Chuck Schuldiner Project

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Interview with Rick and Andrew of Torche

I love writing for Two Guys Metal Reviews, and for those of you who’re about to read the following interview you’ll come to understand one of the reasons why I love it so much. Last week I was blessed with the opportunity to sit down with Rick and Andrew from loud-rock act Torche to discuss their newly released album “Restarter”, amongst other things…
Though this is but a short extract of a longer conversation , I feel like this interesting and incredibly entertaining discussion gives a pretty good idea as to why I ended up crying tears of laughter near the end of our friendly chat, and I hope you’ll have as much fun reading this interview as I had while conducting it. Enjoy.

- So you just released a new record this year called "Restarter". Could you give us a brief presentation of the record?
Andrew: So this is our first record with Relapse records. We've been in the periphery of those dudes since the beginning of the band, but now we've finally been able to work with them. It took a while for us to get this record together. I think it's our heaviest record in a while. The label support for the release has been outstanding, they've kicked ass. It still seems really fresh because we've done some tours but I feel like it takes about a year for all of the songs to really set in with the audiences to really be familiar and be stocked. Right now it seems like it's a lot of observing.

- Could you explain where the title of the record comes from?
Andrew: There's not really any meaning to it. There's a track on there that we ended up calling Restarter and when we were searching for album names that one just felt like it could work as an album title (laugh). I personally like it because it reminded me of ZZ Top's Eliminator and Afterburner (laugh). It reminded me of records I liked when I was a kid. But Steve came up with the name. People just wonder if we did that on purpose because it means something to us, but not any more than any other record I would say.

- Speaking of which, the band seems to have a particular approach when it comes to writing lyrics from what I understand.
Rick: Steve writes lyrics that are sort of abstract; a lot of it is a bunch of single thoughts. If he comes up with something good, he'll write stuff based around those one or 2 lines but usually it's sort of like The Melvins or something. Some of it is nonsensical, some of it makes sense I guess. Nothing is ever super direct or literal.

- Could you tell us a little about the recording process of the album?
Rick: We basically wrote the record, and as soon as that was done we demoed a little bit. We got together one time and demoed it before coming back and knocking out the actual music tracking in 2 weeks. We had been getting together every month until a week before that to write the record. The recording process in itself was pretty fast. Everything kind of flew by. Steve did all of the vocals last, we always do vocals last. I feel like the actual recording process this time was really fast.
We had mastering issues though, which was a big thing. We just kept getting masters back that didn't sound as full as the mix.
Andrew: It took a while, yeah. It wasn't as powerful as we wanted it to be. The tracks were there, but extracting the real force we knew they had took a while. The album was tracked at Johns' studio at Pinecrust Studios in Miami, it was mixed by Kurt Ballou and mastered by ... I never know how you say his last name... (Alan Douches)
Rick: Alan "Duh-shess"?
Andrew: So it looks like... But somebody at Orchard told me "dude, it's "Do-shess"". I thought it was "Do-shay"! I don't think it's Alan "Douche". That poor guy. But he does awesome work; I think we've definitely put a ringer on his last record.

- Kurt Ballou has been working on the last few records of yours. What is it about his work that got you to keep coming back to him?
Rick: He knows our sound I guess. I don't know if he'll do the next one. I feel that for the next one we'll try to go in a different direction. I don't really know what… maybe dirtier. I'm not really sure what the next one will be like but I think we did a good job with the mix before we even sent it to him. I was a fan of the mix that I had before it was sent to him. Then it got mixed and it sounded cleaner, crisper but it lacked the "physical" low-end depth to it. It got cleaned up and trimmed up a little and then in the mastering process, all of that kind of stuff got smashed to be loud. I don't know, I just thought the whole process was just weird to me. So we went back to him this time around, we did 3 records with him.
Andrew: Initially it seems like he works really fast. He's incredibly fast at getting the sounds he is capable of getting. Like, for instance, the last High on Fire record that he did is the best sounding High on Fire record ever. I fucking love that record. But yeah, like Rick was saying, for the sake of shaking things up and trying new things it is likely that we'll do something different for the next one.
Rick: For sure. I feel like I've listened to the 3 records and they sound different but they sound similar enough that I kind of want to hear us through a different filter altogether.
So maybe just have someone else mix the next one, which may make it sound different. I'm just curious. I don't want to recreate the same thing over and over again. I feel like he definitely has a sound. It sounds good and it works for us, but I'm open for more experimentations.
- Relapse records also put out a Torche video game titled "Torche Vs Robots : Annihilation affair". How did that awesome idea come to be?
Rick: The relapse dudes were like "Man, you know what would be cool? A video game for the record." And were like "Sure", none of us objected.
Andrew: It was awesome, because they just suggested it and then we had all put it in the back corner of our minds. Then all of a sudden the guys came up to us and were like "hey, don't forget about this, here's the characters, you have to approve of the designs, are you guys cool with how you're gonna look?" and they showed us these little cartoon 8-bit versions of us and were just dying of laughter. It was awesome. 
It was a killer idea and the Relapse people knocked that one out of the park.
- Have you played it?
Andrew: yeah.
Rick: It's impossible.
- I keep getting blocked a few minutes into the game.
Andrew: That's what i've heard. I think there's a glitch depending on what phone you're using. I know people who've beaten it though, because I've seen screenshots. There's an ending where there's some kind of end scene.
But I've never beaten it. I might need to try it with those external controllers; I can't do it on a keyboard.

- What's your favorite thing about France?
Andrew: My impression is always that I love the people. I have some friends who were in the band Headcases and then Billy Gaz Station and Mars Red Sky... and then there's all of those guys from the West coast like in Angouleme and some people in Jarnac who're always the most personable and friendly guys. A few of them were supposed to come out tonight but they couldn't make it.
Rick: I mean I always have a good time here, we have friends and stuff. The last time I was here... well actually it wasn't in Paris but I met a bunch of people from Paris when I was in Belgium and...
Andrew: Are they the ones that took you out?
Rick: they took me out yeah, and then I ended up in a different country. (Andrew starts laughing).
I actually had to get back to the band the next day, it took me like 3 and a half hours to get back.
- How did you end up in another country?
Rick: I was just drunk and I got in a car with people and I went to one place and then to another so I jumped into another car with some other guys.
Andrew: It was right after the show dude, yeah.
Rick: I ended up at someones' house at like 7 in the morning. (Andrew starts laughing). They were like "you've gotta go back to meet your band, right? You're REALLY far from the venue".
Andrew: Yeah, he went, from what he says, from a car ride to a train to something else and then they went way the fuck out. We were back in the venue getting totally drunk, so we wake up all hungover and we're like "Where's Rick? Oh my God". And then he shows up.
Rick: I showed up 10 minutes before the van was supposed to leave. I got there right on time. (Andrew can't stop laughing) I had handwritten directions on a piece of paper. I had to take 2 trains and 2 busses and then walk.
Andrew (catching his breath): dude...
Rick: I can't believe I made it! I fucking can't believe I made it, it was amazing!
- So you've probably learned your lesson not go to out too far
Rick: I'm scared now yeah. (Andrew, still laughing). It was a good experience. I survived...

- My friend Matt Bacon from Two Guy Metal reviews told me to say hi, you might remember him...
Rick: Duuude! That's that fucking kid we were JUST talking about.
Andrew: Wait, what?
Rick: That guy we were just talking about in the van, he lives in Philly. Dude, the guy we told all of those sh...
Andrew: Those 2 kids? Oooh yeah!  (laughs). Those guys were great!
- So he told me to ask you about poop.
(Andrew bursts out laughing hysterically)
Rick: Yeah...
Andrew (choking with laughter): we were just talking about it earlier.
Rick: We told him all of those fucked up stories...
Andrew: We were just talking about him today, we were all delirious, and we slept maybe 3 or 4 hours last night. We couldn't get into the Hostel we were staying at; it was all locked up at 1 am, so we didn't get to sleep. So we were talking to our tour driver and we asked "Did Rick ever tell you the story about how he punched his own shit?” It's funny, but it's just... doodoo humor.
Rick: I mean I can't tell the story now, it's already out there. (Note:  The story in question is featured at the end of this interview, courtesy of Matt) You can put it on the record though that the next time I see Matt Bacon I'm putting his ass on a headlock and bring his ass straight to the ground.
Andrew: Thats'right (laughs) he wasn't supposed to tell anyone any of that shit.
Rick: Nah he was, but uhm... Yeah.
Andrew: The story is funny but it was just the scene that was amazing. Those guys were really sweet and they were asking "yeah so do you have any wild stories to tell from touring?", and these guys were kind of quiet and Ricks' like "Man, one time I punched my own shit!" (laughs)
Rick: I hadn't even been answering any of the questions. I was hanging out.
Andrew (still laughing): Dude it was perfect, we were just laughing so hard. Yeah we're all... 13 years old.

- So the sound of the Dillinger Escape Plan has been compared to the scene in Jurassic Park where the T-Rex devours the goat. Which movie or movie scene would you use to describe a Torche song or a Torche live show?
Andrew: Aw man I could think of so many good examples if I had like 10 minutes to think about it.
Rick: I dunno dude… something from Mars Attacks.
Andrew: Yeah right. It seems friendly, but it will also tear your head off. Let's see...
Rick: Killer Klowns from Outer Space.
Andrew: Yeah.
Rick: Dude, do you know what scene it's like? It's like Gremlins, one of the Gremlins movies
(Andrew laughs)
Rick: When one of them is being funny and cute and then it attacks them.
Andrew: So it's one part Gremlins, one part Ladybugs, you know like Rodney Dangerfield. Uhm... there are like moments like Star Wars, like Deathstar explosions I would say.

- To close things off: could you name one of your favorite albums, movies and books?
Andrew: I'll say one of my favorite albums is Van Halen - Fair Warning...
One of my all-time favorite movies is Amadeus... and I know I've already made a Van Halen reference, but I think David Lee Roths' autobiography Crazy from the Heat is ridiculously entertaining. It's like tour stories, everything... the dude is a secret genius. Until you read that book, it's easy to write him off as a clown. After reading the book, I think he's a clown, but there’s' a part of me that thinks there's a serious Andy Kaufman level seriousness happening behind the scenes and that the whole persona is calculated. I could be wrong, but the dude is no joke. You get little glimpses into his brain and the dude is a genius.

Rick: One of my favorite albums would be the Richard D. James record by Aphex Twin.
My favorite movie would be the second Rambo movie (Rambo: First blood part II).
Andrew: Hell yeah.
Rick: Favorite book...probably When the Legends Die by Hal Borland. It was just the first book that I read when I was younger in school and I had to read a "serious" book. It was the first time I read a book on my own and it really gave off this "vibe". It's all about reservation life and stuff. It paints a really serious picture of this guy that lived off a reservation and ended up working at rodeos and stuff. It was interesting. So yeah, I'm good with those 3.

Interview by Robin
Photos by Julie

Matt, interviewing the band a few months prior, before their show in Philly
I want you guys to finish this sentence for me, “I've never told this story before and probably shouldn't but...”
R: One time I punched my own shit!
A: No you did not!

R: I've only told really close friends this shit...

You can't tease a story like that!

A: “I punched my own shit”! That's such a caveman thing to say!

Give us the story Rick!
R: Okay! I was on one of my first tours ever and someone had already been in the bathroom and took a shit, it wasn't really working. There wasn't a plunger and it looked like the shit was just stuck. So I covered my fist in toilet paper and punched the shit and it exploded into a million peoples and then I hit flush and it flushed fine.

The best part is the aftermath. Because after it flushed I just washed my hands and walked out. Then another friend comes in and tries to use it and he flushes it and it starts overflowing. There was an inch of water in the bathroom. It was like some young girl whose parents were away for the weekend and she allowed four bands to stay over all on the same night so there was like twenty five people staying in this huge house destroying the place. Not even on purpose! It was just like people slipped and fell and broke something. Her parents were going to come home and be like “What the fuck happened” and it was just a bunch of dumb shit.

My friend doesn't tell anybody, this is Mitchell from Aruda, he just says “Whatever” and leaves. So the girls comes in and cleans up the bathroom and she puts a sign on the toilet seat that says “Out of order” Now we're all in her pool and my friend Eddie gets bubble guts, the pool diarrhea.  It's specific as fuck. You know that feeling. Like when you have to take a shit while you're swimming. I swear dude, little kids get it all the time. You're eating like fucking cheese pizza and jumping in a pool with your friends... you know how it is.

So he runs in the house and it's the first bathroom he gets too. He pulls the toilet seat open and underneath the toilet scene is the 'out of order' sign. So he grabs her fucking trash can so he fucking diarrhea shits all in her fucking trash can. Then he takes the bag and ties it up and goes out to the back shed and throws it over the shed.

S: I've got a shit story... This happened kind of recently... I was staying at a friends house and it's cold outside. So I'm waiting while the water heats up. The shower is super strong and it's got one of those curtains that goes all the way around. It's like an old tub. I sat down to shit and I noticed that the water was blasting through the curtain. I get up like “Oh fuck” I wiped and I go to close the curtain. Then I jumped in the shower. When I came out the shower rug had shit on it. I stepped on a turd and it was all over the fucking bathroom.

A: You guys are fucking nasty.

R: John has a story about having to shit real bad and running into a Subway and then having a turd ball fall out his fucking shorts.
This is the best interview we've ever given.

A: When you set some of the words in the center in big black type it'll say “One time I punched my own shit”

Andrew do you have a shit story for me?
S: Andrew doesn't shit.
A: I don't have one as an adult. When I lived in Omaha when I was a kid though... This one time when I was about five I took a shit on the floor in the living room. I was like “Here's a spot” and I just took a shit. My mom found it later and lost her mind. She was like “What the hell!” She was super pissed and I came in and pretended I had no idea and was like “It must have been the dog” I thought she would believe me.

Does this obsession with shit affect your music at all?
S: I don't think so. We all have our problems.

R: I do play in a band called Shitstorm with John who plays bass and my brother.

PS: Special Thanks to Torche and Stoned Gatherings for making this review possible. Be sure to visit their websites to find out about their upcoming shows.

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