If it seems music in general is always full of surprises, some music journalism can be surprising for artists who find themselves placed into a genre they may not agree with. After a decade, Los Angeles' Touche Amore knows this all too well after being tagged in many genres, but that hasn't slowed them down by any means.
Last year the band released their strongest album to date, Stage Four, and toured with Basement as support acts on Thursday's coast-to-coast tour. This week they're back in Houston as headliners of their own four-week outing. The Houston Press sat down with singer Jeremy Bolm ahead of Wednesday's upstairs show at White Oak Music Hall to talk about their past, the making of this record, and what they have in store for Houston this time.
While Touche Amore has been around about a decade, Bolm admits it doesn't feel as such. "It doesn't feel that long in my brain," he says. "Once you find punk rock, in a good way and sometimes in a bad way, it can stunt your growth." Even for a group that performs as much as they do, Bolm adds "our tenth-anniversary show will be on February 16 of next year and if the stars can align, we can make that our 1,000th show as well."
Touche Amore's frequent tweaks of their sound over the years have led some critics to place them in spaces they would never dare call themselves. "We're just a punk band; the same thing I'd tell a distant relative or anyone else," shrugs Bolm. "It just seems easiest to categorize ourselves as that."
Stage Four is the band's second album with producer Brad Wood but their first on larger label Epitaph and away from the band's longstanding relationship with Deathwish Inc. The choice to do things with Wood but on a larger label wasn't by accident, explains Bolm.
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"We're always in the mindset of not doing what people expect us to do. We did our first record with Ed Rose when no one expected that, and we'd always liked what Brad had done in the past," he says. "We listened to albums that we found sonically appealing, and the fact that he had worked on so many records we were into, like those first two Sunny Day Real Estate albums as an example; he seemed like the best fit. We looked him up and realized he was local and since then we've developed a great relationship with him. He gives us plenty of space, and he's a great Q&A guy."
When things turn to the advantages of being on a larger label, like Epitaph, Bolm explains, "I feel like the days of people caring what label you're at are long gone. I'm happy to be with Epitaph, because they're local and we have friends who work there. When we made this record, we spent more time in the studio because we had the luxury to do so. I've always felt like too much time in a studio can hurt a band, though we really just spent the extra time mixing while having the freedom to explore different sounds."
Call their music whatever you like, but Touche Amore's live show will always be worth paying attention to. They're easily one of the strongest bands going, and aren't slowing down anytime soon. As for what Houston should expect Wednesday night, "just a shit-ton of songs," Bolm happily chimes in. "We went back and pulled songs out of our catalog that we haven't played in a really long time."
Touche Amore and special guests Single Mothers, Gouge Away and Portrayal of Guilt perform Wednesday, September 20, at White Oak Music Hall upstairs, 2915 North Main. Doors open at 7 p.m.; all ages; tickets are $15.