Sticking out in the busy musical environment of Los Angeles is not an easy endeavor. Just ask Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré, a hardworking post-punk outfit trying to make a mark for itself in the highly competitive City of Angels.
By choosing an unusual name and by mixing the sounds of numerous punk sub-genres, Touché Amoré has created a special niche for itself, a place where the noisier aspects of hardcore go hand in hand with a more melodic and personal side.
Speaking from Austin and in anticipation of tonight's show at the Sons of Hermann Hall, lead shouter Bolm talked to DC-9 about defying people's expectations as the band ventures out on its debut headlining tour.
The band has been labeled everything from post-hardcore to screamo. Is there one genre you identify with the most? If people ask us what kind of music we play, we usually say punk rock, although it can be funny to hear people argue about what kind of music they are actually listening to. It's just easiest to say we are a punk band.
A name like Touché Amoré certainly doesn't suggest a punk band. Was that the intention, to come up with something that wouldn't easily identify the genre? I wouldn't say that was the intention, but it is certainly something that we have liked to do -- not being what anyone expected. People hear the name and are not expecting us to be a hardcore band. That is cool.
Where did you come up with the name? I actually thought of it years and years before the band started. To be honest with you, it just kind of came up. It doesn't have any relevance. If you want to be literal, it means "touch love."
One reviewer called you guys a thought-provoking punk band. What kind of thoughts do you provoke? I would say that it's more about thinking about your position in life, your own self. I think our new album [Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me] is a very personal record. It's about a lot of self-reflection and things like that.
The album title has connotations of indie or art rock. Again, that title is part of the band not being what people expect us to be.
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You recorded and produced the album in five days. Is it important with punk to get it done so quickly? I would say it is better. It doesn't give you any time to second-guess yourself. I think that's a good thing.
It's been said that you guys successfully bridge gaps between punk sub-genres. How do you accomplish this? I think it helps that we are a melodic band. We've toured with hardcore bands and with melodic punk bands. I think we have elements of both those kinds of bands and metal elements as well. I think that helps us have successful tours.
Did you play last night? Yes, we played New Orleans last night.
Your voice sounds shot. Well, I just got up from a 20-minute nap.
"Face Ghosts" is the longest song on the album at 2 minutes, 21 seconds. Is that song your guys' "Stairway to Heaven"? [Laughs]. I guess you could say that. That's pretty funny. It is one of our longer ones. We don't think about how long a song is supposed to be. When the song feels done, we just say it's done. We don't meander. It's probably because we all have a short attention span. We just kind of move on to the next song.
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How many songs in a typical set? This tour, we are playing around 18 songs. It can get pretty tiring on stage. This is our first headlining tour, and we are trying to play 35 to 40 minutes. It's well worth it. When you play short sets and you put everything into it, at the end, people go "oh shit" and they really want to come see us again. It leaves them wanting more.
How important is your relationship with Geoff Rickly [of the band Thursday] to the success of your band? He's been a big help. It's like he's our older brother in a way. I've known Geoff for over 10 years and when the band started, I sent him our demo and he helped us make our first record and then took us out on tour.
This is your first headlining tour. What's the biggest difference in being a headliner versus being a supporting band? The biggest difference is having to wait so long just to play. We are touring with bands that we are all fans of, but you have to be there a lot earlier and you have to stay a lot later than everybody else.