Oh, the mid-2000s. What a wonderfully odd yet entertaining era. You remember it, right? A time when Myspace ruled the internet, music videos were actually played on MTV (MTV2 also!), Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter couldn’t stop churning out way-too-long movies and The Number Twelve Looks Like You was dominating the highly competitive mathcore world with releases like An Inch of Gold for an Inch of Time, Nuclear. Sad. Nuclear, and Mongrel.
Combining the ferocity and musicianship of a seasoned metal band with the untamed energy of a spastic hardcore act, The Number Twelve quickly made an impact on listeners – both with their animated live sets and vigorous in-studio recordings.
Standing out by simply doing things their own way, co-vocalist Jesse Korman, guitarist Alexis Pareja, and company were continuing to succeed and spread their band’s name nationwide with every Eyeball Records LP they put out.
That is, until 2010 when the New Jersey outfit decided to disband following the release of their most daring and almost avant-garde record, Worse Than Alone. Citing inner turmoil as the cause, Korman, Pareja, and the others parted ways with no real plans to reunite.
Fast-forward to 2017, seven long years without hearing the crowd-favorite “Grandfather,” the face-melting “Jay Walking Backwards” or the absolutely relentless “Jesus And Tori,” The Number Twelve (with the addition of bassist DJ Scully and drummer Michael Kadnar) has finally resurrected from the dead.
With a handful of tour dates already knocked out with fellow mathcore enthusiasts Dillinger Escape Plan, Korman and Pareja are back on their feet and ready to bring The Number Twelve into the forefront. For a quick rundown on how the band went from a distant memory to a revitalized and retooled machine ready to re-take what was once theirs, check out our Q&A with the band below. For more from The Number Twelve Looks Like You, head here.
Alright Jesse, just to get everybody up to speed, how did The Number Twelve Looks Like You get here? Reunited and back on tour?
Jesse Korman: So we got here because we had an extensive hiatus [and] we felt something was missing. And as you get older, you come to more realizations and realize, “You know what? If there was ever any time to play heavy metal again, it’s not going to be when you’re 40 or 50 [laughs] so this is the time.” Me and Alex have been trying to round everybody up for I guess maybe about five years and the timing didn’t work out. Then we were like, “It’s now or never, this is the last attempt” and [Alex] was like, “Alright, let’s do it!”
So Alex, after you and Jesse were on board, how did you come across recruiting other members? Did you reach out to previous members first?
Alex Pareja: Jesse started asking me if I was interested in doing [The Number Twelve] again because I wasn’t really – I was just doing other projects and other styles of music that, in general, I felt satisfied with. I was definitely missing the atmosphere and the fans we had and the good times. [I wanted to get back together] for nostalgia, and to also push the [band’s] boundaries even further because I always felt that we ended up on a note that we didn’t even get to do our best yet.
JK: It was like a bad breakup from like a girlfriend. It just didn’t end the best.
AP: Yeah, there was no real closure. I know we still definitely had another record we wanted to write and always evolve our sound with. Then, in regards to members, I had been talking to Jon [Karel] our old drummer and some of the other guys but we’re all older and we have more responsibilities. It just got harder. Schedules were different and people’s needs were different. It just got a little too much and time just kept on going by so we were like, “Well, why don’t we try looking for new members?” We got some recommendations from groups of friends and musicians and we started with DJ. DJ plays bass and he had his drummer Mike, who they play with another group called Black Table, and it was great because it saved the time of everyone getting to know each other – because you have to have a [rapport] between musicians together. So being able to communicate with band members is a really important thing…It was important for whatever new members we got, that we got along with them too and not just be like hired guns.
Were there any attempts to bring [former co-vocalist] Justin Pedrick back?
JK: You know, there was always the attempt. He left the band a lot [earlier] than we ended the band. He left on a much worse note. It wasn’t something that he just didn’t feel anymore, he just physically couldn’t bring himself to get back on stage – there was just a lot of anxiety for him. I don’t think you really get away from that, I think that’s always gonna sort of stick with you. So, yeah there was an attempt, but I think his decision was made.
So DJ, when you got the call that The Number Twelve was getting back together and they wanted you to be a part of it, what were your initial thoughts?
DJ Scully: It’s kind of funny, I was just telling this to somebody yesterday. Jesse called me – I was actually out with my guitar player from one my other bands Dead Empires at a beer festival, so I was tanked. And Jesse started texting me, “Hey man, it’s Jesse Korman,” and I was like, “Who the fuck are you?” [laughs]. And he got on the phone, and typical Jesse, “Listen, I’m not trying to get this out there but we’re talking about getting Number Twelve back together and a couple people recommended you.” So I was like, “Alright, yeah I’m down! We’ll see what happens.” So then I called Mike [Kadnar] immediately because Jesse asked if I knew any drummers.
Michael, same thoughts as DJ? Super stoked to join the reunion?
Michael Kadnar: I remember DJ called me or texted me and the same thing, he was wasted [going], “Ah, man! Number Twelve!” And I thought it was bullshit. I’m like, “Dude, this is not even possible.” I was a big fan and to have the opportunity it’s like, “Oh, okay! Here we go.” So [DJ and I] started working on it, transcribing stuff, practicing. And then – a lot of times when you get an audition it’s “blah blah, maybe it will work.” So we were like “Okay, we’ll try it.” Then once we were [all] in the room together, it was like “Okay, the magic was there and this is actually happening.” So it was exciting.
Were the songs challenging for you two to learn:
DS: Nah, dude. Piece of cake. [Laughs]
MK: I’ll put it this way, we got the offer I guess more than a year ago – like a year and a few months. And I started transcribing the songs 14 months ago and now here, I don’t know, we have like 13 songs? That’s all [DJ and I] know. I transcribed all the drum parts, we worked on them. So yeah, it took 14 months to do like a song a month. It was difficult but also really rewarding just like anything you put your time into. It made us all better musicians I think, as a band and personally as well.
DS: Like Alex was saying, the cool thing about coming in with Mike is that we got to practice a lot together. At the time we started doing that, we were writing for our other band Black Table and getting ready to record. So we were doing two rehearsals a week for that. Then on top of that, we added two or three more rehearsals a night just to work on Number Twelve stuff. So, we got really tight. And also, it’s nice to have that support too. Like, you’re not coming in blind to the rehearsal or tryout or whatever. We knew we knew that parts and we told each other we sounded good like, “Alright cool, we can do this.”
MK: That was a really smart move on [Jesse and Alex’s] part to look for a rhythm section. Because like Alex was saying, if you have two random guys, you have to audition them separately. Then have them meet and have chemistry – especially a rhythm section. So DJ and I got to work on all the songs like three or four times a week with just us before we brought [Jesse and Alex] in. And [we felt like], “Okay, now we have it. Okay [Jesse and Alex], they know the songs, they wrote them and played them for 10 years.”
AP: Well, you would think that [laughs]. After all these years, I forgot tons of that shit. I had to go through my own learning process of deconstructing my own songs and things like that. So it’s been a learning process even for myself.
Was it difficult to pick the songs to have DJ and Michael learn?
JK: Not really. We remembered the strong ones. We also knew what the crowd favorites were. We definitely brought on other songs that we never used to play because they were great songs on the record but at the time [they were written] everyone felt like they were a just a pain in the fucking ass to play. Everyone was like, “I don’t want to play that. That’s too hard.” And we never put the time towards it. And now it’s like, “Now’s the time to do it because we’re all starting from scratch here.”
AP: Yeah, we’re playing a lot of songs that we never used to play and the goal is to really get as many of those old songs – even ones that we never even played once live – down.
JK: Well, I wouldn’t say that’s the immediate goal. [Laughs] It’s a goal. I would say writing new songs is more of a goal.
MK: Number one priority.
When it comes to writing new music is that going to be a collective thing? All you guys coming together?
JK: Yeah, I mean, I think at the end of the day we start off how we always start. Alex will start with some riffs and then everybody just starts building off of that. That’s where the spark usually begins.
So then going back to 2010 and fast-forwarding to now, is it kind of crazy to think how much times have changed between the band as well as how you release music nowadays? In 2010 everybody was on Myspace and now there’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat…
AP: It’s a very different game, I think. I didn’t know anything about social media really until like recently when I started getting back in it. Jesse has a lot better handle on that stuff and I always say how different the whole game is because back when we were doing it, all we had was Myspace and mp3.com.
JK: No, hardcore mp3.com. [Laughs] “Hxc.mp3.com.”
AP: [Laughs] Yeah, so those were some of the platforms we used in the past. And now, with like Bandcamp, Instagram, Facebook and all that kind of stuff, it’s really like a whole new level. Like, we’re actually still just starting to build up our Facebook page and Instagram and all that stuff. It’s just trickling in now.
JK: It was always easy for us back then because the attention always came to us because we tried to make as much noise in person with people and people just having this lasting effect like, “What the hell did I just see?” And then they would spread the word on their own. Now it’s almost like we have to do that virtually for everybody to come back in. I stayed in the game of music, managing bands. So I sort of acclimated to the change when it went from this whole, you know, Myspace world and then transitioned into this virtual bubble. I sort of stayed in it so I learned all the things and techniques to keep pumping out content. So it’s been good now and it’s getting there. The hardest part was to let people know that we were back together. And it’s still hard because a lot of people are like, “Someone kept saying you guys were back together and I still didn’t believe it. Then somebody posted a picture at your show and dammit I should have believed them!”
Speaking of getting back together, how did the initial “secret” reunion show go?
DS: It definitely happened.
JK: It happened. As far as how it went, it was supposed to be a completely secret show. I didn’t think the subliminal post would be decrypted but it was. So people wound up coming and it was amazing in the fact that they figured it out on their own and people showed up on a whim from Chicago to Nashville…
AP: Alabama too.
JK: …Alabama too, just with like Number Twelve records being like, “I didn’t even know if this was happening but I brought my records anyway.” And that was on another level of surreal. And, at least for me, it was my first show. Like, Alex has played shows I’m sure in the interim.
AP: Yeah, I was doing other projects and stuff but playing this stuff again – like I said before, it’s been a challenge because I haven’t been playing this style of music whatsoever. The past several years since I started playing, between that interim, I was just playing only clean guitars – just a very different style of music and jazz and things like that. And now, it’s like cranked up loud guitars. I think when we first started practicing loud…
DS: Oh my god! Alex is so funny at practice – even still – he wears foam earplugs and then he puts on like the negative 20dB reducing over-ear cans and he’s like, “Can you, uh, maybe turn your bass down a little?” And I’m like, “Get the fuck out of here man! You can’t hear anything!”
MK: “We’re in a metal band, man. Pump it up!”
AP: It’s just so loud to me now.
DS: Yeah, I mean the first practice [Alex] showed up with a little Fender Twin combo. And he’s like, “Yeah this’ll probably do it.” [Laughs]
AP: I realized I had to kinda get a similar setup, actually a whole new set up for this kind of music again. I forgot what it was like.
Wow! So the first show…
JK: The first show was surreal. To have that rush again for the first time in six, seven years, it was pretty surreal to say the least. Because I literally didn’t touch a stage since then, nothing. It was the last show, and then it went fast forward to the first show. So for me, it was really strange.
AP: But yeah, it takes getting used to again and I think we all had those butterflies and you’re antsy and stuff so it affects the performance and some of the quality that we wanted to get across. But it’s been just getting better and better, and in spite of many challenges that have come our way, so it’s always a learning process.
Now that you guys have some shows under your belt, is it kind of muscle memory at this point? Is it all coming back to you?
JK: Always, yeah. I think that’s for anybody, for that matter, the more you play the easier it gets. You know, these songs we’ve been playing for almost sixteen years now, it’s a very long time we’ve been doing this man.
AP: Yeah, but with like a massive gap. Even with that, and like not all of those songs were consistently played. We were always changing our sets and stuff so it’s a challenge to keep that stuff fresh. Not until recently in the past couple of years [we’ve] just started to like keep everything documented and notated for us. It’s great having Mike now to transcribe all the drum stuff and actually notate it out. And like my guitar parts [too], and notating them out now. Where before, I never used to really chart it. That was all from memory. It has its pros and cons doing it that way.
Wow! So, you guys played some shows with Dillinger Escape Plan recently. How was it playing with them? Especially because it’s some of their last shows.
DS: It was cool for me because I go back a little ways with Kevin [Antreassian], their guitar player. So I’ve been kind of hanging around those guys for a couple years now because I actually work for Vigier Guitars and he’s one of our artists. So for me, it was cool to play with a friend and also it was cool to fucking play with Dillinger – like towards the end [of their career]. And in the venues that we did them at, I was especially psyched because there were the smaller ones, like we played Kung Fu Necktie in Philly and like Rough Trade in New York, DC9… They were all like 250 capacity so it was like really wild. I think that Brooklyn show was one of the best shows I ever played in my entire life and I think the Philly show was the wildest show I ever played. Like, it was disgusting. It was cool and it was just awesome to see them night after night. I’m glad we got to be a part of it, however small, you know.
MK: Same for me, I mean Dillinger’s a band I’ve respected for many years. They’re one of my favorite bands. I met Kevin last year as well. We did a record with him. I did session work for this band called Bereft, so Kevin’s a sweetheart and we got this offer and it was, I mean, really a dream come true. Playing with Number Twelve and then opening for one of my favorite bands, it’s like, “What the fuck is going on? Really?” If you told me a year or two years ago that this would ever happen, I’d be like “Man, nah, go fuck yourself, it’s not going to happen.” But it was really surreal. Surprisingly, I think Brooklyn was our first show with Dillinger and I think it was our best, tightest, most energetic show I think we’ve played up until now.
DS: Hey, don’t discount New Jersey man. That was good.
MK: Okay, and New Jersey too. Excuse me. All of our friends were right there in the front row. So it was just really surreal and rewarding.
It’s kind of crazy that just when you guys are getting back together, Dillinger is sadly breaking up. It’s almost like you guys just kind of took each others’ place.
JK: It was strange because Ben [Weinman, guitarist] had told me [they were breaking up] when I had asked to jump on some shows. And he’s like, “Yeah, I think that would be cool man. Because you know, this will be one of our last tours, so yeah we should do it.” And it was kind of in passing so I was like, “Cool, cool, that’ll be awesome… Wait did you just say you’re breaking up or something?!” And so people thought it was a strange coincidence too because it was our first real mini tour [back together]. So people were like, “Oh my god, Number Twelve is coming back?!” Then all of a sudden [Dillinger] announces it, on this tour, that they’re breaking up and so people are like, “What the fuck?! Dillinger is breaking up!” So there was a lot of attention [and] just like these crosses, but it was great. It was like, we know what they’re feeling … we know that feeling of having to announce [a break up]. And I think they were just exhausted and tired and you know, I think it’s a good thing for them. I mean, I think at some point when they do get back together – which will happen at some point – it will be a nice breath of fresh air [similar to what] we’re going through right now.
Okay, so I want to know, what’s the craziest Dillinger story you have?
AP: I would probably say the one where we played in Virginia with them.
JK: Ooooh, yeah, that was by far the craziest!
AP: We were playing a festival with like Necrophagist, and a couple other uh…
JK: A Virginia metal fest or something like that.
AP: Yeah, some metal fest. And anyway, they uh, we played and I think they played after…
JK: They were headlining.
AP: Yeah, they were headlining. And they totally destroyed the ceiling of the place.
JK: They didn’t just destroy the ceiling. There was like drywall in the place, it was a big, open, huge room, and they literally destroyed the place. [They] were stabbing the ceiling and different parts of the drywall, ripping all of the insulation out, ripping the piping down, and then blowing fire into everything, while breaking everything else around them.
AP: I think Jon was standing, Jon our old drummer, was standing by the stage and he got like a cymbal [thrown at him and it] almost decapitated him.
JK: No, it was a cymbal stand. Greg [Puciato], the singer, just picked it up and threw it as hard as he could and it just missed Jon. And [Jon] was like, “I legit almost got decapitated.” It was absolute mayhem.
I’d say that’s a pretty good story! So then just real quick, wrapping up, going around the room: Talking about bands breaking up and getting back together, individually, if you could pick one band to get back together, who would you pick? We’ll start with DJ.
DS: One band to get back together? That’s really hard. The only people I regret not seeing are people that died, you know? Because I feel like when a band breaks up, like, you don’t wanna see the end. So like getting back together… I’m probably going to say Guns ‘N’ Roses if this was like two years ago, but, uh, I’m good on that and I definitely can’t afford to go so…. Uh, yeah. I’m not sure, maybe I’ll think of something in a second.
MK: I would say Mars Volta, honestly, probably. Or any of those old jazz guys who passed away before I was even born. Uh, like Miles Davis, well he didn’t pass away before I was born… But him or Tony Williams. Any of those guys like the original jazz dudes.
JK: If I had to resurrect someone…
DJ: Haha, we changed the question a little.
JK: Um, I wish I saw Michael Jackson. He’s the only one I ever – I was in the process of getting the tickets to the O2 Arena that he was coming back for and then, I was working with Crush Management at the time, and they were helping me find tickets and then he died. [That was] the only time I was like spending almost a thousand dollars just for tickets.
Whoa, dang, that’s crazy. Alright so Alex, maybe not so sad, who do you have? It can still be sad, by the way.
AP: Well this is a tough question because I listen to many genres of music. I mean, I think we all listen to many genres of music. I could probably pick one for every genre of music that I listen to. I would say, probably the main one would be Enter Shakti – which was John McLaughlin and many of the Indian musicians. It was like a fusion of jazz and Indian music. So I would love to witness that. Funny enough, he’s actually on his retiring tour this coming year. But like, he’s going to do some Mahavishnu Orchestra stuff. Maybe in the metal stuff, I would say Skid Row with Sebastian Bach, obviously. That would be maybe the ultimate 80s metal or metal kind of stuff for me that I would like to see. And maybe one band, I know this is way out of the question, but one other band that I wish I would have gotten to see is Stone Temple Pilots with Scott Weiland, you know before he got bad.
DS: You know what dude? That illustrates the point perfectly, because I did see them when they reunited, and it was…[Laughter]
MK: So yeah, that’s a tough question.