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Taking Music to Floor Thirteen

Floor Thirteen will perform Saturday night in Grand Forks.

A Winnipeg band that has gotten its music on popular video games, TV show soundtracks and even has a vocalist who gained Canadian popularity on singing contests is now setting its sights on the United States.

Drummer Billy Kiely described Floor Thirteen's sound as "pretty straight-up rock" that has been compared to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Wolfmother. He and guitarist Marc Jaworski have been jamming together since 1997.

They found bassist Aaron Vandall, singer for the then-trio, in 2000 through live performances around Winnipeg. Floor Thirteen really began to pick up steam in 2003, when lead singer Jeremy Koz joined. Koz had reached the Top 20 during the 2006 "Canadian Idol" competition and later that year was in the Top 30 during the "Rock Star: INXS" competition.

"Around Canada, it was good exposure for the band," Kiely said.

Floor Thirteen is performing at 9:30 p.m. Saturday at Southgate Casino Bar & Grill in Grand Forks.

"We try to put everything we can into our show," Kiely said.

"Hopefully, the songs stick in their heads but also the high energy and the stage presence we put into it."

Future plans

All four members of the band were born and raised in Winnipeg, whose music scene always has a handful of good concerts to check out on the weekends, Kiely said.

"It's actually pretty great for the size of the city we are," he said. "There are a lot of good bands that are coming out nationally and internationally."

Floor Thirteen released its first album "Mmmm!" last year, and has toured extensively with stops in London and Canada and some shorter tours that brought it to Los Angeles and New York City.

Band members got work visas for the U.S., and now are planning heavier touring across the country in support of their album. Grand Forks is a great stop, he said, since it's so close to Winnipeg.

"We're trying to make it out there about once a month," he said, adding they are trying to line up frequent performances at Southgate. The band first performed there in October, playing a 30-minute set between other performing bands.

The band is writing songs right now and hopes to get back in the recording studio in the next six months or so, Kiely said.

The musicians got a big break when they met the music director for EA Video Games and landed an agreement to use some of their music in popular games such as "Need for Speed: Undercover" and "The Sims 3."

They've also had their song "Night Train" featured on Mazda's online "Campus Joyride" game, and their track "Bright Lights Rockin' City" was added to the soundtrack of the Sci-Fi Channel movie "Grizzly Rage."

Kiely said all four band members have day jobs to make ends meet -- he is a Web designer, vocalist Koz does a lot of performing and the other two are in sales and accounting.

"We're flexible enough to be able to take two weeks off here or there to go out touring," he said.

But they're thinking big, shooting for "wherever it will take us" without putting a time limit on anything.

"This last year has been the best of the band, and we're trying to keep the momentum going."

Johnson covers local music events and runs a music blog at www.areavoices.com/valleysound. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com.

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