For Touché Amoré frontman Jeremy Bolm, creating the track list for an album is a lot like sex. But that’s only because he says making a mixtape is a lot like sex. “You have to start strong, then click it up a notch and then cool it off,” he says. “I think that’s a quote from High Fidelity, and it’s completely true.”
Ironically, the through-line of Touché Amoré’s forthcoming third album isn’t sexy in the least. As suggested by its title, Is Survived By, the record finds Bolm and his post-hardcore-playing bandmates reflecting on mortality. It’s a stark contrast to the seemingly giddy adventures the band has partaken in, as he details below. But one thing is for sure, whether he’s talking about the existential observations of his album or the surrealistic events Touché Amoré have endured (mainly involving cops and a lack of pit stops on the road), he hasn’t totally lost sight of the lighter side of things.
What’s the idea behind the line, “So much to consider, too much to grasp, to swallow mortality is enough of a task,” in the album’s lead track, “Just Exist”?
The overall idea of the record is how you’re going to leave your mark in this world and at the end of the day. You don’t have control over it, because certain people will see you a certain way. It’s sort of like doing your best to make your own mark and not have someone else make it for you.
You once said that writing lyrics was difficult for you. Was that true of this record?
Yeah, it was. I’ve gone through a lot of changes in my life. A lot of things that tried to bring me down, I’ve overcome. I’m in a much happier place these days. So in a way, it was kind of challenge. I’m not going to lie and fake something that isn’t true to have the same sort of lyrical concepts. This one was like me knowing I’m in a different place and delve a little deeper into places where I’m at in my life. The main one was my mortality.
What changes have you gone through in your life or what challenges have you overcome?
There are always things that bring you down. Different types of depression. Not feeling like I really had a place that I felt comfortable at for myself.
Let’s talk about someplace where you do feel comfortable. You recently played a gig on a bridge in Austin. Is that risky?
The risks involved are really tame, at the end of the day. The show gets shut down, the cops tell everyone to go home, and everyone shrugs their shoulders. The benefit is that it’s fun. Ceremony and Touché Amoré played on a bridge and 200 kids showed up. We’ve done a lot of DIY touring, we’ve played everywhere from the back of a thrift shop to a rooftop. Anything can be a venue if there are enough outlets.
So you were on the bridge, not under it?
In Austin, that particular bridge is notorious for this. It’s on top of the bridge. There are outlets there and it’s a long walk. So if cops came up, you’d see them coming, because you can’t drive a car across it. You probably get at least 20 minutes to make it happen. The not-so-fun part is getting the stuff up there. With Ceremony, it was like, “You carry the cabs, we’ll carry the PA.”
So, it’s almost like The Art of War, whereas the bridge works because you want a good perspective to see who is coming onto your territory?
You’ve had a couple of shows shut down by the police, correct?
Yeah, it happens. Not all the time. I put on a show for a band called Tigers Jaw. Three hundred kids showed up and a fire marshal came and shut it down, because there was a line in front of the local businesses that didn’t appreciate it. It’s always something like that that ruins the fun.
Are the police really hardasses about it?
You know, it all kind of depends. Usually, we’ve kind of noticed that if you’re on the road and you get pulled over, I would say seven times out of 10, the cops wants to be cool with you because you’re in a band. Once in a while, you’ll get a guy who just doesn’t care and just instantly think you are doing drugs and just wants to hassle you. But usually, the cop is like “Oh! What kind of music do you play?” Then you end up getting away.
Oh, we always just say, “We’re a rock band.” As soon as you say that you are a punk band, that lights up a flare in their head. If you are crossing the border into another country, always say that you are a rock band.
Is it true that your drummer, Elliot Babin, once took a dump outside of a moving van while you were driving?
It’s completely true. That is the complete definition of going cabin-fever crazy in a van. Sometimes, you’ll have a 12-hour drive in a van and you’ll be so bored that you need something to make you laugh. We jokingly say all the time that we could have pulled over at a gas station at any time.
So, it was more out of amusement than necessity?
Completely out of amusement. It was pouring rain outside so thankfully it didn’t leave a mark.
Weren’t you worried about the wind pushing that delivery back into the van?
When cabin fever is that high, nothing matters.
Is Survived By will come out September 24 via Deathwish.