Best known as the leader of the hard-hitting psychobilly trio Tiger Army, guitarist, singer, and songwriter Nick 13 has expanded on his commanding reputation in the punk and rockabilly communities with a solo career in which he indulges his passion for classic country sounds. Born Kearny Nick Jones in San Jose, California, he took up the handle Nick 13 in tribute to his first band, Influence 13, and to easily distinguish himself from friends named Nick who traveled in the same circle of musicians when he settled in Northern California's East Bay community in 1994. In 1996, Nick formed the first edition of Tiger Army, playing their debut show at Berkeley's famous punk co-op 924 Gilman Street. While the band fared well on its own turf, Tiger Army soon developed an enthusiastic following in Southern California, particularly Orange County, and in time the band would move south.
In 1999, Tiger Army cut an EP for a small independent punk label, Chapter 11 Records, and after Rancid guitarist Tim Armstrong heard it, he signed the group to his Epitaph-distributed label Hellcat Records. Tiger Army's self-titled debut album appeared later the same year, and the follow-up, Tiger Army II: Power of Moonlite, was released in the summer of 2001. From the start, Tiger Army were very much Nick's band -- he played guitar, sang lead, wrote the songs, and was the only constant member as a steady stream of drummers and upright bassists passed through the lineup. And while the band's rough-and-ready sound drew comparison to Social Distortion and the Misfits, Nick was occasionally willing to slow the tempo and play a country-styled track on their albums. Steady touring and a strong live show helped build a loyal audience for Tiger Army, and the group traveled the world as a headliner, opened shows for everyone from AFI to Morrissey, and sold out multi-night runs at top clubs in California, even hosting its own annual event, Octoberflame.
In 2009, Nick 13 played a short solo set at Octoberflame in addition to a show with Tiger Army, and announced he was working up material for a solo album (though Tiger Army would continue to be his main focus). The album was expected to appear in 2010, but Nick ran into a case of writer's block, and spent some time in Nashville as he sorted out his ideas and sought new scenery. Later that year, Nick returned to California, and with celebrated roots musicians Greg Leisz and James Intveld producing and anchoring the session band, he cut his self-titled solo debut, whose ten songs reflect the classic California country sound of the 1950s and '60s; the album was released by Sugar Hill Records in June 2011. ~ Mark Deming