In 2004, Rick Smith was 19 years old. He was a drummer with a penchant for chaotic hardcore, playing in South Florida outfits like Tyranny of Shaw and Concrete Evidence -- but none tested his mettle quite like Torche.
"Torche changed the way I thought of the term 'heavy'," says Smith. Steve Brooks, seasoned guitarist and singer for the South Florida band, was the force that truly altered Rick's perception of hard tunes. Playing in bands for 10 years before Torche, Brooks had a considerate ear for lone, unassuming riffs that made even the Beatles heavy, if only for a few measures.
He introduced Rick to aktionist, percussion-based tracks from groups like Crash Worship, whose primitive toms brought chills up his teenage spine. Suddenly "heavy" became much more than obvious, abrasive grind, and today, Torche's colorful development epitomizes that subtle weight.
"Steve sings and doesn't scream. That's something that differentiates Torche from any other band I've been in. He's just a good songwriter, and I was a fan of his work even before I joined the band," Smith continues, "We had similar influences that played into Torche -- the Melvins, and their classically heavy/lighthearted sound -- but he got me into so much I hadn't even thought of."
From the volcanic trotting of their first 2005 full-length, Torche, to their most recent 2012 full-length, Harmonicraft, the group's melodic take on sludge metal continues to pioneer an iconic subgenre within a subgenre. Their instrumentals explode at a manageable tempo, layered in vocal harmonies and sporadic riffs that scorch like meteors rupturing a clouded atmosphere. Their influences are apparent in their reverence for tradition, and what better way to honor a decade of "thunder-pop" than bringing it back to where it all began.
"Churchill's was the place we played our first show ever, back in 2004. We played with a band called the Heroin Sheiks, whose bass player was in the Melvins for a while. We heard they were playing and got on the bill," recalls Smith.
This Thursday, September 18, Torche will celebrate their ten-year anniversary at Churchill's Pub alongside South Florida locals Wastelands, Bruiser, and Haochi Waves.
Saturated with genuine bands that'll make you question what's heavy, the line-up is all too fitting for Torche's milestone. Oh, and did I mention It'll be your last chance to hear certain classics and rare tracks live? So go ape-shit and follow Torche down their melted rainbow of sludge this weekend. And keep your ear open for their new album coming out this February.
Torche's 10 Year Anniversary Celebration with Haochi Waves, Watelands, and Bruiser. 9 p.m., Thursday, September 18, at Churchill's Pub 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. Visit Facebook.