This Mile End quintet have got us all a-jitter with their smart, sparsely arranged, rousing guitar (yes, we said guitar) epics. There’s three Torches stunners up on Soundcloud to date, a couple of beautifully gloomy press pics and Wernzer Herzog, The Fall, Moderat and The Knife all cited as inspirations. We need to know more.
Poetic, passionate and brimming with ideas is how we expect frontman Charlie Drinkwater to be when we’re connected (via a computerized lady voice and cheesy samba track), and that’s exactly what we get over the course of an hour and a half long phonecall that takes in everything from the recession to Rihanna, cultural appropriation, Topshop, Borges and “fucking Michael Bublé”. Phew.
Hi Charlie, wow conference calls are weird aren’t they?
Hello, yeah, very strange. It’s my first one so wasn’t sure what to do.
Well we got there in the end. So we’re big fans of Torches already at Best Fit and there seems to be a nice buzz around you at the moment, how are you feeling about how it’s all going?
Thank you. I feel really very positive about it all. There’s buzz there but it’s not overbearing. This time last year we put up a couple of tracks on Soundcloud and they got picked up by a few people who seemed to like them but it feels like we’re being given time to develop which is a good thing. When we started it was very much just us producing our demos in our basement and from there we’ve had time to go out, play those songs and write better songs and just generally get better as a band. It’s all been very encouraging so far, I couldn’t be happier with it.
Your debut single ‘Sky Blue & Ivory’ (out 23 July) is a real anthem but you’ve got quite a few of those under your belts already. Why did you choose to release this track first?
For us it showcased a moment in time of where we are with the band. It’s quite a sparse song, and that’s what we try to do with our music, just rigorously strip it back and strip it back so there’s not actually a huge amount to it but keep the momentum and energy. Performing it live, it feels urgent and pretty big and it feels like quite a rallying call for what we are doing.
You record and produce everything in the basement of your Mile End flat in London, would you say living there has informed your sound?
Oh yes. London is a huge point of reference for what we do and who we are, it’s such a breeding ground, an incredible place for germinating ideas. And it’s the great creator and the great destroyer because it can chew you up and spit you out. With the creative process you are holding up a mirror to where you are and who you are and the time you live in, and inherently we are trying to write these big songs and intelligent pop music that reflects all of that, and the emotions that come from that.
So you’re holding up this mirror to your world, what’s the mirror showing?
I think hopefully it shows what it is to be young and in the city, living in a global and local recession. There are lots of great bands out there writing songs that are about partying and that has its place, but sometimes I feel you have to communicate something more. That’s what we’re really interested in, building a level of communication with people and I hope that emotion and that intensity of communication comes across because it’s something that we really strive for. We want people to hear our music and feel something special from it.
The words “doom” and “gloom” crop up a lot in reviews of your music so far, but I get a real sense of hope from your music too. Yes it’s unsettling but it’s also very uplifting too…
Well thank you, that’s interesting, I would say so too. I don’t really mind people saying we’re gloomy, it means they’re appreciating the emotion, and some of my favourite music is melancholy, but at the same time we’re trying to build that level of communication that doesn’t just encompass sadness, it encompasses joy too.
There’s a sense in your music too of a kind of knowing youth, you seem wise beyond your years… would you agree with that?
Yeah, that’s interesting, we’re in our mid 20s so there is a definite sense of being not quite young and not yet old… and having access to the Internet, the world has never been as open, it’s an encyclopaedia of the world and opens up so many avenues and histories, you have to explore it and be aware of your history. I’m aware of what influences me, and the music and film directors and books I like and that is part of who you are in the now and you can’t escape that. It’s too formative. You have to use those things as a tool and try and create something that only you can do with all of those influences.