We chat with Touché Amoré singer, Jeremy Bolm, ahead of the band returning to Australia with Every Time I Die next January for a run of national dates.
With three sonically powerful albums, tons of split releases, and with lyrics and themes that are as open and as confessional as they come, Touché Amoré have become a big name in the underground scenes. Last year’s ‘Is Survived By’ was yet another personal, emotionally gripping release and with substantial touring in support of it, the band has recently announced they will take some time off in 2015. Before Touché Amoré takes a break from all this touring and writing, they’ll return to Australia with the decayin’ boys in Every Time I Die early next year. We had a chat with the singer, Jeremy Bolm about these upcoming shows and to talk all things vinyl.
Hey Jeremy, how are you today dude?
I’m not too bad, how about you?
Yeah, pretty good man. Apart from all the press you’re doing today, what have you been up to?
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My good friend, John Simmons from Balance & Composure is in town. He’s playing an acoustic set tomorrow so I caught up with him and got some coffee and a doughnut. We have the same booking agent here in the US and he’s staying at his apartment for a few days so I’m doing all these interviews over there.
(Laughs) too easy man. So next year you guys are coming out with Every Time I Die, how are you all gearing up for it?
We’ve still got a bit of time as it’s still kinda far away so we’re taking a break for the holidays. We’ll probably get together a few times to practice before we leave for that tour though.
Have you guys toured with Every Time I Die before?
No, we haven’t actually. We’ve played a festival or two with them before. But we’ve known Andy [Williams, guitar] for quite a while now. He’s supported us from the very beginning so it’s great to finally tour with them. Plus, a lot of us in the band are massive Every Time I Die fans so it’ll be awesome to get to see them play every night.
I imagine the past experiences you’ve had with our country have been good?
Yeah, both times we went were a lot of fun. The first time was with Title Fight and then we came back again with Make Do & Mend. So playing with Every Time I Die will be a little bit of a different draw. I’m interested to see the response on this tour as it’s a little bit more aggressive. It’ll be cool to have a different environment to play to.
How does the band go about selecting songs for your set lists? As with the exception of ‘Is Survived By’, a lot of your songs are quite short…
We always tailor a set list to be like a mixtape, so that certain songs transition into each other. If you’re unfamiliar with the band then it’ll seem chaotic and like, ‘Wow, that was weird, long song’, when we actually played five or so songs in a row, which we tend to do. These days when we play live, we usually play about 20, to 25 songs in one set.
Wow…does it ever get exhausting with sets like that?
Oh yeah, it gets exhausting. Everyone reminds me to write fewer lyrics because I’m just constantly yelling (laughs). For myself, and for Elliot [Babin, drums] we don’t get much of a break. But it makes the shows that more intense if they're just super constant, but it’s what we’ve chosen to do and I think we’ll keeping doing it like that.
After that tour you guys said you’ll be taking a break and I noticed a lot of people jumped the gun and thought you were breaking up, but that’s not the case…
(Laughs) yeah, we said we’ll take some time to relax, which means like November, December and then we’re doing these shows in Australia. The way we look at it is that ‘Is Survived By’ has been out for a year and two months now, so we didn’t see a point in rushing to write a new record. I know that’s the way it feels with a lot of bands these days, where everybody has to keep putting stuff out so you don’t lose attention.
I’m nostalgic about the old days when a band would put out something every couple of years and that was really exciting. We are in no rush, but when the time feels right to write something we will, but it doesn’t mean we’re not all friends or something like that.
Do you think that some bands get burnt out by releasing too many albums too quickly?
Yeah, I have to imagine it does. That’s the last thing you want to have happen. Playing in a band is an absolute privilege if you have anyone listening to you, so why pick something that’s the most fun and take all of the fun out of it? We’ve done four US tours in support of ‘Is Survived By’ and twice in Europe and one was just for festivals. That’s a lot in a year, so that’s why we are embracing some time off. I don’t think that it’s a lot to get upset about.
Yeah, I totally get that man. It’s no secret that you have really personal and relatable lyrics, and people connect with that strongly and I saw that you recently renewed your P.O. Box in the states. Do you think it’s good to have a tangible place that fans can communicate with you through?
Yeah, that’s the exciting thing about doing it. We opened it when ‘Is Survived By’ came out and I wanted it to be throw-back to the old when you would get records and you could mail bands. I remember when I was really young I wrote Pearl Jam a letter and they sent me one of those glossy promo photos and a merch catalogue (laughs). But it was cool to get something back, and know that wherever that piece of paper I wrote ended up it was in somebody’s hands.
It’s not to say that when someone writes you something on Twitter but when someone takes the time to write or type out something to you, I think it’s gonna get our attention a little bit more. When we first opened fans would send us their records or their bands CD’s, or a drawing that they did. It was really cool to check it every couple of weeks and see what was in there.
Did you ever get sent anything really weird…?
You know what, we didn’t get anything too weird, it was all pretty normal. But i'll take the blame, I hadn’t checked in a long time and then we were gone for so long so we got an email notification that we were overdue on the payment. When I went to go pay the bill a few weeks ago, they told me that they had to send every thing back so I feel pretty bad about that (laughs). Hopefully, people will re-send them and forgive us.
Ah, damn dude, hopefully they send it all back. Now, I know that you are a massive record collector and I wanted to know your thoughts about vinyl, if there’s just been a resurgence lately with bands and labels or if it’s always kind of stayed their and that the industry as a whole just took more notice of it in certain years?
Ah…both. It’s always been there and it’s always been a thriving thing. Now, it’s almost a headache with so much stuff coming out. It’s good and it’s bad. It’s good because people are buying music again, but it also gets a little difficult. You get major and independent labels taking advantage of this resurgence in a way that you thought that they’d have learned their lesson. It’s like with CDs, when people stopped buying them because they became downloadable and thinking that they could still charge $16.99 over here in the US for them. It definitely costs a fraction of the cost to make and we’re definitely seeing that again with vinyl, where you go to buy a new record and it’s like a single jacket, not even a 180 gram record but a label will still wanna charge $25-30 for it. It’s like come on, didn’t you learn your lesson?
I have a feeling that over time it will burn people out again. If you work at a label or play in a band that puts out a record, then the turn around time used to be about six weeks and now, for example, we have a 7” coming out with Self Defence Family that we submitted the complete version in October. We just got an updated release date for it and it won’t be till February. That’s just how backed up pressing plants are and it becomes a bit frustrating.
I cam imagine man. Over here in Australia, both CDs and vinyl are pretty high. The Gaslight Anthem vinyl I bought a while back was imported and well over $30 too.
Oh sure, you guys have to get a lot of things imported so I can imagine that it’s not cheap at all. My heart definitely goes out to you guys. Do you know if there are any pressing plants in Australia?
I know there a few but I don’t know how much work they get, as you said most of it is imported.
Yeah, it’s really crazy. I’ve had this talk with friends about why there’s not more plants and that’s because they only made so many machines. The technology isn’t there anymore. But I have to laugh because it’s 2014, we have Star Wars technology now, there’s 3D printers that can make a gun, like we can’t make more pressing plants? We have the technology. Some billionaire needs to wake up and realise that can make a lot of money from that.
Well, what’s your opinion of cassette tapes?
So I run a label [Deathwish] and I’ve released one cassette so far. The way I feel about cassette’s is that their more of a novelty, they're fun and cheap. But, whereas records are looked at as a little silly because you need a record player, cassette’s sound like dog-shit (laughs). I completely admit that, but I’m still a sucker for buying them even though in my mind I know it’s going to sound like shit. They’re incredibly inexpensive to make so no harm, no foul. But at the end of the day, I don’t think anyone would say it’s the preferred format to listen to. No one wants to rewind the tape to find the song, like we all went through that 20 years ago and that’s why CDs were made.
Still on the topics of records, do you have a favourite one for 2014?
My favourite record of this year was the Single Mothers record, ‘Negative Qualities’. It’s insane. It’s so perfect. They haven’t made their way out to Australia yet but I hope they do. I put out their 7” on my label and now they’re on a pretty big label which is a subsidiary of XL Recordings. I was actually listening to it in the car with Jon and it’s got all the angst of Nirvana and The Vines so if the world wants another Vines for angsty guitar-rock, you should definitely check them out.
Right on man, I’ll give them a look. Finally, in this downtime in 2015, what other things will you have going on?
I’ve got some things with my label that I’m pretty excited about. I’m actually going to enjoy all the downtime we have now with family and friends and loved ones. The label is a lot of my focus these days. I do want to do a band project with some friends but I think I need to slow down and appreciate the quite times (laughs).
Sounds good man. Well that’s all I’ve got for you, thanks so much for your time today Jeremy, and I wish you all the best for the rest of 2014.
I appreciate that man, thank you so much.
Touché Amoré are touring nationally with Every Time I Die this January.
‘Is Survived By’ is out now.