COUNT BEETLE “The Rustling of Rats” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

There is strangeness in the Arkansas woods that few city dwellers will ever understand...a world of spooklights, shadow people, hairy things and fell voices on the wind. But there are some who live there and understand and are able to channel it into music. So it is with COUNT BEETLE…

This is Wormwood’s second go round with the enigmatic outfit led by Teddy Horse. They’ve just released a new EP that is weird even for them, entitled “The Ratter of Dale”. I roused Teddy from his homey shack in the backwoods to ask him about it as well as spooks, spooklights and more. Gather around the fire and hear the tale…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: First, introduce us to the personnel behind COUNT BEETLE. Who is a part of this mysterious project?

TEDDY HORSE: I am Teddy Horse and man the vocals, strings and most all lyrics. Occasionally I do other things; field recordings that are recorded into the sound, play some keys and other weirder things. Count Wynston handles the drums and adds the fire to the thing...he comes up with things often as well in idea or a live sense and we've been together for a long, long time.

This is usually the core in the recorded material but we have a guest haunting every so often, and sometimes a residual one. Live, for the past several years, we have a fellow doing backing vocals called Buck Barnibus as well as an old friend who does bass called Dalby. Another old friend called Dr. Copperpot does some exotic bongo as well. We have been working with the obscure producer named Rufus Arcane recently.

WC: What lit the spark that later turned into COUNT BEETLE? What was the idea that propelled it?

TH: The spark came back in 1994 when we started and had an old circle of friends who contributed. It is a long story, never told...But the driving themes seem to always be supernatural things...things vanished and lost...Dark things and scornful, dark humor or tragedy linked with nature and life and living, I would suppose.

WC: You just did a new 5 song EP. Tell us a bit more about it, where’s it available and how people can get it?

TH: Well, it is called "The Ratter of Dale" and is quite nearly a full, short album. It and the most of our material is available on Bandcamp. This album is being pressed onto green vinyl in a very limited run and should be ready for sale this November of 2020. It is being manufactured as we speak and I sold my motor car to fund it. The vinyl might be got at the above mentioned site but is best had by contacting me via:

WC: The thing that most stands out about COUNT BEETLE are the vocals, which I compare to a newly awakened corpse trying to speak. There is a taste of the grave in this voice. What led to this type of vocal?

TH: Bwahahaha, you are too kind to me. I have worked on the vocals for years and mostly go from poetry first...sometimes a song title first. I like to put myself into the characters in the songs and become them a long time ago and this is something that one may not understand. The taste of the grave is something that I have most certainly always had "one foot in", and this is something that I can never disguise.

WC:  The sound is very stripped down. Is this the way you’ve always heard the songs in your head? Is there room for more instruments and players in COUNT BEETLE?

TH: There's too much in the head to lend accountability to, and the heart is the proprietor, or I would have quit long ago. “The Ratter of Dale” is our most stripped down, it would seem but if you listen closely you might hear a mic placed in a wood stove pipe beat with a mallet or a triplet choir of voice. There are some doubled guitars but for the most part you are right, indeed. This album was more like you stated and has an old folklore sound, this is true. I recorded my own parts but the drums were given the best sound on a CB release ever byway of Wynston and Rufus Arcane which they did in one night on their own. Wynston had to work the next day, I might add! Like an old unfinished house was our sound before that but this one was more stark and bare in a better produced manner, but there are some things at the landscape that are nearly subliminal. One of our founding members said he heard a phantom instrument here or there just like the days of yore. There is room for more in Count Beetle and I do have dreams- to quote old Bela: "Dreams you could never guess!"

WC: Who exactly is “Dale Foots” and what’s the story behind this character?

TH: Dale Foots is a traveler. The lyrics tell that he fell through the floor and is "wrapped in the green death of life ever more". Your Ghostliness is a specter who fell down into a dungeon somehow and may be the Ratter of Dale's true self or share a said consanguinity. He says he IS still Dale Foots but finally grows weary at the end and admits he WAS Dale Foots. 

WC: Most of the songs on the new EP seem connected to each other. A lot involve rats in some way. Is it one big story or more of a general theme?

TH: Correct. There is really only one song which isn't about rats or the dungeon. The song we just mentioned above deals with the dungeon and undeath. The title track deals with man and ratter; fighting in the dungeon and is another ghost tale. "Rattus the Boiler" deals with a short story I wrote which was inspired by a rat man or lycanthrope, which is, of course, inspired by the RPG, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, first edition only, and always ONLY. "The Brains of Rats" deals with man's indifference to the rat. How many experiments have been done on the very brains of rats that have led us to where we are today and was it the right path? Is it not a holocaust? It brings forth the rat as a character and is spoken for them as they narrate the thing. "Man he dances on the brains of he domesticates wild cats." "Man he forgets old gods that grew from moss and stone".  "Man he forgets his nature and wants to leave", meaning something silly like destroying earth and going to Mars. Wahahaha. In all, I foresee them winning in the end. They gnaw along our bones. The crow is another ill used genius. Sighs* I feel ignorance is better than knowing too much.

WC: “Roy Cecil And The Fireball” sounds like it might be inspired by a real incident. Is that the case or is it entirely made up?

TH: No, not entirely made up. There are some songs on other collections that are more literal and entirely true experience, but there are tales. It was a great study to me, this spook-light phenomena. I can't tell you all the rural stories just where I live that  I have heard from good men as it would take too long. Oh, how long it all has been....I listened to this song on the lonely roads where the Hornet Spook-light in Joplin, MO, is seen and was glimpsed by me. I have a recording of a gentleman talking of another light here and near and it "was not foxfire". This song is about a horseman who trades his life with such a spook light- hence the words he "turned to bucking and dancing..turned into harassing and romancing" other words he is bucking and dancing like the light(s) and harassing travelers into terror.Romancing them in the way of shining and glowing in a sort of damned glamor. We are like the real or metaphoric glow of the old camp fire and the storyteller, which are nearly one and the same. I can laugh and be happy by these things but they are born in tragedy and scorn becomes the only way to survive this darkling place we live in.

WC: How much do the American backwoods and the tales from it influence COUNT BEETLE? Would you call it a “rural” project?

TH: Very much so. They mean everything to me and the woods taught me everything. I mean this beyond the way an armchair personality means this. I spent many years walking the woods alone at night as well, so I pay my dues, if you will. The song "Night Reeds" details this, which is available to listen on Bandcamp or Youtube alone. But, there is a connection to things British and Irish too...blood,'s deeper than one thinks and leads into the hereafter and past.

WC:  There’s a supernatural edge to the music. Have you experienced much of the other world yourself?

TH: Yes, without question. I can tell you Count Wynston and I once saw a little shadow figure the size of a toy zip around and move in front of a large glass door going from black in the dark, to gray in the half light and then translucent in the full light. We saw him for awhile, not just a glimpse. A little man shape with no eyes. Something happened I feel I haven't the space to mention after that. I have been attacked by a entity at night hours many times years ago. The song "Night Wayfarer" tells this on on our first album, “Clairaudience”. 

On this same album the end song, "The Woodline" talks about "fairy" lights i once saw; they were many and had an intelligence about them. I have seen a wraith in my room waking me with a blacker hole in the face on October 13 2011. It whispered a message to me and I later found out my step father had killed himself on the very day, stunning both me and my companions, who knew you can't make something like this up. I've had a weird experience once with a fellow called "Pan" but I can't get into that... This and much more. I wasn't born seeing things like this but it started when I started deeply talking  with my cousin who was once a songwriter with me in this music. He knew. This music is about a lot of these things; it is the very spirit of this music. I can promise you there are all kinds of things going on, always and in these dreadful times, know there is something beyond the stupidity and greed within your fellow men. It cursed me and saved me...these sort of things.

WC: Who are some of your favorite authors and musicians?

TH: I know Wynston was always really into Robert E. Howard and I am as well. We both respect Gary Gygax and still are inspired by this man. Lovecraft led me to some of my favorite authors like one of my favorites, Arthur Machen- Blackwood is another hero. Poe was always my first love, though, and this cannot be stated more. The master. We also enjoy Arthur Conan Doyle. One of my favorite books is "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame; I believe that is how his name is spelled. 

I am more inspired by old woodcuts, feelings, literary things than music. We were simply brought up with our uncle's old music: Zeppelin, Floyd, Cooper, the Doors, Sabbath. If I were to name a name that I found two years ago it would be the genius, Townes Van Zandt. Too late to have been inspired, but I never thought I'd find anything to make me mad about music that much again, you know? Art Bell's Ghost to Ghost A.M. show as well as old vanished radio shows...well, you get the idea. The way Arthur Edward Waite used words opened up a door to me; the way he ranted intelligently like Poe. Machen I found too late but no one writes like this man does.

WC:  Has COUNT BEETLE played live much? It would be strange finding an audience these days for such a sound.

TH: Yes, just played live this Halloween and every one for the last long years. We play where we want for a handful of people. A lot of the times it is hit or miss after we have many ales and not a great sound but we are a live band too. I agree about finding an audience. Everyone is moving somewhere ahead and it seems we are moving back or afar. But usually our listeners are lifers. It is culty.

WC:  Are there any other projects you are involved in?

TH: I just started my "solo" project Teddy Horse last winter. I recorded two albums entitled "Night Blue" and "Songs of Spring" and will put them out when I get the $ to print them on tape and/or cd from the dues collected from the new Beetle vinyl I mentioned. This is my next thing- to make it accessible on sites and such, just keep an eye out as it will be under Teddy Horse. I also write under that name and have included some of the stories with the digital Count Beetle albums as a bonus when you purchase our music at Bandcamp. The solo material features banjo, guitar, and auto-harp songs and includes a few traditional folk songs like "Wild Mountain Thyme" and "Loch Lomond", of the Irish and Scottish traditions, respectively. Some of the old songs I made for a mock film score to one of my short stories I intend to eventually release too. You can hear some of this also at the Count Beetle YouTube. Rufus Arcane is on board this solo project in terms of helping with art or intros and outros so far, and we would like to put some of his music out too. A new song for Teddy Horse called "The Moon is Here" can be found at the CB YouTube channel in the link below, taken from the night blue album. Someone has said demos are up at the Teddy Horse bandlab site.

 WC: If you could describe COUNT BEETLE in one word, what would it be?

TH: Auld.

WC: Any final messages?

TH: Support the low fire glow of the secret camp, stranger(S)...I will leave you with the links to find a door to our world:

Count Beetle Bandcamp:

Count Beetle Facebook:

Count Beetle YouTube: