Interview: Touche Amore

Touché Amoré’s popularity has ascended considerably since the release of …To the Beat of a Dead Horse, and with good reason. The band’s debut full-length strips hardcore down to its abrasive roots, while intelligently introspective lyrics provide a relatable outlet to increasingly dedicated fans. They’ve also been quite busy this year, touring repeatedly and still finding the time to write at any given opportunity, which has resulted in two successive EPs and a new full-length in the works. Following a stressful drive from New York (characterized by unbearable traffic, a loss of t-shirts, and Trash Talk’s cancellation as a result of a leg injury), vocalist Jeremy Bolm graciously sat down with me in New Haven, Connecticut.

On the split with La Dispute, whose idea was it to contribute vocals to each other’s songs?

JEREMY: I wouldn’t say there was necessarily a singular person. Jordan and I, who’s the singer of La Dispute, we were playing together in Chicago and we had talked a long time ago about doing a split together, but he and I were just talking it out and getting kind of excited about the idea. I don’t remember which one of us said it first, but it was like, “We should try to make this as collaborative as possible,” and through the art and through the vocals and stuff like that, so both of us were on the exact same page about it. It pretty much just sparked from that conversation.

Did each of you write separate lyrics for the verses on which you sing?

JEREMY: He wrote all his parts with me in mind and I wrote all his parts with him in mind. Each of us wrote each other’s songs, but we had it worked out with what each other could do, and Jordan literally nailed exactly how I wanted him to do it. It was like the coolest thing in the world, that he just (snaps) without any problem at all. I ran through it with him once and he was just like, “Got it!” In just one take, killed it. So yeah, we wrote for each other’s parts.

In addition to the split with La Dispute, you recently released a split with Make Do and Mend. Is the split record format something you’d like to continue to pursue in the future?

JEREMY: Absolutely. Putting out splits is, almost I feel more exciting than putting out singular stuff, because we’ve been lucky enough to make so many awesome friends throughout the time of this band that we look up to or we love so much, that being able to put out something together is like the coolest thing in the world. I know over time we’d love to do a split with Pianos Become the Teeth. We’ve already talked about that. We’d love to do a split with Defeater. Forever ago, we talked about doing a split with Trash Talk. I’m sure there will be a lot more to come. I can’t say definite, but more will come.

Were all the seven-inch songs written specifically for those splits, or were they leftovers from something else?

JEREMY: We hadn’t written a song since …To the Beat of a Dead Horse. We had put out that record and then just toured so much that we hadn’t written a song in so long. When we finally had a break at home, we’re like, “Let’s try to write some songs,” and all four of those songs just flew out of us so quick and we were so excited about it. After listening to all four of them, it was pretty apparent, like these two definitely belong on this split and these two definitely belong on this split. It just so happens that I feel like the ones on the La Dispute split definitely have more of a vibe that was perfect for being on a record with them, especially with their music in mind.

…To the Beat of a Dead Horse is a relatively short album. Is the album’s length necessary to a particular concept or was it unintentional?

JEREMY: It’s unintentional. We don’t try to write such short songs. It just sort of happens. We’re not going into it like, “We refuse to write a three minute song!” or anything like that. We have this problem where someone will come to the table with a part that they really like, and then we just kind of jam on that, and then like maybe one part comes right after that and we get so stoked about it, we’re like, “Done!” We don’t need to add anything else. We pride ourselves on getting to the point and just calling it a day. A lot of bands will write such good parts and then add a minute of stuff that just kind of goes off it. Some bands, it works for them. We just like to get to the point, is what I’m trying to say.

So you’ve never considered exploring long song structures?

JEREMY: I mean, it’s not to say we would never do it, but it just hasn’t happened yet. You know after we tour with Envy, maybe we’ll write a really awesome, long post-rock because we want to rip them off or something.

The liner notes for the LP of …To the Beat of a Dead Horse are on a huge poster with lyrics on one side and the album artwork on the other. Can you tell me who designed that?

JEREMY: Our bass player who is now our guitar player, he does all of our artwork. He’s done everything from shirts, album stuff, everything. He actually doesn’t tour with us because he has a graphic design job at home that he’s obviously too dedicated to, which is completely understandable. We would never ask him to quit. He would never quit to begin with. He’ll randomly do some tours with us. He’s going to do Europe with us. We’ve been lucky enough to have him be so creative for us, so that was all that guy. Actually, the new press is on gatefold and the poster is no longer included. It’s all within the gatefold, so that’s only going to be on the first and second press. We’ll probably do more of that stuff later, too, on other records.

You guys have played the East Coast several times in recent months. Do you notice any difference between the West and East Coast music scenes?

JEREMY: That’s a good question. East Coast are more into stage diving. I will say that. West Coast are more into moshing and stuff like that. Music wise, East Coast is definitely very much New York hardcore stuff, and West Coast is a lot more melodic. Getting through the mix of both on a full US tour is awesome because it keeps things different every night.

The lyrics on …To the Beat of a Dead Horse come across as being significantly influenced by the city of Los Angeles, as you describe your relationship as one of “love/hate/love.” Now that you’ve toured all across the country, do you feel as though your feelings and perspective have changed at all?

JEREMY: A little bit, I would say. It makes me appreciate home a little bit more than when I was kind of just stuck there. All those songs were written before we had really toured much. I still have my issues with LA, but it’s always going to be home, you know?

Why did you choose to re-record “Honest Sleep” and “Broken Records” from your first seven-inch?

JEREMY: Those were the two songs that I think we just liked the most and we felt this bigger connection to than those other songs on the demo, which, over time, have weeded themselves out from our set list. Every now and again we’ll play “WeHateFredPhelps” or we’ll play “Negotiating the Charade.” I think that happens to most bands. That’s considered our demo, and now we have a few releases under our belts. “Broken Records” and “Honest Sleep” were our two favorite tracks off that record and it felt like we could’ve done a better version of it. We actually didn’t even like the place we recorded. We were kind of bummed on how it all came out, so we wanted to give those songs a little bit better justice.

…To the Beat of a Dead Horse features guest vocals from members of Thursday and Modern Life is War. How did those contributions come about, and is that something you’d like to do again?

JEREMY: Absolutely. I mean, I’d feel bad to do the exact same ones again, even though I’d love to have those guys on the next record, because they’re such huge influences. Geoff, I’ve known for years and years and years and he’s been a huge supporter of us since pretty much day one. When we went in to record the record, he sang on “History Reshits Itself” because he was actually the first person to call me while we were at band practice to let me know what happened with Prop 8. He was just like, “I can’t believe that happened.” And I hadn’t checked the news because we were in the middle of practice, so him being the first person to be like, “Can you believe this?” That made it that much more special for him to be a part of that song. When I asked him, he was like, “Absolutely. I’d love to.” And Jeff Eaton from Modern Life is War had moved. After his band broke up, he moved from Iowa to California. I had never met him back when the band was together. I think I said “hi” to him once or twice in passing, because they were on tour with some other friends’ bands. I just befriended him from going to shows and stuff like that, so I talked with him more. About a month before we went into the studio, I hit him up and was like, “Psh, you don’t want to sing on our record. I dare you to, blah blah blah.” And he was just like, “Let me know when.” I hit him up and was just like, “Hey, we’re gonna record in January or whatever it was. Are you down?” And he was all for it. It was really exciting. Hearing him scream again, because it had been a while since Modern Life is War was together, and just hearing him in the vocal booth screaming again had all of us so excited. It was such an honor having both those guys be a part of the record. I couldn’t ask for anyone cooler to be a part of it. The next record, we’re already thinking about a couple people.

Can you tell us who might be involved?

JEREMY: I can’t make a promise right now, so I won’t say anything right now.

Can you share any details on your upcoming full-length? Are there any possible titles or anything like that?

JEREMY: Right now, we’re hoping to have it out by spring, and tentative title is going to be Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me. That’s it for now. That’s all we have so far. We have five new songs written, and hopefully we’ll have at least twelve.

Thank you to Jeremy for being so enthusiastic in spite of the day’s challenges. Touché Amoré is currently on tour with Trash Talk, And So I Watch You From Afar, and Envy, and have released two split seven-inches since July of this year. If all goes well, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me will be out by spring. My best-of-2011 list is already formulating into something tangible.

About Anthony Glaser

Anthony Glaser is a writer, blogger, and journalism major from Long Island, New York. Formerly the interviews editor at National Underground, he contributes to Substream's web and print editions. He spends the average day working, writing, playing video games, listening to Converge, and watching The Sopranos. He likes cats. Follow him on Twitter. View all posts by Anthony Glaser

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