Torche, Big Business

Miami has earned its fair share of notoriety over the last 30 years, but most of it has been nothing to brag about: The Liberty City Riots, the Mariel Boatlift, and the Cocaine Wars of the early 1980s recast the formerly sleepy beach town/retirement colony as a lawless urban hellscape crowded with pimps, powder queens and cutthroats, where liquor-store shootouts, revenge bombings and police corruption threatened to drown the tourist trade in an ocean of blood, booze, and yayo. But now the peace-loving citizens of Miami finally have something they can hoist high as an enduring emblem of cultural and civic pride (besides KC & the Sunshine Band, Gloria Estefan and 2 Live Crew, obviously) …

Enter Torche, the four-pronged Floridian Riff Colossus that has steamrolled its way across the international underground. Led by vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks (formerly of doom dropouts Floor) and featuring the myriad talents of drummer Rick Smith, bassist Jonathan Nuñez and guitarist Juan Montoya, Torche unfurled their self-titled debut in 2005 via Richmond, Virginia’s Robotic Empire. The glorious half-hour of blissed-out power-grooves, triumphant vocal harmonies and cosmic resonance within was variously hailed as “stoner pop,” “thunder rock,” and “doom pop,” but a consensus was quickly reached within the Fourth Estate: Both the underground and mainstream press had their hands halfway down their pants just thinking about listening to Torche. The band was immediately lauded as giants among men, leaders among sheep, and powerbrokers of a deadly new sonic idiom founded upon Brooks’ signature “bomb-string” detonation-detune. As Decibel magazine so righteously pointed out in May of 2005, Torche “carries on in the dizzying Sabbathian tradition of Floor, only potentially more bottomless and epic.” Seven months later, the same publication would declare Torche as the # 7 album of the year in its annual top 40.

“Never let it be said that bong-rock types hate hooks,” Spin magazine announced. “Torche set their guitars on ‘dirge,’ work their vocal harmonies, and say amen to Foo Fighters’ riff-o-matic preaching.”

“At long last, we know what life would be like in a parallel universe where the Melvins became a pop sensation instead of Nirvana,” Revolver magazine added.

With the verdicts in, Torche swiftly set out to slay, punish & conquer. Stateside tours with Scottish post-rock marvels Mogwai and hypno-metal heroes Isis ensued, as did a European invasion with Savannah sludge captains Baroness. “[Torche’s] debut jaunt to the UK will undoubtedly leave a monumental impression on the audiences they have played for as they mix the pop-tinged catchiness of tracks such as ‘In Return’ and ‘Erase’ with the likes of ‘Iron Girl’ and boil it down to a cocktail of raw and powerful sludge-filled beauty,” Terrorizer magazine gushed after witnessing the band’s show at the Manchester Attic. Rock Sound issued similar proclamations after the London Underworld show: “Louder than a really loud thing, Torche hit the stage with all the grace and subtlety of a misfired nuclear warhead. Sounding far fiercer than on record, the Florida outfit’s ‘bomb-string’ assault is truly a thing to behold.”

So: Citizens of Miami, rejoice. Music fans, exult. Torche are about to rule your stereo and your face all over again.

Big Business

Big Business is a stoner rock / sludge band formed in 2004. Originally from the Seattle area, the band relocated to Los Angeles in February, 2006. Band currently signed to Hydra Head Records.

Big Business is a three-piece band composed of Jared Warren of Karp, The Whip and Tight Bros From Way Back When, Coady Willis of The Murder City Devils and Dead Low Tide, and, as of early 2008, Toshi Kasai.

In 2006, Jared and Coady were asked to join the Melvins who were once again without a bass player after Kevin Rutmanis had been added to the bassist morgue. They recorded A Senile Animal in July 2006, and started a U.S. tour in September with Big Business, among others, opening up. During these shows they were sometimes joined by Melvins drummer Dale Crover on guitar.

Early 2007 saw the release of Big Business's second full length album Here Come The Waterworks, again on Hydra Head. The album was recorded in Seattle, shortly after they had finished the recordings for A Senile Animal with the Melvins. David Scott Stone - a musician who has often played and recorded with the Melvins - contributes guitar and moog synthesizer on the album.

In 2008 Melvins released a new album, Nude with Boots, which features Jarred and Coady as part of the band again. Melvins are currently on tour supporting the Nude with Boots, with Big Business opening for them.


Thrones is the project of Joe Preston, a Seattle musician who played bass in Earth and Melvins. Conceived in 1994, Thrones emerged with a cassette (on Punk In My Vitamins) and with the single Reddleman/Algol (Punk In My Vitamins) . The album Alraune (Communion, 1996) presented an infinitely more mature musician, a full-fledged composer, and one who likes to take chances. The single Senex/Silvery Colorado (Soda Girl Records) was followed by the EP White Rabbit, White Rabbit (Kill Rock Stars, 1999). While these recordings overflow with ideas, and Preston's realization is always inventive, it is hard to define what Thrones is all about. Preston sounds more like someone who is looking for a style, rather than one who has a style. These are still formative works.

The EP Sperm Whale (Kill Rock Stars, 2000) refines Preston's approach in a more focused manner. While still spread 360 degrees all over the musical front, the tracks zoom on a tragic poet and his quest for a noir atmosphere. The whirlwind of distortions, android samplings and science-fiction sounds in the instrumental Oso Malo resembles the most nightmarish Six Finger Satellite, but the cavernous Melvins sludge is only a few minutes away. Preston's true soul is in these extreme sonic experiments, that balance grunge heaviness and an almost jazz aesthetics: the threnody for bass and electronics that opens Ephraim, the ominous bass theme that carries a loud distortion in Manmtn, the exoteric requiem from which Obolus takes off. Preston's tactic is to rip these morbid moods apart with torrid, infernal riffs and grooves. The effect is particularly gripping in Obolus, a veritable prayer from the underworld. In between the major experiments, Preston still enjoys surreal diversions. The best one here is Nuts And Berries, that comes through as a grindcore version of Syd Barrett.

After a five-year hiatus, Day Late Dollar Short (Southern Lord, 2005) collects singles an rarities.



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