**This was put on the Johnny Ringo Reviews page as a way to promote an upcoming show Torche had coming to town. Andrew is an incredible person and these are the best answers I’ve ever had in an interview and the reason this interview will forever be on my writing resume.**
If you’re familiar with my site, than you’re probably familiar with both Torche and The Flying Humanoids<
. If you aren’t and you live near Monroe, La, you’re in luck because Torche is coming back to Monroe on July 22nd. After listening to the new Torche album “Harmonicraft” quite a bit this year, i’m very excited to see them again playing more songs from it. In celebration of such an awesome band playing in my crappy town for the second time this year, I sent a few questions to Andrew Elstner, former guitarist of Riddle of Steel and current guitarist of Torche and Tilts. I wanted to find out what it’s like going from laying waste to bars in Riddle of Steel and Tilts, to making national news over a little bit of bat urine. You can check out the event page for the show HERE, you can check out Andrew’s bands Torche, Tilts, and Riddle of Steel by clicking the links, and for more info, check out my FACEBOOK page.
How long have you been playing music and what bands were you in before you joined Torche?
Well, I’ve been playing guitar since I was 12, but playing in bands and such since about 16, though nothing really of note until Riddle of Steel around 2001. I’m also still singing/guitarring in St. Louis based, Tilts with my good bro’s there. (new Tilts out on Robotic Empire 😉
You guys will be playing in Monroe, La on Sunday July 22nd. As you may or may not know, Monroe is a very small town that very rarely gets cool stuff so it’s always fun when a band of Torche’s magnitude comes to town. As a touring musician, would you say you enjoy the more intimate shows in small towns, or do you prefer playing bigger shows in cities like Austin and New York to huge crowds?
Oh dude, I know and love Monroe quite well. I’ve got friends there still and even left a bit o’ my heart there as well. Riddle of Steel used to play the Blue Monkey and it was always a blast. Many drunken nights at Enoch’s!
There are good things about huge shows/venues as well as more small, intimate ones though I totally prefer a packed house at a small club. The vibe is always better than being on a massive stage where the audience is 15 feet away from you. But really, a show is a show and I love it all.
Was it kind of weird going from being in smaller bands like Tilts and Riddle Of Steel, to joining a huge band like Torche where even small weird stuff like getting bat piss in your eye makes for a massive trending topic in all the major blogs and magazines?
You kind of nailed it right there. There’s not a whole lot of immediately recognizable differences between Tilts, ROS and Torche shows for me – in a certain sense. But yeah, Torche’s audience is gigantic, and it was made apparent during the whole Bat Piss saga. One minute I’m posting a what I think is a hilarious story for my friends on Facebook and literally by that evening, Pitchfork had written up an article about it. By the next day it was on msn.com, msnbc.com, mtv.com and a gazillion other sites, re-telling the bat/pee/rabies story. It was a total trip. But yeah, the reality is, these people were calling me for interviews because of Torche. It’s all good because both Tilts and Torche had new records out and the promotion we got from that story was f*cking insane.
As someone who’s always kind of been the main singer and guitarist in bands you were in, is it a weird transition joining a band like Torche where someone else has vocals and lead guitar handled and all you have to do is just shred?
Not so much man, I’ve always considered myself a “band musician.” On my own, I can be kind of useless for the most part – note the obvious lack of any attempt at a “solo” project from me, at least not yet. I’m way into the idea of playing or writing to what the song requires, or what the band requires. I love singing and I’m having a blast in Tilts, but with Torche I can focus more on guitar, which I love too. I’m likely to do a bit more singing with Torche in the future, but only if/when it’s appropriate, y’know? Musicians I truly admire are guys who know their place in the band, they know how and when to hold it down, how to create a vibe. All musicians have immense issues with pride and ego. It just comes with the territory, but you have to turn that into something internal, as in, keep trying to challenge yourself, come up with new ideas, have a reason to be prideful of your work and not just a loudmouth dickhead, bummed that things haven’t worked out for you or your band because you think you’re hot shit or that the world owes you a favor.
If someone told you when you were in high school that you would one day join a major rock band and tour with Corrosion Of Conformity, and play Orion Fest with bands like Suicidal Tendencies, Sepultura, and Metallica all in the same month, would you have believed them?
So interesting because this exact thought has been on my mind a lot these past few months. My inner teenager has been absolutely shitting himself. It’s hard to put it into words. I mean, at Orion Fest, Rob Trujillo introduced us on stage, and James Hetfield watched our whole set, even recording some stuff on his iphone and air-guitarring some of the parts. What!? Blew my mind.
Touring with C.O.C. was equally as rad. Woody is a total gentleman and was super patient with my questions about his gear, and my geeky stories of “Dude! My high school band covered ‘The Great Purification’ for our talent show.” It’s been crazy man. I feel like I just joined Sabbath or something.
Speaking of Orion Fest, how did that go for you guys? Did you get to meet anybody cool or see any particularly awesome sets?
See above, but yeah it was awesome. Orion Fest did it right. Interesting line up to keep things fresh. The artists were all treated like solid gold, fed three meals, an army of stage hands to move your gear, open bar all day and night – for real – and a general party vibe the whole time. I met and hung out with Ben Liemer former editor for Circus Magazine (!!!) and current director of sales at the Orchard distro. I used to read Circus like a bible as a kid, and he’s saying all these rad things about my band.
I met the original “Old Bridge Metal Militia” guys, Chris and Pattie Homeny, essentially the two main people who used to house Metallica, Slayer and other bands way back in the day and have basement shows and stuff.
We chatted with the Best Coast people and a handful of others that partying has erased from my memory. Didn’t get to see any other sets except Metallica since we were busy running around, getting set up, doing interviews and stuff which is a bummer. They played Harvester of Sorrow, wtf!? My evening was made. I really wanted to see Black Angels. Next time!
You guys seem to have had a pretty good year so far, signing to Volcom, landing the Orion gig, and releasing an album that will place highly on many blogs and magazines’ albums of the year lists. Do you guys have any big touring plans for the rest of the year?
It has been a good year man. In the very near future, we’re playing 305 Fest in Miami on July 6th, then we’re out in later July touring around a show at the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, then out again for a week or so around Total Fest in Montana in mid August. September we head overseas, UK, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Germany if I remember correctly and then a month with Converge over Oct. and Nov. A busy and super awesome schedule.
As someone signed to a major label, what are your thoughts on how the music industry seems to be going? Also, now that sites like megaupload are shut down and it’s harder to illegally download albums