Monday, March 3, 2014

Keep Calm Presents: An Interview with Jeremy Bolm of Touche Amore

     

     This weekend, I had the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy Bolm, vocalist of Touché Amoré,  at the Union Transfer to talk about their latest LP “Is Survived By,” the hectic tour schedule, as well as the band’s recent work with Will Yip and Self Defense Family. 


Keep Calm and Carry On: You guys put out “Is Survived By” this past fall and it got fantastic reviews and great feedback but it was a lot different, I would say, than your other releases.  What differed in the writing and recording process?
Jeremy Bolm: A few things. We got to stay at home and record this record whereas last time, we drove out to Kansas and where we recorded was only like a mile and a half from where we live. So it makes it a lot more laxed, a lot more time to focus.  And when it came to writing the record, I think we applied a lot of stuff that we had learned along the way with working with Ed Rose, who produced our last record.  So I think, you know, we took a lot of those things into consideration when making the music for this record.  So kind of all those things- more time to focus and applying what we’ve learned past.

Keep Calm: Right, right.  So the songs were longer, I feel like the instrumentals were a lot bigger, for lack of a better word.  Did you guys aim to kind of do that or did it just occur naturally?
JB: You know, everything from the beginning of our band has always been really, like, organic.  We never- it’s funny, we have this stigma of consistently having short songs but it’s not like if we planned it that way.  It’s always just been ‘cause we have short attention spans or we’ll write a part and it’d be like eight times long and [we’re] like “eh you know, let’s make it four” or if it’s four, make it two.  So with this, you know, just parts that felt right, just made them a little bit longer and next thing we knew, we were writing an actual normal length record.

Keep Calm: This record was produced by Brad Wood, correct?
JB: Correct.

Keep Calm: And he is known for doing the mewithoutyou albums.  How was that experience, working with him?
JB: It was great.  He’s done so many records, even outside of mewithoutyou, that are just staples to so many people like he did Sunny Day Real Estate records.  He did Smashing Pumpkins records.  So going into it, we were all real wide-eyed like “oh, here we go!” So basically, any advice he gave us, we took full-on.
Keep Calm: I mean, it seemed to work.  The feedback on that album was incredible.
JB: Yeah, we are very fortunate.

Keep Calm: Bringing up mewithoutyou, you guys are currently on a coheadlining tour with them, with Seahaven and Caravels as well.  You guys are almost done, you’re done on Thursday, I think, right? March 6th?
JB: Yeah, god. We only have a few shows left.

Keep Calm: How was the overall experience of doing this winter tour?
JB: Shows have been some of my favorite shows ever.  The drives have been the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my entire life.  This has been the scariest tour we’ve ever been on.

Keep Calm: Really? The bad weather?
JB: This winter has been so brutal all across the country and we’re just right in the middle of it.  The tour started in Denver.  Denver to Salt Lake, Salt Lake to Boise, Boise to Washington.  Some of those drives should’ve only been eight hours but took sixteen hours because you’re driving ten miles an hour, slipping and sliding all over the road.  Thankfully, everyone has been safe.  Everybody made it but yeah.  So, you’re driving and you’re like “oh I hope this is worth it” and then you show up and the show’s sold out and it’s, you know, it’s incredible.  It is worth it but it’s scary.

Keep Calm: And you guys have been selling out shows all over the place.  You did a European tour before this one- Sold out a whole bunch of shows their too.  In addition, tonight’s sold out and everything seems to be selling out.  How does it feel to be getting this really loyal following around the world now?
JB: It’s crazy.  We’ve done so many support tours and I truthfully admit that I’ve always had this mindset that support tours don’t really do anything other than you have fun playing with bands that you like.  You never really feel like- ‘cause I mean growing up, I’ve seen so many bands that I went to go see that had openers that never really- I never thought “ah I’ll go see them again.”  You know? I am guilty of that.  But on this tour, we met so many kids who were like “I never heard of you but I saw you open for AFI” or “I never heard of you but I saw you open for Circa [Survive]” and you’re like “oh, okay.” We did a tour with Rise Against in Europe the other year and met a bunch of kids who saw up from there.  So I think just all of that work has actually paid off, you know? And it’s a really cool feeling.

Keep Calm: I mean, obviously it has.  You guys are doing Loudfest in Switzerland.  You’re doing Primavera in Spain and Groezrock in Belgium.  It’s huge now.
JB: Primavera Festival is beyond any of us.  It’s so crazy.  Nine Inch Nails was my first concert in ’95 and the fact that I get to play a festival with Nine Inch Nails now is crazy.

Keep Calm: That’s wild.  How do you find the shows differ country to country? Whether it’s here, whether it’s over in Europe: are your fans different? Are your shows different?
JB: There’s ultimately the same, very similar crowd response.  There’s always gonna be the sing-a-longs and the kids jumping on each other.  But in Europe, there’s just a different level of appreciation, you know, because kids all realize that you made the travel and all of that.  So there’s a strong level of that whereas in the states, you visit places that have shows every night.  You know what I’m saying?  Not that kids are spoiled, by any means, because they’re not.  But they’re more used to it whereas American bands aren’t consistently touring over there. Other than that, when it gets to touring aspects, the hospitality in Europe is incredible whereas I always feel bad when European bands come to the States for the first time because you're just on your own. You know, like in Europe, you're driven everywhere, you're fed at the shows, you wake up and they have breakfast for you.  Most venues have apartments in them so you stay at the venues every night.  It's just a whole other world. So it's much different that way.

Keep Calm: Kind of switching gears but still talking about festivals- SXSW?  Kind of interesting thing for you guys to be on it.  I saw you're on there, playing the same showcase as the Dum Dum Girls so that's kinda new... Are you going to change your set list at all?
JB: I mean, we haven't really talked about it.  We don't really know yet. We've done South By a couple of times but not in the past- we haven't done it since 2011, I wanna say?  It's always a good time.  It's very similar to The Fest in Florida except instead of crust punks drunk in street, it's industry guys drunk in the street.  It's very industry.  What's cool about South By is that people think you have to buy the $400 wristband to see all these shows but really, you just can show up and find most of the bands you wanna see are probably playing multiple shows. The first year I went, in one day, I saw Pains of Being Pure at Heart, She and Him, Fucked Up, Gwar, Andrew WK, Lucero all within four hours of each other.  So you can just walk around and walk into shows and a lot of shows are free.  So it's a really cool experience.   Last time we played, I think we did eight shows in three days. So this one, we are cutting back a bit.  I think we are doing five shows in four days.

Keep Calm: Oh yeah, much more modest... Do you find that you get nervous at all or anxiety about catering to that certain crowd? You'e playing to sold-out [shows] tonight at the Union Transfer that's a 1200 person venue and then you're playing these showcases to, like you said, people in the industry and some of the "indie snobs"...
JB: Oh, totally.  It's funny.  You just can't take anything too seriously.  We've played plenty of- we've done like FYF Fest a couple times in LA, which is similar to the Coachella-sorta thing where the headliners are usually very- the headliners are like Beach House and stuff like that.  To be honest, we are all hardcore kids for the most part but it's not the only thing we are interested in.  All of us listen to probably more other stuff other than hardcore music on a daily basis.  So I appreciate it, you know?  You can't listen to a hundred bands doing the same thing over and over. It gets real abrasive and tiring to the ear.

Keep Calm: Yeah, I gotcha.  Before I let you go, there's something that I can't not bring up.  A picture was put out this week with you guys recording with Will Yip as well as Self Defense Family...  What's going on with that?
JB: We toured with Self Defense Family in Europe a couple months ago and we talked about working together to do a 7" or something because Self Defense has more 7"s than anybody.  They've done splits with literally a million bands and we seem to have a routine where after an LP, we put out tons of splits.  So we were like, well you know it'd be cool to see what happens if we wrote songs together.  So, they were in LA on a tour a couple weeks ago.  Everybody came to our practice space and we have five guitars, two drum sets, two bass, and then wrote a song and then came back here.  We had a day off between Toronto and New York so we drove overnight to Will's studio.  We were thinking "Who's a producer on the East Coast that'd be cool to work with that neither of us had worked with?" and Will's a friend so I called him or I texted him and was like "Hey are you available?" and he was like "Dude, I'll drop what I'm doing that day. Let's do it."   So we drove over there, met up with him, wrote two more songs on the spot, and then recorded the one we had previously written.  So, we recorded three songs.  Pat and I still have to do vocals for the other two that we wrote that day but don't know when it's gonna come out, don't really know any further details but yeah, it's fun.  We're huge fans of Self Defense and what they do.  They're so much different from us, not even just sonically but in the sense of the way they run their band.  They're the band that'll show up to a studio with nothing prepare and write a song and then Pat will write the lyrics on the spot and that's that.  Whereas, it'll take me a very long time to be comfortable writing a song lyrically and everything.  We nitpick and it takes us a while.  For that, it's kind of fun to get the middle ground of like "you guys don't give a shit and we do" but it makes sense. So it was awesome, it was awesome.  I'm excited to hear how the final product will be.

Keep Calm: So do you think that your styles are now meshing, the fact that they're kind of doing things on the spot is forcing you to do stuff on the spot?
JB: Yeah.  I mean, there was no weird vibes.  There was no arguments.  Everyone was just vibing on each other.  It was very hippy in the sense that everyone [was] just like feeling the groove, I guess.  All three songs sound completely goddamn different so I am excited to hear what the final product will be.

Keep Calm: I'm super stoked about that, too.  That's gonna be rad.  Before I let you go, is there anything that you wanna say, any comments, messages to fans?
JB: Thank you for this and if you come out to a show,  we appreciate that more than anything.  I'm excited for tonight and I'm sure we'll be back to Jersey by summer. So yeah, we'll be back.





     Huge thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to talk to Keep Calm and Carry On as well as everyone involved in making this interview happen!  There's a couple dates of Mewithoutyou//Touche Amore coheadlining tour left so if it's coming to your area, go! Open your mind and bang you head.
 -Madison