I was browsing the metal selection at my local record store when I first discovered Torche. Their latest full-length, Harmonicraft, had just been released and was sitting on display. The bright pink gatefold featured creatures spitting out rainbows, candy, and bubbles. Very few albums have piqued my interest more, based on the artwork alone. At that time, I had heard of the band, but never gave them an honest listen. I continued browsing the store, but I wondered what that album could sound like. So what did I do when I got home? I logged into Spotify, pulled up the record, and pressed play.
I was immediately impressed by what I had heard. Not only was the packaging and appearance unique, but the band had such a distinct sound. I have been following the band ever since, and was excited when I found out that they were welcoming a follow-up to their 2012 release. Torche teamed up with Santos, the same illustrator as Harmonicraft, for their newest work, Restarter. I had the opportunity to chat with Jonathan Nuñez, the band’s bassist, to discuss their first time in Australia and New Zealand, their relationship with Santos, the music of Restarter, and their current tour with Lionize and Clutch. Check out what Jon had to say below:
You guys recently visited New Zealand and Australia for the first time. How did that go?
It was great. We did a little reading on them and saw some documentaries and films about them in the past, but we weren’t sure if we would be fortunate enough to actually visit those two places. Once we got the invitation, we were all super excited. We had a great time playing the shows over there. The people were awesome and everything went very well. It was different, but great.
Did you have days off to where you could relax and enjoy the sights?
There were days off, which was good, because we wanted to hang out with our friend from Robotic Empire. He helped put out a few of our releases and he lives in New Zealand. We also had time to enjoy nature and the sights, which was great after all of the travel.
More big news from you guys. You recently announced the new record, Restarter. It is set for release on Feb. 24. From what I understand, everything for that is just about done?
Yup, the record has been done for some time now. We started writing it around Thanksgiving of 2013. That was the first time we got together. We met up again in early January to finish up the writing. We then immediately got into the studio to record it all.
Where did you end up recording this one?
We ended up recording it in my home studio in southern Miami.
So the second time you guys got together, you worked on the rest there so you can get right into the recording process?
Yup. When we met up, everyone came down here to get to work. It was just the easiest way to get right to it.
I read that it will be a bit louder and heavier than Harmonicraft. Was this a conscious decision, or did it naturally progress that way?
Oh yeah, totally. When we started writing, that is what came out. Harmonicraft was an upbeat rock record. For this one, we wanted to showcase our live sound. Meaning, we wanted this record to represent sonically, the sound of our live act. That was the goal for this LP. Everyone played the best we could, and I think we nailed it. It is way heavier than Harmonicraft. We still have some upbeat party jams or whatever you want to call them, but for the most part, the songs are a little slower and moodier. I think it is pretty crushing. We are excited for everyone to hear it.
I was curious, is there a significance behind the album title?
Not really (laughs). There was a point in time where we had a few temporary song titles, and Restarter was being thrown around then. So, it was just going around and it really stuck with me. I thought it was simple, short, to the point, and it was fitting. So I suggested it and everyone seemed a bit welcome to that idea. There is nothing too crazy behind the name (laughs).
I know with the last album, you guys threw some ideas around to Santos as he worked on the artwork. There are a lot of little intricate details on there. For Restarter, did you guys discuss with him any ideas before he got to it?
Well because we have toured with him, and he did t-shirt designs for us in the past, I think he really gets our music and our personalities. Combining that all together, it creates a really good working relationship. He will typically meet and surpass whatever it is that we ask of him. Steve [Brooks, guitars/vocals] was in constant contact with him and had the idea for the direction of the artwork and what he wanted. We all threw our ideas out there along the way, but for the most part, Steve and Santos handled the concept and art of this new record.
Being a big live band, do you have any special preparations before you hit the road?
Not necessarily. It can be pretty hectic. Since everyone lives in a different city and has a different schedule, it can be hard to get together and leave an ample amount of time to practice. When we do get together, we really gotta get to work and there is no time wasted. For this tour, with everyone’s schedule, it is just a matter of working it all out and getting to it.
I would imagine once you get into the swing of things, it all becomes second nature.
Yeah. Sometimes the travel might be exhausting and all, but once you get your gear set up and you begin playing, it is a clean slate. For me, touring is the result of all of the hard work we put into the album and writing the new music. I am lucky enough to own my own recording studio, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I look forward to touring. There is nothing better than getting out on stage, and showcasing all of your handwork for everyone in the audience. And when they react in a positive way, when they are having as much fun as you are, it’s great. It is so incredibly rewarding, and I hope to never stop playing live. Nothing is more important than just giving it your all and if possible, meeting some of the fans that take time out of their day to see us.
You guys are heading over to the UK and Ireland in the spring. Is there anything else in the works that you would like to talk about?
Originally, that tour was going to be a quick trip. It has been expanded to a whole month, which is great. I am happy it went from a quick trip to a proper tour. There is also a music video in the works for one of the songs. But other than that, it is all about touring. We are excited for it all, and I am looking forward to these next few months.
Torche will play the Starland Ballroom with Clutch and Lionize in Sayreville, NJ on Dec. 29. On Dec. 30, the three acts will take the stage at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA. Restarter is out via Relapse Records on Feb. 24. For more information, go to torchemusic.com.