NHC March POTM: Thirteen

It’s no great secret that Scotland’s music scene is a thing to be proud of. So we here at TSA have teamed up with Scotland’s very own New Hellfire Club to bring you a monthly pick of who we think are doing epically well right now. Keep your eyes out for these up and coming bands. This is TSA and New Hellfire Club’s ‘Pick of the Month’.

Hi there folks! First time we have had an out and out punk-rock band in for our POTM, so it’s great to have you in for a chat! Please do open the interview then by telling us a wee bit about yourself, like who you are and how long you’ve been a band etc.

Dolly: Ooh, I like that description, an out-and-out punk band. It makes me feel very, er.. Punk. Ok, so we are Thirteen, and we play Punk Rock N Roll! My name is Dolly, and I’m the singer/guitarist. Then we have Crag on bass and backing vocals and Tam on drums and backing vocals.

The band started at the back-end of 2013, when I came back from living in Oz, and wanted to put a band together. I had a bassist, the name, about 5 songs, but no drummer, so in the process of finding one, I answered an advert for a guitarist/singer to join a punk covers band. That’s where I met Tam and original bassist Taggart, and the chemistry was amazing. Anyway, long story, short, I persuaded Tam and Taggart to play original songs, and that’s when Thirteen was born (around the end of April 2014).

We have started a tradition of playing a gig around the 22nd April as our birthday gig, so this year it’ll be our third anniversary.

Let’s get right into the name stuff then first and foremost, you guys are the first band we have talked to with a number for a name, how did that come about then?

Crag: Thirteen is a fairly obvious choice as a band name, because of the connotations with bad luck, rock n roll etc. However, I like to think that the name Thirteen chose us, because it follows us about. Like, the first gig after I joined was coincidently on Friday 13th Feb, our 13th gig as a band was the first date of our first tour, even the number of one hotel room we stayed!

We call it (tongue firmly in cheek) the “power of Thirteen” and it often proves to be lucky for us. Several times, we’ve had to move venue on the day of the gig, because of an “unforeseen” problem, but each time the gig has gone ahead, and is usually fantastic.

That’s the “power of Thirteen”, when things seem to be going the wrong way, it always turns out great. So we have embraced it by doing things like making sure there were 13 songs on the album and playing Friday 13th gigs on purpose.

Tell us a bit about your own songs, how would you describe your own music to someone who has never heard you before? We only ask as we have been given into trouble in the past for calling what we thought was a punk band, a punk band! (Turns out they class themselves as good old-fashioned rock n roll, styles can be so bloody tough to pigeonhole these days!)

Dolly: Yes, we are a punk band, and proud of that label. Most people have a perception of what Punk means, which is usually derogatory – i.e. three chords, played badly, with shouty vocals, predictable lyrics and profanities. But, that isn’t punk.

Punk is an attitude, a philosophy, a lifestyle, a celebration. We describe ourselves as Punk Rock N Roll, which means that we have the attitude and aspirations to try to point out some of life’s failings, but as musicians we try not to be constrained by the punk-by-numbers brigade.

Tell us a bit about your own musical loves then, and what styles and bands inspired you to take to the stage yourself one day. Are you punk rock through and through, or are your musical tastes a little more unusual/eclectic when you are relaxing at home with your feet up?

Dolly: For me, great music has one thing in common, passion. Music, should invoke an emotional response. It’s a primal thing, and should make you want to fuck or kill. It’s about massive drums, crunching guitars, powerful vocals, meaningful lyrics, stage presence and presentation.

What inspires me about live music, is seeing a band who really means it, who don’t just play the songs, but really get into it, and entertain. A show should be like a communion, a joint effort between band and crowd. It’s like “we’ve all come out for a good time, so let’s do that”. That’s what I want to see, so that’s what Thirteen does.

Tam: For me having my teenage years in the nineties I was doing the whole American punk thing with bands like Rancid, NOFX, Green Day etc. But like Dolly anything with a good, strong rhythm and probably loud guitars will get my attention. We ourselves have seen a resurgence in more ballsy punk rock over the last few years, certainly from the days when indie rock seemed to rule the land.

Do you guys sense a genre on the rise, or do you think it’s always been there and just surfaces more regularly in times of global/local strife?

Crag: Punk has never really gone away, but it seems to have a 10 year popularity cycle. After the “Punk Is Dead” cliché, the 80’s saw a resurgence then in the 90’s it broke big in America and worldwide with Offspring, Rancid and Green Day etc.

Of course, this year is the 40th anniversary of the original wave, so it’s having another resurgence, which is a great thing for bands like us who are trying to put our own stamp on it. I’m not sure it’s anything to do with political climates (although that definitely informs a lot of the lyrical content), because I think anyone that has a rebellious streak tends to lean towards punk, and the artistically minded discover our voice through it.

So the floor is now yours, what’s next for 13 in 2017, any big gigs or new releases the readers should know about?

Dolly: Well, we released our debut album A Line Of The Dead On Deadline Day at the end of last year, but since then we’ve been back to the studio and recorded six new songs, one of which has been chosen to appear on a new compilation put out by Tarbeach Records of New York, alongside another 2 Scottish bands, Heavy Drapes and Reaction.

The album is released on 4th April, and our song is ‘We Will Overcome’. Hopefully being on the Tarbeach comp will put us before a new audience, and the label will want to release more songs, but I guess that’s up to the public and how they respond to the album, and more specifically us. Other than that we’ve got three newly written songs which are ready to be recorded and hopefully released before the end of 2017.

Crag: We have plans to release a split vinyl album with newly reformed Horror Punk legends The Screaming Dead, sometime later in the year and I’m dead excited to be having one of our songs released by a label from Queens NY as it’s home to Spiderman and The Ramones.

Thirteen are also playing at the NHC Big Weekender on 1 April – more details here. Keep up to date with the band via their Facebook page and Bandcamp

Photo credit: Binks Photography

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