1,2,3 | September 16, 2011 | Rumba Cafe | Columbus, OH
I was pleasantly surprised to find Rumba Cafe packed to the ceiling to see 1,2,3 on that cool September evening. (To be honest, I’m always surprised if a show is packed because of the finicky tendencies of Columbus audiences. Some small bands like 1,2,3 pack rooms, others like Gauntlet Hair hardly draw a crowd, yet both are equally awesome, and similar in sound.) I had been following these boys since I heard Confetti in 2009, so I was antsy to finally see them live. They did not disappoint. Everyone had smiles plastered on their faces, drink in their hands and were hopping, flailing, waving, stepping in convulsions of merriment as 1,2,3 ripped the stage. I had broken out in a decent sweat by the end of their set.
We gathered on the back patio of Rumba Cafe just as bartenders were already herding the crowd into the main room. Josh and Nick were discussing the TV show, Breaking Bad and how it’s conclusion could make or break the series.
"LAST CALL! TAKE YOUR DRINKS INSIDE!!!" shouted a bouncer. We decided to get down to business…
KP: The first time I heard about you guys was almost a year ago, today. I know you guys got press from the Guardian, We All Want Someone, Pretty Much Awesome….
Josh: Yeah, that was last year… early last year.
KP: I love the single version of Confetti, that is what really turned me on to your music.
Nick: Yeah we like it better! We do prefer the original version better.
KP: What was your recording process like for your album New Heaven?
Nick: It’s always different. There isn’t like one, singular process. I could take you through the entire album and tell you, but I’ll walk you through a couple scenarios. Work was the first song I recorded on ProTools. It was instrumental… we recorded a kick drum loop and a tambourine loop. There were two different versions of music that happened, and I didn’t care for either of them. So, I changed it completely. I played it for Josh about a year and half after later after I had messed around with it for a while…
Josh: It was really that long? A year and a half??
Nick: Yeah! It was that long ago, dude! [laughter] So, Josh really liked it and I was like, I can’t figure out what melody to sing over top of this.
Josh: It was just music, that’s all we had.
KP: Was it just you two in the beginning?
Josh: Yeah, we were in a band before this and…
KP: Takeover UK?
Josh: Yeah! And, it grew increasingly volatile and also our record label dropped us. Also, Takeover had two songwriters and singers and they kept going separate ways. I had been friends with Nick for like, 15 years. I didn’t get along with the other guys at all. So, we decided to break the band up. Nick had a handful of songs that were vastly different. One night we got drunk and he had me listen to the songs, asked me what I thought and if I wanted to break the band up. I was like, ‘Let’s do it.’ So we broke up Takeover UK. We did some closet recordings for like, six months just fuckin’ around. I guess I’m kinda getting ahead of the original question but…
Nick: I mean, uh, yeah a lot of us started in ProTools but -
Josh: We piece it together! The old band would take a song and write it in one instance. We wrote the music, and thought of ideas for songs… premeditated. This band is much more pieced together. It started out just the two of us…
We were interrupted by shouts of “LAST CALL! GET OFF THE PATIO!” Bartenders started shooting unappreciative looks our way…
Nick: Lonesome Boring Summer I wrote on my iPod. I got an app that I enjoy thoroughly and just wrote a song around it. Sorry, Soldier I wrote when I was 19 years old during my freshman year of college.
KP: How old are you guys now?
Nick: I’m 27, Josh is 28.
Laura (photographer): That was about a decade ago that you wrote that song.
Nick: Yeah, almost. But then there’s 20,000 Blades which we wrote a week before going into the studio.
Josh: There’s a few newer ones. The songs on the album range from 10 years ago to about 2 weeks before going into the studio. It was a compilation of the best things he had done that didn’t fit our last band —
Again, we’re interrupted by desperate attempts by the bartenders to shut the patio down…
Nick: Yeah. We should probably move on to the next question though…
Josh: … before we get kicked out.
KP: Let’s see, let’s talk about growing up around Pittsburgh and your musical journey growing up.
Nick: Me and Josh became friends in Junior High. He was two years older than me which is like, a vast difference in Jr. High. My dad had studied abroad in college and he came back with all these punk 7” from the late 70’s. The Clash, Sham 69, Ian Dury… all sorts of really awesome punk music. We were the only kids in our school who were actually into that stuff.
Josh: I had blue hair!
KP: Did you really?!
KP: Do you have old photos of that you can send me?
Josh: No, unfortunately. I had a house burn down, so everything from 16 back was lost.
KP: Oh, man. Sorry. Damn it!
Josh: Yeah. So, we were both punk rockers. My parents got divorced so I moved away from Pittsburgh and came back… it’s a weird story. My sister was dating Josh’s best friend, so I found out he needed a drummer through her. We hadn’t talked in 2-3 years, which was really weird. So we came back around, our musical influences grew together. It was uncanny. We were both punk rockers and then we were like, “Hey, I like the Beatles, I like Creedence Clearwater Revival…”
Nick: In some weird way we went from punk rock to classic rock -
Josh: - together! Without knowing each other during that time. It was fuckin’ weird. When I joined his band, I didn’t know how to play drums. I had glorified buckets, basically. I could keep a beat. My mother was a dancer so I think I got the rhythm from her, or something. Nick and I learned how to play our instruments together.
Nick: I played bass originally. We’ve been in… several bands.
Josh: For about 12 years.
Nick: Probably about 6 bands. Hardcore bands, punk bands, prog bands.
Josh: So we grew as musicians together and it just kinda stuck. Pittsburgh is just one of those cities where we grew up lower-middle class. And you know, there are the jocks, the nerds, and the musicians.
KP: You’re finding your life paths are running parallel to each other…
Josh: Yeah, it’s weird now that I think about it. Never really thought about it that way but, yeah. I mean, I could have gone and listened to free jazz or some crazy shit. [laughter] You know what I mean?
KP: I noticed when I was reading articles about you guys online, a lot of people were comparing you to T-Rex, The Beatles, and Dylan…
Josh: Fuck yeah! We love all that stuff.
Nick: [sighs] Dylan’s my boy, you know?
Josh: His voice does sound like Marc Bolan, at times.
Nick: People tell me that, but it’s not intentional by any means. Don’t get me wrong, I love T-Rex! I love Marc Bolan. It just happens that I sound like him at times.
KP: You guys have been 1,2,3 for how long now? Over a year?
Josh: In November it will be 2 years. But we didn’t play shows until about a year ago. Our first show was in L.A. our second show was in London. We’ve played more shows in London than we have in our hometown of Pittsburgh.
KP: And you’ve played Columbus as many times as Pittsburgh now. And people love you here, so make sure you keep coming back.
Nick: We plan on it!
Josh: Yeah, Columbus is sweet.
KP: What were the major differences between your first two shows, the one in LA and the other in London? Did you find it completely different.
Nick: [laughs] Yeah…
Josh: We played at Koko which is in Camden in London. We played NME night there.
KP: I LOVE Koko!
Josh: We played some smaller clubs in London. We played a couple industry parties too. We also played the Great Escape in Brighton… I fucking loved England. I tried to miss my plane on purpose because I didn’t want to come home. We had moved to LA for a while. And, sorry to our LA fans, but we hated it.
Nick: I’ll be honest, I kind of regret moving back. I know you have different feelings on it but I wish I would have given it more time. I honestly do. I really, really do.
Josh: It was a weird city and a weird situation. My ex-girlfriend and I were living with each other and Nick was sleeping on our couch. Just a weird thing. It was also expensive as fuck to live in LA. We went to London, and I felt more at home there than I did in California.
KP: I feel the same way about London. I felt so at home there. I loved Koko. It’s such a great venue. But, Columbus is an awesome place to be in the U.S.
Josh: We played with Sting’s daughter that night.
Nick: Ironically enough… what was their name?
Josh: I Blame Coco!
Nick: I Blame Coco… yep.
Josh: We have a rotating band member who lives in LA who was at that show with us. 4 o’clock in the morning, drunk, he goes up to her and asks, “So, how’s your dad doing…?” She said, “I don’t live with him anymore…” You don’t talk about celebrity parents with their children…
KP: I ask this question every time I talk to a band who has played in London, especially in Camden. But, when you guys were there, did you ever have a drink called Snakebite Black? It’s half lager, half cider, and a splash of black current liquor. It’s illegal in parts but some bars serve it in Camden.
Nick: That sounds delicious!
Josh: How is that illegal?!
KP: It makes men extremely violent.
Josh: If we’re gonna talk about drinks for a second… the most fucked up drink in the U.S. is something in San Francisco called Tokyo Tea. It’s a pint glass full of every kind of liquor.
Nick: They take like, 4 different types of liquor and then pour on a splash of this green…
Josh: …This sweetener that’s so sweet that you can’t taste the alcohol. I drank two of them! TWO! Blacked out, woke up the next day and was puking blood in the dressing room before our show. It was horrendous.
I proceeded to ask them the dreaded question, (What is the craziest thing that has happened to you guys since you’ve been on tour?) which was met with some groans from Nick and an initial statement that their tour life has been pleasant since they quit Takeover UK. Josh then chimed in with a mention of their trip back from SXSW last March… Listen to one of the BEST tour stories I have heard in the history of JackinthePocket. For those of you viewing this interview in your Tumblr dashboard, visit JackinthePocket.com to listen.