Archive for the ‘Torche’ Category

Alex Gillies’ Top 10 Albums of 2015

Sunday, December 20th, 2015

The next instalment in our end-of-year wrap-up comes from Alex Gillies, of No Anchor, Grieg and A Savage God.

1. Baroness – Purple
Very few bands in the world that can make heavy and beautiful mix seamlessly. The newly rebuilt Baroness have done that refining the melodrama and further defining the possibilities of their brand of metal.

2. Sumac – The Deal
Old Man Gloom/Russian Circles/Baptists all rolled into one lumbering mental-case of musical gristle.

3. High On Fire – Luminiferous
Returning with an even better dosage of the riff-filled metal that brought them this far.

4. Deafheaven – New Bermuda
A stronger, tighter and more ferocious blend of blasts and atmospherics. The old guard still hate it but this sounds like the future.

5. Drowning Horse – Sheltering Sky
Doom metal done right. Bleak and barren songs pushing you along like a slow march to hell.

6. Hope Drone – Cloak Of Ash
Like Deafheaven, a new generation pushing the boundaries of metal’s blackness and sophistication.

7. Built To Spill – Untethered Moon
The indie stalwarts’ latest incarnation of Neil Young-styled guitar squall. Made more so by singer Doug Marsh’s unique cathartic philosophical meanderings.

8. Torche – Restarter
Metal that makes you feel a million bucks! Crushing riffs, caustic melodies and a beautiful taste for the absurd.

9. Last Chaos – Only Fit For Ghosts
Raging Japanese-style hardcore punk from Brisbane that’s kicking teeth in left right and centre.

10. Yukon Dreams – Little Worlds
Dark twilight songs from Pall of Black Heart Procession, filled with musical saw and sung from the bottom of a whisky glass.

New Torche song ‘Andy Low’ on Robotic Empire compilation

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

It’s amazing there aren’t more bands like Torche, but maybe that’s to be expected; for so long we’ve been led to think that metal and melody are warring factions, that hooks and catchy riffs are tools of the enemy yielded only in the pursuit of accessibility. And while Torche are certainly accessible, they’re so much more than that, proving that a good hook goes a long way when it’s matched with massive guitars and a mighty rhythm section.

Their latest offering is ‘Andy Low’, the first song on the mammoth 30-track compilation album Blood Mixtape from Virginia label Robotic Empire. It’s a rollicking, sub-3-minute anthem filled to the brim with everything you’ve come to expect from Torche: big, ballsy, killer riffs, a heavy beat fit for a military parade and the familiar, soaring howl of frontman Steve Brooks. Flame on.

You can download ‘Andy Low’ for free (or for money, if you want) here or stream the whole compilation below.

Torche Australian Tour:

Thursday October 16 – Crowbar, Brisbane
with Lizzard Wizzard and Indica

Saturday October 18 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
with Child and DEAD

Sunday October 19 — Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
with Lo! and Sumeru

Tickets available from, Oztix and venue outlets.

Interview: Torche

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Torche are renowned worldwide for their superb blend of emotive catchiness and flesh-stripping heaviness. Emerging out of Miami, Florida, the band’s distinctive sound is the product of the coming together of a wide range of collective influences and experience. Having existed as both a four-piece then a trio, Torche returned to playing with four members in 2011 with the recruitment of guitarist and vocalist Andrew Elstner. Recently, I caught up with the very amiable newest member of the band to talk things Torche ahead of their Australian tour in October.

BC: It’s been a few years now since you joined the band. How did being part of Torche come about?

AE: I used to play in a band called Riddle of Steel. We were on Robotic Empire, and our second record came out the same year that Torche’s first came out on Robotic. So, we were in that circle of bands around Andy Low from Robotic, and played some shows down in Florida with Torche. So when Juan was no longer playing with Torche, after about a two-year gap of them being a three-piece I think they’d had enough of it and Steve contacted me by e-mail. I went down and jammed with them in Gainesville. I was still living in St. Louis at the time. It went really well. And, I found out I was in the band after jamming with them for about a week all day and all night when they introduced me to one of their friends as “the new guitar player.”

BC: So you went into a band that already had quite a big following. What are some of the biggest changes for you since joining up with Torche?

AE: Oh man, from the first moment that I started playing shows with these guys, it’s been different. You walk into a venue and the attitude is different [laughs]. People treat you a little bit better, with a little bit more respect… understandably so I guess as there are a million bands and a lot of them are garbage. It’s been a blast. I can’t say that enough. All of a sudden, guitar and pedal companies are interested in you using their equipment. So you start to get a bunch of free stuff. I feel like I’m on a rider, to be honest! Not that I haven’t been busting my ass for the last, you know, 20 years playing in bands. But, I joined as a fan, so it’s been nuts, heaps of fun.

BC: You’re also active in another band, Tilts. You released some new material with them earlier this year. Do you still get the time you’d like to be able to have to work with your other projects?

AE: Yeah, we put out the Cuatro Hombres album in June. Those guys are old friends of mine. I think we’ve known each other since were about 17 or 18 years old, more or less. But it’s like you think you never really have enough time to do anything. I’m in Atlanta now and those guys are in St. Louis and have the full-time job gig, families. So between playing with Torche full-time and everyone’s real life schedules, we get in whenever we can and take advantage of every opportunity, say if I’m home for the holidays or whatever. But, you know, even with a limited timeframe we have no reason to cut it off altogether. We have a good time when we catch up and work together.

BC: Well, along with the close personal bond with those guys, I think a lot of people who are creative like to have different outlets to work with, too.

AE: Totally! Totally, it keeps things fresh, keeps you on your toes writing-wise with any band that you’re in. It keeps ideas flowing and you learn to work with people in different ways. As a band sometimes you can get stuck with a particular pattern of writing or how you do things. It definitely keeps you sharp.

BC: Growing up, what attracted you to playing heavy music?

AE: I grew up with a very musical family. Music was always around. But, you know, it’s kind of strange. I think it’s more like heavy music sort of finds you, rather than the other way around. You hear it, and you can’t move. It’s like, the first time… I went over to a friend’s house and he had a guitar. I was 12 and I didn’t play guitar at all. And, like, he just turned it on and played a low E string through a distortion pedal and it just absolutely flattened me (laughs). Like I couldn’t breathe. I’m like, “Oh my god, I have to play this!” From there, I guess… I liked rock music, heavy music. I guess I got bit by the bug. It’s like being struck by lightning. I still love Black Sabbath, but you know that first time, you sort of forget what it’s like that first time you hear something like ‘Sweet Leaf’ cranked through a stereo. It might not have that same effect now; but, at the time, it’s absolutely destroying. It’s a feeling like you don’t have a choice. ‘I have to do this now.’ I still feel the same way, you know, playing guitar with the band. It’s just something that happened at random, and here I am, still.

BC: Random but monumental! In some other interviews in the past I’ve read you talk about how other music being produced out there now doesn’t really excite you that much. What do you think it is? Lack of imagination and innovation? Oversaturation?

AE: Yeah, you know, I guess just a lot of stuff doesn’t grab me the way a lot of the older bands do, even stuff from the 1980s. I mean, there’s plenty of stuff now that I love. The quality of the songwriting though is just so tough to match. I know it’s just my opinion. Nobody should feel like it’s true. Depending on the band, people will sort of scoff at this, but I think if you just strip away a lot of the flash, there was just this really incredible, deep sort of songwriting, whether it’s a turn of phrase or a cool bridge or really interesting outro or to break up a verse or a chorus. It was just really creative, really talented songwriting, which is still my goal. It’s not so much technique or a tone, you know, just how to do the coolest thing possible with the least amount of effort. Economising the songwriting, stripping away all the bullshit, and making it as powerful and as direct as possible. So, you know, it’s like I’m saying I’m too cool to write this music that’s around now, as like I said there is still plenty that I like, even in heavy music. Like, I think Part Chimp from the UK is amazing. There are plenty of bands from all over that have something interesting about what they are doing. But you know, it just seems few and far between. Perhaps that’s just part of getting older! Seen it, done it.

BC: It is interesting talking to bands who are making, at least what I think, the most captivating music now seem to have that common thread of a deep respect for what was going on in the 70s and 80s, when it was really cutting edge and exciting to be making this heavy and progressive kind of music but that had to do it in a more stripped down and less technological and frilly approach, just like you are describing.

AE: Yeah, yeah, I guess like I’m describing two things really as I can get down to, say, a Toto album as much as I can get down with… like… I can appreciate, say, the yacht rock of the 80s, or something like the Beatles where the songwriting is, to me, just absolutely mystifying. I can’t imagine how those songs were written, in an admiring sort of way.

BC: It’s common to hear musicians speak of working on the road being something that can be a very punishing and difficult way of life, in contrast to what is perhaps romanticised about it. What are some of the things about touring that you enjoy or that are difficult for you?

AE: You know, I really love it. Touring gives you a sense of purpose. The playing of the shows, seeing old friends, meeting new people, especially when you’re touring with a band that you’ve never played with before and you develop really tight bonds… even if you’re not good friends at the beginning, or if it’s a band you might not really like musically, at the end you can end up becoming really good friends. That’s been my experience, at least. There is what I guess you could call a kind of terminal exhaustion. It is hard to describe just how tiring it is, which is always a big deal. Even if you’re sleeping in hotels, there’s a lot of driving, there’s a lot of sitting, there’s a lot of waiting. But I really have nothing to complain about. I don’t think I have to dig for something that I hate about touring. I mean you miss your home, you miss your friends, but it never feels like a sacrifice to me. A lack of sleep, definitely (laughs). That’s brutal. And it’s tough, because you want every night to be a blast, to be a party. You’re out for two weeks, or two months, and in a different city every night. You run into different folks and they haven’t seen you in over a year. So everybody is ready to party and buy you shots and beer. So you want to keep up, but if you try and do that for about a week straight it will just ruin you [laughs]. You just can’t. You start to hate yourself, start to hate each other. You have to pace yourself or at least make it look like you’re partying! It’s taxing, but what else am I going to do? I love it.

BC: What’s the update with Torche’s new record? Have you been able to finish that or is it mainly about touring at the moment for you guys?

AE: We’ve got a new album in the works. It’s recorded, mixed, mastered. The art is done. It’s coming out through Relapse in February. No date set yet for sure. It took a little bit longer to get the mixing, mastering and the artwork all settled. I believe… I’m pretty sure it’s going to be called Restarter. There’s been some discussion about that and I believe… I mean I’m in the band! Restarter, and it’s coming out in February. And I really can’t wait to start playing these new songs out there live.

BC: Finally, I have to ask. Are you sick of talking about that fucking bat yet?

AE: [laughs] Oh man… I knew that was going to come!

BC: It must have been really weird to watch this personal story just take off like that.

AE: That’s always been the strangest thing to me, man! Like… how? Just some weird, totally random event, timed perfectly by the way with the release of the Tilts record and the new Torche record, just so bizarre. It sort of gave somebody else just another reason to talk about the band! The strangest thing was like you say just how far it went. I had people e-mailing me from overseas asking me if I was OK. Within 24 or 48 hours of me posting this totally random update on Facebook I’m doing phone interviews with and MTV news and other people, just really really strange.

BC: Speaks to the obsessive nature of music!

AE: Yeah and the attractiveness of just a weird story.

BC: Thanks, it was really great to talk with you today, Andrew, and all the best for your tour here in Australia.

AE: Likewise, man! Thanks so much.

Catch Torche on their first Australian tour on the following dates:

Thursday October 16 – Crowbar, Brisbane
with Lizzard Wizzard and Indica

Saturday October 18 – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
with Child and DEAD

Sunday October 19 — Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
with Lo! and Sumeru

Tickets on sale from, Oztix, Moshtix and venue outlets.