Band of the Day: District 13

Right, how is it Thursday already?!

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

We all met and formed band in London and this is where we are based. Rich is the only member from London. I (Jon) am from Shropshire but have lived in London for past 11 years. Asen is from Bulgaria. I guess this makes us an international band.

How did you meet?

Asen: Rich and I wanted to start a new project, so we held auditions for a lead singer. We had loads of talented people apply but when we heard Jon’s voice and awesome guitar playing we knew he was the guy for us. We all clicked immediately from the beginning, it’s been awesome! Our sound is hard alternative rock.

Jon: I was looking to start a new project and had met with a few musicians. I have been involved in many bands in the past and was previously signed to Fiction Records with a band called Romance. When I met Rich and Asen we clicked straight away. We are all from very different backgrounds and have our own influences but when we jammed together we all felt a very positive vibe.

How long have you been playing as a band?

We formed band in October 2017. We started gigging in February 2019.

Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?

Our name comes from the movie The Hunger Games. District 13 is where there is a positive chance of rebellion. Asen came up with the band name and I believe our music takes this vibe.

What are your influences?

Jon: My biggest influence to begin with was Nirvana. When I first heard “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, I wanted to play guitar. Through my teenage years I was a big fan of Guns N’ Roses, Queen, AC/DC, The Ramones, Black Sabbath, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Prince, David Bowie, Sex Pistols. I like classical music and jazz as well but always a rocker at heart. One of my favourite modern rock bands is Rival Sons.

Asen: My first concert was Metallica in Bulgaria. It was one of the first major concerts in the county after the end of communism. From that moment I knew I wanted to be a drummer.

Rich: I was lucky that my parents had such an eclectic taste in music, they would listen to anything from ABBA to the Prodigy and Michael Jackson to country music! This allowed me to seek influence from so many artists. However, bands that made me want to play rock were Rage Against The Machine, Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers. I can still remember the first time I heard “Killing in the Name Of” with my little sister on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I was so taken away by the energy, groove and powerful lyrics. Growing up for me it was about rock, rap, hip-hop and garage but I do also have a soft spot for what I can only describe as cheesy wedding music!

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

Our main influence is hard rock, punk and metal. Our album is predominately uptempo but does have a few slower, melodic songs on there. We try to create songs that have the up-tempo feel of punk but with vocals and guitar solos that take influence from metal and hard rock. There is definitely a grungy side to our music also. When we started this project our main aim was to create music that we felt was uplifting and energetic that could appeal to a wide audience. We don’t like to be pigeon-holed too much and try to not sound like one particular band. Our mixture of influences helps us create music that is highly energetic but still has its own originality.

Do you have any particular lyrical themes?

Jon: Song ideas come about in a mixture of different ways. I have written the tracks for this album but some of the new material we have written together. When writing lyrics I try to steer away from typical lyrics of boyfriend/girlfriend etc. Our first single “Wild Flowers” talks about being disillusioned by a lot of the media, politicians and press and not seeing truth behind what people in power say. Some songs take a more light-hearted/comical approach. “Cantankerous” and “Sweet Talk” are more tongue-in-cheek and talk about an explosive relationship. One song I am very proud of is our ballad “Is This The Way”. This song has a different feel to other songs on the album with the main lyric – “I look into the sky but I don’t see the light today / Is this the way, is this the way back now?” This is about feeling lost in life and never knowing weather you are on the right path. Asen and Rich have done a great job putting their own parts to the songs and have really helped shape the music.

What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?

Our live show is highly energetic and up-tempo. We pride ourselves on our live performance! We have played around 50 shows including Hills of Rock festival in Bulgaria in which the headline acts were Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. We are first in line to support Deep Purple in December.

What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?

Well, we have yet to play a show sober! We tried setting up and playing on a street which almost got us arrested. I am not the best at remembering names of cities I’ve played at which may have angered a few fans in Bulgaria. Other than that you will have to come to our shows and see.

What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?

Jon: I usually play a replica of Brian May’s guitar. Has great pickups and really full body sound. I usually play through a Marshall JCM 900 with Boss DD7 delay and Jim Dunlop Cry Baby.

Asen: Tama Starclassic Performer, Birch Wood, Zildjian Cymbols.

Rich: Fender Precision 4 string bass and Dark Glass Microtubes 500 watt head.

What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?

We are currently promoting our debut album Soma. Our debut single/video “Wild Flowers” is on YouTube. The album was released on Monday 15th July on many platforms including Spotify, Youtube, iTunes etc. We also have hard copies (CDs) for sale. We have received great reviews/feedback so far.

What are your plans for 2019?

We are playing at Down On The Farm Festival in Hereford on 10th August. We have a lot of London club shows booked and we are first in line to support Deep Purple in December. We are also looking to film our next music video.

If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!

We would all have a different answer.

Jon: I would love to support Guns N’ Roses or Rival Sons.

Rich: Rage Against The Machine.

Asen: Metallica.

Jon: For an opening band I would pick Scarlett Rebels or Skinny Milk. Maybe Scarlett Rebels as they have just released a new album!

Header image by Darina Boneva

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