Tuesday 23 June 2015

Sensory Overload - Interview with Andrew Elstner of TORCHE and TILTS

Today's guest is part of Sludge/Doom-Popsters – Torche who recently completed a in-depth tour of Europe where I witnessed Torche play a stunning gig in Leeds, United Kingdom, to an appreciative sell-out audience.

Promoting their acclaimed new album – Restarter – which sees Torche perform some of their heaviest material to date. It's been a busy time for The Sensory Overlord aka Andrew E, who is also part of Hard Rock/Stoner Rock Party Riffsters – TILTS.

Andrew is one of the nicest guys I've met during my time on Sludgelord. Charming and funny as hell. If you get the chance to meet him. Say hello. Or any of the Torche guys as they are one of the friendliest dudes you can meet. I originally did a face-to-face interview with Andrew in Leeds before the gig but unfortunately I suffered from technical issues with my mobile phone which lost the interview.

With Andrew being the awesome dude that he is. He kindly agreed to do this email interview which I'm very grateful for. So lets gets started with The Sensory Overlord himself – Andrew Elstner.

1. Hi Andrew. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

A: Awesome. Just returned from a fishing trip in Missouri. Enjoying some time off.

2. Seems you’ve had an action packed 12 months or so. New albums with Torche and Tilts being released. Plus an action packed tour with Torche. Has this been the busiest period in your musical career so far.

A: Y'know, I'm not sure if it's the busiest of my career, but it's definitely BUSY. I love it. We've all worked hard to have this much work to do! Haha.

3. You’ve just returned from your European Tour with Torche. How was that experience for you and the guys. As it was quite an in-depth tour from you guys.

A: It was great man. It was my fifth European tour and my third with Torche. I love it every time even if we are basically seeing Europe from the inside of a van. The shows were killer over all, we averaged about five hours of sleep a night, a big blur!

4. What was your highs and lows from the recent European Tour.

A: My favorite high was opening for Pentagram in Belgium. I mean, holy shit. Lowest point? All of the fucking dehydrated coffee. Monstrous!

5. We have to talk about Restarter. This is your 2nd album you’ve recorded with Torche. Was it easier recording this album compared to Harmonicraft. Did you do anything different this time.

A: Well, I've done a split 12", two 7" singles and two full lengths so far with Torche and I'd say... Though we didn't do anything different this time process wise, it did take an unfortunately long time to finish with the mixing/mastering process. But, all's well that ends well. Tracking happened fairly fast, as did the writing process. Lots of long hours for poor Jon!

6. It’s possibly Torche’s loudest and angriest so far. Did you expect that when recording the album that it was going to be that heavy.

A: I'd say yeah, by the time we began tracking, we knew it was going to be a darker, heavier record. But, when we were writing, it wasn't done on purpose. It's just where our heads were at the time.

7. Are Torche as a band pleased with the responses that Restarter has received from fans and critics alike.

A: I'd say so yeah. Not that album reviews mean a whole lot to us artistically, I mean, we're gonna do what we want regardless. That fans are digging it super hard is a huge bonus.

8. I noticed that some people were expecting – Harmonicraft Part 2 – and I glad you guys went down a different route. Have you noticed that yourselves.

A: Oh man, it's the same on every release. You basically have two camps, first, the people who go, "Man, they changed too much! This doesn't sound like their last one." And then you have, "Man, they didn't do anything new. This sounds like their last record." Haha. Can't please everyone, so again, we'll do as we always do and please ourselves first as anything other than that would be bullshit.

9. Torche released a brilliant video for Annihilation Affair created by Phil Mucci. Did you have much input to that video and what were your thoughts when you seen the video for the first time.
A: Yeah, we're all beyond pleased with how it turned out. Extremely proud of that one, and honored to have worked with Phil Mucci and co. Steve and Phil discussed some basic themes, all based more or less around the art work that Santos did for the record. Phil Mucci then took those ideas and ran with em, sent us a treatment of his vision - which we loved - and went to work. The final product completely smoked us all.

10. You’ve also been made into a playable character in a video game - Torche vs Robots. How cool is that. What did your family and friends think of that. And have you played that video game. Very difficult in places.

A: Haha! Yeah, it's harder than I thought it would be, but worth it. When we all saw the 8-bit versions of ourselves, we freaked the fuck out. I grew up on the original NES and old arcade games and continue to game, though more mildly than many, so to have this game done for us was a total high point. Hilarious and awesome. Friends and family were all equally thrilled I'd say. Relapse really knocked that one outta the park.

11. You’re about to embark on a joint US tour with crazed Japanese Noise Sonic Riffsters – Melt Banana. You looking forward to that tour. What can people expect from the tour.

A: Yes! Coming up soon and should be crazy fun. What can people expect? Us trying desperately to keep up with Melt Banana. Haha!

12. Later in the year you’re coming back to Europe for another extensive tour. Are you playing to places and countries that you missed first time round on the previous European Tour.

A: Yeah, that's the idea. We'll be doing a swath through Scandinavia then heading east. Lots of Eastern Europe and then stopping in Greece at the tail end.

13. OK, now TILTS. You guys released a great album with Cuatro Hombres – which leaves your debut album in the dust. Fantastic record. Was that an easy or hard album to write and record for.

A: Thanks a million! Y'know, it was trickier in a way, as the first record was a remixed/mastered collection of our first three ep's, Cassingle, Sidepipin' and Contractors To Her Majesty's Forces. Writing and tracking a four song ep can be done insanely fast. With Cuatro Hombres, we wrote and tracked it basically as a whole album, even if tracking was done over different sessions. So yeah, it felt like a bigger undertaking.

14. What are the future plans for TILTS. Any forthcoming EP’s or tours showing up. Though I know all members are busy with other projects as well.

A: Man, I wish we had all kinds of stuff planned, to be honest. But my Torche schedule aside, we're all super busy dudes, Ken needs to look after his health AND we live in different cities so... yeah, unfortunately nothing on the agenda at the moment. Maybe some writing in the Fall? Fingers crossed!

15. I’ve been asked to ask this question regarding Riddle Of Steel. Are there any plans for Riddle Of Steel to reform as quite a few bands are reforming. Would you ever consider reforming Riddle Of Steel for a one-off performance or festival if asked to do so.

A: It's always flattering when people ask but there are no plans to do so. Between Torche and Tilts, I'm pretty much left with zero free time. It's also a matter of what we get stoked on musically, y'know? I'm proud of all that we did, but the stuff I want to write, play and sing now seems farther and farther removed from those days. We weren't a big band in any sense, but people do have their favorite songs/records and it'd be a mess if we got back together to write or perform and things weren't the same.

16. Andrew, Thanks for doing this. Best of luck with both TILTS and Torche, Before you go, Do you have anything to say to your fans.

A: Man, thank you as always for the love. It means the world that anyone gives a shit about what we do. Now come hi-five me at a show.

My bro Dave, Jonathan from Torche, Steve (myself) and some Joker at the back.

You heard the man. If you ever do meet Andrew or the rest of the Torche gang. Go say hello as they are some of the nicest dudes you can meet.

Thanks to Andrew for doing this interview. Much appreciated

Words by Steve Howe and Andrew Elstner

For More Information

Torche: Official | Facebook | BandCamp | Twitter
Tilts: Facebook | BandCamp | Twitter
Riddle Of Steel: Facebook | BandCamp