Labor of Love: Torche

Formed 15 years ago in Miami, Florida, the band Torche isn’t any one thing. They’re not metal. They’re not hard rock. They’re just Torche, and they’re f*cking heavy.


They stopped by our Lincoln Avenue showroom to share some songs off their new record, Admission, released on Relapse Records. While they were here, we caught up with original bassist turned guitarist Jon Nuñez to talk Torche tone, what’s new at Nuñez Amps, and the instant allure of the power chord.


Interview with Jon Nuñez

How did making music become your life?
It all started with being exposed to bands by a couple older friends I grew up with, riding around with my dad in his truck listening to classic rock, and getting my mom to take me to rock 'n' roll laser shows at a local planetarium when I was in the 5th grade (we were probably the only sober people there.)

How did you get your start?
When I was in the 7th grade, I met a kid who was super into Kiss and said he had a strat, amp, and could play guitar. I was skeptical, but thought, hey, I gotta check this out. Miguel was down to have me over, and we walked over to his house one day after school. It was kinda funny. He was playing Megadeth on a little boom box while he put his rig together.

His gear consisted of a red Fender Stratocaster with a white pickguard, a crate GTX-10 combo with an 8" speaker, and possibly a Metal Zone. I was anxious to see what he could do with this stuff. I had never heard someone (let alone my age), in person, play an electric guitar. I was like, play already! Once he strummed the first power chord I was like, damn! Can you show me how to do that?? He said it was simple, and he taught me a few chords. I also remember tweaking his amp to get it in the ballpark of what I was used to hearing on records.

From there on, I just started bands and kept experimenting with writing, not ever really investing time in learning covers. Years later, I got into playing shows after high school, and couldn't wait to travel playing music. Seeing local and touring bands playing and making records blew me away.

In these times, it's an incredible challenge getting by making music. Everyone at CME has found a happy home here to support our passion for music. How do you make it work?
It is, no doubt, a challenge. It's a lifestyle with never-ending sacrifices, which demands as much time as you're willing to put in. What keeps me coming back is the whole idea of a process, which starts with something as simple as an idea or happy accident that can materialize as a song that does, for someone on the other side of the planet, what your favorite songs have done for you. It helps to stay active and put out a record every couple of years. I spend my time off recording and mixing bands, as well as running Nuñez Amps, which has been growing for the last couple of years, and I'm really excited about it!

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Who are your major influences?
It's hard to say when coming across or discovering new stuff, which typically ends up being older stuff you never knew about. I'd say some of the mainstays are: Kraftwerk, Loop, Wire, MBV, Spaceman 3, and Chavez, and more!

What guides your playing style?
I'd have to say that is something that changes all the time. I'd imagine it mostly comes down to trying to do something different than what I have previously written, and the mood or the energy at that moment.

How would you describe that style?
Free. Just let it flow. Let your playing surprise you. It's like departing with no predetermined destination. Just gotta see where you end up and go from there. Rolling like this keeps it interesting for me.

What do you love about playing music?
Ah, so much! From the harmonics and overtones to the air pressure that all the amps and drums produce. The energy that fills the room (whether it's just the band or a sold-out show). The excitement that you feel when everything sounds good and the nuances everyone's doing independently all work so well together. The chaos or uncertainty of getting to the end of the song smoothly. Making something unique that feels fresh and different.

What do you love about the type of music you play?
I love the fact that we're from a place where rock music isn't really at the forefront, where the chances of doing what we're doing is so unlikely I'm still surprised we've accomplished everything that we have while creating a unique sound that is truly ours. With anything I invest my time in, I naturally seek to fulfill my need to create something I truly feel connected to while expressing something I am feeling.

What's your rig?
My rig consists of a good amount of gear I've developed along with my partner, Gary Phillips, for the Nuñez Amp line, as I need something dynamic and wildly versatile, as well as some carefully selected fx pedals.

Pedal Board:

Nuñez Amps Tetra-Fet Drive > Nuñez Amps Dual Range Boost> Boss TU-3 > true bypass proto selector > Earthquaker Devices Arpanoid > MXR Phase 95 > Catalinbread Echorec > Earthquaker Devices Avalanche Run > Nunez Amps Tetra-Fet Drive > Hardwire DL8 Delay Looper.

Amp:

Nuñez Amps Annex MKII Head (Class AB Discreet Quad voiced Dual Channel all Tube head) > 2 Nuñez Amps 4x12 cabinets.

First guitar?
Technically, a really cheap acoustic who's make escapes me right now. My first electric guitar was an all-white EPI strat (very hard to smash...wish I didn't).

Current guitar?
Koontz Kustom "Maverick," Dunable "Cyclops," Fender HH Telecaster.

Any gear you can't live without?
Partial to my amp, cab, and pedals, but I'd have to say a guitar with a Fender-scale neck, mahogany body, and a Bill Lawerence L-500L in the bridge.

What's your dream gear?
Got it all. Some more of it!

What are five albums you love?
This is the type of question where, the second you submit your answers, you feel guilty for leaving out a bunch of records. The first three were my first tapes and CDs that really began it all for me: Led Zeppelin 4, The Jimi Hendrix Experience (a compilation), Metallica's Kill 'Em All, My Bloody Valentine's Sunny Sunday Smile, Wire's Pink Flag.

What do you have coming up? Albums? Tours?
We're currently on our first UK tour in about 3 years. We have a fly-in show for a fest in Dallas in January, a week of FL shows up to Georgia and back in Feb., and a European tour this coming March and April, which will also include our first-ever Russian dates. We also plan to start writing around the start of 2020.

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