Jon Karel of The Number Twelve Looks Like You
Hometown: Nyack New York
Previous Bands: Horse The Band, Negativehate, The Heatherton Heatwave, The Sawtooth Grin
Sticks: Vic Firth
Singers Jesse Korman and Justin Pedrick met through a mutual acquaintance in 2002 and formed the bass-free outfit And Ever, releasing a five-song demo and playing a handful of shows before changing their name to The Number Twelve Looks Like You (a reference to an episode of The Twilight Zone) in 2003, adding a bassist and releasing their debut, Put On Your Rosy Red Glasses. Eyeball Records caught wind and released the band's An Inch Of Gold For An Inch Of Time EP, which featured a cover of The Knack's 1979 super hit, "My Sharona" in early 2005. The band has announced a March 10, 2009 release date for its third full-length release, Worse Than Alone. The Bergen County, New Jersey five-piece self-produced the disc at Backroom Studios in Rockaway, New Jersey and brought in acclaimed producer/mixer Steve Evetts (Every Time I Die, Dillinger Escape Plan) to handle mixing duties.
How would you describe the feel of the new album?
The feel of this new album is all about the future. No throwbacks! No "getting back to the beginning." We as a band are in the business of trying to create the future of heavy music. We want to usher in what will be the next evolution of our genre. Hopefully something like "world metal." [laughs] While I will always agree with, and love the sentiment "you must assimilate to innovate" it is truly the "innovate" that I am most concerned with.
What is your favorite drum part on the new album?
For me it would have to be the drum solo portion leading into "The League Of Endangered Oddities." It's the first time I've ever had the chance to perform a totally improvised solo on a record, with nothing but more drums accompanying. The tones and sounds are modern and full. My drums and cymbals sound so good. And it gave me an opportunity to fully express some inner rhythms I've been feeling for a while, in a much less structured way, which I love.
Did you change your drum parts much throughout the recording process?
Very minimally. I'm always very prepared by the time the red light goes on. How much "gusto" and "drag" or "push" I put on a part could be left up to the creativity of the moment. But in general, I don't very much like suprizes in the studio!
Did you record to a click track?
I only used a click for the first two bars of every song to establish consistent starting tempos. I've noticed over the years that my "relative" timekeeping is always pretty spot on. But when I start to get frustrated or stressed, my starting tempos speed up a lot. Having a decided-upon tempo for every song's first riff helps a lot.
Did you record your tracks with the entire band or alone?
Definitely with the whole band! We rehearse so much when we're writing, it just feels wrong if they're not in the same room when I'm playing... plus, they're so damn good they keep me in check!
What's your favorite aspect of touring.
My favorite part of tour, other than the fans, is the camaraderie with the other drummers. Drummers are my favorite people on earth! By the end of the first week we're all warming up together, exchanging tips, rooting each other on. I learn and grow so much as a drummer and as a man when I'm on the road. Drumming buddies end up being your best buddies in the end.
Describe the worst gig you've ever played.
When I was on tour with Horse The Band on "Earth Tour '08," we played several shows in China. China is a wonderful place to visit, and a very, very difficult place to tour. My general vibe playing in China was: arriving at the venue after 16 hours of economy class train travel. Dragging all my luggage, cymbals, and pedals by myself through piles of human waste and unfinished construction. Wrestling past several hundred non-English speaking, and very aggressive Chinese folk. Eventually into a cramped taxicab with an equally non-English speaking and aggressive driver. All the while choking on smog and fighting back brutal diarrhea pains from the very sketchy food. All this only to arrive at the venue finally to find that my backline drum set for the night consisted of something comparable to a Toys R Us drum set. Packing tape instead of drumheads, two clutch-less hi-hat stands, no cymbal stands, and a cinder block for a drum stool. But even then the fans were so gracious, and welcoming, that it was hard to stay mad for too long in China.
Do you play your drum parts onstage exactly the same way that you recorded them?
No, part of why we rehearse so much at home, is so we are confident enough on tour to bend and flex the parts a little. It's always so important to me to give our fans a one-of-a-kind performance every night of the week. Without straying too far off the deep end, I do like to add a lot of little bells and whistles when we play live, especially during fills, or segues between songs. If it's too much the same as the album, they might as well just listen to the CD. And that's not what they paid for! They came for a show, and I'm determined to give it to them!
How do you stay healthy while you're on the road?
Nutrition is priority #1. Once every few days I make a stop at the organic grocery store, and fill up a small cooler I have with loads of healthy snacks – apples, carrots, Cliff Bars, almond butter, whole wheat rolls, hummus. That way, if there's no good hot food around, I never have to resort to fast food. I do 100 push ups a day. I take multivitamins. And I limit my drinking and partying to two nights a week maximum. Everyone in our band is responsible for their health. If you get sick because you're eating junk food, partying too much, and losing sleep, and you get me sick? I should kick your ass! We're stuck in a van together, and one bad case of strep throat could ruin the whole tour, and that means no fun, and no cash for anyone! Plus, on this regimen, you ensure that the intensity level of your first show is equal to the last show – and that's what its all about!
Do you warm up before going on stage?
For sure. About a half hour, at least. That's all I really need. I try to focus on relaxing rudimental stuff on a practice pad. Just singles, doubles, paradiddles, flams and so on. The idea is to warm up my body, while also producing a nice calm zen feeling. I don't stretch. Any more than and hour can actually hurt my performance. If I get too calm, or too warm, than I don't have enough steam left for the performance, and I walk out there feeling kind of spaced out and unfocused.