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Torche – Harmonicraft – Interview With Steve Brooks

Torche is one of the best live bands out there and their influences shine on their latest masterpiece, Harmonicraft. I caught up with vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks to see just what makes Torche so successful. And yes, like all of us, Steve does have an opinion on zombies.

The new album has all the great hooks, riffs and bounce I always expect from Torche. I thought Meanderthal couldn’t be surpassed, but Harmonicraft is a beast! With a change in the lineup, any difference in the writing/recording?

I think we are just maturing with our sound at this point. Andrew has different ideas as well. He was the perfect person to fill our needs. When we became a three piece for a while, he was the one we wanted in the band and it’s worked out well.

From a writing standpoint, we pretty much just get in a room and write. One person might have an idea, John or Andrew might have some riffs. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes we start with a beat Rick lays down and go from there. We want to make sure the whole band is involved and we are very lucky to have good chemistry! I am lucky we can actually do that.

Some bands like to change up producers, some like consistency. How has your relationship with Kurt Ballou affected the process in your opinion?

As far as mixing, he kicks ass. Kurt’s got a great personality and is he is super quick. For Harmonicraft, we gave him all this stuff on one of our days off and it seemed like – almost instantly -he’s like, OK I’m done! What makes him so good is that he makes decisions and sticks with them. We are so nit picky with everything it takes a lot longer and Kurt’s intuition is usually dead on.

So I’m listening to Harmonicraft, and it’s getting me going as usual. Then that song Walk if Off has this insane solo explosion. Is that really a guitar?

John came up with the main riff for it and took it from there. Yeah it’s a sick guitar sound. We really shredded our assess off on that song!

From all Torche’s output, I am just in love with UFO from Songs for Singles. That song just hits on all cylinders for me. Do you have a favorite Torche tune?

There are so many songs I like to play honestly. Some on the earlier records have tunes that I don’t really care for. But on the new one we are happy with everything. Man every single song I love.

I guess ‘In Pieces’ is quite the burly song. Its heavy and one of my favorites on the new album.

It’s funny, sometimes I just want to hear Motorhead and I want them to sound like Motorhead all the time. But bands like Torche, Baroness etc. seem to move from heavy to groovy; sometimes song to song. Is it more enjoyable, or less pressure, to play in a band like Torche – where you can combine all the sounds you like instead of trying to hit a particular genre?

I feel like with Torche, I am able to do a bunch of different things. My previous band Floor was its own beast, but I feel a lot more freedom with Torche. I still like to get back with Floor and play some shows from time to time – we have a blast.

Sometimes Torche is misunderstood, because our sound doesn’t fit into people’s idea of genre. We all have eclectic tastes. I see us as a solid rock band like Zeppelin etc. We take everything we like and mix it up. In general, I hate genres – it’s all just rock music – just enjoy it.

Torche covered a few Guided By Voices songs for a split. How was it to cover a band you found so influential? Is there any other band you would like to cover?

I’ve never been good at covering bands and we did our best. Its funny to hear your voice on a song you know someone else sang. At first, I was afraid Robert Pollard would hear it, but we stayed true to it and it came out well. We sound the way we sound – lots of the harmonies and vocal hooks of Torche have been inspired by Pollard and that band. In the end, the split was a lot of fun.

Is there any artist you from the past/present you would like to collaborate with?

I would love to just write music and have Robert Pollard jump in and do vocals over our instrumentals. That would be amazing.

What things are you interested in outside of the band? What do you like to do with any downtime?

Lately I have been a homebody. I listen to a lot of music. In Atlanta, you go to a club and its smoking everywhere and it’s tough. I like movies, usually comedy movies and indie stuff. I’m not into the big Hollywood films. As far as TV, I do like Walking Dead. Great show. I’d like to be a zombie on there! Since it takes place in Atlanta area, it would be convenient too!

Of the places music has taken you over the years with Floor and now Torche, which ones have been the most ‘eye opening’?

With Torche, we went to Japan and I didn’t think we would ever do that. It was an amazing experience. Japan was cool. Some parts were pretty American-ized, but in a way we are Japan-ized in some ways so it’s even. Everything was fascinating. Even the food was just completely different. The little snacks that have perfect packaging – they look like gifts, not food. I am hoping in the next year we can get to Australia and parts of Asia.

You are playing Orion Music Festival in Atlantic City, NJ this summer. I already have my tickets! How did that come together for Torche? Seems like an eclectic weekend of music.

Metallica wanted us to play on it. I met Robert Trujillo while we were on tour and he said he and Hetfield were into Torche. I was like whoa! Its perfect timing since we are in that area during our tour. It will no doubt be a big deal and it’s great to be part of it. Tons of different bands from us to Metallica to Arctic Monkeys.

Thank you for your time! Anything else you would like to say about the new album or tour?

I am looking forward to play the songs live and I hope everyone comes out and just enjoys the show.

You can catch Torche on tour in June with Corrosion Of Conformity, Black Cobra and Gaza..

Jun 01 – Charlotte, NC – Amos Southend
Jun 03 – Nashville, TN – Exit/In
Jun 05 – Oklahoma City, OK – Conservatory
Jun 07 – Phoenix, AZ – Club 910
Jun 08 – Long Beach, CA – The Queen Mary
Jun 09 – San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
Jun 11 – Seattle, WA – Studio Seven
Jun 12 – Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
Jun 13 – Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre
Jun 15 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge
Jun 16 – Denver, CO – Summit
Jun 18 – St. Louis, MO – Firebird
Jun 19 – Cincinnati, OH – The Taft Theatre
Jun 20 – Flint, MI – Machine Shop
Jun 21 – Toronto, ON – The Opera House
Jun 22 – Montreal, QC – Foufounes Electriques
Jun 23 – Boston, MA – Middle East