Mackenzie Ruth Scott, the indie rock singer-songwriter who records as TORRES originally set out to make an angry album with her latest offering, Thirstier.
The album would've reflected the fact that Scott, who released Silver Tongue in January of 2020 and was set to tour in support of the release when the pandemic threw a wrench in those plans, was frustrated and upset by the state of things.
But when Scott started the writing process for Thirstier in May of last year, she found the songs taking her in a different direction.
“Right as the spring came, I locked into that daily routine of getting up and getting to work and writing for several hours a day,” she says via phone from her New York home, where she had returned from a rehearsal with her band. TORRES performs with Ariana and the Rose at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13, at the Beachland Tavern. “I wrote them in about five months. My initial instinct was to honestly make something a little more angry and aggressive, just as a big reaction to the world, but I kind of allowed myself to think about the fact that when the album would be released, and I would tour, would people want to hear an angry, cacophonous album from me? I determined that I thought they wouldn’t. I thought they would want to feel energized and hear something more celebratory and upbeat.”
That said, album opener “Are You Sleepwalking?,” a tune riddled with feedback, still has a real edge to it and, with its droll vocals, sounds like it could be a punk rock version of a Liz Phair tune.
“The shortest version of the story behind that song is that my girlfriend lost her computer and couldn’t find it for a couple of weeks,” says Scott. “I had this idea that she was sleepwalking and maybe thrown it in the trash can or done something weird. She did find it in a very normal place, where it was supposed to be. The song is just about this weird thing that happened in the pandemic when we were in our houses and time had become warped, and the days blended together. Was that yesterday or two weeks ago? It’s so weird. We started to feel like we were losing our minds. I wanted to make a song about how things are weird, and it doesn’t mean we’re losing our minds."
Scott once again recorded at Middle Farm Studios in the UK, and she says the isolation the studio provides allowed her to really concentrate on her craft.
“I guess it’s not a farm in that there are animals, but it’s extremely spacious and used to be a farm,”she says of the studio. “It’s a converted barn. I worked in there and slept in the loft in the barn. It was very spacious and sprawling land. I always think it does and it’s one of the reasons I keep going back there. I didn’t make Silver Tongue in England, but the two before in I made in the UK. I just keep going back. It does something to my temperament to be out there and zaps my anxiety.”
While press materials state that Scott drew from the guitar-driven walls of sound reminiscent of producer Butch Vig’s work with Garbage and Nirvana, Scott says that’s not necessarily something she sought to emphasize on this outing.
“Those things are my influences,” she admits. “But I wasn’t especially wanting to make this sound like that one record Butch Vig produced. I love those records and am always working from that place. But I do think at the least, my guitar has to sound as big as [Kurt] Cobain’s guitar.”
“Hug Like a Dinosaur,” another album highlight, does just that and balances big, noisy guitars with retro-sounding synths.
“I did want to bring really gnarly guitars with old school synthesizers,” Scott admits. “It’s one of my favorite combinations. I wanted to make it as fun and, dare I say silly, as possible. There was a lot of talk in the studio about making it not too polished.”
Scott says she and her bandmates have been itching to return to the road and play the songs live.
“It’s going to be ripping,” she says of the live show. “It’s a four-piece band, including myself. We’ll play the whole new album and a bunch of other stuff. We’ve been working on it a good amount of time. There’s a lot that goes into [Thirstier]. I’m so thrilled that I can hardly stand it. Every single person in my band is so giddy about getting to play live.”
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]