When it comes to hard rock and heavy metal music, Iola isn’t likely the first place you think of, but Saturday is an exception.
Starting Saturday afternoon, six blisteringly loud bands from around the region will be playing at the Time-Out Tavern at 118 E. Jackson Avenue.
The festival is called “Traumafest 2020,” which is celebrating its third year, and will feature the following line-up:
5 p.m. Ghost in the Atlantic
6 p.m. Forever Faded
7 p.m. EdgeOverEdge
8 p.m. Terrorcuda
9 p.m. XIII Minutes
10 p.m. Kirra
TRAUMAFEST will be the last show of 2020 for co-headliners XIII Minutes, who will then dive into the studio to record their second album, which promises to feature a series of “darker vibes.”
In preparation for tonight’s performance, the Register spoke with Jamie Kucinski of XIII Minutes, to get a more intimate look inside the music.
Kucinski is the band’s drummer and founder, which changed to its current name in 2016, though has members who’ve been playing together almost 10 years.
He said “interestingly enough, it goes really well” being a metal band in the midwest, and spoke of a surprisingly “thriving culture” of hard rock music in the region.
That said, being a musician, period, requires “sacrifice, focus, and diligence,” and is a lifestyle that isn’t possible unless one truly loves it, he added.
Kucinski’s musical journey began early, with his mom listening to Janice Joplin and attending Grateful Dead shows.
And when he later saw Kiss’s “Alive II” album, with Peter Criss drumming on a massive kit with flames in the background, the image made an enduring impact.
“That’s what I wanted to do,” said Kucinski. “The journey began.”
“It’s taken me a lot further than I ever thought it would.”
OF COURSE, the journey wasn’t always easy and unfortunately featured a few shake-ups, such as losing a guitarist and a vocalist.
The band also had to go through a maturation period, which for Kucinski, included becoming a husband and father.
“If you lose your family in the pursuit, you’ve lost it all,” he said.
Kucinski has a good sense of humor about being a hard rock musician despite approaching middle-age, which in itself involves its own challenges.
“Music is not like athletics,” he laughed. “With music, you just continue to get better as you age.”
Navigating the complexities of the music industry has been no cakewalk, either, whether it’s “learning to be a businessman” or forming “a series of connections and partnerships.”
“There is a passion there,” said Kucinski, “but you also have to temper it with reality,” especially a financial one, which means that most musicians must still work full-time jobs outside of any rockstar lifestyle.
AS FOR the music itself, like many artists, Kucinski is reticent to define XIII Minutes in terms of a specific sound or genre.
Over the years, he’s come instead to ask listeners: “What do you hear? Does it speak to you?”
“I can tell you what to think,” he said, “but that limits your imagination.”
Kucinski points to the 1990s and early 2000s as providing inspiration, and really enjoys bands like Killswitch Engage and Disturbed, who he described as “having an amazing sonic element.”
He also has a lot of respect for bands like Korn who helped to redefine the hard rock/metal genre and draw in new listeners.
As for why he loves hard rock/metal music more generally, Kucinski shared how the music served as his escape when he was young, especially when faced with the challenges of poverty, abuse, addiction and homelessness.
The bands he was listening to, “they were speaking what I was feeling,” he said.
“When I was young, [hard rock music] was my safe space.”
On the flip-side, it’s those early life challenges that not only served as a place of solace for Kucinski, but inspires him to help young people today.
He describes himself as “an advocate,” someone who will “speak up for others,” and he points to hard rock as music that young people truly thrive upon, especially when they feel trapped in “a culture that doesn’t understand you.”
“[Young people] need something loud, bold and unafraid,” said Kucinski, and metal is the “boldest, bravest music in the world.”
“Hopefully we can get those kids out,” whether in Iola or elsewhere, he said.
“Kids in small towns need someone to hear their stories. I’m excited to do that.”