Torche’s Jonathan Nuñez on Fourth Studio Album, Constant Artistic Progression + More
Hailing from Miami, Fla., Torche have been captivating the worlds of metal, hardcore, punk and experimental music for a decade. Never creating the same record twice, Torche have proven themselves as a truly progressive act while keeping their Southern sludge roots firmly intact.
Torche will soon release their fourth full-length album, the follow-up to the acclaimed ‘Harmonicraft,’ which brought a brighter dynamic to the band’s sound. However, things will once again be different for the upcoming disc, according to bassist Jonathan Nuñez, whom we recently spoke to for an exclusive interview. Futhermore, Nuñez spoke to us about Torche’s wide reach, his own ventures into production, focusing heavily on hard work while in the studio + much more.
Enjoy our exclusive interview with Torche’s Jonathan Nuñez!
Torche have released three very dynamic full-length albums. For this new one, do you think fans should expect a similar mix when it comes to tapping into multiple genres?
Definitely, I think it’ll be very apparent, kind of like it was in all the other releases. A little more progression from the last release onto this one.
Like ‘Harmonicraft’ and ‘Meanderthal,’ Converge’s Kurt Ballou is mixing the new album, which is awesome. He’s such a master in the studio. Is there anyone better to handle your music than Kurt?
There’s other people I’m interested in working with, but for the Torche stuff I like to step away towards the end. Kurt is great at listening and communicating more quickly and doing his best to get what we want. So after spending a month going over the songs, finishing up the writing process, maybe writing one or two extra ones on the fly then recording and figuring everything out — once you get to that three-and-a-half week mark or so and everyone is ready to go home, we’ll send it out to Kurt and have him lock everything down and finish the vision.
Really long days writing and demoing, it’s definitely a stress reliever. It’s nice to step away. Even me, I do that [mixing] for a living, but I look forward to having some time off. It’s exciting for me. It’s definitely worked in the past and he gets us. That’s all we’re going to need at this stage of the record.
You’ve personally produced Torche material in the past such as the ‘Songs for Singles’ EP. Is there any desire at all to produce, mix and master an entire Torche full-length on your own?
I’m sure that’ll come in the future. I had fun the last time when I did ‘Harmonslaught,’ something short like that when we get into town, write some songs, record them and mix them real quick and put them out. For instance, on the ‘Harmonslaught’ 7” that’s 100 percent us. We wrote it, recorded it, I mixed it and finished it up in the studio and got it mastered, then we put it out, so that’s fun. I’m sure that’ll come in the future.
It’s pretty intense when we work, then everyone goes home and I’m the one staying there. It’s weird. When it’s your own thing, you at some point make things harder for yourself when they don’t need to be. I’ve done a few like you said; ‘Songs for Singles,’ ‘Harmonslaught’ and stuff like that. It’ll come, but I like doing what I do and I like to step away.
I’m sure it’s nice to get a fresh set of ears on something after you’ve been around it for such a long time.
Yeah, and it’s fun. On the studio end of it, I get to communicate with him and if he did something to a certain instrument, it’s like, “Oh cool, that sounds great! What did you use?” We can nerd out a little bit on equipment.
‘Harmonicraft’ was a little more upbeat and a little brighter than your previous albums while keeping your roots strongly intact. Will this continue into the fourth one? That bright sound?
"With this one, I can say there are definitely some upbeat poppy parts, but it’s heavier, that’s for sure."
No. [Laughs] I feel that ‘Harmonicraft’ was a more a rock record and fairly upbeat. That was the vibe for that record overall. With this one, I can say there are definitely some upbeat poppy parts, but it’s heavier, that’s for sure. There are some upbeat songs but there’s definitely a few less than where ‘Harmonicraft’ was. There’s definitely more variety as far as vibe or tempo — more dynamic.
When I think of your band’s progression, I think of Baroness. Going into a more rock direction, but making it entirely your own. Has this been a goal for Torche? To go from sludge and break out into something that defies a definite label?
As far as progressing, I think all of the records have progressed at the same rate that we have progressed at our instruments and songwriting capabilities and ideas. If you listen to our first record, even the demos that leaked on the internet, it’s pretty obvious. We’ve always had a songwriting style that went from super heavy, super slow, sludge, doom — whatever you want to call it — then upbeat, straight-up rock songs. We’ve always had the hooks. We’ve always been melodic. We’ve always had the singing vocals. We’ve always had that.
I feel that with time, you kind of expand and hopefully progress. Hopefully this record is a good reflection of that. Hopefully people like it. I feel it’s strong sonically and harder hitting than the previous record. I’m happy with the last record, but I feel on this record, it’s just more solid song to song. You’ve got to move forward. You can’t release the same record over and over.
One thing I find interesting about Torche is that your music has a really wide reach when it comes to attracting fans from different sub genres of metal and hardcore. It’s not unusual to see someone with a Torche shirt at a hardcore show or a thrash show or a death metal show. What do you think it is about Torche that reaches so many people?
"It’s definitely a good feeling when you know you’re reaching certain types of people that normally wouldn’t be attracted to music outside their comfort or familiarity."We’ve noticed that, we see it too. It’s definitely a good feeling when you know you’re reaching certain types of people that normally wouldn’t be attracted to music outside their comfort or familiarity. At the same time, I feel that we’re a band and we’re all fans of music. It comes through our music.
I feel the dynamic and sonic range of the band, like you mentioned, could appeal to maybe more people than a band that did one sort of thing. I’m guessing there are a few scenarios where there’s some dude who’s into catchier rock and stuff, that’s heavy or not heavy, and at first they’ll be like, ‘What is this upbeat stuff?’ Then they’ll skip over to the next song and go, “Woah, what the hell is that? From there, it’s like, “Let me give these guys a chance.” Then we grow on them. I feel that it’s all about the influences coming through.
Us, not doing a record that has 10 of the same exact type of song, it just happens naturally, I’ll say that. It works out. The album, it has a flow. From one song to another, there’s differences. It feels, at the end, when it’s all said and done, they feel like records. You have your happier songs, meaner songs, however you want to look at it. I would assume you would reach people that maybe are drawn in by an aspect or maybe variety. Hopefully, there’s some continuity to our sound even when we’re changing it up. It keeps me interested.
With each release, you guys are getting more and more attention. Does that add an increasing sense of pressure to deliver quality material?
I think that’s probably in there. Even more so, the pressure would come from ourselves, wanting to do ourselves justice as far as putting out stuff that we’ve been happy with in the past. We want to continue our catalogue where we’re not going to release a record just to keep touring and make a living. No, we want to record something we’re super happy with, put in a ton of work, loving the outcome and playing it because it’s all part of the process of working. At the end, you actually get to enjoy it by playing it live.
It just feels good when it all falls into place. We’ve been lucky where we’ve put out records that we we’re happy with and people have received well. Press has been good, the tours, all of that. The band, as far as getting out there, touring, continuing to do that, it’s a very important thing for us. That’s how we make our living and it’s been getting better and better. We just want to mirror that with putting out better records as we go and not cutting any corners. I think we wouldn’t allow ourselves to. Keeping ourselves happy and writing records that we’re proud of; that’s the real pressure bringer. You have to fulfill that up until the next time around.
Stay tuned for more info on Torche’s fourth full-length album!