My first time hearing the band Torch was in 2018. I thought I would check out some of their set at Sweden Rock Festival. This is why I love going to Sweden Rock to hear bands you have never heard of or bands that don’t tour in Canada. Getting home I decided to listen to them on the internet as they formed in 1981. Fast forward to 2020 and great news, Torch has a new album coming out and the video for their new single “Collateral Damage” is absolutely amazing. Soon after hearing this, I find myself with the new album Reignited. A very strong release that has Top 10 of 2020 potential. With close to 300 releases this year, we will see how my Top 10 develops in December. I decided I would take up the offer of doing an email interview as I would love to get to know the band Torch.
IAN GREG OF TORCH (Interview)
- 1 – It all started in 1980. Can you give us a little history lesson on how the 5 members of the band met to form Torch?
Chris, Steve and Claus were playing in a band called Black Widow. Their bass player/singer decided to join the band Crystal Pride and they had to look for replacements. They found me and we started Torch. We managed to find a singer named Stefan Vedholm. Unfortunately, our excessive use of smoke and pyrotechnics destroyed his voice. He only lasted two gigs. Steve had played in a band with Dan and suggested him. When we first heard Dan, we knew he was our guy – and Torch was formed.
- 2 – 1982 you released your first EP. What was the process of recording your own demos and how was the relationship with Thomas Sunmo?
There was a small recording studio in our hometown Eskilstuna. We managed to save enough money to make a demo. We sent them to the record companies, but none were interested (since heavy metal was not “in”). Thomas heard the tapes and started checking with his contacts. He eventually found Tandan Records that agreed to finance the first EP with Thomas producing. The EP was a success and Tandan signed us. Our relationship with Thomas was always good. He was like the older brother and we were the unruly kids, so of course, we had our fights. He’s still a good friend and now works with Sabaton and some other bands.
- 3 – You released the S/T album in 1983 and Electrikiss in 1984. Tell us about the tours to support these albums? Did you have headlining shows as well as opening for which bands?
We primarily toured Sweden. One interesting tour was together with Axewitch and Silver Mountain (with Anders Johansson (Yngwie, Hammerfall, Manowar etc.) and Jens Johansson (Yngwie, Ritchie Blackmore etc.). We travelled around Sweden in an old Postal bus and caused mayhem across Sweden. There were a lot of crazy stuff going on and even some sabotaging and fights between Axewitch and Silver Mountain. When we released Electrikiss, we also toured Holland and Belgium and got to play the very cool Paradiso club. The only time we’ve played as warmup-act was for Motörhead, which was a real blast.
- 4 – In 1986 you played one last gig as a band (you thought). You played in the same venue as your first ever gig. Tell us about your last show?
At that point we were burnt-out. All the stuff around us was very time-consuming. Just to play a gig was like planning an invasion of a country. We decided to call it quits by going back to our roots. Just a simple gig in the club we once started in and just focus on the music. That gig was fantastic! Afterwards, it felt strange, since we knew it was our last gig together,
- 5 – What did the members of Torch do for all the years leading up to getting the band together?
Claus moved to LA and eventually joined Masi as a bass player. I was totally fed up with the music industry. I got myself a normal job and didn’t touch the bass for 10 years. Steve and Chris joined Crystal Pride. When Crystal Pride split, Chris carried on playing in various cover and tribute bands. That’s where he met Håkky (our new guitar player). Dan also sang in a number of different tribute bands, including an Accept tribute band.
- 6 – In 2009 Dan put a band together under the name Torch and re-recorded 13 tracks and added 2 new songs. How did this come about and how was the reception to the release from the fans?
Dan had understood that a lot of people still wanted to hear Torch. He contacted us, but no one was ready to reunite. He then decided to go ahead with some other musicians. I think that the reception was fairly good, but the fans wanted the original Torch lineup.
- 7 – In 2013 you played on a rock cruise. Which cruise was this and how was the experience getting the guys together and playing live for the first time after so many years?
It was called Rock At Sea and included bands like Uriah Heep, Civil War and many others. They approached us and wanted us to do a gig. This was what finally made us reunite Torch. Unfortunately, Claus was not available, so we brought Håkky in. Bringing Håkky in was a real blessing. Not only is he a great guitar player that has played with Chris for many years, but he also knows a lot about arranging, recording etc.. Håkky has really added another dimension to Torch. It sounded great when we rehearsed, but we were worried if we still had the same energy. As soon as we hit the stage it was the same mayhem as in the old days, so there was no need to worry. The reception from the audience was overwhelming. Just the other day we had a mail from a guy that worked the Rock At Sea cruises for 8 years. He said that our gig was the best he saw in those 8 years.
- 8 – After the cruise, you played some gigs. Which countries did you play?
We only played in Sweden. We quickly realized that we needed (and wanted) new music, so we decided to focus on writing and only do occasional gigs.
- 9 – 2018 I discovered Torch, as every year I come from Canada to Sweden Rock Festival. Not knowing who Torch was I thought I would check out the live show. I was blown away with your sound. How was it playing at such a huge festival?
It was totally amazing! To play the same festival as our heroes Judas Priest, Ozzy and Iron Maiden was like a dream. Sweden Rock is such a well-organized festival, It runs like clockwork and you feel really welcome as a band. We didn’t know how many would turn up for our gig since there are multiple shows going on at the same time. When we saw the turnout and reception we received, it was magic!
- 10 – 2019 Torch decided to start writing material for a new album. You teamed up with Jacob Hansen who has done some incredible releases. How was the process of writing the new material?
It really started with me showing the guys some songs I’ve written in the last years. I didn’t know if they were any good, but as soon as they added their input it sounded like Torch. After those initial songs, it was very easy for me to write the other songs. Steve used to come up with the riffs in the old days, and he contributed with the great songs “In The Dead Of Night” and “Cradle To Grave” on this album. We then went ahead and recorded everything in Håkky’s studio. We wanted someone from the outside to do the mixing. We all loved the sound on UDO’s Steel Factory, and when Jacob accepted to mix us we were more than happy. We told him that we wanted to mix “old-school” and modern. I think Jacob achieved just that. He’s a wizard!
- 11 – Now 2020 is here and the new album Reignited will be coming out soon. Tell us about coming up with the title of the album and is there a concept to the album when writing the lyrics?
The title is referring to the fact that we’re now reunited. Since we’re named Torch, it’s a fitting description. There’s no real concept to the lyrics. They’re just about the things we care about e.g. our love of Heavy Metal (“All Metal, No Rust” and “Feed The Flame”), terrorism and fanaticism (“Collateral Damage”) and the challenges the world is facing (“To The Devil His Due”)
- 12 – I think you have a wicked cover for Reignited, which will be a great concert shirt. Who is the artist for the artwork throughout the new album and how did you meet?
We were determined to use a real painting and not anything digital, since digital tends to be quite lifeless. When we started to look at covers we liked, we found Don’t Break the Oath by Mercyful Fate. We found out that the artist was Thomas Holm. We didn’t know if he was still active, but finally, we found him, and he created this great painting.
- 13 – Do you have a favourite song on the album?
It’s like asking who your favourite child is, so it’s a tough question. My favourite tends to vary, but I really like how “To The Devil His Due” turned out. It’s probably the heaviest song we’ve created and it’s definitely the longest. This is what happens when you leave two guitarists in the studio to record a short acoustical outro.
- 14 – Your first single “Collateral Damage”. You released a lyrical video. Will there be an actual video for a 2nd release?
Because of Covid-19, it’s been hard to record a real video. The second one will also be a lyrical video, but this time around we’ve used a lot of old and new video clips and pics. It’s definitely entertaining.
- 15 – You have a show coming up. Can you tell us about that?
We wanted to do a release party, but due to Corona-19 restrictions, you’re only allowed to have 50 people in the audience. We’ve decided to do two shows in our hometown on Oct 9th and Oct 10th.
We’re playing in an old cinema, and the tickets sold out in minutes.
- 16 – Would you consider doing an online show since we cannot put too many people in a venue due to COVID-19?
Yes, the first show on Oct 9th will be live-streamed at Liveandstream.se. Hopefully, our fans across the globe will be able to attend our release party over the Internet. We’ll be doing a bunch of songs from Reignited, but of course some old classics as well.
- 17 – Can you pick the most memorable show you have done as a band and why?
I have to pick the Sweden Rock show. We had no idea what to expect and then it turned into a magical show.
- 18 – What was the first concert you saw, and if there was one band or artist (dead or alive) you wish you could see or could have seen who what that be?
My first concert was Status Quo in my hometown when I was 12. I was knocked out!
I’ve seen tons of great concerts, including Ozzy with Randy Rhoads so I’m blessed. Of the existing bands, I’d love to see Alice in Chains, who I’ve managed to miss. Seeing Led Zeppelin would of course be magical.
- 19 – Any embarrassing moments you care to share with Torch playing live?
There are many embarrassing moments, but I’ll pick one that is more fun than embarrassing. We once played a biker club in the Netherlands. The place was packed, and it was hotter than hell. Of course, we forgot about drinking water and stuck to drinking beer. Halfway through the set, we could feel the drums slowing down, but then they recovered. It turns out that Steve fainted, but then woke up when his head hit the snare drum and continued playing. A true Metal warrior.
Thank you to Ian Greg of Torch to take the time to sit down and answer my questions. Go to their Facebook page to follow the band and check out their website.
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin
Shawn “Animalize” Irwin photo galleries, written reviews and more: Shawn “Animalize” Irwin
Reignited is set for international release on September 25th via Metalville Records. See and hear Torch‘s lyric video for “Collateral Damage” below and catch Torch music on CGCM Radio.
TORCH lineup 2020
Dan Dark – vocals
Chris J First – guitar
Håkky – guitar
Ian Greg – bass
Steve Streaker – drums