The Number Twelve Looks Like You

As Jesse Korman, singer for The Number Twelve Looks Like You, admits, "This is definitely not your everyday radio band. It's hard to swallow."

As Jesse Korman, singer for The Number Twelve Looks Like You, admits, "This is definitely not your everyday radio band. It's hard to swallow."

Often referred to as a "screamo" band thanks to its high-intensity blend of emo and post-hardcore, the Number Twelve employs shouted, punch-to-the-gut vocals and relentless, precision-drilled instrumentation to command attention. And the sextet's new album proves its music is impossible to ignore: "Mongrel" debuted on the Top Heatseekers chart at No. 19 and the Top Independent Albums chart at No. 34.

The Number Twelve was formed in New Jersey about six years ago, while most of its members were still in high school. But Korman says the way the lineup came together was an accident: "A group of us got together to try practicing and a bunch of people just came down to watch. But as we were wrapping up and a few of the 'band members' left, a couple of the people who'd been watching picked up instruments. Turns out it sounded better."

Afraid of ruffling feathers, the new band kept its existence a secret for some time, but continued writing songs and practicing.

Korman was 17 at the time. Two years earlier he had befriended a fellow by the name of Alex Saavedra, who ran a label called Eyeball Records. "I was hanging out at a friend's house and he happened to be there, talking about this band he'd just signed to his label named Thursday. At the time I was just like, 'Who the hell are these guys?'" Korman laughs. "But of course we all know how that turned out." (Thursday has impacted over a half dozen charts since 2002.)

It would only be a few short years before Korman's own band was on the Eyeball roster, eventually sharing bills with Thursday.

Saavedra says it took him a little while to warm up to The Number Twelve, but after hearing an EP the band put out on its own, he realized there was "something unique about what they were doing. There are lots of heavy rock acts out there, but there were elements that set these guys apart. They have an incredible guitarist, first of all, and the way Jesse and Justin [Pedrick, the co-lead singer] do their dual vocals is really special."

Saavedra says the band has been a touring act from the start and can now command 1,000-person venues in the Northeast and California. "They're still a little shaky in the center of the country, but this is a band with a strong Internet following that is constantly growing. They're getting strong support slots, and we're hoping for our first major headlining run in November."

Still, Korman says nothing compares to playing basement shows. "If a date falls through and we get an offer to play in someone's basement, we jump at it. It's unreal to play that up close to your fans. We feed off that extreme high energy."

The Number Twelve is getting ready for another round of heavy touring to spread the gospel of "Mongrel," which Korman believes is the best work the band has ever done. "We had three weeks to record it, but we were so well rehearsed and prepared that we were done in two. Our performance level was at its highest, and it's definitely the best sounding record we've ever had."

Nevertheless, Korman acknowledges that mainstream success is probably not in the cards for The Number Twelve. "We know we could sell more records if we changed our style -- especially if I stopped screaming and started singing. But I knew from the very start that singing wouldn't be enough," he continues. "Screaming is my release. I need to create that noise to let everything go."

Korman doesn't focus on everyday frustrations, but rather "painful things that have happened in my past -- backstabbing, abusive parents, being conflicted. I try to tell stories that really mean something to me. And though we don't have an incredibly huge fanbase, our fans are die-hard," he says. "We just want to be the biggest band we can while still playing our music and telling our stories."

The Number Twelve Looks Like You will take part in the Sounds of the Underground touring festival this summer, which kicks off tomorrow (July 6), and Saavedra says the band will be on the road supporting "Mongrel" for at least a year.

"We're also focusing on the Internet and Internet promotions," adds Saavedra. "For instance, we're going to have the band do a video blog from the road -- even if it's just them changing a tire somewhere, that's interesting for people who have never toured... It's important to keep the band in touch with their fans."