Torche, Red Fang and Whores Crank Up the Amps for Joint Tour

click to enlarge Red Fang - James Rexroad
James Rexroad
Red Fang
On its recent album, Only Ghosts, the metal band Red Fang cranks up the guitars. Songs such as “Flies” make the group sound like a heavier version of the Foo Fighters.

Since forming a decade ago, the hard rocking Torche has drawn comparisons to stoner rock icon Queens of the Stone Age. Those comparisons come to the fore again on the band’s latest effort, last year’s Restarter, another intricately crafted collection of riff-heavy tunes.

A noise rock band out of Atlanta, Whores draws from the Amphetamine Reptile sound that was popular in the '80s on its latest album, Gold.

This fall, the three bands have hit the road together. Torche bassist Jonathan Nunez, Red Fang singer-bassist Aaron Beam and Whores singer-guitarist Christian Lembach recently answered some questions via email (hence all the exclamation marks) about the tour that brings the bands to the Beachland on Dec. 8.

click to enlarge Torche - Janette Valentine
Janette Valentine
The tour just started earlier this month. What’s it been like so far?
It has been very fun! We are having a great time playing a bunch of songs from the new record for the people of the USA. And we are beyond stoked at the bill. What a lineup! Everyone is totally killing it!
Nunez: It's been great! We're happy to be on tour with our friends Red Fang and having Whores out with us is definitely a killer bonus for the bill. People have been stoked and going off. Looking forward to more sold out shows and continuing to have a killer time on the road.
Lembach: It's been incredible. The shows are selling out, and people seem super stoked on the whole package.

click to enlarge Whores - Chad Hess
Chad Hess
Which of the bands is the loudest?
Nunez: We're all crankin it!!
Lembach: We are easily the loudest of the three. No contest.

You’re touring in the wake of a particularly divisive presidential election. Has that affected the shows or your approach to performing in any way?
I don't know what effect it is having on the shows really because I have no control group to compare it to. My approach is generally the same, also. However, I will admit I am channeling as much positive energy into my performance as I can to try to just take people's minds off politics for a minute and remember to just have fun for a spell.
Nunez: Politics in general are a disappointing shit show. We'll do what we do no matter what.
Lembach: It hasn't affected the shows in any way that I can tell, but every interviewer wants us to talk about it. We always perform as intensely as possible, so no change there. I have been talking less on stage, I guess. My personal politics are mine; we want our band to be about more than that. I've sort of always had an "Us vs. Them" mentality," and I think that's evident in the music and lyrics. So we're just doing our thing. I think a lot of people, not just Americans, can relate to that.

Critics have described your band as sludge rock. Is that accurate?
Well, I suppose if that's what they hear, then yes. I don't know what sludge rock is, and we don't pattern ourselves after any particular style, so that's not how I think of what we do. But what do I know?
Nunez: I could see how some elements of our sound may influence people to shove us into that category, but I don't feel it fully describes our "sound." I just tell people heavy loud rock ’n’ roll.
Lembach: I mean, I guess we have sludge elements. I love Melvins, Harvey Milk, Floor, Eyehategod, etc., but I also love a ton of other pretty chill music that may be surprising given the bombastic nature of our band. I think people need labels in the broad sense to sort of get a general idea of where a band is coming from. While we definitely understand that, we don't want to fall into the trap of duplicating what's come before us. We try to take it past where we found it.

Who do you consider to be your influences?
Bill Callahan/Smog, Cristina Aguilera, Federation X, Hot Snakes, QOTSA, Melvins, Big Business , Jesus Lizard, Helms Alee, YOB, Soundgarden, Whores, Torche, Mastodon, Wild Throne, Unwound, Saviours.
Nunez: This would change from member to member. I feel we'd all agree on: Trans Am, Slayer, Brian Eno, Melvins, Cluster, the Wipers, Aphex Twin, and mooooreeee.
Lembach: Like I sort of touched on earlier. I like a ton of different music. I grew up on punk, metal and hardcore, but I also loved a lot of the '80s Goth stuff, '90s hip-hop, obviously '90s noise rock and grunge. It's kind of all over the map. We just want our songs to be intense and personal. The medium, for me, is secondary to that. Nick Drake is easily more intense emotionally than some hot topic mall band, you know?

Talk about how your sound has evolved over the years?
I think we trust ourselves — and each other — more. We all listen to new stuff all the time, too, which affects what we do. The simplest answer is that we have the same attitude about songwriting and what we are trying to do musically (offer a high energy but interesting non flat live show), but we are just a little fancier now. We feel comfortable incorporating more of the studio experimentation into the live set.
Nunez: I feel we've dialed in our sound over the time we have spent playing together and picked up certain things that have become part of our what we do through experimenting. We always try new things and are open to different ideas, which is an important part of remaining interested in what you do and not writing the same record over and over.
Lembach: We're trying to devolve, actually. We want to distill our sound to it's most basic and primal elements.

Talk a little about your latest release and how it differs from previous efforts.
See my above answer!
Nunez: Restarter, our last record, is a representation of where we were at about 2 years ago. It's a very straightforward record compared to our previous releases. The record came together quickly and was a different pace from the upbeat vibe of [2012’s] Harmonicraft.
Lembach: We're really proud of Gold. We spent many, many days in an unbearably hot storage space in rural georgia writing these songs. It's sort of too fresh for me to have any kind of real perspective as far as how it relates/compares to the two eps. I try to not think of things in those terms. Our main goal was to make the best, and most honest record we could. We refused to settle for "Ok" takes. We were very strict about getting the right vibe for each song individually, and pushing as hard as we could. I know that our band is meaningful to people in an emotional way, and we have to respect and honor that connection. The best way for us to do that is to no kid ourselves into thinking ok is good enough. It's not. Anyone can be average. Our band is more important to us than that.

This seems like the kind of tour that will draw a predominantly male audience. What can you say to encourage women to attend the shows?
Ha! That's impossible to answer.
Nunez: I don't feel that's true all at, and far from it. We've had equal men and women at our shows for years. I think everyone should attend any event that interests them and shouldn't let a thought like that stop them from going to an event that they are curious, excited about, or even mildly interested. People should come out and enjoy themselves!!
Lembach: You'd be surprised. Even though all three of us are sort of loud guitar bands, all three bands write actual songs and not just gross, riffy dude-rock, so the crowds are fairly diverse. All three bands have melodic elements, although it's usually buried in feedback and noise ha. Also, all three bands consist of pretty sensitive, non-bro people. This tour is really ideal, and we're having an incredible time.

Red Fang, Torche, Whores, 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, Beachland Ballroom, 15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124. Tickets: $20,

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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