Sometimes the planets align, the moon is full and a bass player, a drummer, a couple of guitarists and a vocalist find each other. What results from this combination of talent and magic is a group of men who start out as a band and end up as brothers. Meet 12th of Never.
12th of Never is 29-year-old Dos Polnow, 23-year-old (Happy belated birthday!) Oscar "Chato" Ortega, 22-year-old firecracker Paulie Davis and 25-year-old Grant Lincke. Polnow plays guitar, sings lead and is responsible for most of the band's lyrics. Ortega plays a mad lead guitar, Lincke plays the drums and Davis is the bass player and backing vocalist.
A few weeks back, I sat down with the band to get to know them. I'd only heard them during their stint at Battle of the Bands and on their myspace.com page. What I'd heard I'd liked, and I was looking forward to learning more about them.
Ortega, who is of Guatemalan descent, has been playing an instrument of some kind since the age of 5. Born to parents both in the music business, he is a great symbol for both sides of the nature vs. nurture argument. He is inherently gifted, but was also encouraged from a very young age to make music his life. He receives a great deal of support from his family, including a recent performance on stage with his father at Northwest Nazarene University. Ortega is a classically trained musician whose idol is Slash and who plays and teaches Brazilian guitar, flamenco and more. Rather than choose between a more classic style and a rock style, Ortega incorporates all of it into his music. His guitar playing gives 12th of Never a sound and a depth not often heard in rock bands.
At 22 years old, Davis is the youngest member of the band and the most energetic. He's passionate about this project and dedicates himself to it wholly. The band practices three nights a week and Davis says he treats each practice like a show: He gives it his all. I got a chance to see these guys play over the Halloween weekend at the Eastside Tavern and Davis is poetry in motion. If I could generate even an eighth of the energy Davis gives out on stage, I could kiss exercise and dieting goodbye (well, if I'd ever kissed them hello in the first place).
Twenty-nine-year-old Polnow is the oldest of the group and the quietest. He's a fine guitarist, lyricist and vocalist, and his seriousness about what he's doing gives the band an edge in the music world. He understands the importance of each man's role in the group and that working together as a band is as important as playing well. Even though Polnow writes their lyrics, each song the band creates is a collaborative effort and egos are left at the door.
Lincke, the drummer, is the most vocal of the group (and now, probably the most tired as he is now the proud father of a bouncing baby boy). He speaks for the band with their full agreement. He and Polnow had played together before and were looking to start a new project. Having been in other bands, they were both looking for something new and original. Davis and Polnow are cousins and the three of them initially decided that would be enough. And then, Ortega gave Davis a demo CD. Davis was amazed and gave the CD to Polnow and Lincke. When they heard it, they were blown away and knew that they had found something special. And in finding each other, they not only found bandmates but brothers.
Sitting with 12th of Never, it was clear that they are all proud of each other and proud of their ability to work together. They never let differences go unresolved and look to each other for inspiration. Musically, Ortega is a huge influence on the rest of the group. They look to him for new, unique sounds and rely on his musicianship and diverse talent for their signature sound as evidenced in their biography: "12th of Never is a semi-progressive hard rock band with heavy, clean guitar riffs mixed with a hint of Latin flavor, a driving rhythm section, and melodic, powerful vocals." They work hard at what they do and told me they rehearsed for almost a year before stepping out on the stage. While they'd love to play sold out crowds in huge arenas, they know that sometimes big money equals big problems. They enjoy the freedom of playing the kind of music they want to play and worry that a label may try and change them. They also love the intimacy of playing to smaller venues because it gives them a chance to meet the people with whom they share their music, which ultimately is all they really want.
Currently, 12th of Never is in studio working on a 10-song CD. Keep checking BW and 12th of Never's myspace.com site at www.myspace.com/12thofnever for information on the CD release and upcoming live shows. Their recorded music is great, but they're even better live.