MEB staffer Nick Niedzielski recently spoke with Touché Amoré vocalist Jeremy Bolm at the Austin, TX stop of the band’s current co-headlining tour with mewithoutYou. He discussed their newest record, writing extremely personal lyrics, the resurgence of vinyl, and much more.
How did this tour with mewithoutYou come about?
It was something that we had always wanted to do with them because we’re fans, but it worked out because we had a connection with Brad Wood, who did our newest record. He recorded some of our records, and also our current manager managed them back in the day. So there was a relationship there as well. Things just kind of fell together.
How has the tour been so far?
It’s been awesome. It’s been really really awesome. It might be my favorite tour that we’ve ever done, aside from all the drives that have been absolutely terrifying. But the turnouts have been incredible, the best turnouts we’ve had as a co-headliner.
Your newest record, Is Survived By, has been very well received by critics and fans. Why do you think that is?
I don’t really know. All you can really do is make the record you want to make and keep your fingers crossed that it goes well and we’ve been fortunate that it has. We just did what came natural and thankfully people liked it.
During the recording process, was there a certain sound that you were aiming for with this record?
Not really. I think everybody got better at songwriting in general and we learned a lot from Ed Rose, who did our last record. I think all those different things show through.
The last album, Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me, only had one song that was longer than two minutes, whereas Is Survived By has nine. Was that a conscious effort to flesh things out more?
It just came naturally. Even from the beginning, we were never like, “We have to write short songs,” we just had short attention spans. And I think now it just comes a lot more naturally. I think between Ed and Brad they proposed that we maybe let songs breathe more and things like that. And all of a sudden we’re done writing these songs and we were like “Wow.” It’s one less song than the last one but 10 minutes longer. That’s crazy.
Is that a direction you want to further explore?
We’ll probably keep doing what comes naturally and see where it goes. I mean, I can’t imagine the next record will have eight-minute-long songs or anything. I wouldn’t want to put anyone through that [laughs]. I don’t know. We’ll see.
The lyrics are one of the main things that draw people to your band, and the records, especially Is Survived By, definitely have overarching themes. When you’re writing the lyrics do you write it as one whole, cohesive piece?
Well I ended up writing a lot of the songs within like a two-week period because I was really behind. I never write beforehand, I always wait until the songs are done. So once all the music is done I listen to them over and over. And I was having some writer’s block and going through a lot of things with what to write about. It’s never just like “This record is going to be about this one thing,” but I think when you write over a certain amount of time, your stream of consciousness sort of revolves around the same sort of things.
Whenever you’re writing the lyrics, you use a lot of first person point of view. Is that ever hard for you to put yourself out there like that?
It’s another one of those “It comes natural” things. I make a real strong effort to be as personal as possible because I figure if someone’s giving me their time to listen to what we’re doing, I don’t want to sugarcoat anything. I really put myself out there as much as I can. And I know that can even be a turn off for some people, like it’s too personal or self deprecating or whatever you want to call it, but I just don’t know any better. But if it can make someone connect with the music, I’m happy for it.
Where would you say you are as a band with Is Survived By compared to the rest of your discography?
I think any band would prefer their newer material to their older material. There’s a ton of songs on the new record that I really like. But then when we play live I find myself more attached to playing songs of Parting the Sea more, I think because there’s a stronger history with that record and the audience. We’re all just so proud of those songs. It’s hard to not just play the whole record. I mean, we pretty much just play almost the entire records of Is Survived By and Parting the Sea on this tour.
Deathwish Records has had huge success lately with yall’s latest, as well as Deafheaven and Self Defense Family. How has it been working with the label?
It’s awesome because I was, and still am, a die-hard fan of that label. I think I own every single thing they’ve put out, specifically on vinyl. Even records I’m not crazy about, I just like the collector aspect of it. They were my favorite hardcore label, and to be on it is really exciting because our band, along with the label, have grown together. It’s like a scratching each other’s back situation. It’s awesome. It’s exciting for me to know that we’ve helped them.
You mentioned vinyl. You have said in interviews before that you’re a huge fan of collecting. What do you think of the resurgence vinyl has had with kids in this scene?
I love it. I mean, there are upsides and downsides. The upsides are that it’s always great that someone’s actually physically buying music. That’s number one important. Vinyl is just a much more fulfilling format of music than like a CD or an MP3. It’s like holding a piece of art. That’s why we always go out of our way to put as much into it as possible. The downside with the vinyl resurgence is you get major labels that didn’t care about vinyl in the past charging as much as possible for records that don’t have much to offer you. Like you find a copy of Green Day’s Dookie, which is an amazing record, but it’s just not even a 180 gram record with like no real artwork and it’s $29.99. It’s just like, come on major labels. You fucked up on CDs by charging $16.99 throughout the years and then you get upset because no one buys CDs and all your labels are going under or having to merge, but you have an opportunity to make some money back with this whole vinyl thing and you’re going to blow it again by charging $30 a record? Fuck off.
Touche Amore works with and gets grouped in with a lot of the so-called “Wave” bands, does that term or scene ever feel constricting for you as a band?
No, not necessarily. I mean, the term “The Wave” is just a thing that was blown out of proportion. But I mean, it’s exciting for me because all the bands that are our peers, Balance and Composure, Title Fight, La Dispute and all that, we’re all represented by the same booking agent for the most part, so all of us are kind of growing at the same speed. And it’s exciting because you’ve got bands like us that can tour together and the tours are pretty successful, which is great, but on top of that we’re able to do support slots for bands that are way beyond our means. We’ve gotten to tour with bands like Rise Against and AFI and Circa Survive and now Balance is about to go out with Manchester Orchestra and La Dispute was out with Thrice. It’s cool that they keep their eyes open to the bands of this world because I think they see it too. We’re all appreciative and it’s exciting to see what happens.
Do you have any immediate plans after this tour?
We’re going back to Europe in May to do some festivals. We’re playing Primavera Festival in Spain, which is going to be awesome because we’re playing with like Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age and The National. I’m so excited. And we’re playing Groezrock too, which is like Modern Life Is War, La Dispute, and Drug Church. There’s a ton of great bands on it.
Have ya’ll put any thought into what’s coming next music-wise?
Not necessarily. We have some ideas on what we’re going to do. I feel like we’re going to end up doing some 7” before the next record.