By: Avalon Clare
Local horror rockers 13 Nails have had more than their fair share of ups and downs in 2016. Between studio issues delaying the release of their album to their singer’s sudden diagnosis and recovery from cancerous melanoma, this year hasn’t been easy. With an upcoming tour and much anticipated album release, it seems that their relentless hard work has paid off.
Minus a short break each year for Christmas, 13 Nails has practiced twice a week every week for the last three years. I met with Johnny, Grey, Joshenstein, and Dr. Mark at Higher Ground Rehearsal Studios before one of their two hour practice sessions to discuss the release of their first full length album as well as their upcoming tour.
If not for their smattering of tattoos and piercings, 13 Nails might come off as a group of soft-spoken nerds. Frontman Johnny Bones sports a Night of the Living Dead shirt and stands out as the only one in the room without unconventionally long hair. Incidentally, he’s also the most outspoken of the group.
“We’re quiet people until we get on stage,” Johnny explains, stressing that their sound is best experienced live. With a wild array of costumes, a wireless microphone, and a fondness for crowd participation, it’s easy to understand why he feels this way.
As a band best served live, the delay of their debut album American Grindhouse has been frustrating. Before linking up with Darren of Stout Studios in March, a series of sour experiences with other studios had repeatedly impeded the release. Recording the 11 track album started back in December of last year, and the long process has been exhausting. In spite of the setbacks, working with Darren turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to the bass driven band. In an effort to preserve the energy of their live performance, none of the instruments on the album were tracked individually.
“I love the studio and I love working with Darren,” Johnny remarked with sincerity, but even still, it’s been a long time coming and the band is itching for the next phase of their career.
“I’m ready to be back on stage again full time.”
Fortunately that time is imminent. On October 22nd 13 Nails will play a combination tour kickoff and album release show at The Pit in Greeley. The tour includes shows in New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada before finishing up in California. The last stop is in Los Angeles, where they will open for Dope and Flaw at the legendary West Hollywood venue Whisky A Go-Go. For a horror rock band from Northern Colorado, playing a show at the Whisky A Go-Go is a dream come true.
“I think it’s a bucket list thing for all of us,” Johnny said, explaining that the venue was home to bands like Mötley Crüe and Motörhead in their heyday.
Getting a call from the Whisky A Go-Go is a stark contrast to when the group got together in 2012 and struggled to find their place in the local scene. Back then they played a lot of shows with metal bands, but they didn’t quite fit. As guitarist Grey Jones put it, “[13 Nails is] not quite metal enough for the metal shows and too hardcore for most of the punk shows.”
This inability to fit in with a particular scene is due in part to the varying musical influences of the band members. With tastes ranging from classical to post grunge to outlaw country, the four of them argue and chide one another for their tastes. If there’s anything tying the group together, it’s their fierce dedication to their band.
It took a while for 13 Nails to own their unique sound, but they haven’t looked back since.
“We finally said **** it,” Johnny said, deadpan.
“We are what we are and this is what it is.”
American Grindhouse will be released on October 22nd with a live show at the Pit in Greeley, 807 17th Street, Greeley, CO.