Bitter and Then Some: Touche Amore Interview

Posted June 8, 2011 in

Aggressive music doesn’t have to be ugly. Even when it’s loud, heavy, crazy and dissonant, beauty can shine through. Strength can be found inside lyrics, demons purged (or fed) through bone-shattering instrumentation. On the other hand, sometimes music needs to be ugly. The same solace that can be found in positivity can be matched by negativity, knowing that feelings of pain, anguish, anger and despair are not yours alone. The true power of aggressive music (I hesitate to use the term “metal”... I’m just not kvlt enough) lies in its versatility--its ability to inspire and destroy. With that, I welcome you to the first edition of Bitter and Then Some, the latest in a series of weekly metal blogs brought to you by SLUG. This week we have an interview with Touche Amore, whose second album was released on June 7th by Deathwish and who will be in town on June 13th. Also included are a rundown of this busy week full of events, blog exclusive reviews, relevant videos and links to streaming music.

On Friday June 10th, Moon of Delirium, IX Zealot and Beyond This Flesh will be making eardrums bleed (in a good way) during this month’s installment of SLUG Localized at the Urban Lounge. Read up on IX Zealot and Moon of Delirium here before hitting up the show. The music gets underway at 10 PM and $5 gets you in... as long as you’re 21 or older.

Also on Friday, Club Vegas hosts Night of the Living Dead, a fundraiser for the Salty Horror Film Festival. Live music will be provided by Massacre at the Wake, Ravings of a Madman and Arsenic Addiction. The show also features a horror fashion show, zombie walk, raffle and more. All proceeds will go towards funding this year’s Salty Horror Film Festival. Tickets are $10 and this 21+ event kicks of at 8:00 PM.

Friday through Sunday, the 2011 edition of the Dark Arts Festival will be happening at Area 51. Musical headliners include Synapse, Espermachine and Scission, with backup coming from local favorites Arsenic Addiction, Riverhead, Tragic Black and more. There will also be an art gallery, fashion show, performing artists, DJs and more throughout the weekend. Pricing info couldn’t be found, but you can get your goth on starting at 8:00 on Friday, 6:00 on Saturday, and 5:00 on Sunday.

On Saturday June 11th, get thrashed at the Salt Lake Recording Studio (721 South 400 West) courtesy of Witchaven. Locals Dethblo, Muckracker and Dead Vessel open the show. Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door.

Monday June 13th brings a little something for everyone to Kilby Court, as the straight-up hardcore of Dead End Path, the pop-punk of recent Epitaph signees The Menzingers, the screamo-influenced hardcore of Touche Amore and the pop-punk/post-hardcore stylings of Title Fight combine for a stacked bill of awesomeness. Tickets are $12, but get there early--this tour has been selling out all around the country.

And looking ahead just a bit, Crucial Fest will be taking place June 15th-19th at a variety of all ages and 21+ venues in Salt Lake. Local favorites like Reviver, Eagle Twin, I Am the Ocean, Loom and more will be sharing the stage with several touring acts, including Black Sleep of Kali from Colorado and Jr. Worship from Portland, as well as some local comedians and a few bands reuniting especially for the festival. This looks like it’s gonna be all kinds of fun, so don’t miss out. For more info, check out

And before we jump into the interview with Touche Amore, check out this stream of Like Shadows, the first full-length from Ampere. The band is the new project from Will Killingsworth, former guitarist of Orchid. As one of the more celebrated bands from the first wave of screamo, Orchid has become vastly influential since their breakup in 2002, inspiring the recent screamo revival (of which Touche Amore could be considered part of). Nearly ten years later, Ampere is just as chaotic and intense. No Idea records has the album up for pre-order, and for a limited time they’re including a bonus LP compiling recordings from the band’s first five years.
Ampere, "Like Shadows" by TheAVClub

Touche Amore interview
I spoke with Touche Amore vocalist Jeremy Bolm just before the band departed on their current tour and in the weeks leading up to the release of their second album, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me. Following a year of touring with a number of high profile bands (most notably Converge and Envy) and releasing splits with La Dispute and Make Do and Mend, Touche Amore seemed to be on the cusp of a breakthrough. When pre-orders for their new album crashed the Deathwish, Inc. website (a feat only matched by Converge, Deathwish’s flagship band), the hype seemed to become reality. Read on for details about the new album, Bolm’s inspiration and the band’s future.

SLUG: You have a distinct, confessional lyrical style. How do you keep the distance between your lyrics and your day-to-day life, or do you try to not maintain any distance at all?
Jeremy Bolm: I don’t really separate. It’s always been pretty confessional. I use Touche Amore as the best outlet possible for everything, so I figure being as honest as possible has always been the best approach. I always just write whatever is on my mind at the moment and that’s generally how things come to be. With this new record, I’m putting out way more than I ever have before, so hopefully I’ll still have friends at the end of it (laughs).

SLUG: Along those same lines, you seem like a pretty nice guy by all accounts. Since your music is so angry and desperate and creates such a reaction in people, how do you balance that anger and manage to still be such a friendly dude in real life?
Bolm: People bottle up a lot of things all the time. You could be happy all day, but you might have something brewing inside of you, and that could eventually come out in a very negative way towards your family and loved ones or anyone in general. Using that when you perform is a much safer alternative to taking it out on someone who just doesn’t deserve it or even taking it out on yourself. For me personally, getting to perform will always be the better outlet for everything. You can turn your head off for a minute and do what you need to do to make yourself feel better, then come back to reality to appreciate the people who are supporting what you’re doing.

SLUG: I’ve seen a few videos online of Touche Amore playing songs from the new album live. What are some of your favorite new songs to play live, and how has the reaction been so far?
Bolm: Oh man, that’s hard! “~” has been a really fun song to play, I feel like it’s a good introduction to what kids can expect from the album. We’ve also been playing the last song on the record, “Amends,” and that’s a lot of fun. Once the record is out there and everyone has it, I’m really looking forward to be playing the other songs live once kids get more familiar with it. There’s a lot of fun sing-along and clap-along parts.

Touche Amore "Tilde" by deathwishinc

SLUG: Have you seen that yet with “~”? I know that I myself have listened to that song about 30 times since Deathwish posted it on Soundcloud so I’m sure some people must have done the same.
Bolm: We’ve only played one show since that song has gone up and kids sang along, and it had only gone up online two days before. Having people sing along so quickly was so overwhelming and awesome!

: On the new album, there are moments that are a bit more atmospheric where things are slowed down and get kind of pretty for a minute. What influenced those more quiet moments, and how has your approach towards this album varied from previous releases?
Bolm: First off, there are two and a half new people playing on this record. Our original bass player is now playing guitar, and we have a new bass player and a new drummer since the first album. Obviously that changed the dynamic when it came to writing. The lineup now is much more on the same page, and us being on tour for so long helped us grow together. You just learn what one another is bringing to the table, so we got reall strong as a unit. When we went to write the new record it just came so naturally. Definitely being on tour with different bands brought in a lot of different influences. You can tell on parts of the record that we were happily touring with Envy, but there’s also things we drew from being out with Converge. It’s a much more melodic record, but it’s also some of the darkest stuff we’ve written.

SLUG: With the new album being on Deathwish, which is one of the biggest and most respected hardcore labels in the world, what does that mean to you guys as a band?
Bolm: We’re all avid Deathwish fans. I probably own 90 percent of their catalog. We meet [Deathwish co-owner] Tre McCarthy at Sound & Fury 2009 and we talked to him about getting our records in the Deathwish online store. We kept in touch with him and he started telling us that he really enjoyed our band, and we were really taken aback by that since that’s Converge’s label and Converge is like our favorite band. We hadn’t really figured out who was gonna put our next record. We want everybody on board--it’s not enough if just Tre likes it, we’d lke to know that everybody with the label wanted to do it. We wouldn’t want to do it if Jake [Bannon, Converge vocalist and Deathwish co-owner] didn’t care or the other people on staff didn’t like it. After getting to know Tre so well, we got to do that tour with Converge and got to know Jake, who is the coolest fucking guy. Once we know they were both 100% behind the record, everything made sense. They were all sympathetic and really cool with everything we’ve wanted to do with this record. They’ve gone above and beyond to push this record and help us with everything we’ve needed.

SLUG: Deathwish is offering a deluxe version of the new album on vinyl, and you guys have put out some other cool limited records like the 7” boxset on your tour last fall and the Record Store Day letterpress version of To the Beat of a Dead Horse. I’m a vinyl nerd, so I’m always into stuff like that, but I always like to hear why bands decide to offer these limited versions of their music and what the motivation is behind them.
Bolm: We’re all, in one way or another, huge vinyl kids--it’s the worst addiction in the world. What makes me appreciate a record is when you can tell a band has put thought and care into it as opposed to giving the record to an art director they don’t know who just throws something together--not a lot of heart goes into that. Thankfully our guitar player Nick, that’s what he does for a living. He’s one of the most creative people I’ve ever known, so having him in house has been a big help for our band. All the art for the new album is way more in depth than what you can initially see. A lot of the things in the cover and within the pages of the book have a lot of really deep meaning. We like to think that the record artwork is just as much a message as the music. It’s all come together really well and we’re all super excited for that thing to finally be out. We’re also gonna be posting a new video this week, but that’s going up a bit earlier so it doesn’t get overshadowed by the pre-order.

SLUG: Oh cool, what song is the video for?
Bolm: It’s for “Home Away From Here.” Our friend Derek came along with us for a weekend of shows a couple of weeks ago and he’s a really talented kid. He’s done a couple of videos where he shoots the entire thing in still photographs so it kinda looks like stop motion. We wanted to have him document what going on tour is like--playing the show, loading the show, hanging out after a show, sleeping on a floor, waking up, driving, loading, playing--in still photographs, and it turned out really goddamn cool. He did a really incredible job.

SLUG: What else do you guys have planned for this year?
Bolm: Oh man... not being home (laughs). We go out with Title Fight, then that ends in Pennsylvania, then we go and do some shows with Balance & Composure. Then we’re playing in Canada, but we’re doing parts of Canada that no one else really goes to. Then we fly to Europe to tour with La Dispute. Then we get back from that and go to Australia for the first time in early September, then we come back and we’re gonna go out on a headlining tour at the end of October. We’re just gonna get in the van and push this record as hard as we can.

Blog exclusive reviews

Black God
Self-Titled 7”
No Idea
Black God = Black Cross + Burning Love + All Pigs Must Die
Click on this link and prepare to have your mind blown:
Who fucking knew that Louisville had a rich enough hardcore scene to warrant a website dedicated to its history? Louisville natives Coliseum and Young Widows have certainly become well known over the past five years or so, but the band that launched each of those groups was Black Cross. That band released a full-length on Equal Vision in 2001 before dissolving, but ten years later, Black God has emerged as a reunion of sorts. Black God features former Black Cross members Rob Pennington (vocals), Ryan Patterson (guitar, also of Coliseum), Nick Thieneman (bass, also of Young Widows/Breather Resist) and non-Black Cross member Ben Sears on drums. The six songs of this 7” don’t vary a whole lot from Black Cross’ original style or the early recordings of Coliseum, but this debut release features some seriously hard and heavy rock n’ roll. Pennington’s vocals sound like an unholy fusion of Keith Morris during the Black Flag years and Guy Picciotto during the most pissed off Fugazi songs, while the steady-speedy-slightly-riffy guitar playing is distinctly Patterson’s. I’m a huge fan of Coliseum, so it’s hard not to recommend this 7”, but if you like plenty of attitude and rock n’ roll swagger in your metal, check this one out. –Ricky Vigil

Gravestone Skylines
Paper + Plastick
Hellmouth = Black Breath + Pulling Teeth + Kill Your Idols
The Suicide Machines may be more identified with the ska scene of the ‘90s, but those who skipped the later albums by the Detroit group missed just how fucking hard the band could get, thanks in large part to the vocals of Jay Navarro. Now fronting Hellmouth, Navarro’s vocals are definitely one of the best elements of the band’s hardcore/punk/metal attack. Those looking for any sort of innovation or a deep message won’t find it on Gravestone Skylines, but this is pure, driving aggression that should appease the angry caveman in even the most discerning listener. The songs follow a pretty simple blueprint of fastness and loudness, owing much to the straightforward style of early ‘80s hardcore, but there are occasional thrashy passages and a few riff-heavy songs to add some variety. There’s some definite cheesiness here (initial pressings of the vinyl version featured pages of a burned bible pressed between the record) and other bands are doing the heavy-simple style better, but Gravestone Skylines is worth a few listens. –Ricky Vigil

Greener Pastures
Hotfoot Records
Octaves = the Chariot + Mich!Gan + Ian MacKaye
Greener Pastures is replete with big, foot-stomping, mosh-inspiring riffs. “I Am He Who is Called I Am” covers the spectrum of Octaves’ sound––Bob Elder, Tony Savero, and Phil Foster coherently scream their guts out, the tight rhythm section keeps the band cohesive, and the guitars smack you in the ears as though they were trying to stop a hornet from crawling in. The best track on the album is the 45 second tour-de-kick-in-the-nuts “Shmohawk.” It’s quick, quirky metal, and it should serve as a blueprint for their future work. This track plays to all of the band’s strengths, without any of the fluff that can make a listener zone out like they are listening to someone else’s unoriginal inside joke. Many sections feel drawn-out in order to spit all the lyrics that were written, rather than serving to punch me in the ear-gut. But it’s a rad album, nonetheless. –Andrew Roy