Torche's Steve Brooks: I Cringe Listening to Myself Covering Guided by Voices

Just like Robert Pollard, Torche's Steve Brooks likes bottles of alcohol.
Just like Robert Pollard, Torche's Steve Brooks likes bottles of alcohol.
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Miami's infectious metal outfit Torche recently recorded three covers of indie-rock stalwarts Guided by Voices for a split 12-inch record with their equally infectious buddies (and tourmates) Part Chimp. The record is set for a limited 500-copy release by Chunklet in November, and from what we've heard of the stuff recorded and mixed by Jonathan Nuñez at Pinecrust Studio in Miami, it's going to be a doozy.

Yesterday, we posted details from the record and hooked you up with Torche covering the GBV staple "Exit Flagger."

Torche frontman Steve Brooks is a massive fan of all things Guided by Voices and especially frontman/mastermind Robert Pollard. During his drive from Atlanta to Miami, where the plan is to finish writing the next Torche record, Brooks told County Grind that Pollard inspired him to write very short songs on the very first -- and very heavy -- Floor album and recalls an all-GBV covers set he performed in Miami a decade ago.

County Grind: When did you become a Guided by Voices fan?

Steve Brooks: I first heard about them on an MTV News thing, and I was a huge Breeders fan. The Breeders did a ten-inch which had a GBV cover ["Shocker in Gloomtown"] on it. That was around the time Bee Thousand came out. I got that, and was instantly a fan. I saw them live at the Masquerade in Atlanta in '95 -- Chavez was on that tour. Probably one of the greatest rock shows I've ever been to. I came home and I was glowing.

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How did you choose these particular songs to cover?

There's so many songs I wanna jam. One time, I did a GBV cover show ten years ago in Miami. I think we did like six or seven songs, and Robert Pollard stuff too. I think we did "Subspace Biographies" too. Torche did a cover of that song a long time ago too. I feel like I'm butchering a great song when I do it, but we never released it. We did that when [ex-guitarist Juan Montoya] was in the band.

We didn't have any original material when it was time to record this split. I was like, well we have two days before we go on our next tour, so let's do a few covers here. That was a pretty quick decision. I just named three songs that I liked that I wanted to play.

As a fan, did you feel you were true to the original versions of the songs?

I listen to it and I cringe at listening to myself doing it. I love playing the songs live, rocking out to them, but you can't touch the Guided by Voices versions. Just the way ["Exit Flagger"] was recorded. They wrote it. There are very few bands that can do justice to an original. I think it's a fun song to play, and we did our best. It is what it is. It's Torche doing GBV.

We were just jamming. We didn't really have any time to record it, so we just jammed in the studio, and that was it. The same with "Postal Blowfish" [note: the Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. also covered the song recently for his solo album]; we were just jamming the riff, and it just ended up jamming it until it was over.
Are there any Torche songs that are particularly GBV-inspired?


yeah. Even the Floor self-titled record, one of my biggest inspirations

was Guided by Voices. It's been like that ever since. I listen to all

kinds of stuff, but GBV, it's like uplifting -- there's some sad songs

-- but it's solid. All those short songs... they're one of the biggest

inspirations for us writing short songs. Get to the hook and leave 'em

wanting more.

I only ask because of the name, but are you familiar with the GBV song "Christian Animation Torch Carriers"?

It's possible. I don't know all of the song titles because he's got a billion fucking songs. It's possible I've heard it. My stack of CDs from GBV from back in the day, it's impressive [laughs]. That and the Robert Pollard solo stuff, the Tobin Sprout stuff, Lexo and the Leapers. I've collected as much as I could, but it's possible I've missed a few things.

Have you ever met Bob Pollard?

No, I'm afraid to. Especially

after our versions of his classics. I'm just afraid I'd end up gushing.

When I was younger, I never saw myself doing music the long run. At one

point in the mid-'90s, I sold all my gear and went back to school. And

then I just ended up picking it all up again. Here I am, 37 years old

and still doing it. I'm more

into doing this full-time than I've ever been in the past. He's still so

creative. I don't know how old he is now, but he's been at it for a

really long time, and constantly writing. He's written more great songs

than some bands have done in their entire careers. He's written more

great songs on one record than bands have done in their entire careers.

How does this material fit with the Part Chimp stuff on the flipside?

It doesn't fit at all [laughs]. In all honesty, their side completely destroys ours. We're happy it happened. I love their side, but I don't think I'd flip it over for ours. When I heard their side of the split, I was like "Oh my God, man; we just got destroyed." Oh well. They're probably going to destroy us live. They're fucking devastating.

Pre-order the Part Chimp/Torche 12-inch here.

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