Interview with Jeremy Bolm from TOUCHE AMORE! @jeremyxbolm @toucheamore @deathwishinc
Los Angeles, California quintet Touche Amore formed in 2007, and they haven’t looked back since. With 6 EP’s, 2 albums, and a near constant tour schedule, the group brings as much energy and passion to their output and activity as they bring to their message. Recognized by many as one of the groups to bring back post-hardcore/screamo music to the spotlight, the band has spent time on 6131 Records, No Sleep Records, and currently calls Deathwish Inc. home.
The group is currently touring in support of their 2011 release, Parting The Sea Between Brightness And Me, and I found the group opening up for Circa Survive after scoring very last minute tickets to the show. A great way to start the weekend, you can bet!
I managed to catch up with vocalist Jeremy Bolm to discuss their musical influences, working with Deathwish Inc., their plans for 2013, and how the tour with Circa Survive, Balance and Composure, and O’Brother is going.
G- Hi there Jeremy and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! If you could, please introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone and what do they play?
J- There’s Clayton Stevens who plays guitar, Tyler Kirby plays bass, Elliot Babin plays drums, and Nick Steinhardt plays the other guitar. And as we’re on tour, we have a fill-in guitar player for Nick, and his name is Eric Goodman.
G- Ok, and how come Nick is off of the tour?
J- He doesn’t tour the US with us because he has a very, very good job at home…
G- Good deal.
J- So, he really just only takes vacation time to do things like Europe. So he’ll meet up with us in Europe in a couple of weeks. But yea, we have Eric out with us until we fly out of Indonesia.
G- Yea, and we discussed this a little bit as we were walking in, but you have one more date on this current tour and you guys go to JFK and fly, literally ping-pong, all over the place… Tell us about the tour coming up!
J- We fly from JFK to Australia and we do a headlining tour with Make Do And Mend, and then we fly from Australia to New Zealand for the first time… We’ve never been there, and we’re playing 2 shows there. Then, we take a trip over to Southeast Asia, which is our first time ever going over there to play shows in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, which we’re all really excited about because I never thought I would ever go there. I mean, I never thought I would see NY, let alone London, let alone Australia. So this is all just so crazy to us.
And then from there, we fly to Europe where we do direct support for Converge for a month.
G- Yeah, those will be mellow shows.
So you’re really closing out 2012 with quite a bang here… Some super bucket list life stuff going on!
J- And it’s funny, too. We had absolutely nothing planned. When we did the tour earlier in Europe with Rise Against, after that tour, we were kind of like ‘Cool… We’ll have the Summer to write a new record and hang low. You know, we don’t have anything scheduled.’ And then, just EVERYTHING came at once! Ok well, why not?
Australia wasn’t booked for a long time. Neither was Southeast Asia, We had some dates in between and we were just like ‘It’s a waste of time. Let’s fill it!’
G- That’s really cool and it seems interesting that I’m talking to you now, because it really seems like you’re going to put some big black X’s on a lot of things bands want to do, and you guys have been around since 2007. So…
J- To be honest, it’s not 2007. We made the mistake when our band started by saying that, but the reason we say 2007 is because that is when we had our first band practice, and it was like me, Eric… I understand why it is everywhere and why that would be posted, but it’s like November of 2007, our old drummer and myself started playing a couple of songs together, and then we had our demo done and our first show was played in march of 2008.
So, I like to think of the genesis of our… I feel like you’re not a real band until you play your first show, and until you have something recorded.
G- I would agree with that.
J- So, you know, pretty much everything started fully in 2008.
G- So that’s when it all started clicking?
J- Yeah, and we did our first west coast tour in early 2009, and then we just never learned how to stay home.
G- So, it’s really only been 3 years since you’ve been full-time then?
J- Yeah. All of us had jobs and stuff and just played locally and did a couple of small runs. But then our first full US tour was getting to do a first of four slot for Thursday in 2009.
G- Ok, well… I mean, the music is there, though. The music speaks for itself…
G- Your music is speaking volumes, at this point, and you brought up your first tour in 2009, which was a west coast tour. You guys are all from Los Angeles, correct?
G- Can you tell us a little bit about the scene in LA currently? You guys are gone a lot of the time…
G- But when you do return home, how is the scene, how are the kids, and how are the responses?
J- Yeah it’s funny… Nowadays, because we’re not home too much, and then when we get home, we hear about all the new cool bands that you’ve never even heard of! Like I feel like I’m super out of the loop.
Currently, there’s a band called New Brigade and a band called Soul Search that are killin’ it right now. You see there shirts everywhere! It’s the same, like, when I was 19 or 20 and all of the sudden Internal Affairs started, and Terror started, where you couldn’t go to a show without half the crowd singing it, you know what I’m saying? Whereas at that time in Southern California, it just exploded with bands like Terror. It was the same things as when things exploded before that in Orange County when it was like Throwdown and 18 Visions and stuff like that.
I feel like there’s this huge movement, and then there is a drought, and then another huge movement, and then a drought. Between Terror and Internal Affairs, there wasn’t really a lot going on, and the bands like Rotting Out… Alpha Omega. A lot of bands started forming though sonically, none of us sound a like at all.
But the cool thing about LA Hardcore in general is that everybody supports one and other, you know what I’m saying? A lot of people on the internet, and a lot of kids, like to talk on message boards and will be like ‘Fuck, this band rules, but this band sucks.’ What they don’t realize is that we all run together, you know what I’m saying? It’s like we’re the least intimidating band in the world, but we have some intimidating friends! (laughs) It’s pretty funny to think about… We’re all doing it for the same reasons, and we’re all friends.
G- Well, there’s no such thing as bad press, and if all these keyboard trash talkers want to do something productive, they can start their own bands.
J- Yea they can start their own bands.
G- It’s really, really difficult to do… I’ve done it, and you guys are doing much better than any of my Ska bands.
J- Well thanks!
G- So, you guys are currently touring in support of your 2011 Deathwish release, and you actually talked about going back into the studio before your epic world traveling bomb went off…
J- Yeah. When we were home for the summer, we were like ‘Let’s try to write as much as we can.’ We only accomplished writing 4 songs, but it was kind of the same thing with our last record. We were between tours, and had written about 4 or 5 songs, and toured for 6 months, and got home, and wrote the whole rest of the record in a month. So, we have that same sort of, you know, fuel. I think it helps playing every night for so long, the same songs over and over, that really just instills the ‘Jesus Christ… I want to do some new songs. I’m so tired of playing these songs every night.’ I want to be able to play new stuff, so…
G- Do you guys change up your set lists every night, or is it a really rigorous, straight forward kind of set?
J- I thoroughly love and also hate writing set lists. I love it because it’s fun and you can find new creative ways to do it. But I hate it because I have such OCD about it. I write our set lists in the same way, I do a track order for our record, in the same way as I would make a mixtape for a girl (laughs) where the songs have to go together flawlessly, you know? So, it’s fun writing and coming up with creative ways to go into one and other.
But this tour, it’s kind of funny because I would say, modestly, 70% of the audience probably hasn’t heard us before. Maybe it’s less, maybe it’s more… I don’t know. But for the kids who’ve never seen us, we just sound like a barrage of confusion because towards the end of the set, I’ll say ‘We’re Touche Amore and you just heard us play 17 songs, and this is going to make 20,’ and they’re like ‘Oh… Those are all different songs?’ because they all just bleed into one and other, which makes it fun! You come up with a transition that could work awesome, so once we have a really strong set, we’re not changing it. This is what we do every single night.
G- Right on!
J- Which, when we played in LA, there was 2 nights at the same venue and we were like ‘Shit… We should probably do something sort of different.’ So, for that night, we swapped out 2 songs for the split 7” we did with La Dispute, and we played those 2 songs just to do something kind of different.
G- Nice! You know, if you ever have that problem again, you could always just play your first set one way, and then play it in complete opposite order the next day.
J- Yeah yeah! Start from the bottom up.
G- And if you’re really creative, you can actually play it in reverse.
So, you’re exposing a lot of kids who’ve never heard you before to your music, and I’d like to personally know if you have a favorite song that you’ve wrriten, or if you had to suggest one song to someone who’d never heard Touché Amore before, what song would you give them and why?
J- We’re playing 2 brand new songs on this tour. One is on a split 7” which is, quote unquote, out right now. It’s out digitally, but the vinyl… I’m not sure if you’ve seen or heard but everybody…
G- DAMN BEATLES! I’m waiting for Pig Destroyer… I know.
J- Exactly! Pig Destroyer, Converge, our record, the first band on my label single Mothers, that’s backed up. Records for Run For cover like the Basement record and Tigers Jaw… Every one is just at a standstill and it’s nightmarish. So, that being said, it’s available digitally, not actually available on vinyl yet. We have this split with The Casket Lottery from the early 2000’s, and they’re back now and good as ever, and we have a song called “Whale Belly” that we play every night, and we have a brand new song that will be out on another 7” later this year towards the end of the year…
J- And it’s called “Gravity Metaphorically” and it’s my favorite song we’ve ever written. It’s also the longest song we’ve ever written. It breaks 4 minutes, which is crazy for us.
G- That is kinda nuts. You guys are good at the 1:30-2:30 minute tracks; just very cathartic bursts.
J- Which I feel will be essentially a step in the direction of the next record. Of the 4 songs we’ve written so far, they all break, like, the y all hit about 3 minutes.
J- And it’s not something that’s… We’re not forcing that. It’s always been on accident where we finish a song and record it with a digital camera so I can write lyrics over it, so I have a frame of reference. And then it’s like ‘How long was that?’ “A minute ten.” And it’s like ‘Shit!’
J- So, it’s not our fault, ever. We just have terrible attention spans where we’ll write a part and be like ‘Should we do this 4 times and not 2? No… It’s too long!’ But ‘Gravity Metaphorically is my favorite song we’ve ever written and we play it on this tour. We’ll probably play it until the end of the year.
And then as for a song someone could just download or get online, I think the first song on our last record kind of incorporates every element of what our band does in a short amount of time.
G- Right on! Now, you have a lot more coming up, but as a band that has toured internationally, how do you think the responses to your shows in the US compare to your performances abroad, both in terms of how you play and the audience reaction?
J- We’ve now been lucky enough to tour in Europe quite a bit. This will be our fifth time over there in 2.5 years…
G- Nice, dude!
J- And we love playing in Europe! The energy is so… It’s hard to describe. There’s so much excitement behind it, but it’s also a weird feeling of… I don’t want to say innocence, but there’s just this un-jaded feel where you can tell that they’re not concerned with looking too cool for anybody. They’re just there to have so much fun, and that’s pretty unrivaled.
You play certain places in this country where it might be hipper people than other places, you know? Like maybe someone doesn’t want to act the way they want to because it might be embarrassing to others, you know what I’m saying?
G- Yeah I lived in Williamsburg. I know all about it.
J- (Laughs) Ok. But over there, there’s such a level of appreciation for the fact that you crossed the pond just to tour over there, and it’s awesome. The hospitality is on a whole other level over there. But that’s not to knock the US, because that’s what we do all the time.
G- For sure.
J- We love it, but there’s just something special that happens over there. And Australia, we’ve only played 5 shows there once, and that was last year, and it was kind of under weird circumstances with large rooms and things. So when we go over there in a couple of days, we’re playing a van tour, whereas last time we flew to every show. We doing a van, small venues. It’s going to be… I’ll have a better answer to that after we get back.
G- Well, we’ll have to talk about it next time! I hope Australia, New Zealand, and southeast Asia blows your mind! I have friends that have toured all those places, and they love it. They always say that they’re treated well, and the fans go off, so I’m sure…
J- I’m really, really looking forward to it! Specifically Malaysia, because that place… Since 2008, anytime we make a post on any social network or whatever you call it, even to our personal things, there’s always one person that says “Come to Malaysia!” So, it’s been like years and counting, you know, and I’m so excited to play there and I’m expecting just chaos. I’m really looking forward to it.
G- Right on! So, you’ve played with Rise Against, you played with Converge, you’re on tour with Circa Survive right now. Are there any bands or artists that you hope to tour with in the future, or if Touche Amore could select a feasible Dream Bill of 3 bands plus yourselves…
J- There are bands that… I’ll start by saying that, at this point, I’d feel like an ingrate listing more bands. Getting to tour with Thursday, Converge, Envy, or just playing one-off shows, we’ve knocked off every band that has changed our lives, you know what I’m saying? Musically or just anything creatively.
Like getting to tour with Envy was just huge for us. It was like ‘Oh… We get to play with a band we potentially rip off every single night!’
They’re like what we dream to one day become. And we also obviously have had some many chances to tour with friends’ bands we look up to and admire and everything. But I’ll say realistic bands and then I’ll say not realistic bands.
G- Do it to it.
J- A realistic band I would love to eventually tour with would be Glassjaw because they’ve always been one of my favorite bands, and at one point I had a pretty good relationship with Daryl, but Glassjaw doesn’t do as much anymore, blah blah blah. But I would love to do a few shows with them at one point. I would’ve completed the circle of bands that really did it for me.
J- I think it would be cool to tour with a band like Manchester Orchestra. I feel like if we got by on a circuit tour, a band like Manchester would make some sense. And let me think who else.
G- Those a pretty good ones!
J- Those are good ones. I think it’s hard because so many bands have broken up, you know? I feel like Glassjaw is high on the list. Also, are you familiar with a Hip Hop artist called P.O.S.?
G- Yeah actually I just… My friend, Steven Alexander, P.O.S.’s name is Stefon Alexander…
J- Yeah Stefon Alexander.
G- And my friend Steven Alexander also had a double kidney transplant, and P.O.S. also needs a transplant, so I’m trying to set the 2 of them up, at least for a rehab or consultation so they can talk to each other and stuff because my friends was partially funded for his transplant the same way P.O.S. is trying to do it.
G- And, you know, my friend is still here because of people’s generosity and P.O.S. has several matches right now, but it’s a question of funding. So, hopefully it works out. He’s a very good artist.
J- Absolutely! His new record is incredible and yea. We never officially met in person… I shook his hand at a show once because I’m a fan… But we spoke over Twitter and DM and we have each other’s phone numbers and spoke about one day doing some shows together.
J- I’m a huge fan for that guy. We were actually playing a show in Minnesota the night he announced that, and he was gonna come out to the show, but I was like ‘I understand if you don’t come out.’ You know? But yea… I would be super-psyched to do that!
As for bands that I would love to tour with that probably want nothing to do with us…
And it would go terribly for us, that would involve touring with The National, who is beyond my fucking favorite current band, just because I would probably stalk Matt Barringer and try to talk to him all day about everything. Touring with The national would be fucking awesome! There’s also a band called Martha and the Nuclear 7 from Chicago that is an amazing indie rock band that I absolutely love, and it’d be cool, if they did another full US, it’d be really fun to tour with Refused.
G- Cool! They just announced their ‘So Long’ dates today, and it looks like I’ll have to cross the pond if I want to see them.
J- So, are they saying that they’re gonna be done again?
G- Apparently. But I’m a fan of bands and creators making money, and I hope that the money was too good, and they offers are so good, that they decide they’re going to do another record.
J- I’m sure they will. I mean, they’ve gone back on everything else.
G- Hey, we all get older, and we all need to eat.
J- I don’t put them down for it at all.
G- Absolutely not.
J- Like, I did get to see them finally for the first time when they played at FYF Festival…
G- Yup… With Quicksand.
J- Who were also great that night! And he made a speech and made it pretty obviously that he knows what we’re all thinking. It is just funny hearing them open with “I’ve got a bone to pick” about capitalism. It’s like ‘Alright… That’s pretty funny.”
G- We’re not going to hold it against them.
J- No. Not at all. I appreciate it!
G- Umea’s best export! Now, you’ve had and played some wild shows, but do you have any particularly memorable shows that Touche Amore has played? Where was it and what was it like? It doesn’t have to be the largest show, best attended, but one that really sticks out.
J- A really special one to all of us was the very first time we went to Europe. We were the headliner with this band from Germany called Lighthouse, who were the guys who provided our gear and drove us as well. We met ehm the day they picked us up from the airport.
J- The first show was kinda strange. It was ok, but it was not the wildest show, and we were like ‘Ok this will probably be what Europe is like.’ Some people came out, and that’s great, you know?
But then, the second night of tour, the second or the third night of tour, we played in Budapest, and the show was sold out, and it was insane! Kids were just swinging off stuff, jumping off everything, and knowing the words. That was like “This isn’t real.” That was the first real shock. Getting to play our first US tour and getting to play a city where you’ve never been before is still, to this day, awesome. But playing somewhere like Budapest, Hungary, where I never, EVER, thought I would go, and having that happen was just like… I feel really, really fortunate.
G- Sounds like a win! I’ve got one last questions for you… You guys are still pretty young, but you’ve been laying foot-to-ass since you got started, and the end of 2012 is really going to push up into the upper-echelon of touring musician and get you a significant amount of global exposure. There’s a lot of kids out here in Syracuse and all over the place that look up to you and want to do what you’re doing and be where you’re at. Can you offer any advice to some of these up and coming musicians who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a touring musician like yourself?
J- I played in a few bands before this band started. I always played guitar in bands, and I did those tours where you’re playing to the other bands and you’re having a real rough time. You’re spending your own money on gas and just digging yourself into debt, but those are all learning experiences and learning experiences are important. But I also used those learning experiences to start this band knowing what to do, and what not to do.
I never let us do anything we weren’t prepared for. When my old bands were touring, those were the days when you could be a Myspace band and tour, you know? You don’t have a proper record out, but you have 1,000 plays per day so clearly we should tour and that kind of thing, which is funny to think how that’s a time and place thing… It’ll never be like that again, I’m sure. And it was also super easy to book tours on Myspace.
But, the best advice I can give is don’t overplay your own hometown. Ever. Only play shows when you can get on a bill that you can connect with or whatever. No one wants to see your band every other fucking weekend, you know? It’ll be cool the first 3 shows, but then your friends will be like ‘Yo I’ve got other things to do.’ If your fan base is your friends coming out ever night, you’ve got to figure something else out. So don’t overplay your hometown, don’t play shows until you have at least a shirt and a record to sell, and then once you’ve established that some people care, then you should start putting feelers out to do a small tour in your area. Maybe do a weekend warrior tour a couple of times. In the first year, do a couple of weekend warrior tours in your area and branch out, and branch out more. But I’d say, above all, never let yourself put your foot in your mouth. Never be too cool for anything, and just be as honest as possible and do things with the right intentions. That’s the best thing you can do!”
G- That’s awesome! Great interview… We’re pushing a half hour here and that a record for Live High Five, so very good! It’s great to meet you and play well tonight, be safe on your travels, and have a blast overseas. Come back safe and ready to keep going!
J- Thank you. I appreciate it!