Chris Ward was pretty impressed by “Harmonicraft”, the latest album by Torche. Andrew Elstner (guitar/vocals) was more than happy to share his insights on the new record, the creative process within Torche, Van Halen and world domination…

Torche are often described as ‘stoner rock’ on many websites and search engines. Obviously there is a lot more to your sound than that, so how would you describe your sound to anybody who wasn’t familiar with you?

Well, in the most general sense, we play rock music. Guitars, bass, vocals, drums. “Stoner Rock” isn’t wrong, it just misses so much more of what we’re about. We all listen to so much different stuff, and we care about more than just “a killer riff dude.” Although…, I’m always down for a killer riff.

What was the creative process behind your latest album ‘Harmonicraft’, and why the four year gap since ‘Meanderthal’?

Well, I’m the new guy, but I know Torche released a gang of singles, splits and an EP in between now and “Meanderthal”. Bands are crazy animals, band members split, tours happen, and before you know it, four years have passed! It happens. As to the creative process, it was all a collaboration pretty much. Steve or I had a riff here and there, some worked, some didn’t. But for the most part, it was all four of us jamming in a room, hashing out ideas.

What were the main influences behind ‘Harmonicraft’?

That’s hard to say. We didn’t set out with a “sound” in mind, other than to write what we like, or whatever sounded exciting to us. So, I don’t think I could pinpoint a particular band, or sound, but for sure our goal is always sort of selfish I suppose in that we aim to please ourselves.

You seem to be able to effortlessly blend catchy pop hooks with full-on heavy riffs. How do you manage to find the balance between the two and are you ever tempted to go completely in one direction?

Again, I think it just happens that way. All the things we’ve absorbed over the years just sort of comes out in the music, and it helps that we all listen to a huge variety of stuff. As far as one direction or another, I think you can hear that in the songs themselves. Some will end up one way or another, but we never set out to write a “heavy” song or a “catchy” song. It just happens.

What are your touring plans for this album? Any major festivals lined-up?

Hopefully we can be as busy as possible. We’ve got a solid tour coming up in June in the US with Corrosion of Conformity, Black Cobra and Gaza, and beyond that some things are still in the works. We’ll be touring overseas for sure!

On your dream tour what other bands would you like to play with?

Well, if it’s truly a “Dream Tour,” for me personally, I’d like to tour with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Van Halen with Bert Jansch, Martin Carthy and John Fahey playing the acoustic side stage. Haha! Again, “dream tour.”

What other bands are you currently listening to?

I’m usually listening to the usual classics, though I have to say the new High On Fire is brutal and amazing. It’s a good feeling to be excited about a NEW record again. The new Van Halen is also nothing to fool with. Great stuff!

In an ideal world where would you like to see ‘Harmonicraft’ take Torche? Is world domination on the Torche agenda?

I believe Mick Jagger said it best, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try some time, you just might find, you get what you need.” Too true, and at this point, what I want is enough money to buy every guitar I’ve ever wanted. But, what I need is enough money to pay my rent. Ha! That would be plenty. All else is just icing on the cake.

How did it feel being name checked as a favourite band of Mike Huckabee, especially given his views on homosexuality and gay marriage?

Well, you can’t pick your company and I’m a firm believer that art and music transcends all boundaries, political or otherwise. Having said that, the Mike Huckabee thing was written for him, as I understand it. He may or may not be a fan. People have their opinions, as uninformed as they may be, and I don’t have to agree with every one of them for me to accept them as a fan. It is what it is.

What’s next for Torche? Will there be a four year gap before the next album?

Tour, tour, tour, eat everyone’s lunch and then write. If I have anything to say about it, there won’t be so long of a gap this time. Haha.

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