Features Interviews Touche Amore

Interviews: Touche Amore

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Scene Point Blank: Back in 2010 you released two splits: one with La Dispute and one with Make Do and Mend. What is your connection with these bands? And what was the writing process like?

Jeremy: There are four songs all together, two on each. We had been on tour with To the Beat of a Dead Horse for so long that we came home anxious to write new songs because we were overplaying those songs—we needed to play some new ones. So we shat those four songs out so fast, it just came. Really, we had zero struggle with writing. It was like: I have this part; done! Next. When all four songs were written we realized these two should be on this split these two should be on the other.

We met Make Do and Mend on our first west coast tour. They ended up pretty much booking the same dates as us and the promoter of the shows was like, “I’m just going to combine these tours.” It was with Make Do and Mend, Hour of the Wolf, and Shook Ones. It ended up being the four of us for a bunch of dates in a row coming from this fest that we were all on together. It was this typical band bromance: we just watched each other every night, and the friendship continued, and later we were like, “We should do a split together.” Our bands don’t necessarily sound the same but we have the same understanding of one another.

La Dispute was asking us for so long. Actually, yesterday was my birthday. They’re in L.A. right now—they played on my birthday—and I wish I could have been home to hang out with all those dudes. I booked their L.A. shows on their first west coast tour and that was how I met them. We instantly clicked super hard. Jordan and I have a lot of great conversations. We just really, really like each other and enjoy each other’s company. Then we ended up playing a bunch of shows – still to this day they are the band we’ve played the most shows with – from hopping on different tours together and doing different things. We played together in Chicago and Jordan and I sat on the front steps of the house we played. We discussed a split and came to agree that we wanted to make it as collaborative as possible to make it a little more personal and really put forth the effort to make it a special split 7”. Nick, the guy who does all of our art, and Adam Vass, the guy who does all of their art (who plays bass in their band and guitar in our band), they collaborated to do all the art together and also Jordan and I were writing each other’s parts and explaining each other’s parts.

Scene Point Blank: Any splits planned for the future or any bands you would like to work with?

Jeremy: We have some stuff… We can’t really release any news yet but we’ll have some stuff coming out eventually. We are not doing a new record this year, we’ll leave that for next year.

Scene Point Blank: You signed to Deathwish for the release of Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me. What kinds of relationships have formed as result?

Jeremy: There are two owners of Deathwish: there is Jake Bannon and Tre McCarthy. I met Tre at Sound and Fury 2009. He approached us and was like, “Your band’s cool, we should be friends.” I love Deathwish, but we have a weird thing about us where we won’t work with someone unless we are friends with them. No matter how cool someone might be, we have to talk about your fucking dog before we talk about anything related to our band – to be friends first.

It took a long while before we decided what label we wanted to do. There were a couple other label things happening at the same time that we were unsure of, but Deathwish has felt right. Especially after I lived out there for that month I got really close with those guys. Then we did the Converge tour and everyone got close to Jake and it all made sense. Even before, we had been friends with Rise and Fall for a while, The Carrier for a while, Deafheaven – our dudes from the Bay Area who signed after we did, we met those guys as a result of Deathwish and they are some of the funniest, goofiest, skeevy stoner dudes in the entire world. I love those guys. Everyone in that office is so fucking cool. They do it for the right reasons, which is inspiring.

ta_3.jpgScene Point Blank: Was this any different than working with 6131 on To the Beat of a Dead Horse?

Jeremy: Joey Cahill, who runs that label is, like hands down, my best friend in the entire world. We did that 7” demo on No Sleep and we did the full-length and hadn’t decided what we wanted to do with it. Then Joey was like, “We’ll put it out.” And I was like, “Really?” Because we were kind of the awkward stepchild on that label, where it’s a lot of really straightforward hardcore bands and then us. I appreciated that he was willing to take a chance on us and do that. And that was at the time when 6131 was not too well known. They were still kind of growing and I appreciate that he took a chance on us, and I’m glad it’s done well because he deserves it. Joey Cahill is the best dude.

Scene Point Blank: Do you guys feel any pressure regarding subsequent releases?

Jeremy: [There’s] always pressure no matter what. Writing Parting the Sea was the hardest fucking thing in the world. I was having a real difficult time with writing a lot of the stuff on that record. But, now the third record will be the worst to come because it’s really hard. If you really think about it, to name hardcore bands that have survived the third record or A) even made it to their third record and; B) have their third record be good… You know what I’m saying? If you really think about it it’s a fucking short ass list. It truthfully is, because you have to consider other things like your “audience” and your “following” (the word “fans” is fucking lame). They are growing with you and do they want to hear you do the same record a third time? You can get away with it the second time. You can still kind of generally write about the same things and kids will still be interested for the most part, I think. But, to do it a third time it’s like, “Is this band going to grow?” Or what if you do grow in a way they’re not interested in or if you grow in a way they’re not ready for? The third record is a fucked situation. Which is why we we’re like, “Let’s not do it this year.”

We’ve put out a lot of stuff, we’ve been on tour a lot since our band started, so let’s let Parting the Sea simmer for a while. We feel it still has some legs on it so we will start writing towards the end of the year probably.

Scene Point Blank: Earlier this year, you started a label called Secret Voice. What was the driving force in doing so?

Jeremy: I’ve always wanted to do a label and obviously it’s like the worst climate in the entire world to do that because blah blah music doesn’t sell…all that bullshit. But with vinyl having such a resurgence it’s a little easier these days. But I’ve always wanted to do it and I just needed to find the right bands to inspire me to do it and get off my ass. That band is Single Mothers and they’re the best band, so after seeing them and playing with them and talking to them about it, it gave me the courage to bring it up with the Deathwish guys to let me start that subsidiary label.

I give them full credit: Deathwish is really making the whole thing possible. I handle certain things like finding the bands, dealing with the bands, artwork, and recording, but they handle manufacturing, distribution and all the sales and stuff like that. They’re making it possible for me. I can’t handle stuff like that on tour all the time, but I’m fucking stoked on it. The records actually will be to [Single Mothers] on the 12th and then were playing their 7” release show and last date in Canada in London [Ontario] and I’m so excited for that night. I have some fun things planned to come out.

Scene Point Blank: So you have some more stuff planned with different bands?

Jeremy: I have ideas...We played with a really cool band in Glasgow called Departures that I was really stoked on. I don’t know what will end up happening. But if I come across a band that I think is fucking awesome, I’m going to want to talk to them. I don’t know if I’m going to do something with them now, maybe I’ll do something later. It’s exciting to know that I could potentially help bands out. I think that’s the coolest part.

Scene Point Blank: Would you mind mentioning how you first got in touch with Single Mothers?

Jeremy: We played with them. They were the local band opening the show when we played in Hamilton, Ontario in 2010 at the end of the Bane/Strike Anywhere tour. They were just on the show and I will openly admit a lot of times when there is a local band on the show you don’t really pay a lot of attention and I can accept that. I’ve been the local band on shows, it’s fine. It’s just one of those things, you’re setting up merch or kind of on the phone talking to a loved one at home, you’re kind of all over the place. You’re not really paying attention usually. I was setting up merch and they started playing and within like a minute of their first song I was like, “What the hell?” and turned around and watched the entire set like, “This is the best band I have fucking seen in so long.” So when they were done, I let them know how much I appreciated what they did and had a good conversation with the singer. I got their demo loved it.

I went home from tour a couple months later and was like, “I wonder if they’re still a band, what’s up with them?” So I looked them up and found like an unchecked, un-updated myspace page and I was like, “Ahhhhhhh, they are probably broken up already or something.”

And then last year we played in London [Ontario] with La Dispute, Balance and Composure, and Make do and Mend, and this random dude comes up to me and he’s like, “Hey man, I don’t know if you remember me but we played together once. I play in a band called Single Mothers.”

And I was like, “Are you guys still a band?!”

“Yeah we have this new demo blah blah blah.”

And I was like, “Can I have it?”

So he gave it to me and that’s what the new 7” is. It’s even better than the first demo. When we just did our headlining tour I got them on the shows in Toronto and Montreal. They’re fucking awesome, so I’m excited to see what the future holds. It’s been a long time since I’ve really, really, really believed in a band and the last band I believed in this much is Joyce Manor.

Scene Point Blank: What are you feelings on the relevance of straight edge to hardcore music?

Jeremy: Wow… okay. I mean, I have a whole slough of my own personal feelings of straight edge. I mean I’m the only straight edge guy in my band and I don’t give a shit about that. Like I don’t give a shit they do stuff it doesn’t matter to me at all. It’s never mattered to me, even when I was young and you’re supposed to be all angsty about it like, “FUCK YOU, I’m different!” You should only ever be straight edge for yourself and not anyone else. Like don’t push your politics on anybody or you’re no better than a fucking Christian who pushes their religion on other people. You’re no better than a vegan who pushes his or her politics on someone else. Nobody likes to be preached to so keep it to yourself, blah blah blah.

If my best friend who’s straight edge breaks edge, I’m not saying I’m going to be proud but, at the same time, I’m not going to give them a hard time about it. That’s their life. Do I get stoked when there are new straight edge bands that are good? Yeah. I think it’s a cool thing to have, it’s a part of punk and hardcore. Just as much as vegan straight edge bands are a part of punk and hardcore as much as Christian hardcore bands. There is a place for everything. I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve heard a straight edge band I’m psyched on. Like when they come around it’s exciting. It’s like it’s my team. But I’ve seen it – I’m a lot older than the other guys. I just turned 29. You see straight edge come in waves where it’s like the really cool thing and its always when there is a new, cool straight edge band. When Have Heart was at their highest everyone was so fucking psyched to be straight edge and then Have Heart broke up and all of a sudden you see all the kids throw in the towel on it and now it’s cool to be a party kid. That’s fine, though, you know…whatever.

There is this great straight edge band from San Diego called Over My Dead Body. It’s dudes from Unbroken and they have the best lyric: “Those who scream the fucking loudest are the first to fucking go,” which is totally true. When all of a sudden kids are like, “Fuck yeah! Straight edge!” and rubbing it in everyone’s faces and being dickhead straight edge kids and getting tattoos and shit. Those are the kids who are going to break edge. All my straight edge friends at home, I can count at this point on probably one hand. Which is fucked up, because it used to be a point where I could probably say I had like 50 straight edge friends and now I probably have less than 10. Its fine, you know, but it’s funny that all those straight edge friends I still have are over 25. They’re all like older friends. It’s because we’re all nerds, we don’t know how to have fun.

Scene Point Blank: There was some controversy over the situation with Negative Approach at Fun Fun Fun Fest.

Jeremy: That situation that wasn’t actually a situation.

Scene Point Blank: Yeah, I was going to ask you to break down your story and feelings on the messageboard backlash.

Jeremy: First off [Negative Approach] weren’t there. Like, most importantly, they were not there, okay.

And secondly put yourself in this situation: you played earlier that day. You played at fucking 1pm or whatever. We’re hanging out at the fest, our friends in Ceremony come up to us and say, “Do you dudes wanna play a bridge show tonight?” We’ve played plenty of bridge shows in Austin and we know exactly how it’s going to go. There’s a 50/50 chance it’s going to get shut down by cops, or a lot of kids come out and its super fun and awesome. So, of course, we’re like, “Fuck yeah, we’ll play a bridge show with Ceremony. That sounds awesome.” So all of us start tweeting about it and we decide to bring drums and heads and Ceremony will bring cabs and the PA and a generator blah blah blah. Let’s fucking do it. Meet at the bridge at 11 or something.

Everybody meets at 11 and we’re all frantically setting up and we notice the clouds are starting to come over with a little bit of sprinkles, so we have to do this fast. So we get everything set up and the PA’s not working. And I’m like, “We have to do this. Fuck it, I won’t use a PA.” So we played four songs. I didn’t have a microphone. I made the best of it had a good time. Ceremony was like, “Okay, we’re going hop on and play.” Everyone gives each other their shit, Ceremony hops on and plays. It’s awesome as hell, kids start dispersing – shows over – kids are fucking leaving, like walking off the bridge.

It went from being 200 kids to like 40 kids and, as people are leaving, the drums are literally in pieces, amps are taken apart, the generator is dismantled, and some random comes up and says, “Hey, Negative Approach said they will come down here and play.” Everything’s already taken apart and everyone’s on their way home already. We’re fucking beat. We don’t know those guys. How truthful is this scenario even? Like, “Hey fucking Metallica will come down the street and play right?” Yeah, that would be cool but it’s like, sorry, even the dudes in Ceremony were out of there. But that doesn’t get talked about. Everyone equally agreed, like, “No, we’re done, we’re out of here. I’m sorry.”

And just one kid overhears it and has to be the star of the messageboard and be like “Touché Amore wouldn’t let Negative Approach play.” It’s like, yeah, people think that we stood there with our fucking fists at our hips and were like, “No, we not only don’t like Negative Approach, we will not let anyone have fun.” Fuck you, that is not who we are. If everyone were right there we would say okay. Like, if the kids were all still there and everybody was psyched, it probably would have happened. But that’s how the internet works.

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Words: Adam | Photos: Aaron H / elawgrrl (1, 2)

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Words by Adam Houtekamer on June 19, 2012, 6:41 a.m.

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Touche Amore

Posted by Adam Houtekamer on June 19, 2012, 6:41 a.m.

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