The band has simultaneously released a video for the song “Borderlines” (https://youtu.be/tQX_oVVORFU), which saw its live performance debut at Baroness’s tour kick off last Friday in Houston.
“Our goal is, was, and will always be to write increasingly superior, more honest and compelling songs, and to develop a more unique and challenging sound,” offered Baroness founder, guitar player and vocalist John Baizley. “I’m sure we have just finished our best, most adventurous album to date. We dug incredibly deep, challenged ourselves and recorded a record I’m positive we could never again replicate. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to know Sebastian, Nick and Gina as both my bandmates and my friends. They have pushed me to become a better songwriter, musician and vocalist. We’re all extremely excited for this release, which includes quite a few ‘firsts’ for the band, and we’re thrilled to be back on tour to play these psychotic songs for our fans. Expect some surprises.”
While Gold & Grey found the outfit once again working with Purple producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Mogwai), sequestering themselves at Fridmann’s remote upstate New York Tarbox Road Studio, the 17-track album ushered in two significant changes: a decidedly different recording process and guitar player Gina Gleason’s debut on a Baroness recording. The band, who tracked portions of the vocals, guitars and overdubs in Baizley’s home-basement studio, another first for the band, eschewed their normal routine of entering the studio with meticulously detailed plans and instead opted for a looser, more improvisational approach that resulted in the band’s most collaborative and emotionally evocative release to date.
“On Gold & Grey we have taken some unexpected paths on a labyrinthine sonic adventure. We accepted sounds and styles that have not appeared on previous Baroness albums, and I’m excited to welcome our fans into our new lair,” added drummer Sebastian Thomson.
“Having the chance to create music without any preconceived boundaries was both liberating and intimidating,” explains guitar player Gina Gleason. “As we pushed past our fear and comfort zone, the four of us connected in a way that allowed us to create freely, uplift one another and build the unique sonic world that is Gold & Grey. As a longtime Baroness listener, it is exciting to have created something new while still maintaining a deep love and understanding of the band’s roots. To say that the making of this record was quite a journey would be an understatement. We are beyond excited to share this experience and music with everyone!”
That’s Torche guitarist and producer Jon Nuñez talking about his band’s uneasy relationship with categorization. Over the last 15 years, Torche—led by the core trio of Nuñez, guitarist/vocalist Steve Brooks and drummer Rick Smith—have often been saddled with one-dimensional niche terms like doom, sludge or stoner rock, but none of them really apply. “That shit is tiresome,” he says. “When people ask me what kind of music we play, I just say, ‘Loud rock n’ roll.’”
Which is a good way to describe Torche’s fifth and latest album, Admission. From the rumbling cannonade of opener “From Here” and chunky bomb-string detonator “What Was” to the staccato siren song “Reminder” and glistening thunder pop of the title track, it’s a record that manages to be hi-powered, dynamic and melodic—all at the same time. “To me, it’s a real record with peaks and valleys and emotional ups and downs,” Nuñez offers. “Musically, the intensity doesn’t stay in one lane.”
Nuñez says Admission’s musical range—and Torche’s unwillingness to be pinned down—is a result of the band’s wide spectrum of unlikely influences. “I feel like we all listen to so many different types of music, but not really much within the realm of what we’re considered to play,” he explains. “We like 70s rock, shoegaze, ambient music, obscure noise, and stuff we grew up with like Latin or Hispanic music. All of us grew up in Miami during an interesting time, so there’s all kinds of things that drew us in.”
Behind the scenes, Torche underwent some lineup changes in the wake of 2015’s Restarter. First off, Nuñez switched from bass to guitar. To fill the bass position they enlisted Eric Hernandez of Miami noise-rockers Wrong, who joined the original Torche triumvirate in time to play on Admission. “We knew right away that Eric was the guy,” Nuñez explains. “He’s bailed us out on drums before when Rick had some health issues. Now that this is the lineup, things are easier. No one needs to be told anything, and everyone’s excited.”
The fact that Nuñez switched to guitar during a short break between tours didn’t slow Torche down in the least. “We bounced back pretty fast,” he confirms. “I jumped on guitar in nine days and we did a whole US tour. I was so nervous at that first show that I got a headache onstage. But then you ease into it and it feels right.”
With the band’s members spread between Florida and Los Angeles, Torche got together whenever possible to work on the songs that would become Admission.
“I think the only two we wrote on the spot were ‘Extremes Of Consciousness’ and the closer, ‘Changes Come,’” Nuñez explains. “We wrote some in Gainesville, some in LA, put one together in Colorado and a couple other ones came together in Miami. It was exciting to do things differently and it kinda kept us on our toes.”
Writing in different locations also allowed the band to get together more often than they had been able to for Restarter. “The way Restarter was put together was kinda nuts,” Nuñez explains. “It was written in two weeks and then recorded in two weeks. It was a little stressful. I wanna say we got together four times for this record, which was twice as much as last time.”
There was also an abundance of material to work with this time around. “Steve was writing stuff, Eric was writing stuff and I was writing stuff,” Nuñez says. “We just honed in on what would make a cohesive record. It ended up being three songs from each of us, and the others are collaborations. It was a real group effort.”
Admission also marks just the second time Torche have actually printed their lyrics in an album sleeve. “Usually Steve’s lyrics make sense to me in some sort of abstract way, but this album has some more personal stuff in there,” Nuñez point out. “It’s a cool little insight into Steve’s twisted head.”
In fact, Admission might be Torche’s most personal album yet. “This album is more revealing of who we are,” Nuñez offers. “I think the core of the band is happier and more inspired than we have been in some time, and we’ve got somebody new who’s excited to be a part of it. It’s just refreshing. On tour, we wanna play the entire thing because we stand by this shit. It feels right. It feels real.”