9353 was a post-punk band based in Washington, DC (1983-86)
9353 began in Washington, DC as a trio with a drum machine in early ’83. The lineup consisted of Vance Bockis, well known as the former front-man of the popular metal band The Obsessed, on bass and vocals; Jason Carmer, former guitarist of DC hardcore band Double-O; and Bruce Merkle, formerly of Color Anxiety, on vocals. After several dates at DC Space, Friendship Station and other venues, the band invited Carmer’s high school classmate and drummer Dan Joseph to join them in the studio to add percussive accents to their first studio recording. The four-song demo recorded in May ’83 at Don Zientara’s Inner Ear Studio was later included on their first album To Whom it May Consume, and included Famous Last Words, Ghost, With All Respect, and Rooftop. Following the demo sessions, Joseph was invited to join the band as full-time. The band’s first date as a quartet was in June of ’83 at DC Space.
The remainder of 1983 saw 9353’s popularity rise substantially, with regular dates at DC Space, the original Nightclub 9:30 and larger venues, sharing bills with visiting acts such as Sisters of Mercy, PiL and Tupelo Chain Sex. Also during ’83, the band continued to work at Inner Ear Studio, recording most of their growing repertoire. These additional ’83 sessions included first recordings of Senior Citizen Disposal Plant, Babies, King Boy Power Hell, East of Sudan, Sponge, Bastard, Viva La Sleaze, Industry and Ten Witches. Later that year Bockis left the group briefly over personal differences. He was replaced by bassist Micheal Gittleman who played several dates with the band and participated in their next recording session at Startech Studio in early ’84. Four songs from this session wound up on the band’s first album To Whom it May Consume, released in 1984 on DC-based R & B Records. About the album, The Washington Post wrote “To Whom it May Consume is not only musically exact and accomplished for a first effort, but also realizes most of its ambitions.” Also in that year, Fountain of Youth Records released Bouncing Babies, a compilation of DC punk bands that included 9353’s Ten Witches.
Bockis was to eventually return to the band for another run. From the end of ’84 through 1985 the band’s following continued to grow in their hometown, while college radio airplay introduced them to a wider national audience. In addition to their regular DC appearances, the band did a limited amount of traveling in support of their album. In ’85 the band released their second full album, We Are Absolutely Sure There Is No God, on Fountain of Youth Records. Upon it’s release, the Washington Post wrote: “Superbly recorded, the record offers a wholly original sound that is as compelling as it is unnerving.” Continued success locally led to consistently sold out concerts, including a full “9353 Week” at DC Space. 9353 remained active into 1986 before abruptly disbanding. In the early 90s the band’s two albums were re-issued on CD by Adult Swim with extensive bonus tracks, only to fall quickly out of print. Several subsequent efforts to revive 9353, sometimes in name only, have been attempted by the band’s singer Bruce Hellington (formerly Merkle).