OTwo Interviews: Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons: Henry W. Laurisch, Edited: Laoise Tarrant

Isabella Ambrosio speaks to Jeremy Bolm of Touché Amoré about their beautiful new release Lament, and about the process and understanding of how the great record came to be.

Is Survived By was the first time I had ever heard of Touché Amoré. My brother came home after seeing them live and handed me the CD. Touché Amoré has been a part of my life ever since. Since their debut in 2009 with …To the Beat of a Dead Horse, Touché Amoré has released five studio albums, with one of them being a re-recording of their debut a decade later. Their most recent release, Lament, was highly anticipated after Stage Four, an album about Jeremy Bolm’s mother who passed away from cancer, which resonated strongly with Touché’s fanbase. And Bolm had no problem opening up about the pressures of recording Lament and his writing style.

Jeremy Bolm gave me a welcoming smile when he joined the Zoom call, sipping on an iced coffee from Starbucks, and the conversation was easy. Lament is a beautiful record featuring Bolm’s strong lyrical talents and ability to convey emotion through his voice. I asked Bolm about the writing process and whether or not Stage Four changed the way Touché Amoré approached this record; “Definitely in multiple ways, and in one way, it was fear of having to follow it. It took me forever to get writing because I knew the significance that record had on people and you’re like, ‘How can I connect with people on that level again? Is anything I write after that going to be, not necessarily as emotionally deep, but still impactful in any way?’ So, you know, in that regard, it motivated me to work harder than I think I’ve ever had to work. I think our third record, Is Survived By, I had really bad writer’s block on and made a lot of bad decisions when it came to getting that record made. I wrote most of it in the studio, which I regret, but it was a learning lesson - to allow myself the time to get it done and don’t assume it’ll get done. With this record, I really made myself work harder than I ever have before and I also reached out to a lot of different musicians and kind of got advice from them on how to tackle this. Because I’m not exactly unique in having to follow a record… Like, if you’re a band long enough, you likely have ‘the’ album that connects with people and you have to follow it. It felt like the right move to write it as an update to my life since releasing that record. Showing off the negatives as much as the positives, and all of the positive things in my life that have come since the release.”

Within Touché’s discography are some of the rawest, most vulnerable lyrics I know, which Bolm describes as sometimes ‘uncomfortable’. Lament showed this type of writing off beautifully in songs like the title track 'Lament', 'Limelight', 'A Broadcast' and 'I’ll Be Your Host'. I asked what it meant to him that he wrote so personally as well as how it affects him as a person and an artist; “I’ve always said the listener is kind enough to give us their attention at all, I need to do my best to be as open and real and transparent as possible because it’s not lost on me that there’s a bazillion things that people could be listening to or watching or whatever. With that demand in front of everybody all the time, I use that almost as motivation that ‘What can I give that someone else isn’t?’ And what that is, is blunt, often uncomfortable, honesty. For better or worse”. 

He chuckled at the end of this, and I asked if it ever takes a toll, “With the record before this one being so deeply personal and often uncomfortable because of how transparent I was about grief and suffering, that record to me, if anything, was the most helpful because that was how I dealt with my grief in general. I vented out all these different things that I was going through at that time that I’m still often going through now with that record. As for other things, it always feels like a weight coming off of me, getting to do this, and then also then feeling weirdly supported even though I don’t know how much people realise that listening to the songs in a way, is supporting me emotionally even though I know they’re likely just doing it because they like the band. It’s like having a lot of people right there to listen to your issues and your problems. It’s like a bunch of strangers being open to listening to what I’m going through.”

Bolm’s authenticity began a conversation about losing parents. We both lost mothers and I thanked him for writing a record that so vividly captured how I felt about losing mine. We had a conversation that I wasn’t sure we were going to have, relating over an album that would weigh heavily on anyone’s heart. We found a common thread between our mothers and it was their religious beliefs and how that effected either of us after they passed; “I feel like people that lose a parent that was deeply religious was like an added level of…” he struggles to find the words. “Psychological warfare?” I suggest and he laughs, nodding, “Psychological warfare, yeah, one hundred percent. Some of the most uncomfortable and devastating conversations I had with her leading up to her passing were religion-based. And then you’re dealing with pride and lying to your parent. Like when they say, ‘Do you believe in God?’ and you say, ‘No’ and then, they respond with something like, ‘Well, how am I going to see you later once I pass?’ and you’re like, Well, how do I respond to that?... There were times where I would try and change the subject, even before she passed, I think it became clear that I wasn’t…” He doesn’t finish the sentence. Bolm’s candidness with his own pain is something that every Touché fan can relate to and understand and often bring their own meanings to the song and Bolm says; ‘I’ll never correct them’"

Not only are Bolm’s lyrics beautiful on the album, but the bassline is absolutely stellar. Bolm then tells me about how Tyler Kirby, the bassist, and the producer of the album Ross Robinson would be in the studio with around forty pedals on the board, showing genuine excitement to try out new things on the record. The excitement and passion for that sections shine through on the album, complimenting the drums and heavy riffs that Touché fans have come to know and love, while balancing the album out with a few melodies that leave you swaying your head instead of banging it.