on 70’s rock, virtuoso rock bassist Barry Barnes and powerhouse drummer Paul Disibio have each been laying down the rhythm for more than 30 years. After touring all over the country in an number of popular bands, Barnes and Disibio landed in Vegas, with Barnes playing bass in the critically acclaimed show “Rock Of Ages” and Disbio working with Blue Man Group. Together they fill the rhythm section position with a strength and authority that is so strong, it cannot be faked and can only be obtained through hard work and dedication.
Rock Confidential caught up with brother-man Danny Koker to talk about Count’s 77 and why the family vibe between members makes for a fun, successful band.
I know music has always been a part of your life and you’ve been blessed to make it a part of your career. Until these guys came around and asked you to jam had you ever thought about starting a rock band before?
I had not. I’ve always loved music and I did it up until my mid-20s and I wandered away from it. Even though I enjoyed it and paid attention to it I wasn’t actively involved. I never gave it much thought until I met these guys. Finding the right group of guys that will stay dedicated to a project is not easy. It’s not an easy find and when we got together something magical happened. At that point it very much became an important thought in the forefront of my brain.
I’ve heard you refer to the group as a band of brothers. Tell me about the relationships with the other guys in the band.
We take the definition of the word “band” literally. A “band” isn’t necessarily just a group of musicians. It can also be defined as a tight knit group of people. We banded together for whatever the cause. We consider ourselves a band of brothers and the music is just something we do. It’s a blessing to have guys like this in your life. It’s guys you wanna hang out with or have dinner with or travel with. We love each other like brothers and don’t have all the issues so many other bands have. We’re all about the same age. We all grew up listening to the same music. We all have the same goals with this band. It’s about a rock-solid dedication with these guys. I know a lot of people but only a few I would call family. I don’t throw that around lightly.
That has to make things so much more fun.
We are having a ball! We take the music and our performances very seriously. When the curtain opens and we hit that first note, although we take it very seriously, we are having a blast. We have so much fun on that stage together. That fun and enjoyment spills out into the crowd and the people that come to our shows are having as much fun as we’re having. Wait – I gotta take that back! I don’t think anybody can be having as much fun as we are but they sure seem to be.
How did you get from a band doing cover songs to recording original tunes with a record deal?
It was such a blessing, man. We started off as a jam band and then we turned into a full-on cover band opening for other bands. Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records already had a working relationship with my guitarist Stoney Curtis. Mike came to Vegas and came to one of our shows at my club Vamp’d. After the show he said ‘We’ve gotta do something with this band.’ He put together the deal and signed us to a record contract. We got serious about writing. We sat down and just started writing and that’s a challenge for me. It’s new to me. I’ve been around music all my life but was never involved in writing. It really was a collaboration. The writing was done between Curtis, myself and Mike Varney. I spend a lot of time on the road because of the television show and you’ll sit in an airplane for hours on end or in a hotel room for hours on end just writing random thoughts. I’d bring ’em back and Curtis had been writing riffs and we’d work with Varney, who’s an amazing producer, and he would help us put all these pieces of the puzzle together. We were in the studio for over four months. I have a recording studio in my complex here so I would work all day and then work on the music all night. We worked very hard on this record and I’m shocked at how well it turned out – and I’m not saying that in an egotistical way. We want to tell people how great the record is but it might sound like we’re bragging and gushing. We just want people to listen to it. Mike Varney got to know each and every one of us in the band. He challenged our abilities and brought out the best in every one of us. I have so much respect for him as a producer. I’m very proud of this record.
And if that wasn’t enough you’ve got Rick Derringer and Pat Travers on there, too.
I know man. Is that cool or what? There are 11 originals on the record and two bonus tracks. The bonus tracks are “Rock N’ Roll Hoochie Koo” with Rick Derringer and “Snortin’ Whiskey” with Pat Travers. It doesn’t get much cooler than that – two iconic 70s guys with two iconic 70s songs and we were fortunate enough to cover those our way.
You already have a crazy schedule because of the TV show. What will touring be like for Count’s 77?
It’s tough but we’re doing the best we can. We’re doing a lot of fly-in and fly-out dates, a lot of weekends and occasionally something in the week. We’ve been offered to be a part of some really cool tours but there’s now way I can disappear for 40 days right now. I just can’t do that and the band gets it. There will be opportunities to see this band in a live situation.
I don’t think some music fans realize how involved you are in the music scene and how close you are to so many artists.
It goes way back. I did some stuff for Ozzy Osbourne a long time ago. He’s one of the coolest, nicest guys I’ve met in the industry. He’s a wonderful gentleman. I’ve done work with Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Rob Zombie – who, by the way, is a real gentleman. I hold him in high regards and have so much respect for that guy. We did some stuff for Judas Priest, George Clinton, Jackyl and Jesse James Dupree. I had the opportunity to sing on stage with Molly Hatchet in Florida. It blows my mind. Guys like Dave Meniketti from Y&T – here’s a group that will come to my club in Vegas and play a two and a half hour show. He’s not a kid but when you see him on stage you would think he was! He looks great and sounds amazing. Cats like Jizzy Pearl who is a really close friend of mine. Paul Shortino is another guy who is just like family to me. I understand that because of the television show that people are getting to know the motorcycle and car guy. I grew up with motorcycles and cars but I also grew up with music. All three of those things were very crucial in my upbringing and how I grew up. Now that I have the opportunity to get back into music I’m doing all the things that I love. I realize some people may think the band is “just that guy from the TV show with some of his buddies.” But this is for real. I take it as seriously as I take the bikes and cars. The music gets the same amount of love and passion that I put into the cars and bikes. This truly is a band, it’s not just me and my buddies. This is not about one guy with a bunch of guys backing me up. It’s serious and we mean it!