Los Angeles band, Touché Amoré are living life to their fullest. With nearly 1,000 shows and four studio albums under their belts, the musicians are stoked to ring in the New Year—and celebrate their first decade as a band. However, members Jeremy Bolm (vocals), Clayton Stevens (guitar), Tyler Kirby (bass), Elliot Babin (drums), and Nick Steinhardt (guitar, bass) have a few things to do before they can bask in their fantastic accomplishment.
Touché Amoré is heading our way on yet another tour—but this time around, Bolm states the shows will be more intimate for the audiences. While large venues and packed stadiums can be considered good fortune for performers, it appears that many bands prefer a smaller, less intricate setting to play for their biggest and most loyal fans. And that’s just what this round of gigs is all about. I was lucky to catch up with Bolm before the tour picked up and discuss the band, their latest album, and what’s to come for the five.
You guys have been pretty busy with tours since the beginning of 2017—how’d they all go?
They went really well. The European tour at the beginning of the year was one of the best that we’ve probably ever had over there and I think it was like our 12th or 13th tour over there and it feels nice that things can still kind of feel different and grow. And then the U.S. tour was really fun and then we went to Australia and Mexico and now we’re about to do this thing, so it’s been a busy year.
Hey—keeps you guys busy. Why’d you say this was your best European tour?
You know, I think there’s that kind of thing where when you keep coming back, it gets better and better. I feel like in the U.S. the more you tour, the more it can harm you. It’s a little less special and things like that and I think there’s more of an appreciation in Europe, you know, just the whole idea of making the trip and doing all that. I think that Europeans are a lot more just thankful of that sort of a thing? And that’s not to say anything towards the U.S. but I feel that things can be taken for granted a little easier here just because we have so much, I would say.
You have this tour coming up, so how are you guys prepping for it?
You know, I wish I could tell you that we’ve been prepping a lot, but we haven’t really been able to. Our guitar player has been on his honeymoon for the past two weeks and everybody’s been kind of traveling. Our other guitar player, Clayton, has another band, so they did a tour and everybody’s been kind of doing their own thing. We’ve only really gotten to practice one time. And it was like, two weeks ago [laughs].
So it’s gonna be uh, interesting. And we’ve been playing a lot of these songs for years. I think we’re gonna be fine. It’s the least that we’ve gotten something prepared and we’re also playing a lot of songs that we haven’t played in a really long time and some songs that we haven’t played live, so, I think there’s gonna be a lot of soundcheck rehearsal.
Well, it keeps things fresh!
That’s exactly the kind of attitude—we’re trying not to do the same thing every night, which you do kind of get stuck in a routine a lot just because it’s easy and it’s safe and it’s comfortable. With this tour, I think we’re going into it with a whole, huge list of songs.
And you guys have been together for a while now, so you know what you’re doing.
Yeah. I would like to hope so. Nobody’s perfect, so you perform to the best of your abilities, but yeah. I feel like we know each other well enough now and our audience seems pretty understanding if something goes wrong. It’s not like anyone’s gonna leave the show if something goes wrong.
Nah—it’ll be fine, man. What are some of the venues you’re excited to play?
There’s a good amount. In L.A. there’s a venue called The Teragram, which I haven’t even been to yet but it’s a newer venue and it’s the perfect size from what I’ve been told. It’s just like, four walls and a roof. It’s not fancy in any sort of way. It’s just the perfect-sized room with a small stage—and there’s no barrier. I would say 95 percent of the shows this tour shouldn’t have a barrier so that’s exciting all around. The goal is to have this as a very intimate and personal tour.
I’ve looked at it as sort of like, not really like an apology tour—that feels more negative than it’s supposed to be, but it’s just because we’ve done a lot in the last couple of years, especially in the larger venues. We haven’t really been able to do a lot of small venues in a lot of major cities, so that’s why I’m kinda going into this really excited. Subterranean in Chicago is a small venue. I think the smallest room we’re playing has a 200 cap. and the biggest like maybe 500, which is in L.A. and New York.
That’s a pretty good range.
I think so—I’m really, really looking forward to it.
I take it you appreciate the smaller, more intimate venues then [laughs].
Oh, definitely. I would take that over anything [laughs. I mean, when you’re playing the larger-sized venue, you have to sort of remember like, “Okay. People aren’t gonna be able to necessarily interact,” so you have to play your songs to the best of your abilities and when you can interact, try to take that chance. It’s a lot more eye contact and you can actually put the mic in someone’s face.
Out of curiosity, does eye contact ever make you nervous, or does that just pump you up a bit more?
You know, it depends on the situation. Like, if we’re… It never really makes me too nervous, to be honest with you. But if we’re doing a support tour and we’re opening for a band that has a very strong audience where we’re playing to people who have clearly never heard of us before, I kind of enjoy a hard eye contact, especially if someone’s clearly not having a good time. It’s kind of nice to make someone a little uncomfortable. It turns you into a snarky teenager who wants to be angsty.
I enjoy it, but if it’s our audience, eye contact can be a powerful thing. You can see that someone’s going through something that you went through or you’re going through with the lyrics that you’ve written. I think it’s an important connection to have. It can be a moving thing that takes me back to being a fan of multiple bands and having that moment with that singer. It strikes a chord and it makes it special, so if I can do that for somebody, that’s nice, too.
Yes! It’s so special for the audience to connect with the musicians that way—it really makes all of the difference.
Yes. Absolutely. And it’s kinda funny how it can be used for comfort and as an intimidation tactic [laughs].
See, there you go [laughs]. Now, last September your fourth album, Stage Four, was released. It’s said to have been inspired by your mother’s passing. How did that album help you cope?
It helped as much as it could. I think it’s good to have an outlet. If anyone has gone through something as terrible as that, which most people will have to, I mean everyone will have to at some point in their life, but if you’re lucky enough to have an artistic outlet, it’s really good to pour yourself into that, whether it’s painting, writing, whatever it is… If someone doesn’t have that, or they feel they don’t have that creative or artistic side and they go through something like that, then it’s good to create an outlet for someone to pour themselves into.
With this record, there’s been a lot of people who seem to connect to it personally and I’m sure a fair amount of those people don’t create art in some sort of way, so if it helps them, then that’s a win. But creating the record, it created definitely a way to pour my feelings into things. I can’t say that I’m all better [laughs]. I don’t think that’ll ever happen, but I don’t think you’re supposed to get over something like that. I think that mourning is a good thing. I think that the hurt is a good thing because it reminds you that that person still matters to you.
I just don’t believe in the concept of getting over anything. I don’t think it’s a healthy thing to do. I think it’s important not to get over things—I mean, if they’re trivial, by all means try to get over something. Break-ups only should last as long as they need to. But death and things like that, they’re important and detrimental for a reason.
I understand. You have to hang onto that memory.
Yes. 100 percent.
How do you think it’s helped your fans cope with their own troubles or losses? Have they shared any stories with you?
Yeah, whether it’s in person or messages online or anything like that, there’s a strong amount of, “This helped me with this…” But I’ve said this a few times, but there’s something about when a song is released, it’s not really yours anymore. You know? Whoever listens to it gets to sort of turn those lyrics into their own storyline. It takes me back to a good amount of U2 songs that ended up on mixtapes or something like that and then you end up finding out that they’re actually about God. Things like that.
So the first song on the record, “Flowers And You,” I one time had a girl approach me and tell me that that song had helped her with her eating disorder because she was only really paying attention to the part about my mom struggling to eat—and I’m not going to correct her. I’m not gonna be like, “Oh, well that’s not about that,” but the fact that that’s what it meant to her is something special. If it helps with anyone with their loss or whatever they’re going through, I think it’s always a positive. That’s the way I sort of look at it.
And the great thing is that art is always up for interpretation.
I know you guys have been a little on the busy side, but have you been working on any new material?
No, we haven’t. I mean, we’ve had conversations, but that’s as far as it goes. These conversations are usually met with a shrug and a, “Yeah. We’ll get there.” And everyone’s been wrapped up in their personal lives, between relationships and other artistic exploits, whether it’s other bands or something, we haven’t really had the time to sit down and think of something new. Also, it’s kind of crazy because the record hasn’t even been out a year. Is it the 16th yet?
You’ve got three more days.
Yeah, exactly. Once it’s the 16th, it’ll be a year. It’s so crazy. Music goes so fast these days, I guess it’s something we should start thinking about.
And yet, there are other bands who release a record every five, six, seven years?
And it makes no sense to me. I guess it just depends on the bands because we always took two years between every record, and this time we took three years and when we announced it, we saw so much reaction of, “Woah, you guys are still a band?” And we’re just like, “What the fuck?” I remember being a kid and if you got a record from a band every five years, you were, like, waiting for it, excited. But I think we’re at the time where everything is available at everyone’s fingertips and you get 50 new songs shoved in your face every day and if you’re not putting stuff out every three weeks, people think you don’t exist anymore. It’s kind of a sad time. But yeah, there are bands who don’t put out records for, like, seven years and they can still pack a room, so I think it just depends on the artist and the band. It’s a weird time. I’m doing my best to understand it. And I’m not ungrateful about it, but it can be disheartening.
Yeah! It’s worrying.
I also need to remember as well that when we started, I think most of the people that found the band were probably in high school or just in college or something like that. So, if they’ve stuck with us, it’s like, 10 years later, so they’re probably late 20s, maybe early 30s now? So they’ve gotten into other music. It’s an interesting thing and I get it—I don’t listen to the same things that I listened to when I was 17—not necessarily, there’s some stuff that I still do, but there are those bands that you lose sight of.
And that’s how it goes. So, what are your plans once this tour is over?
We don’t necessarily have anything going on until the spring of next year, but all I can say is that Feb. 16 of next year will be our 10-year anniversary and we plan to play that day and it’s gonna be our 1,000th show as well. The fact that that lines up really just amplifies my OCD. So we’re planning to do something special for that, but we don’t really know what it’s all gonna be just yet. I’m excited about it. By the end of this year, we’ll have played 996 shows, so we need to fill a couple quick things just so it’ll be the thousandth show, but yeah—we’re really stoked about it.
Catch Touché Amoré as they pull into First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia on Sept. 30 and Bowery Ballroom in New York on Oct. 3. For more on the band, check out their site: toucheamore.com.