Shine on My Old Ways
By Rahul Menon
17 September 2014
Torche are a young stoner/sludge band from Florida, USA, and are quickly gaining popularity. With just three albums under their belt, they have become crowd favourites at a lot of festivals and tours, and it is no surprise that they are already making their first visit to Australia next month. What makes them unique, at least to me, is that they have an extremely heavy sound but their music isn't necessarily violent or angry. In fact, whenever I listen to their latest album Harmonicraft (2012), I always have a big smile on my face.
I had the opportunity to have a quick chat with bassist Jonathan Nuñez, about the band, the upcoming album, and their first visit to Australia.
When I called him, Jonathan was just finalising a brand new Torche song and he is waiting to put everything out for our listening pleasure.
"Yup, we have a new full length record coming out via Relapse called Restarter. It's going great. We are really looking forward to it. We have a big tour coming up and I really want to get on it. I work in the studio while I'm not on the road, so I really can't wait to get back on the road again. We are going to do 10 year anniversary tour, so that's the next step for us."
We then touched on how this new album came to being.
"Everyone started to feel this 'work vibe' you know? We tend to write just on the spot. Everyone was really excited and ready to put out something new. The last thing we released was Harmonicraft in 2012 so it's been a while. We are really excited to work with Relapse as well, we have no problems with them and we are very happy with the way things are going at the moment."
As I mentioned earlier, Harmonicraft always puts a smile on my face despite how heavy the record actually is. So I asked Jonathan to explain what the vibe was on this record.
"You know what? Maybe it's a little less of a smile this time, maybe more of a smirk. I will say that there are a few upbeat songs on the next album. A lot of the stuff is louder and heavier. It is very true to the live sound of the band. Even the upbeat songs are really thick sounding. It is a heavier record and less of an upbeat rock record which Harmonicraft was."
It is pretty hard to accurately classify Torche. It's friggin’ heavy for starters, but not in a violent way, and there definitely is some stoner doom vibes floating around. So I asked the man himself to tell us some of the key elements and a genre classification.
"It depends. People consider us to be a bipolar band. We definitely had a fun upbeat vibe on Harmonicraft And then when you look at our other material like In Return, it is not necessarily all gloom doom or whatever people call it nowadays, it is definitely on the heavier side of things. It depends on what we feel at the moment. We live in different cities except for me and the drummer. So when everybody gets together, we try to maximise our time together to write. So it only starts with a riff and we create a song around it while we are together. The key elements would be loud guitar, really heavy, heavy bass, loud hard hitting drums, and vocals which have a memorable chorus and catchy hooks. Since our first demos were leaked, people have been calling us stoner doom / doom pop. I don't know what [laughs]. It's rock n roll. It's heavy and loud. But to categorise - there's doom, stoner, punk, shoe gaze - it's basically tunes we are into and what we are fans of. So we can't help but bring in elements of stuff that we like!"
Maryland Death Fest is quite possibly one of the heaviest, if not the heaviest, festivals on the planet. Seriously, go take a look at that line-up. Torche had the privilege of playing that festival this year and Jonathan said that it was an awesome experience.
"It was awesome. We got to play for the first time this year. It was really cool to be a part of it this year. Saw so many bands which I've never been able to see. Some of the craziest and heaviest bands. We have a lot of friends in the area as well so it is always good to be there. The show came to us at a great time. We had finished working on the audio stuff for the new record and everyone was itching to play a show!"
Torche are coming to Australia next month and the boys are super keen to come to the land down under.
"Super excited! We have wanted to come there for quite some time now. Our friends who have come there and played shows have always had great experiences so we are very lucky and fortunate to be coming there now. It's good to be back on the road as well. We have been sitting and doing stuff for the new album for a while now so can't wait to get to Australia!"
It is their first visit to Australia so I asked if they have any plans and what comes to mind when they think of Australia.
"Well as of now we haven't made any specific plans. I know we are trying to get three or so days off before or after the trip. We have never been so we are going to try and experience Australia. When I think of Australia - hot, deserted landscape, dangerous animals, good times, beer and people with good sense of humour!"
Jonathan says that the band is on the party side of things while they are on the road.
"We are definitely on the party side and not the quiet type. Not that we are raging alcoholics or something. We try to have a good time while we are on the road. We feel like going on the road is a reward for putting in the work - writing, recording and stuff - the stuff that sometimes isn't as enjoyable as playing live! On the road we try to take advantage of where we are at and get the most out of the cities we are in. We are fortunate to be able to do this! We are eager to have a good time."
I asked if Jonathan had any memorable story he would like to share and he laughed, and said "There are lots of good funny memories. I will just say this - We love going on tour and it is always get to come home... in one piece [laughs]. We always want a great experience, and we hope it is not too long before our next tour. People can ask us for stories while we are there, and hopefully we can create some new stories while we are down under [laughs]."
As far as the set list goes, Torche have some plans, including visits to their really old material.
"When we come there, it will be right after our 10 year anniversary tour. It is also our first time in Australia so we will play stuff from all our albums and go back to our really old stuff as well - the songs we haven't played in years. We may play 1 or 2 songs from the new record, but I think it is always better to play songs which people know, the songs which people are screaming at us to play."
So what is a perfect Torche live experience?
"Definitely some whiskey, a lot of energetic people that want to have fun, it doesn't hurt if they know the songs. The crowd is really important you know. You give up your energy and the crowd returns it with their reaction and how much fun they are having. It is like a cycle. As long as the band and crowd are having fun, it can't go wrong. People should be there to have the best time of their life! All those elements combine to make the best show!"
When asked what he would be doing if not music, Jonathan seemed genuinely stumped.
"Ah man, I don't know. With me, I'm either with the band or I'm in a studio working. Music is all I do, nonstop. Sometimes it gets a little bit crazy but 30 minutes later, I'm ready to do it again. I would be a nomad somewhere, something. I don't know. Music is really all I do." He goes on to explain the importance of music in his life. "There are many forms of art that make you feel certain ways and inspire you. For me it is music that just hits so hard ever since I was little. For me, getting into the music and playing music that I love playing and have been playing for a big chunk of my life now, I was kinda the odd man out earlier. Once you get older, you meet people with similar interests. They show you new bands and that music makes you feel certain things. I love working with a group of people who are working together to create the best song or record they can. That has always been appealing. Once I went over to a friend’s house who had a guitar, game over, that was it! I was like - "WHAT?! Show me how to do this!"
With that we came to the end of the interview, and Jonathan had the following message for the fans in Australia.
"Come to the shows and show us a good time! We are really looking forward to it. Australia is a special place for us. Individually we always wanted to go there and now being able to come there as a band is even better. We get to go down there and do what we love, and meet people who like what we do, and we can show them a good time too. This will be a really awesome experience for everyone. From what our friends who have played there have told us, it sounds like an excellent place to play and have a good time. We are just so excited, I can't wait!"
Torche will be touring Australia’s east coast in October beginning in Brisbane on the 16th. For more information on Torche, check out www.torchemusic.com.