UTG INTERVIEW: Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré

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People naturally gravitate towards music that is different, and that’s exactly what many consider Touché Amoré to be: different. Touché Amoré is a hardcore band from the Los Angeles, CA area that have been making waves since the release of the group’s latest full-length, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me.

UTG had the opportunity to interview frontman Jeremy Bolm back in late September at The Beacham in downtown Orlando, FL. Throughout the interview we talked about all sorts of things like playing shows with other bands from completely different music scenes, basement shows, and the band’s very ambiguous name.

How has the SoCal scene inspired you?
Being from LA, we instantly feel sort of privileged because we have such history with (you know), punk bands and all that. We’ve always been blessed with great local bands that have gone on to bigger and better things and so forth. So I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of those bands growing up that I’ve liked. Funny enough, one of them, one of the first hardcore bands that I’ve actually started following that I had gotten really into was band, Taken. We had gotten close to those guys, and my first tour experience ever was selling merch for them on a week tour with Poison the Well in like 2001, and Nick Beard from Circa Survive was the bass player of that band. I’ve known him for like 11 years, and here we are now, 11 years later and on tour together. So Taken was a pretty huge part of me getting into further into punk and hardcore and stuff. My old band has played their last show, it’s been really cool that this far down the line, we’re hanging out again.

How did the split with The Casket Lottery come together?
We’re all huge fans of that band, I was lucky enough to catch them a few times before they broke up for a number of years. I saw them through like 2002-2004 (or something like that). We did a tour in 2010 with Converge, and Coalesce was on numbers of those dates. Casket Lottery is members of Coalesce.

I gave it about 2 days into that tour before I pulled Nathan [Ellis] aside and was like “Yo, I love Coalesce, don’t get me wrong. I fucking lose my mind to that band, but I really want to start bugging you about The Casket Lottery.”

Actually, The Casket Lottery was the reason that we recorded Parting the Sea with Ed Rose because they have a record called Survival Is For Cowards which is hands down the best sounding record that I can think of. It captures exactly the sound that our band wanted to capture.

So he put in a very good word for us with Ed, and he kind of made it work. We were one of the first people for him to be like “Yo, Casket Lottery is going to do a new record.” I told him we wanted to put out some new splits and he was like, “Let’s do it!” So it’s a huge honor for us to be a part of it, because they did break up a long time ago, I hope that us sharing a split with them too will, you know, kids who listen to our band will listen to that side and realize how much better of a band they are and hopefully they’ll get a new generation of fans.

What was the story behind being picked for supporting for Circa?
Well there’s the story I just told you: Nick was a huge part of it. Apparently we were considered for their last tour, we just found this out. Nick didn’t know that I was in Touché, all of the sudden he realized that I was in this band and he was like “Fuck!” So when it came for their next record, they thought of us, which is really cool.

If you were to list 3 bands and Circa Survive was on that list and you would say something like “Hey, which band would take you out [on tour]?” I wouldn’t have guessed Circa Survive. So it’s cool that they have their ear to the ground and that they actually care, or that they’re even interested in a hardcore band. It says a lot about how fuckin’ cool they are.

How was the experience of opening for Rise Against this last spring?
It was way different from anything we have ever experienced or will probably ever experience again. Every night was between five to twelve thousand people.

*A nearby crowd outside of the venue began to cheer very loud*

It sounded a lot like that. It was absolutely crazy. It’s a hard thing to do too, talk about taking a band completely out of their comfort zone, we’re used to small places, but what’s great is that that sort of a tour prepared us for tours like this, where there’s a barrier and things like that. It helped us grow as a band and to not just rely specifically on crowd participation. It made us play tighter together and it made me learn to sing every single word.

It was fun, I’m glad that we did it. I’m glad that we challenged ourselves and I have nothing but the nicest things to say about Rise Against. Like, those dudes are more punk than a lot of bands that we have toured with, not to name names, but they are fucking so down, and so punk. They’re literally hardcore kids that made it.

No egos at all?
I couldn’t even pretend to say “yeah”. Like, they are so fucking cool. They made sure that we were happy and comfortable every day. They understood who we were, and it’s awesome. We ended up having a lot of mutual friends and we’ve stayed in touch. Like yeah, they’re awesome.

Are there any new plans in development with Secret Voice?
Yes. There’s actually a fuck-ton, but–

I understand if you can’t say anything…
Oh no, I know I can’t say anything specifically. I’m realizing something with a label that I’ve never thought about, which is, you have all of these great ideas, and then everything starts going in motion, and then all of these great ideas all take a long time to work.

Like, every single band that I’m going to be working with, and every scenario, all of them are recording later on; they’re like “oh yeah, we’re recording in November” or “we’re recording in October”. So I know it’s going to be like every single thing I wanna put out is going to be all at the same time, like “alright, I’m ready!”

Yeah, yeah, and then you have to decide, you have to weigh it out…
Exactly. It’s going to be rough, because you know, I did the Single Mothers seven-inch in March, and I have like five or six things wanting to come out, but it’s like they’re all on tour or writing or whatever. I have a feeling that in like early 2013, there’s going to be like they’re coming out really quickly: one after the other, and I’m really excited about it.

How do you feel about playing shows with barriers separating you from the crowd?
If you were to say “circle ‘yes’ if you want a barrier, circle ‘no’ if you don’t”, I’m going to always circle “no.” I know that they serve a purpose, I know that venue’s insurance is a big deal. You always hope that the bouncers who are up front handling the kids are handling them properly.

It’s just something that has to happen with a big room, like 90% of the time, you know? Not every venue is capable for fun.

In my younger years, I would’ve just put up a middle finger and have been like “fuck that, I’ll never do that. But I understand. I’m a mature adult and I can see the upsides and the downsides. If it was up to me, I would not have one, but I’m not as mad about it as I used to be.

Would you ever play a short run of smaller house shows just for giggles?
Yeah! Boston was close to selling out, but it didn’t sell out on this tour. Had it sold out, we were going to play a house show after, at the guys in Make Do and Mend’s house. They invited us to do it, but because it didn’t [sell out], we didn’t want to do it because that could cause problems with the promoters.

I think until our band breaks up one day, we’re always going to be down to do a house show or basement show. If it’s possible for us to do it, we’ll do it. We played a warehouse two nights ago in South Carolina. It was an off date show, it was us and Balance and Composure. It was [at a place called] the One Unit Art Space; it was awesome. The microphone hardly worked, but a lot of kids went crazy, it was super fun.

How would you describe the songwriting process between yourself and the band?
It’s the usual boring kind of thing where someone brings a riff to practice, and then everyone kind of works on it as a whole. Everyone in the band can play guitar, so there’s a lot of “Oh! Try it like this!” or whatever, and some of us can bullshit drums. So everyone is kind of capable of switching instruments to present an idea, and lyrics always come last, always. Once the song is done, then I can listen to it and kind of get a feel for it. I’ve never been one to write lyrics beforehand, because I stress out enough and I don’t have room for a part, it would freak me out.

Instead of doing the cliché question, “where did your band name come from?” I decided to get creative and say: If you had to rename your band, what would you rename it to?
I’ve never thought about that.

If you want to take a second, it’s cool.
Honestly, I’ve gone through phases of being like “ehh…”, but I genuinely like our band name, because it doesn’t really mean anything. Truthfully, if you want to be literal, it could mean “touch love,” but if you want to be creative, you could say it’s like a sarcastic jab at love. Either way, I like one more than the other, depending on the day. I really like our name, it doesn’t have to be much, you know? It kind of just represents who we are. I mean, it’s not KoRn, so it’s fine. It’s not Limp Bizkit (sorry Florida).

No, it’s totally cool… I can’t believe they’re signed to… whatever label that is
Fucking Drake label.

Is it Young Money/Cash Money or some shit like that?

Yeah! One of those. So, Why do you do what you do?
Not to sound cliché, but it’s all that I’ve ever wanted to do. Like, I’ve been trying to start bands and playing in bands ever since I was in junior high. I’ve worked jobs that I’ve hated and I’ve worked jobs that I’ve loved. Like, I’ve worked at a record store for six years instead of going to college just so that I could play in bands and hang out with friends. I’ve just never wanted to stop. It’s fun for me. This is the first band that I’ve sang in, and I’ve always wanted to sing in a band. I was fascinated with the idea of performing at a young age. Like, I was fascinated with Michael Jackson, and my favorite bands were Nirvana and Pearl Jam back in 1992, when I was like, super young. I was buying my own cassettes when I was eight years old. I was fascinated with music and I had so many bootleg videos of bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and Pearl Jam. I was this huge 90’s kid.

I’ve just always wanted to do it, and given this opportunity now, I feel like the luckiest person. I say it a lot, but if our band broke up tonight, I would not feel even remotely sad about it. I’ve been completely content that I’ve been able to do all of this. Like, I just got to play a sold out show in Orlando and a good percentage of the crowd sang along, so that’s crazier than anything in the world.

Yeah, especially when it’s the other side of the country.
Exactly, man, exactly. The first time we went to Europe, I was like: “Yo, if one person knows any of our songs in Europe, my mind is going to be fucking blown.” Day two, we had a sold out show in Budapest.

Each day, I’m thankful, and each day it’s worked out.

Written and conducted by: Adrian Garza

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