Where it comes to discovering new music, I’m not easy to please. There is a lot of unknown, undiscovered talent out there, but to me personally, most of the bands on the “unknown pile” on my desk, usually sound too run off the mill, too familiar and more of the same. Enter Lower 13. This, to me, was one of the bigger surprises to land on my desk. And after the great sounding new release, followed a fun interview for which the whole band actually turned up. Time to meet the guys of Lower 13!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! How are things in the world of Lower 13?[Eric] Things are great thanks! Just gearing up for our CD Release show August 27th at the Foundry Concert Club in Lakewood, Ohio.
Where did the name lower 13 come from? I keep imagining a tower building’s lower floors, or quite a chilly day.[Eric] The name came from a friend of ours back when we were looking for a band name at age 14. He pitched “Lower 13” to us and we thought it was cool at the time. Go to South Park mall in Strongsville, Ohio, look up in the parking lot and you just might see it.
You are about to drop your third studio album this year, Restore the Order. What can you tell us about this release?[Eric] This release is by far the heaviest and most musically technical body of music that we’ve ever created. Everything from the music to the art, I’m insanely proud of it.
Where does the title of this record come from. Is it political in any way?[Pat] The title Restore the Order isn’t political in any way. It is more of a reflection of different points in my life, and thinking about what I could have done differently or what I would like to change moving forward. [Sean] Fun fact, “Restore the Order” was the title of an old song of ours that got reworked into the track “No Answers” on the new album.
Is it a coincidence that all your record titles start with an R?[Eric] It’s funny that you mention that. I don’t think it was a conscious decision with each title, but I’ve been wondering who will notice after the new one drops! We noticed after the fact, but I think we just might try to keep that trend going.
I had a blast listening to the new album. How would you even start to describe your sound? There’s so much going on![Eric] Thank you! That has always been a tough thing for us. We have a lot of elements to our music, and with each release we’ve never really been able to describe ourselves as a specific niche or genre tag. For this album specifically, I would say there are elements of prog, groove, power and death metal.
Are there any lyrical red lines throughout this album, or are the songs all pretty much stand alone?[Pat] There are a lot of common themes and topics in the songs but they more so stand on their own as far as the lyrics go.
Where it comes to the lyrics, what do you write about, where do you find your inspiration?[Pat] I mostly draw inspiration for lyrics from things I’ve gone through and the environment around me. A lot of the lyrics and topics have also come from the way I’m feeling at the time.
Do you write stuff as a band, or do you have a designated songwriter in your midst?[Eric] Pat and Sean write all the music. Pat typically writes the lyrics but Sean has lyrics or lines he’s contributed also. We all contribute and craft the songs together from music to vocal melodies, but Sean is the guy who typically structures and fleshes the music out in the songs.
One of the things that struck me is how much your music breathes out fun and enthusiasm. How does a typical recording session look for you guys?[Eric] When it comes to tracking a part, we’re in it and dead serious. But once that take is done and that microphone is off, we’re just complete goofballs. We have a great working relationship with our producer Noah Buchanan. A recording session is just filled with jokes and laughs. We always have a good time working with Noah.
If you compare this record to your previous two, what would you say changed and what is still the same?[Eric] We try to evolve and grow with every release. This one I would say is heavier and more technical than the last two records. The similar element throughout would be the vocal style. More focus on clean vocals and vocal harmonies than screams and growls overall. [Sean] For this album we took a lot of old unused ideas from as far back as the Rabid album and reworked them in a heavier and more technical way. For the vocals we are influenced by the vocal harmonies of System of a Down. That is something that’s been consistent in our sound since the beginning, but we get better and better with each release.
There are so many influences in your music. What do you listen to when you’re not writing?[Eric] I listen to a lot of bands in different metal subgenres, but I also enjoy some rock bands and pop punk-type stuff. [Pat] I listen to everything from Meshuggah to Aesop Rock to Blind Melon and so on. Also stand-up comedies and podcasts. A lot of classic artists too, such as Elvis and Queen. [Sean] I listen to a lot of different things, but lately I’ve been into instrumental metal bands such as Animals as Leaders, Scale the Summit, et cetera.
How well does your music translate to a live set; how does a Lower 13 show look?[Eric] A live Lower 13 set has all the raw energy of the music that we record. Guitar, bass, drums and soaring vocals. I think it translates really well. We always joke around a little on stage, too.
On your website you mention a fundraising campaign for your new record. How well did that go?[Eric] It went decently well. It didn’t go viral or reach the goal we set, but we got a lot of support from those close to us and it definitely helped us out in the long run. Had we opened it up a few months sooner it might have gotten a further reach.
Is being a musician these days still a profession you think, or more of a thing on the side? Can you actually still make some sort of a living playing music?[Eric] These days it seems harder and harder to make being a musician a profession. It’s not impossible, but for most you have to be willing to do things in music outside of being in an original band, or have a day job to keep yourself afloat. Music as a profession, especially as an original touring metal band, is a goal to be achieved that takes time, hard work, and patience.
This year marks your 10th anniversary as a band. Did you plan anything special?[Eric] We did actually! Our band anniversary happens to be on St. Patrick’s Day, so since we all turned 21 years old three anniversaries ago, we’ve made it tradition to get a big group together for a bar crawl and celebrate all night.
In my opinion, your new album sports by far your best cover art yet. Who made it, and what was your assignment to the artist?[Eric] Thank you! It’s my favorite thus far also. Dave Vezdos, who designed our CD layout for the last record Reach an End designed this one also. Our concept for Restore the Order was to have a cover involving Kronos, the Greek god of time, since we are all fans of Greek mythology. Our publicist took my idea to draft form to send to him and we couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
Ten years running and you are still in your original lineup. How do you do it– are there ever any tensions?[Eric] We got lucky in that we met in 8th grade in the same school and live near each other. We’ve been best friends ever since and the same passion and drive for the music have kept us together all this time. Being a three-piece helps quite a bit too.
Looking ahead to the next 10 years, what’s on the roadmap, what’s on the wishlist and what have you learned to steer clear of?[Eric] After the release of this album we’re looking to shop for record labels, travel more, and take our band to the next step. Ultimately we would like to be a successful touring band and make our dream of music into a career. We have learned to steer clear of Battle of the Bands-like competitions.
Metal Injection recently name your hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, as “the most metal city in the U.S.” What do you think it is that makes the Cleveland metal scene so strong?[Eric] We have a really strong music scene here. The bands and the concertgoers keep this scene alive, and no town in my opinion has the passion for live music that we have.
What’s the furthest you’ve ever been on tour?[Eric] Jackson, Michigan is the furthest we’ve ever played from home. We had the opportunity to play the 2013 Rockapalooza festival alongside bands such as Mushroomhead, Saliva and Candlebox.
What would you say has been your best live show so far, and which was the most memorable?[Eric] We had the opportunity to open for Gojira here in Cleveland back in 2014. We were one of two local openers and that was for sure a highlight of our career. We played to a packed floor and the crowd was great to us.
Where will we be able to see you live this year?[Pat] We’ll be headlining August 27th at the Foundry Concert Club in Lakewood Ohio for our CD Release show with Solipsist, Curse the Gods, and Abstraction, and we’ll be paying the WJCU 8Th Annual Cleveland Heavy Metal Holiday Food Drive at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland this December.
Lower 13 are set to release their third studio album Restore the Order on August 27 with a CD release show at The Foundry Concert Club in Lakewood, Ohio. Tickets are available online via www.lower13official.com .