by Christopher Lee
All photos by Nick Xenos except The No.13s/KISS photo: Will Byington
The No.13s are a rock n' roll tour de force based out of South Florida who were plucked from obscurity to perform as a musical guest of the "hottest band in the world" KISS, on Kiss Kruise 2012 & 2013 respectively! A young band, yet old pros that is made up of various members of well known acts such as former Geffen recording artists Rock City Angels and Florida 80's legends Cryer! Crypt Magazine is always the first to bring you the new bands before anybody else because were on the pulse! So come read what make's 'em rock and discover a band you are destined to hear more about in the future! Cause bad luck NEVER sounded sooo GOOD!
Crypt: So for those unfamiliar with the non-superstitious rock n' roll
tour de force that is The No.13s, give the readers some history.
Larry: Well, we got our start in a band called Rock City Angels. They
had a great record called "Young Man's Blues" out on Geffen Records in
the 80s and I was an old friend of the singer Bobby Durango. The band
had broken up in the early 90s, but by 2009 Bobby had a new record
called "Use Once And Destroy" that he was putting out.
Crypt: Great title!
Larry: I'm a graphic designer, and I always loved the Angels, so I
offered to do the artwork for the new record. Bobby knew I was a guitar
player so he asked me to join the new version of the band. I pulled in
an old friend and former bandmate of mine, Mark Binko, to play bass.
Mark knew Adam Keller and brought him in to play drums, and we completed
the lineup with second guitarist Jorge Hernandez. We're all South
Florida guys, but Bobby lived in Memphis, so in the down time when Bobby
was back home we would rehearse the Angels' material and I would sing
Bobby's parts. Then we started fucking around on new songs...
Adam: Basically we figured we had a whole band down here, so we just
looked at each other and said "why don't we do some of our own stuff in
Larry: So our side project while we were in Rock City Angels became The No.13s.
Crypt: OK, and who is in the present lineup of the band?
Larry: There's me, Larry Poccia, on guitar and vocals, Adam Keller on
drums, we've got Dean Robaina on bass, and Stephen Rose on guitar.
Crypt: So you guys just put out an excellent CD titled "Vacant Life". Give the readers some info about it.
Larry: It's our debut CD and it's a good cross-section of our style and
the types of songs we do. It runs the gamut from pretty straightforward
rocking stuff like the slightly punk-influenced, Bob Mould/Replacements
influenced thing, but it also goes into some of our darker stuff. A song
like "New Romantic" has some dark, even slightly goth flavoring to it
... think Lords of the New Church meets early Cult. There's the title
track "Vacant Life", which I've always considered to be a T. Rex stomp
with very stream of consciousness lyrics. We've also got a song like
"Go!" which is a far more high-energy aggressive kind of track with a
bit of discordant Sonic Youth type chords in the intro, and then some
Black Francis/Pixies screaming thrown in. And then we've got a good old
classic 70s glam-rock Bowie-style song, a track called "Suicide" which
isn't about killing yourself, but actually a little tip of the hat to
Hanoi Rocks guitarist Nasty Suicide.
Crypt: You guys have some GREAT songs. "Vacant Life" is certainly a hit waiting to happen! So who does the songwriting?
Larry: We write collectively...
Adam: Larry pretty much handles all of the vocals/lyrics, but its pretty
much open otherwise as far as anything anyone brings in. Someone might
bring in a complete song and everyone just puts their own flavor on top
of it. There's been other times where someone has a riff and then the
rest of the band, we just work on it collectively. But it's pretty
evenly divided and democratic.
Crypt: So how does a virtually unknown band out of South Florida get
picked to perform as a musical guest with one of the most legendary rock
bands of all time on Kiss Kruise II?
Crypt: Yeah well that sounds like good luck to me!
Adam: Well we had somebody at the production company suggest we submit
our music for consideration, and the person booking the cruise liked us
enough to give us a shot and throw us on there.
Crypt: And that was for Kiss Kruise II (2012). Being a band with very
few gigs under your belt, what was it like going from a few small gigs
locally to play with one of the most recognized faces in the history of
rock n' roll? You guys pulled it off like veterans - was there a lot of
Larry: It's funny because the guy who hired us for the cruise, that was
his only concern, he said "I like you guys but I don't see many shows
under your belt" and we had to explain to him, The No.13s are a new band
but we have all previously played with a bunch of bands over the years.
Adam: Yeah, and that's the thing - we were all seasoned veterans as far
as playing goes. It wasn't the first time at the rodeo for any of us.
Crypt: Well you guys handled it like pros. Did you feel like you hit the rock n' roll lottery?
Larry: Absolutely! Between the bands and the crews we got really
spoiled. I mean we're playing on a bill with KISS, and there was Skid
Row on that cruise as well, who are great guys, we hung out with those
guys a lot. Steven Adler from Guns N' Roses was on there with his new
band, he remembered Rock City Angels from the Geffen days. We also got
to play with Night Ranger as well as up-and-coming bands like Leogun and
Vintage Trouble. There were other bands too, like Radiolucent and
Ledfoot Messiah out of Atlanta, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, A
Thousand Horses and The Big Rock Show out of Nashville, all the bands
were really talented and cool. There was great camaraderie on board.
Everybody was very supportive of each other.
Crypt: So how did you feel getting asked back to perform again on Kiss Kruise III?
Larry: That was amazing! I mean, we knew that we did a good job on the
previous cruise, and we even won over a bunch of the KISS fans on there,
which is no small feat! There's a fan group called Kiss Kruise Maniacs,
and after seeing us perform on the 2012 cruise they asked us to perform
at their unofficial pre party in Miami for the 2013 cruise. That was
definitely a nice bit of news to tell the folks that book the bands for
the cruise. Whether that helped us get rehired or not we don't know, but
I'm sure it didn't hurt. They could've decided to not hire us just to
change up the lineup, so it was really cool to be asked back.
Crypt: What keeps you fired up to keep doing this?
Adam: It's just what we do. It's always been what we do!
Larry: We just love it. Music's a drug that you get hooked on. You don't
choose it, it chooses you. As much as you can sometimes get aggravated
by all the side stuff and go "I'm never doing this again"...
Adam: Yeah, no matter what bad experiences, or time away that I've
taken, ya know I get sucked right back in. Like "The Godfather"!
Larry: Performing is the sex of the relationship. You can remember that
crazy ex-girlfriend and you go "she was nuts, everything was wrong in
that relationship, but goddamn the sex was good"! And that's what brings
you back - the sex is really fucking good!
Crypt: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you guys?
Larry: In a nutshell I always say we're The Replacements sucker punched
by The Stooges, and lethally dosed by the New York Dolls. That's the
elevator pitch, but there's a lot more going on under the hood...
Adam: Basically it's just four different people taking all of our
influences, which can vary greatly, and it's just the culmination of
everything we like and what everybody brings to the table. Between all
four of us there's a fine crossover point somewhere in the middle, with
bands like KISS and Cheap Trick, or The Beatles and The Stones, where we
all kind of have a mutual meeting point in the center, but our
individual tastes all branch out in different directions.
Crypt: Yeah, because with you guys I hear so many influences. There's
something from every genre, from The Stones, I hear The Replacements,
there's some power pop, and every song is different than the last, which
is what a band should be. Adventurous and always trying something new.
Adam: That's the thing, we're OK with not being locked into having a set
sound or style. Everybody in The No.13s is OK with branching out and
expanding. We might do one song that is straightforward rock n' roll, we
might do something else that's a little more sonically charged, that's
got a more aggressive feel...
Larry: Or darker. Or noisier. We were at one show, there was a girl in
the crowd who had never seen us before and she screamed out "play some
Hüsker Dü, you sound like 'em"! And Hüsker Dü /Bob Mould is one of my
influences, but it's only one little ingredient in there. Someone else
at a show said that they heard some Johnny Cash in there. Maybe it was
my deep voice. It's strange when you hear what other people hear in you.
Crypt: What was your first concert?
Larry: Jeez, we're flogging the KISS thing here, but my first concert was KISS in 1979 at Madison Square Garden, NYC.
Adam: KISS - January 1978, Hollywood Sportatorium in Hollywood, Florida.
Crypt: And what was the first record you bought growing up?
Larry: My first records were either hand-me-downs or bought for me by my mom. Albums like The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper", to 45s of The Stones "It's All Over Now" to Elton John to bubble gummy stuff like Bo Donaldson and The Heywoods' "Billy Don't Be A Hero". But the first record I ever bought with my own money was KISS "Dressed To Kill". I bought it with loose change! I brought a bag of pennies in and poured them on the counter at Sam Goody. I'm sure they were thrilled.
Adam: KISS Alive! I loved it so much that I actually bought it twice with whatever allowance I got as a kid because one of the records broke or scratched or something. I remember going to a record store that was right up the street and I picked it out again and my parents were like "you already have this one, are you sure?" and I was like "one of the records broke, I gotta have it again, I need another copy. I gotta be able to hear the whole thing"!
Larry: Do you still have the booklet that came with it? I cut mine up and hung it on my wall when I was a kid. Mine has no Ebay value! I wish I still had the tattoos from KISS Alive II.
Crypt: Yeah, no shit! What do you want people to get out of listening to The No.13s?
Larry: I want them initially to think it's cool stuff. We're not a heavy message band, but if you do delve deeper, I just want you to go "hey, there's someone here who's thinking" and hopefully it's the type of songs where lyrically, maybe you felt this way too. I'm always trying to write something that's meaningful to me that might also touch somebody else's life.
Crypt: So what do you think of the current state of rock n' roll?
Larry: Ya know, a lot of people complain about it, but I think people remember the past through rose-tinted glasses. They compare the cream of the past to the crap of today, but there's a lot of crap you forgot about because, well, it was crap! If you pull out a Hot 100 list from Billboard magazine in the 70s you think Zeppelin are gonna be on it, you think Sabbath are gonna be on it, or Bowie or the Sex Pistols, but they're not. It's Debbie Boone. It's Shaun Cassidy. It's Starland Vocal Band doing "Afternoon Delight". It's that stuff! That's what dominated the charts. There was a lot of saccharine bullshit back then too. You just remember the classics now, or forty years on that stuff has a kitsch appeal to it, so you can get sentimental about the cheesy stuff. Yes there's a bunch of crap today, but there's a bunch of great stuff today too. Stuff like Joy Formidable, Tame Impala, Deap Vally and IO Echo just to name a few, and I have yet to be disappointed with any of Jack White's output.
Adam: The only problem with it, the sad state of it, is that the good stuff that's out there usually doesn't get the attention like the stuff that gets played on the radio. Everything you hear on the radio is the same cookie cutter mold, the same production. I can turn on a modern rock station and I hear five bands in a row and I can't distinguish one from the other. But at the same time there's a ton of cool scenes out there. You just gotta go out and hunt for them!
Larry: But you have the tools to search them out now.
Waitress: You guys OK? You need some more beers?
All three of us: YES!
Crypt: So what's next for The No.13s? What do you have coming up?
Adam: Actually, we have been working on new songs for our follow up to the "Vacant Life" CD.
Larry: And booking more shows. We've had the opportunity to play bigger venues here, such as The Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida and we have an upcoming show at a place called America's Backyard at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale, which is a really cool venue. We've seen some great bands on that stage - Kings of Leon, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Black Crowes to name a few. And there's the Summer Daze festival we're playing with the band Lit. All of the details are on our website: http://www.TheNo13s.com.
Adam: We do have a lot of fans in Texas, but oddly enough we haven't played there yet. We get random messages on Facebook from people there asking "are you playing here any time soon"? We've also crossed paths with a lot of people in Nashville and Atlanta, and we used to play in the south when we were in The Angels, so we'll definitely be making our way up there. We always have a blast in those towns!
Larry: And of course we'd love to get over to Europe. The guy who engineered and co-produced our record, an awesome sound man by the name of Brian Fitzpatrick, just moved back to Florida from Finland. He recently brought over a really cool Finnish band called Gangster of Love here to Florida to play some dates a few months back and we hit it off with them. They caught one of our shows while they were here and they thought we'd go do really well over there.
Adam: I lived over in Paris a few years back and played with a band called Loading Data. We've always stayed in touch - they even invited me out to L.A. to play on a few tracks on their latest album, which was produced by Alain Johannes and had Nick Oliveri from Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age playing on it as well. The singer Lo has remained a close friend and has encouraged us to make our way over there to do a some dates.
Crypt: And before we wrap this up, what would you like to say to the people reading this interview?
Adam: Buy our album!
Larry: Go to http://www.TheNo13s.com! Listen to our stuff man!
Buy the their excellent "Vacant Life" CD HERE:
And visit: http://www.theno13s.com and "Like" them HERE: https://www.facebook.com/TheNo.13s
Do you tweet? https://twitter.com/theno13s
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