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Interview With Tim Donofrio Of CounterAct

COUNTERACT is a thrash/metal band from Central Pennsylvania consisting of Benjamin “Remi” Youtz on Vocals, Tim Donofrio on drums, Zack “Sanchez” Graham on guitar, Pete Munroeon bass, and Lawrence Wallace on guitar. They cite influences ranging from Pantera to Mudvayne to Slipknot to Chimaira. They are set to begin playing more shows on their local scene with names like Ninetail and Passion at Gunpoint. I recently got some Q&A done with their drummer, Tim Donofrio.

Rocket: So are you originally from Pennsylvania?

Tim: Well, I was born in Camden, NJ and lived there till I was about 2 years old. Then my family moved to Kentucky for about 4 years and then moved to Arizona for 4 years and now I'm here in Amishville, USA. Haha so to answer your question, no I’ve been all over the place.

Rocket: When did you first start playing drums?

Tim: About 5 years ago. Pretty much when I started playing drums, that’s when the band started. It was the summer going into my sophomore year of high school.

Rocket: Right on. So tell me, who are a few of your biggest playing influences? Past or present.

Tim: Well, the whole reason I started playing drums is because my brother played Slipknot for me and when I heard Joey Jordison playing double bass that was it for me, that’s all the incentive I needed to start playing drums. My brother had been playing drums for over a year or so and he had gotten a double bass pedal and I would just sit down and go to town on double bass for a long ass time but my old man pretty much told me to pick up the sticks too or get off the drums. Haha so I picked up the sticks and haven’t stopped since. Joey is the reason why I started playing but my biggest influence is definitely Travis Smith of Trivium. His feet are unbelievable, he’s great in the pocket, his fills aren’t always really difficult but they fit perfectly with the music, great writer. Vinnie Paul, Jason Bittner, Chris Adler, Jose Pasillas, Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl, Andols Herrick, Stewart Copeland, John Bonham to name some more. I could go on forever just because I try to find something in all drummers that hear to learn from.

Rocket: Please give us the specs on your drum kit.

Tim: Right now I’m playing a 7 piece Tama Rockstar. I just recently switched over to two kicks rather than a double pedal and it’s the best thing I’ve ever invested in along with my rack! I play Iron Cobra double chained pedals and the Pearl Joey Jordison signature series snare drum but I might be switching over to the Vinnie Paul series soon though haha. I use two sets of hi hats, two chinas, 4 crashes, a ride and a splash. As you can tell I like lots and lots of cymbals haha, if I had more money I’d have even more. The more stuff there is to play the more fun it is! Everyone always asks me “isn’t it a pain in the ass to lug that kit to every show?” and basically the answer is yes but its definitely worth it. A lot of guys now are playing on 4 piece kits with like one or two crashes... What the hell?! That’s not fun! At least not for me anyway, it just doesn’t make sense to play a smaller kit just cuz you’re too lazy to carry around a couple more pieces. If you’re not having fun playing, then you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.

Rocket: How did CounterAct initially come together as a band?

Tim: Our original guitarist (Ben Rossman) had been playing guitar for about 2 years and my dad always had a drum kit even before I was born. Ben and I have been best friends since elementry school and once he started playing guitar he’d bring it over to my house always bugged me to get on the drums and jam with him even though I couldn’t even so much as play a beat. Once I finally started playing we were having a blast jamming so the obvious next step was to get a bass player. So I called up our friend Sanchez (our current guitarist) and was like “do you wanna learn how to play bass?” Haha he said yeah and it all started from there. We went through a singer or two before we came across Remi who saw us open up for Ill Nino at a local club. He contacted us about hooking up with his band to play shows. Funny story though, our current singer at the time went with Sanchez to check out Remi’s band practice but little did he know that Remi would a little later be taking his place. Remi recognized Sanchez a few months later when all of us except our singer were at a Mudvayne show at the Electric Factory in Phili. The odds of him seeing us there was pretty crazy though cuz that’s a big venue. Hahaha even funnier, Remi came and tried out a little after the Mudvayne encounter and we all decided he was in because we were looking for a new singer since our current one didn’t like the new, heavier direction we were going in. Well he came to our show when we opened up for Vanilla Ice of all bands and was singing all the words to our songs in the crowd and our singer came up to him after the show and was like “dude how’d you know all the words to our songs?” and Remi was just like “...I have your CD?” and our singer was like “yeah but you were singing to songs we don’t even have recorded yet” and Remi just paused and was like “oh I have the DVD” and like the next day we kicked out our current singer and Remi joined.

Rocket: Very cool. Now you guys have been playing your local scene pretty hard this year. Who are some of the other acts you've seen around that have impressed you?

Tim: Our good friends of Jacob’s Ladder put on a hell of a show. We had played a couple of shows with Halestorm before they got signed to Atlantic Records and I always thought that they were really on top of their game. They’ve been doing this shit since they were real young too. Umbra Within is this band we played a show with and we have a couple more booked with that are definitely very talented, Spit Can is a bad ass band, we got to play with them at the Trocadero once before, Anthrophobia, Primal Embrace, Shot to Pieces they are really young but god damn can those kids tear it up! I know I’m missing a lot of bands but I’m having a brain fart. Sorry to those I’m forgetting!

Rocket: When do you guys plan on releasing a new album of material? And what can we expect from it?

Tim: Well we’ve been working really hard on getting material for a full length for a long time, easily over a year now. We’ve had some guitarists coming and going so its been hard to get a lot of writing done with all that going on and especially playing out almost every weekend now makes it pretty difficult. But we’ve really been busting our asses hard to get new songs that we’re really happy with. I expect we’ll be ready before spring of next year to get into the studio and get that full length out. The new material is WAY more technical than anything we’ve written before. We’ve got insane guitar solos now, way more advanced riffs going on, more brutal screaming but also more melody in the vocals, the bass is a lot more straight forward and driving, the drumming has a lot more attack, drive, and my personal favorite; MORE DOUBLE BASS! Haha. Basically we’ve all just been growing as musicians and still are, all of us have only been playing our instruments for about 5 years now so we’ve got a long way to go with our development as song writers and musicians. Our sound is really turning into more “thrash” stuff like Trivium/Shadows Fall style of metal. But I don’t want to group us in with any other bands because I think what we’re doing is pretty original. We’re not reinventing the wheel or anything but we haven’t run into another local band that has the same style as us.

Rocket: Everyone knows I like to have fun with this next one. What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you while performing?

Tim: Hahaha. Well, this was pretty recently but these days its really fuckin hard to go to a metal show without seeing some kid in his little sisters clothing and a Flock of Seagulls hair cut with a shit ton of make up on. Anyway, we were playing this show at the Crocodile Rock and our singer Remi has a wireless microphone and there was this kid in the crowd that was all “Emo’d” out I guess you could say and he was hardcore dancing and hitting a bunch of people that didn’t want any part of it. Well Remi has a wireless mic so he got off the stage and decked the kid right in the face and knocked him on his ass! He got back up and kept on doing so Remi got off stage again and did it again! It more or less sums up how we feel about the whole Emo/Fashioncore scene that’s seeped its way into metal.

Rocket: Sounds like the kid walked into the wrong show for sure. Man, It was a great year for metal in 2006. What album was your personal favorite?

Tim: Easily Trivium’s new one, The Crusade. I’ve really gotten into Lamb of God now too though cuz of their newest one, “Sacrament”. Both really great albums but I have to go with The Crusade on this one.

Rocket: So what are some of the upcoming shows for CounterAct that we need to watchout for?

Tim: Well, January 5th we’ll be in Phili with Monster Magnet and February 21st we’ll be playing with Kittie for the second time now at the Crocodile Rock in Allentown, PA.

Rocket: Thanks for taking the time out on this with me, brother. Give a shout out to your biggest supporters.

Tim: First off I have to thank ALL the fans that have been supporting us and local music, they are seriously fucking great people and they are the only reason bands and musicians can do what they do because without them all we have is our jams spaces hahah. I definitely gotta say thanks to my family they’ve always supported me with what I’m doing, the band of course I love those guys they are like brothers to me, The Metal Den definitely, for seeing something in us and contacting us, all the cool bands we’ve played with that hook us up with shows and hung out and come support us, our manager Diana for helping take a lot of the weight off my shoulders with the business end of everything, the venue bookies that have given us chances that we couldn’t have ever dreamed of, and last but not least, any and everybody that doubts us. When those times come where it feels hopeless and things seem impossible, those are the people I look to for inspiration.

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