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Torche | Interview


Torche are the power riffing sensation from that small coterie of bands that’s also given us Floor, Baroness, Kylesa and Mastodon.

They’re coming to Ireland this week for a handful of dates -and so Jamie Grimes had a word with their guirarist Andrew – the highlight of which being about their surprising new 8-bit video game. Obviously!

***

First of all Andrew, how’s the tour going currently? I know you’re in the middle of it as we speak. Do you have any particular memories of the last time Torche were here? And can you tell us a little about your relationship with the folks in Dott who are opening the Irish shows?

Tour so far has been great. Super busy, killer shows. Always loads of memories from each tour though it gets seriously difficult trying to keep them all in order.

In particular, last time we were here, we had roughly a two week break in the middle of the tour (two months), where we broke off and did our own thing. I cruised around solo in England, Scotland and Ireland. It’s amazing to actually get out of the van life and really see something.

In Galway, had an absolute blast with the Dott Crew. We originally met them because Anna had recorded an acoustic version of Torche’s, “Across The Shields,” and put it up on Soundcloud. Someone at Volcom at the time found it, sent us the link and we were all thoroughly charmed.

This led us to checking out the stuff from Dott and the rest is history. We’ve become fast friends and have a very genuine mutual respect. I suppose to some, on either end of the musical universe, may consider it an unlikely pairing, but good songwriting is good songwriting!

Plus, we all laugh at the same jokes. Makes for an excellent after party.

I’ve been wondering about the name “Restarter” since the album came out – it seems with there being a change in label since “Harmonicraft” and musically it’s a little heavier and more direct than that album..I guess I’m wondering if the title was perhaps reflective of this literally being a new start of sorts for the band?

I read that the four of you are all in different cities now – what was the writing process like for “Restarter” given that situation?

We’ve all been separated by some degree since I’ve joined, so the process has always been about the same. We’ll get together for a week or two at a time, usually somewhere in Florida and start hashing out ideas.

Torche doesn’t have, and as much as I can tell, has never had a central “songwriter” in the band. It’s always the four of us banging shit out and trying different ideas.

Truly everyone contributes either riff/melody wise or direction/structure wise but it’s all done within the context of our sound, so the feeling of cohesiveness and “single songwriter” is maintained. But yeah, we go in spurts, demo as much as possible, make tweaks then head into the studio.

We have to talk about the video game that surfaced just prior to the album’s release! How the actual fuck did that come about? Did you guys have much of a say in the design of it?

Man, it really turned out so cool. The people at Relapse came up with the idea and ran it by us. We of course loved it. A couple months go by and we kinda forgot it was in the works and the next thing we know, we’re approving the artwork for our pixelated selves. It was amazing!!

I’m not as hardcore as some, but I’m definitely a gamer, from the original NES on up so to have this was such a win for selfish reasons. As a promo device for a new record, it’s really unparalleled. Relapse knocked it outta the park!

And similarly the video for “Annihilation Affair” is pretty crazy looking. There’s a sort of post-apocalypse/dystopian buzz to the game, video and artwork which is strangely at odds with the fact that you guys are for the most part a pretty upbeat band. What inspired it all?

A lot to unpack there, but mainly I guess it was just where our heads where at. The overall vibe and direction of the album art was the result of Steve and Santos discussing ideas, Santos sending us sketches and us completely loving it.

The specifics of the album art, is all John Santos. The man is an unbelievable talent.

The video game borrowed heavily from these concepts as did the video. With the video, however, director Phil Mucci took those concepts and ran with em, creating the storyline, the characters, etc. It was such an incredible thing to see unfold, and we couldn’t be more honored or more happy with the results.

At this point given the fact you have a relatively large discography, how are you deciding what to put in the set for this tour? And how do you feel the tracks from “Restarter” are going down with the audiences at the shows so far?

Eh, we don’t really have much of a process for this other than sorta feeling out what songs have been going over well recently. As new as the record is, the Restarter tracks have been going over well I think. As time goes on and people get to really absorb the tunes, it’ll be even better.

Obviously Steve has been busy with Floor over the last year or two in addition to Torche, Rick and Jonathan have been on the road with Shitstorm and other bands over the last year…so I have to ask what’s up with your own band Tilts at the moment? How do you find juggling two bands? Also, what’s this I hear about Rick being involved with a band with Robert Trujilo?

Well, as to Tilts I wish we could be doing loads more writing and touring, but aside from my busy schedule, the rest of the guys are like, real life BUSY.

Full time jobs, house payments, the whole deal. Our killer drummer, Ken McCray is also still kicking ass in his fight with cancer. Heavy stuff, but the man is an absolute beast, gigging two or three nights a week while on chemo.

He’s unstoppable, so it’d be wrong to say it’s limiting us in any way, as it really isn’t, but it’s still something we must factor in.

So, nothing certain in the works, but we’re super old friends and we love writing together, so we’re bound to do something again soon.

Once you’re done with this bunch of Euro dates you;re hitting the road with Melt Banana for a while..how long a stretch do you think you have ahead of you touring wise for this album? Can we expect it to be another long gap before we get the next record?

Yeah we’ll be doing a month with Melt Banana in July into early August. Then we come back to Europe, doing Scandinavia and Eastern Europe in early November into December.

The goal for the next one is to not wait another three years! Haha. Speaking for myself, the reception of the new record has been awesome and Relapse has done a hell of a job.

But we’d be fools to not notice the loss of momentum in such a long wait. Fingers crossed!

Jamie Grimes ::: 23/05/15


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