Since forming in 2004, Miami's Torche have established themselves as one of the best, most forward-thinking heavy bands going. The new Harmonicraft, out April 24 on Volcom, might be the quartet's strongest album yet, full of hypnotic, almost poppy melodies, crushing riffage, and eclectic rhythms. It's hard to imagine how a band could make melodic hard rock with more skill or intelligence. But hey, maybe you can listen to our stream of the album and come up with some ideas. While you're doing that, check out bassist Jonathan Nuñez's track-by-track commentary — though reading while headbanging might prove a tough task.
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"It kind of has this 'I Want Candy' vibe. It's something a little different for us, I think. There's definitely this energetic, upbeat party mode that we tend to enjoy having live and this song embodies that. I think once it was written we knew it would be the opening track. It sets a new, refreshed vibe for the record."
"This was one of the first songs we jammed with [new guitarist] Andrew [Elstner]. He came down to practice under the impression that we were going to go over old stuff and we were like, 'No, man. Let's jam! Let's write new stuff!' I'm sure Andrew was like, 'Holy shit these guys work fast.' But he jumped right in. He definitely was tuned in. 'Kicking' was the first song we put together. I think it sums up what people think when they think of Torche. 'Kicking' is kind of like an ideal Torche recipe."
"Walk it Off"
"This song definitely has what I consider the 'Denim Warrior' hard-rock aspect. I wrote the rhythm as a punk thing and then Andrew nailed the opening solo—the beginning needs a little something on it to set the tone. I'm stoked on that one. That solo helped make the song more of a Denim Warrior song. It's just upbeat, mysterious, and rocking."
"This is the blaze-one-up track. I don't smoke, but I feel like I do when I hear this song. It's not too fast and not too slow. I wouldn't say it's straight-up Southern metal but maybe that second riff that comes in is a little more reminiscent of that stuff."
"One word: Melvins."
"Snakes Are Charmed"
"Ok, this is our tropical track. The second the guitar starts it definitely sets that kind of vibe. It has Miami written all over it. It reminds me of, like, palm trees and flamingos and sunshine. Then it has a Yes-style break in the middle where it gets proggy. 'Snakes Are Charmed' is one of my favorites on the record."
"We've played 'Looking On' live during our sets recently, and while that song is resonating and everybody is in like doom-sustained La La Land and we rip into 'Sky Trials.' Wake up, dudes! It's like a Cuban coffee shot. It's upbeat, fun, and dare I say tech-y? Andrew and [singer-guitarist] Steve [Brooks] are ripping it up on the guitar, I'm trying to maintain some sort of clarity on the bass, and drummer Rick [Smith] is just trying to hang in there. This song is a rager."
"I don't know, man. They all kind of blur together after you've been talking about them. For me this song is just solid, intense Torche."
"'Skin Moth' isn't as dark as the Denim Warrior song, but it definitely has a dramatic rocking ballad feel. I think the verses are kind of reminiscent of the first record [2005's Torche] a little bit, but the chorus stands out as a bit different for us. It's melodic in a new way."
"Kiss Me Dudely"
"When we demo the vocals the way it works is that Steve feeds off of the music and sings wordless melodies. Then we listen to it over and over and write words based on what it sounds like Steve is saying. So for this, I heard what he was singing as 'Kiss Me Dudely.' Then I was like, 'That's it. That's the name of the song!' It's definitely a fun song. I'm really looking forward to playing that one live because we haven't played it out yet."
"'Solitary Traveler' is our shoegaze song. It's really cool. At first it was a straightforward songs with guitars and not nearly as many effects. But we have massive ADD as a group and thought we needed something to help it move along. So Steve was like, 'Dude, let's put a lead over it.' As Andrew was jamming I just took it in a whole other direction and made it more washed out, with reverb and delay. That's how that track became what it is. Also, when Steve he was singing it, he needed to sustain super long notes so I stuck some delays and effects on his vocals, too. Then it was like, 'Damn, that's what the song always needed!' It needed all the dreamy guitars and effects."
"We were just hanging out, taking a short break between writing songs at my house, and Andrew was playing some scale exercise that caught my attention. Then I grabbed my bass and started doing the, 'dun, duh dun, duh dun.' Then the other guys in the band looked up and they were digging it. That was how the riff came together. The song kind of reminds me of darker kraut-rock, but saturated with effects pedals. We put it together pretty quickly. It's cool."
"Originally we were kind of on the fence about this one, but we really liked the simplicity of it. It's just a heavy-ass track. The version on the record is simplified even more than the original demo. This is a prime example of how less is more for us sometimes. Definitely as far as the writing process goes. The song felt like it shouldn't be overworked, or overwritten. It was just, like, 'Dude, this is a good thing to close the record out with.' Why complicate things? Just be Torche."