After the stressful recording sessions of Restarter and another lineup change, Torche needed stability to harness the power of its rock fury. Thankfully, Torche found that in long-time friend Eric Hernandez while working on the new album Admission.
“This was the first time we had written with Eric,” Torche singer/guitarist Steve Brooks said. “He knows our sound. He came in with songs that were basically all written. That inspired us. That kicked our asses.”
Hernandez had previously filled in for drummer Rick Smith on past tours, but he is now a full-time member of Torche, playing bass as Brooks and Jonathan Nuñez take over the band’s signature twin guitar attack. As Torche tours behind Admission, fans will see what Brooks said is the best version of the band across its 15-year career.
“This is the best lineup (of Torche) we’ve had,” he said. “We all get along. We’ve all known each other for a long time. We know how we work. We’re happy about everything right now.”
Unlike the hecticly quick two-week recording sessions for 2015’s Restarter, the process behind Admission went smoothly. Each band member brought fully-written songs. Among Hernandez’s was “Slide,” the first single from Admission. With tons of new material and a better writing process, Brooks agreed that Torche is “rejuvenated in some ways.”
“There is a new optimism,” he said, “but we’re not trying to be anybody else.”
What Brooks means to say is that Admission is pure Torche. The guitars growl, blanketed in fuzz and drop-tuned. The rhythm section’s grooves are straightforward and sugary-sweet on the title track, then threaten whiplash on the next song. For examples of the latter, check the breaks in songs like “What Was,” or the one-two punch of “From Here” into “Submission.” In the midst of that mix, Brooks isn’t yelling or screaming, but singing. However, he won’t say if the band’s newfound happiness has made its way into the lyrics.
“I’ve been writing like this since the beginning,” he said. “I just don’t talk about it too much. You gotta say something in your songs, you know? Things that are on my mind … I’m going to write about it. There are things on every record I write that are personal. Hell, my bandmates don’t even know what I’m saying most of the time. They think I’m singing something else, usually, which is great.”
Against those lyrics is Torche’s downtuned attack — a sound Brooks wanted to explore in the early ‘90s after seeing bands like Swans, Godflesh and, most importantly, The Melvins.
“When I heard The Melvins, that changed everything,” he said. “I wanted to be in a band that had that heavy guitar sound. I remember when I started Floor in 1991-1992, I was looking for members and putting up ads at local record stores. By the end of it, I had just met everyone who was into The Melvins in south Florida.”
After Floor disbanded, a new heavy rock quartet named Torche was born. No matter if Brooks had found huge success with Floor or not, whatever band he joined would have to tour, due to Brooks and the bandmates’ roots in Miami.
“Miami didn’t really have a scene when I first started playing this type of music,” he said. “You have to go elsewhere to find your audience. We were isolated. In order to tour, you had to fucking drive 8-9 hours just to get the fuck out of the state. You’re at the bottom.
“I wanted to be creative and keep moving forward,” he said. “You have to get out of your town in order to be able to keep doing it. Otherwise, you’re going to be in a garage band, or you’re going to sit still in the local scene. I didn’t want to do that.”
Brooks didn’t have expectations, either. He just wanted to get out and play rock ‘n’ roll.
“Sometimes, we like to groove — we sit back and let the song ride,” he said, describing the band’s sound. “Sometimes, we want to smash your face.”