It’s easy to see how humble Touché Amoré’s music really is. You just have to know how and where it all began to really appreciate the meaningfulness of where they are now. Having started as a local hardcore punk band from Los Angeles, they quickly grew to be one of the most important post-hardcore names in present time. The lack of any less-than-average release just showcases the sheer talent for raw, inspiring and thought provoking contributions that Touché has made over the years. Even if you noticed how they’ve been able to refine their sound, balancing stretches between chaotic uproars and more emotional odes, their substance has always preserved realness and universal truth. If Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, Is Survived By and Stage Four aren’t enough to prove their importance in today’s day and age, then maybe the timelessness of their first full-length record ...to the Beat of a Dead Horse should suffice.
In 2019 the band returned to Portugal, just two years after their first visit, while on tour with Code Orange at the time. This time around, the band is touring alongside Deafheaven and Portrayal Of Guilt, on stages that prove to be bigger than life, while celebrating the 10th anniversary of their first record, ...to the Beat of a Dead Horse. Taking into account all of those factors, their emotionally memorable presence at Amplifest in Porto was felt from front to back in the thousand-people capacity of the venue. No barriers, just like Jeremy likes, and no restraints. Energy in its purest form. Just a few moments after the show, we had the pleasure of speaking with an exhausted and voiceless Jeremy Bolm, who while embracing a tiresome end of a tour, spoke to us about the busy schedule, the two sides of the coin on writing Stage Four, the future of the band and much more.
Hello Jeremy. It's been roughly two years since your last time in Portugal. How has it been going for the band since the last time you came?
Jeremy - It’s felt very busy. This year we’ve been celebrating our ten year anniversary of our first album, ...to the Beat of a Dead Horse, so we re-recorded it, and did a big deluxe reissue of it and then did three different tours in the U.S. We did an East Coast tour, a Midwest tour and a West Coast tour playing that record, and now we just did this whole thing and now we’re gonna go home for three weeks and then do a whole U.S. tour again with La Dispute. But in between all of that we’ve been writing for a new album that we’re hoping to record in the beginning of the new year. So It’s just been constant.
One usually asks what you miss from home when you're touring but what do you miss about touring when you're home?
Honestly, just playing shows in general and I love touring but I’m very rarely ever depressed when I’m on tour. A lot of people have a hard time with it, but I’m just able to adapt really easily. I don’t sleep very much when I’m in any situation so it feels pretty natural for me. Ok here’s a real good answer: food in places that aren’t or isn’t in Los Angeles, my favorite meal is New York pizza, I miss New York pizza, or the BBQ in the south and things like that or just certain restaurants across the world. Things like that.
What's the fondest memories you have from touring overseas? Did you ever imagine you'd travel so many times to Europe and other places?
I feel very fortunate that I have a lot of memories that will last me a lifetime of getting to do things overseas. There’s festivals in the U.K. that blow my mind that we got to play like Reading Leeds Festival that I grew up watching the Nirvana footage of them playing that festival, and knowing that we got to do the same thing. Portugal is one of those places that just seem like a dream. There’s no way that I would ever get to go to a place like that, and we’ve been able to come twice now. Things like that, you know. I don’t take any of this for granted. I often say that if the band broke up tomorrow I wouldn’t be sad, I would feel very fulfilled.
When was the moment that you guys thought that maybe you could manage doing this as often as you do?
I don’t know if we ever thought about it, we just started and didn’t stop. It hasn’t stopped. All we ever wanted to do as a band was to play as many awesome shows as we can and put out as many things on vinyl as we can. Those are two things that we’ve always cared about, and continue to do that as much as we can.
You just finished playing in a pretty big stage, which has been the case for most of the tour. In this case, there were no barriers at all! Seeing how you grew up in the local hardcore punk scene, how crucial is it for you and the band to not have any barriers between audience and band?
Me personally, I never want a barrier. Some members don’t hate it because their pedals don’t get stepped on or their equipment doesn’t get damaged but I fukcing hate barriers. I like being able to connect with people and have that. But I also understand, I’m a lot more adult about it now, and I know there’s some insurance policies and if the stage is really really high, no one should be jumping off of that, but if I get an option between yes or no, I’m always gonna say no.
Talking on a more personal subject, it's been three years since Stage Four was released. How important was it for you to write/release the album as a means to cope with the pain?
I just didn’t have anything else to write about. It was the only thing that I was going through at the time. Every one of our records was about whatever I was going through at that moment, so that was the only thing I was going through. At the end of this month, it'll be five years since she passed. It still feels fresh and it still feels that it happened yesterday. I still get catharsis out of it playing shows. I’m still healing and I don’t think I’ll ever stop healing.
Touché Amoré at Amplifest 2019
I usually see a lot of people reacting to the lyrics. How big of a connection is that to you?
That record, I feel has connected with people more than any of the other ones, for sure. Pretty much every day on tour I have someone come up to me and talk to me about their dead relatives or their dead spouse, whatever situation, their dead friend. It’s like a daily thing and if it’s not in person, than it’s on the internet. Someone will try to send me a direct message or whatever. It’s a daily thing, which isn’t the easiest thing to deal with on a daily basis because I don’t have any answers, I know it’s just someone sharing their story because they can relate but it can be a little hard to hear over and over every single day, that’s kind of what our new song “Deflector” is about. But I also understand why people do it. I get it, I understand. But it’s difficult too.
Even though it's music and carries a big topic on social/political views, only recently we've seen punk music gain a more prevalent involvement with art in a whole. Be it poetry, visual art, or even with the sound itself. Is that something you try to do consciously with your lyrics, or with the band's songwriting? To show that punk can be a bit more than just screaming anarchy and all that?
I don’t know If I’ve ever gone to something thinking that “this needs to be this”, I think that whatever came natural for us. I’m clearly not a tough guy, If I tried to write tough guy lyrics it would seem really wrong (laughs), or I’m clearly lying, so I just write about whatever. I have another band called Hesitation Wounds that’s a lot more political, and I try to put my polytics into that band because it is fun and I feel that Touché is such a specific personal thing that I’d like to just have a record for politics, and that band is way heavier and faster. I like having two options so I can write a hundred songs about “Fuck Donald Trump” with that band and save this for the other stuff.
Do you think that the above mentioned pain/pleasure/frustration is what creates the so called art?
Yeah I do. It’s like I don’t know that I would believe in an artist that was born rich. I feel that struggle is where you’re gonna get your best art. I think that without any sort of struggle, without any sort of pain, without any sort of sadness, the art might not seem as genuine.
Honestly, how are you able to maintain your voice?
I don’t (laughs). Today’s the last day of tour, so i was like “I don’t give a fuck, I’m just gonna scream as hard as I can, because I’m gonna go home tomorrow and it doesn’t matter”, but all the usual stuff. I just try to sleep as much as I can and drink as much water as I can. I’m not exactly the spokesperson for the health of doing this and I constantly blow my voice out but I don’t know, I’d rather blow my voice out knowing that I was honest on stage than thinking about maintaining my craft. I’ve had a lot of people giving me advice because the hear the way I talk “you need help”, what am I going to do? (laughs) I’ve been doing it for ten years now and I’m still able to do it.
Last question, what have you been listening to?
Oh man. I hope it doesn’t disappoint you but not a lot of aggressive music (laughs). I really don’t listen to a lot of aggressive music. There’s a new album out from a band called Big Thief that I’m obsessed with right now. It’s all I’ve been listening to, and the new Angel Olsen record. I just illegally downloaded the new Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon) and Petra Haden. But right now, Angel Olsen and Big Thief, and there’s also a reissue of The Replacements album that’s like four CDs or something like that. Mainly those!