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Torche: The Making of a Sonic Bulldozer

Bassist Jon Nuñez talks about the band's forthcoming LP, Restarter.

Torche
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Torche is at that critical point where a band can decide to write the same record over and over again or challenge itself to make something altogether new. Restarter is the latter — a knee-jerk reaction to career complacency. It’s 40 minutes of sludge and the heaviest thing from the band in years. Whereas 2012’s Harmonicraft rarely strayed from its upbeat pop metal, Torche launches an assault on Restarter without losing the cheerful optimism and warm mood that’s come to define their work. Speaking with Consequence of Sound, bassist Jonathan Nuñez explains how it all came together.

When did you start working on Restarter?

We started working on it in November of 2013 and then finished it up in January 2014. From the writing, we went right into recording, and we would demo as we’d go. We chose the 10 tracks we thought were the strongest and had a good continuity between them all for a full-length. It was a pretty quick process.

How is the record different from your last two albums, Harmonicraft and Meanderthal? Where did you want to take your sound?

It’s definitely different than Harmonicraft. That one’s a more upbeat, energetic rock record, and the energy on Restarter is more focused on the power of the sound, the big picture. It pushes more air, and it’s way closer to what we’ve been sounding like for the past two years. I think playing older songs that we don’t play a lot live influenced us to gravitate more toward that aspect of our sound. It’s definitely more of a sonic bulldozer.

Torche - Restarter album

The rhythm section specifically seems to have more of a presence on this record.

I wanted to capture the guitar sound that we’ve had for a while now. It feels right. It feels good to be able to say, “Hey, that’s what our shit sounds like” — both live and on an actual record. It’s a realistic representation of where we’re at right now, and it’s true to what we’re doing.

What was the most challenging part of completing the record? Were there any obstacles you had to overcome as a band?

Not really. We’re really good about just really busting our asses when everybody gets around. We’ve got Steve [Brooks] coming in from San Francisco, I live in Miami, and Andrew [Elstner] comes out from Atlanta. We make good with the time we have and try not to waste too much of it.

I will say this: Vocals are always the final thing, as far as recording the songs go, and always the most stressful part for all of us. Usually, I feel like we end with pretty good results, but that’s the most challenging part, getting the vocals down. We’ll get pretty intense about how the songs are laid out, as far as arrangements and the sound. When that’s done, any little thing vocally that we don’t feel helps the songs out, that doesn’t do them justice … that’s when it can get pretty anxious. But it usually works out, and Steve pulls through. He’s good under pressure.

Are the vocal melodies written collaboratively, or does Steve come in with an idea of what he wants to sing? The vocals are such an integral part of your songs.

They’re a huge part of it. Tie everything all together, finalize the vibe and feel of the songs. [Steve] knows where he wants to go with it, but it’s not all written and laid out beforehand. He’ll mouth off melodies and mumble stuff, so I guess there’s some slight note-taking behind it [laughs]. Sometimes we set up the mic, and he knocks it out first take, and sometimes it comes down to the final hour.

Of the 10 tracks on the record, is there one that you’re really stoked on, one that stands out to you the most?

I like them all because they all do their own thing. We don’t have any redundant tracks on this record. But let’s see … a song that I’m really stoked on? I guess I’d be biased if I were to say the songs that I wrote [laughs]. I’ve actually taken a break from the record since the mastering process. I’ll listen to it again on vinyl, when it’s exciting again. But it’s hard to say. I’m stoked on all of it.

You guys are going on a decade of being a band together, and you have such a workmanlike approach to it. What advice could you give to younger bands that hope to build a lasting legacy like Torche and carry that professionalism throughout their career?

My advice would be to do what feels right to you. Write music that is honest and comes out naturally because that’s what is going to keep you interested, satisfied, and entertained. You’ll have your integrity. You’re also not going to get caught up in some time-stamped temporary fad. Just be honest, man. It comes through in your music. When people try to cater to a certain sound to just take advantage of a built-in fanbase … that’s never appealed to me. Do it for yourself, not for anything else. I love what I do. I love playing music. I love recording music. You’re going to have to put in some time. I’d be lying if I didn’t say you’re gonna have to eat shit for the first four or five years, at least. But if you put in the work, and if you’re genuinely trying really hard, working at it, improving, then it’ll all pay off.

Torche’s Restarter will be released via Relapse Records on February 24th.

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