The much buzzed about eastside trio TORCHES set off northward on a tour to support their new album Heads Full of Rust four weeks ago with a AAA card, a big box of merch and a dream. Along the way they wrote down some notes about the scenery, sleazy clubs, friendly women and the vegan bounty of the Great Northwest. Road weary but stoked they share these tales with you, good readers of Radio Free Silver Lake. TORCHES is back home to play July 30 at the Echoplex with Seasons, Manhattan Murder Mystery, & Body Parts.
By Azad Cheikosman of Torches
Day One - LA to Santa Cruz: June 29, 2012
We’ve embarked on our first northwest tour and we couldn’t be happier. The ride proved to be pretty smooth until we got a flat tire ten miles outside of Santa Cruz. Luckily a guy who works for a state-run highway program came to our rescue. Timing was perfect because he arrived minutes before the AAA guy got there. Shortly after we were back on the road again and arrived in Santa Cruz to play our first show of the tour. Metavinyl is a really rad record store and not to mention a great and intimate place to play a show. The place is pretty small, but it’s cozy and the people who watched were kind seemed to dig what we were doing. We haven’t ended our streak of selling albums at shows yet, which is a good sign…for now.
Day Two – Santa Cruz to Humboldt: June 30, 2012
We were fortunate enough to be able to sleep in. I must have forgot to mention our friend Matt surprised us by showing up to the Santa Cruz last night. The only thing is…he didn’t make it to the show on time. It’s alright because we got some time to make a stop at Streetlight Records, the Boardwalk, and the beach. Now we’re on the road headed for Humboldt where Eric’s [Fabbro, the band's drummer] cousin lives. We’ll be staying the night in Humboldt before we head out to Portland in the morning. Tomorrow’s show takes place at Ash Street Saloon. At this particular moment in time we’re driving through the Redwoods.
Day Three - Humboldt to Portland: July 1, 2012
The Ash Street Lounge [sic] was kind of…well, we’re not gonna say anything incredibly bad, but it wasn’t exactly our favorite show. You see, when you’re as anal as us a good monitor mix is what often ends up being the determining factor in your opinion over a show. I’d say it’s important, but at the end of day it’s about the songs, the feeling, and the energy and connection you make with your audience. I’m sure we’ll have better shows. Until next time…
Day Four – Portland: July 2, 2012
Portland is a fun city to explore seeing as there’s plenty of good food to eat, weirdoes to talk to, and places to see. This city is beautiful and we’re enjoying our day off. What’s really great about Portland is that there are a lot of diverse food trucks and carts all over the city. After scanning around for a bit we each decided on Korean BBQ, Thai food, and pita wraps. L.A. really needs something like this…. and by that we mean more permanent locations for food trucks/carts. There’s a lot of them all over the city dedicated to letting these businesses grace people with their tasty foods.
So in the evening we met up with our friend Vanessa Lynn who used to be in the L.A. band, The Terrapin. It’s been really cool having her presence at the shows as well as just being there. We’ve now made more friends up here and it’s good to know that we can come back again and be welcome. This tour has already proven to be crazier than our other tours in many ways. And that’s where that story ends, [or at least all we’re telling -ed.].
Day Five – Portland July 3, 2012
Today is the day we play at Bunk Bar. The place is sort of a hipster sandwich shop and bar. At night it turns into a bar and full on venue. Los Angeles peeps: imagine if Two Boots was much bigger and was also a venue and you’ve got a decent idea of Bunk Bar. We were set to play at 10pm, being the perfect time slot for us to play for Portlandia. A label that’s interested in our band was going to come, but they messaged us a few hours before saying they couldn’t make it. The good thing is they still plan to come see us in L.A. or when we tour through NY in October for CMJ Festival. They’re nice people and it’s a good feeling to know they’re watching over us. Isn’t that creepy though? Nah, not in this case. Bring on the creep show.
Our crowd at the show was very kind and they even danced and purchased albums and t-shirts. Not to mention the dudes who run Bunk Bar are way cool. They were very hospitable, seeing to it that we were fed with their delicious sandwiches, beer, and paid for the show as well. We sort of tripped out when we looked at some of their upcoming bills: Laetia Sadier (Stereolab), White Arrows, Cloud Nothings and more. The best thing about playing the show had to have been the energy from the audience.
We’ve already been invited back for other Portland, Seattle, and University shows. Portland has been very good to us. Oh, yes we forgot to mention that we’ve gotten to spend time with our good friend, Eric Snodgrass of Colorado, who took a vacation to Portland to come see us play. Now we must say bye and hit the road for Olympia, WA. We play at Le Voyeur on Thurs July 5. Tomorrow is the 4th of July. Whatever? Cool…
Day Six - Olympia: July 4, 2012
We’re not exactly what you call a patriotic band, but we did enjoy our 4th of July holiday with friends, old and new. When we arrived in Olympia, we headed over to a party at a friend of our friend’s house. The party consisted of some pretty interesting folk who provided a bonfire along with hot dogs and s’mores. I had a good chat with a girl who was really into a lot of the same hip-hop artists as myself. Over chips and salsa we chatted about Death Grips, Lil B, Odd Future’s gnarly shows, and Sub Pop’s only hip hop act, Shabazz Palaces. The night was lightly fueled by PBR's and whiskey cokes. Surprisingly enough we didn’t stumble out as we headed off to the next house to sleep. [I think our dear readers can fill in the blanks about what happened next... -ed.] Olympia is quite foresty…is that even a fucking word? Of course not. Anyhow, we have a gig at Le Voyeur tomorrow and it should be a nice relaxing gig after the madness at the Bunk Bar last night. Who knows? Maybe tomorrow’s show will be a frenzy.
Day Seven - Olympia: July 5, 2012
Olympia is a cool place, but that also doesn’t say much about the capital of Washington. Let me go back and say it’s a fucking weird place. It’s got a nice, small town feel and we checked out some record stores and places to eat, but overall we got weird vibe from the place. Everybody seemed to be so apathetic there. I can’t imagine what gets them jumping up to go and do something. I don’t want to speak for everyone in the band and also generalize the entire city of Olympia because the place is very beautiful as far as scenery goes, but besides our friend who was so kind to find us a place to stay and show us around I’d say Olympia feels like a bit of a dead zone. The people weren’t very friendly…and this isn’t say they weren’t nice, but they didn’t go out of their way to welcome us or make us feel comfortable. Was there something we missed? It’s like the city is fucking stuck in a certain hazy time period. [Pure speculation here, but perhaps the band got the freeze-out for not using Olympia locals Mad Isms to print their merch.-ed.] Anyhow, our show at Le Voyeur was okay. We were happy to have anybody there, especially our friend from L.A. and another who took a vacation from Colorado to follow us on tour for a bit. We sold a decent amount of merch, which was nice. The venue totally had this raunchy CBGB punk club vibe to it. Le Voyeur was very raw and that’s something I remember liking.
Day Six - Seattle: July 6, 2012
We drove to Seattle…THE END…for now. Oh wait, I forgot to mention that we went to this rad bar called Georgetown Liquor Company, which is a great bar with vegan food options and also Atari and Super Nintendo consoles for nerds like Eric. I can’t say I didn’t go play, but of course…I sucked…because I’m horrible at staring at screens and toggling joysticks. Can’t wait for the party tomorrow. We’re playing a house warming party for a family friend. We’ll probably be the youngest fuckers there. Alright…I can dig it. This might mean that everyone will get wasted and like us by default. Wait…nevermind. Should be a good time.
Day Seven - Seattle: July 7, 2012
The three of us now find ourselves in the midst of Seattle. I am quite happy to be here. This is actually Eric’s first time visiting any of these places, well…besides Frisco, which we will be playing on the way back down (July 14). Did we mention we are doing a DAYTROTTER session? Yes, it’s happening and we can’t quite get our heads around it. We’re thrilled to be playing on a session that has featured many of our favorite bands such as Liars, Grizzly Bear, Wilco, Dungen, and many more.
OKAY, back to Seattle talk. Today we’re going to play a house warming party in our friend’s back yard. The show will be different from what we’re used to: playing loudly, with drums, and fully layered. Change is good though, right? Ya gotta change it up sometimes and now is certainly the time for it. We played for an older crowd and we wanted to adapt to the environment there…backyard??? We had to play semi-acoustic. Torches is very much an electrified unit. As I am typing this I am giving you a recap of the show…We made it work and the response was very positive. The road can be rough at times, but this journey has been a good one for us. People have been kind to us, have shown interest in the music, and we’re selling more merchandise than we expected.
Day Eight - Seattle: July 8, 2012
We just played at The Comet and it was a good one. Sure, there weren’t a lot of people, but we had an important person there and he thoroughly enjoyed the set. We’re now going to talk “business.” Wish us luck? Our friend Jason, who runs a blog called Seismic Sound and PR company called Rock Star Motel brought folks to the show and welcomed us into Seattle music scene. He’s been quite helpful, and did we mention he’s a bear? He’s a fucking cool guy and we’re glad to have met him and have established a friendship.
Prior to the show we did a photo shoot and interview at the Rock Star Motel offices. You should see the photos…they’re a bit psychy and we’re into that sort of thing. Capitol Hill Times covered the show as well and we did an interview with them at a coffee shop next to Seattle’s Cha Cha Lounge. The dude recorded some of our live set because we’re so cool and all. Whatevs…
Day Nine - Seattle: July 9, 2012
Finally, another fucking day off! Okay, I’m not saying that because we don’t like playing shows and doing band related things, but it’s nice to be able to see the city, explore, and also SWIM IN FUCKING LAKE WASHINGTON. We did just that and relaxed around Dean’s (Bridgette’s Dad) [Bridgette Moody, the band’s bassist] house. Tomorrow we’re set to play our last Seattle show. Don’t know how I feel about it yet. Has this city had enough of TORCHES yet? Have we had enough of Seattle yet? Have we had enough veggie food, street dogs, cheap Rainier beers, and overall Seattle madness? I think not.
Day Ten - Seattle: July 10, 2012
Hey, what do ya know? We are playing our last Seattle date of the tour. The thought of this makes me sad, but you know what? It’s alright, we’ll be back up here in Seattle for a short Northwest run. Like mentioned before we’ve been invited to play several shows in Portland and we’re going to team up with our friend Jason to set up Seattle shows as well.
Being in a band is fucking harder then what you’re used to seeing on stage. The dynamic is so much more complicated then playing guitars, bashing on drums, singing, and being under the spotlight. And we’re not even “THERE” yet. Although it does feel close. Getting people to come together is one of hardest things I have ever attempted to do with my life. The challenge is certainly interesting and rewarding as of lately. I love these two people who I play with. Bridgette has really grown as a bass player, seeing as she’s really only played for two years and she learned to play a few days after we lost 2 members and were set to play as Pehrspace show back in ’10. I really do enjoy singing with her and I love singing beside her. She has a unique voice and presence. I don’t think there’s really anyone in our scene who’s quite like her. She’s got this raw, don’t-give-a-fuck swagger to her and she beams on stage. Eric on the other hand is the best drummer I know personally and he’s one of my all time favorites. Okay, so I sound biased and I probably am because he is my closest friend, but he really plays for the song and conjures up some very groovy and stylistic beats. I can’t wait to see where we’ll end up next. I love playing in this band and I really wouldn’t play in any other. This isn’t because I don’t like the bands around us in our LA scene, but it’s because TORCHES is now a part of me. I can’t really put the words together to describe how much it all means to me.
So tonight, we are playing at The High Dive. This will be our last Seattle show and we’re gonna do what we always do. You gotta play every show like it’s your last. Otherwise what’s the point? Let’s do this…
Day Eleven - Seattle: July 11, 2012
Here’s the verdict: The High Dive show proved to be one of the best, if not the best show of the tour. There was a pretty good crowd for a Wednesday night. When we began playing our set most folks were hanging towards the back of the venue by the bar and then about one or two songs into the set we had the majority of the crowd right in front of the stage. It felt nice! We’re starting to notice how much more polished our live show has become. People genuinely liked what we did and we couldn’t be happier. We sold more merch last night then any other night and we got paid some money for the road.
KEXP decided to come to the show was well as a very cool management/licensing company we are talking to. A few blogs such as Seattle Music Insider and Seismic Sound came as well. Our buddy Jason runs Seismic Sound and we were very happy to have him at the show. Prior to our set we did an interview with Seattle Music Insider. Sometimes interviews can be a drag…especially when people ask you all of the typical questions, but this one was a lot of fun and Greg was very inviting and conversational.
We’re spending our last day in Seattle today. Last night I stayed over at my friend’s place, which is right by the Space Needle.
Day Twelve – Seattle to San Francisco: July 12, 2012
As I’m writing this we find ourselves on the road driving through Oregon. We’ve left Seattle…sigh. It’s a bittersweet feeling having to leave the place, but there are more shows to play on this tour. We’re doing a DAYTROTTER session this Saturday 7/14and also playing at The Make Out Room that same night.
Day Fourteen – San Francisco: July 14, 2012
I decided to skip yesterday’s entry because we didn’t do a whole lot besides find a funky bar in the Haight Ashbury area and drink lots of rum punch. Our last show took place at The Make Out Room in SF. The show was a bit underwhelming, but it was nice to have some of our friends and their friends in attendance. We are sad to be leaving tmw, but this tour proved to worth doing. KEXP came to a show, a management/label company came to several, made many new friends and fans along the way, and were invited back for shows in Portland, Seattle etc. This tour brought the three of us together on a much stronger level. Now we know that we can keep doing this. When we got back one of the first things we all said to each other was, “There will be many more tours, I love you guys.”
Disclosure: Mad Isms Precision Silkscreens mentioned in the Olympia section is owned by brother. -ed (K. Pinto)