Miami stoner rock band Torche write music that’s something of a paradox. It’s definitely heavy, but it’s also sunny and pop. Is it metal? Some say yes. Some say no. You can decide for yourself if you see them play Saint Vitus Saturday night. Guitarist Andrew Elstner spoke to us from Florida, where the band was recording two new songs, and we got his thoughts on the whole “happy metal” thing and the correct pronunciation of “Torche”.
Your music is happy music. Would you say that you’re happy guys?
I think so. I think the music reflects [our] attitudes, for sure. We all love heavy music. We all love dark stuff. It’s sort of all across the spectrum. [Torche’s music] is a little less furrowed-brow. You can still write heavy music and be heavy and have a good time and have it be sort of a party without taking yourself too seriously.
I’m always glad to see people breaking the mold and thinking outside the box.
Yeah, Torche will get heat for it, depending on the bands we play with…Half the time you just sort of laugh. We never really take ourselves seriously, as far as anybody who’s really pissed. The most heat we get is from the true believers of metal. I don’t know if it’s entirely correct to say, because there are a lot of true believers who like us, but it’s sort of a conservative crowd.
You’ve talked about how pop hooks have to be “real.” What’s an example of an unreal pop hook?
To me, at least, the real easy garbage to find, like the Nickelbacks of the world, where it’s super formulaic. There’s a lot of pop stuff, like clubby pop music that you can hear that has a decent hook. But the bad stuff is pretty easy to find. The good stuff to me is simple and clever. I’m not super into The Beatles, but I think that is an example. [Or] Tom Petty. Simplicity and memorability is hard to do — putting a song together and making it memorable, where you can hum the melody, but it’s not just a jingle.
About your band name–you do say it “torch,” right?
Yeah…We’ll mess with people every once in a while because it’s fun to do. We get “torsh” or “tor-shay” or “torch-ee” or “tork.”
What does it mean?
I know in British English it’s a term for a flashlight. And also in French it means to be really hammered. To be really shit-faced.