Chad Radford: There's a singular sense of humor to what you do. I have seen the Torche T-shirts that look like the old skin head, staraight edge shirts that say "not so straight" next to the picture of the shaven-headed hardcore who looks like he's about to swallow the microphone. That's hilarious.
Steve Brooks: We're genius...
That's a pretty macho scene. Have those shirts come back to bite you?
No, not at all. I don't think that people really got the joke when we first made the shirts, but people started to get it once we stopped taking them on tour with us. People at the merch table started saying where's your not so straight shirt, those things are hilarious!'
It's cleverly disguised like a real straight edge T-shirt. If you're not paying attention you think it's just another dumb ass Strife T-shirt, or something like that.
Yep. The Harvey Milk shirts on this tour are hilarious, too. There's one with the Wicked Witch taking a dump on a toilet, eating a hamburger and reading the paper, and the headlines says 'the Mc Rib is back.' I thought that one was pretty awesome. There's another one that and then there's another one with a bunch of ticks doing beer bongs.
You dont see a lot of humor when it comes to metal. You guys dont like to call yourselves a metal band, but I think for being the kind of band that you are, to incorporate a sense of humor into it has to be done very subtly if it's going to work. It is not a Spinal Tap kind of humor, and it isnt a meat head kind of humor either.
Yeah, thats just who we are.
Do you live in Atlanta now?
Yeah I do. The rest of guys (drummer Rick Smith and drummer Jonathan Nuñez) live in Miami except me. I think one of the guys is going to move to Gainsville like in a month or so. That will be kind of the half-way point where we will all meet up and practice.
What brought you to Atlanta?
I lived here in the mid '90s and loved it. I went back home to go to school, and ended up staying there. Then I moved to Tampa, and then back to Atlanta. I love Atlanta, it is a great city.
Have you played in any other bands here?
I was playing in my old band Floor, but me and the drummer were in Atlanta in the mid 90s, and our guitar player was still in Miami, so we would just do shows here and there. We did two records with Floor, and we recorded a shit ton of stuff. We are coming out with a boxed set pretty soon. It is going to have tons of stuff. There is over six hours of music. It is pretty cool if you like the band and the old 7-inches and stuff.
So is Torche made up of all gay dudes, or just one?
Im the only gay dude in the band, and of course, it's the frontman, guitar and vocals, Steve Brooks.
It's an interesting angle from which to look at Torche, and I know I'm setting myself up here, because the kind of music you play is such an aggressive and manly thing.
So is being gay. Metal is the gayest form of music out there. You can quote me on that. You know, guys wearing leather and studs, beating each other up in the pit, getting all sweaty with each other, growing their hair real long, wearing make-up Thats all pretty gay.
A lot of dudes who are into metal would probably take offense to that.
Good. I grew up a metal head I dont necessarily listen to it now, but I still love the old stuff. Back then it was raw and exciting, and now it is just cliquey. It has lost its edge.
You seem to have a more punk rock sense of humor about it.
Yeah, I pretty much did everything with punk rock ethics from the start you know, with previous bands and this band. I even played in bands that didnt have any merchandise, and didnt ask for any money at shows, but I also had a job. I worked shitty jobs that would pay for everything. It took me a while to figure it out. I mean if you want to play music, you cant keep working these shitty jobs. You might as well try to make some money at it. I thought of it as a hobby, a form of expression, something you do for fun, but now there is a business side to it. I didnt want to really think of it that way, but you have to. Everyone calls you a sell-out, but Im still living on my friends couch! But if I wasnt enjoying what I do, then I wouldnt do it. I would have quit a long time ago.
Creston Spiers from Harvey Milk stressed that as well; they play music to have fun and that's the only reason they started. When I try to tie these two bands together, obviously there is kind of that gay hook, because they are called Harvey Milk. But they have a very dry sense of humor. They're punk rock about it in their own way, meaning that if you were a really uptight person the name would be offensive, which is kind of what their sense of humor is all about, and their T-shirts make them even funnier.
They have the best shirts.
I remember seeing an ET t-shirt where ET is wearing a shirt that says "No woman no cry..."
Yeah, ET is smoking a joint. Actually on the tour there was a kid that had that tattooed on him!
I grew up in Omaha, NE, and even as far away as that in the mid 90s, I knew of Harvey Milk but they were always so mysterious. There wasn't much information out there about them and they were Southern and weird and their songs were so fast, yet so slow.
They are truly one of Americas best kept secrets. I cant believe Im on tour with them. Ive been listening to them for a long time. I had to search for them too. I was so blown away by them when I saw them. They were a band that kind of had that powerful sound, just like the Melvins.
So why dont you like to use the word metal when talking about Torch?
Its not metal. It's as metal as say, the Melvins are, you know? Metal is just a different thing all together. It is heavy, but there is a lot of stuff that isnt so heavy. I listen to a lot of bands that are a lot heavier than what most people call metal bands, that arent metal at all. I hate to say that we are a metal band when we are doing something that is not so metal.
It is just like any other category, the word doesnt mean what it used to mean. I guess it is my job as a music journalist to figure out those simple catch phrases for music. There is so much that falls under the category of metal. I've always thought of Torch in terms of being something like Mogwai or Isis. I dont want to call it post rock or math rock, but I think of it in Wagnerian terms because it is so big and sweeping and grand.
(Photo by Lauren Roero)
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