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New Torche Guitarist: I’m Joining ‘Because I’m a Fan’

Torche are a band that there can just never be enough of — from the monstrous hooks and harmonies that put ‘Meanderthal’ on everyone’s best-of-2008 list to the most recent stoner glaze of ‘Songs for Singles.’ But after two years as a trio — the result of guitarist Juan Montoya ending his tenure with a pre-show fist fight with frontman/guitarist Steve Brooks — the band has returned to being a foursome with the addition of guitarist Andrew Elstner.

“I have no desire to come in and be like, ‘Hey let’s change some things,’” Elstner told Noisecreep while he was off tying up loose ends for his move from St. Louis to Atlanta. “I’m joining the band because I’m a fan.”

Known for “prettying up a song real quick” in his former band Riddle of Steel and his current band Tilts — which he plans to try and continue — Elstner has been a candidate for the coveted slot for quite some time now. Soon after Montoya excited Torche, Brooks e-mailed Elstner to see if he was available. But with schedules and close to 10 hours driving distance apart, his audition was put on hold as Brooks, bassist Jonathan Nuñez and drummer Rick Smith wanted to give it a run as a trio.

This past January, the riff gods aligned time just right for Elstner to head down to the Torche’s practice hub in Gainesville, Fla. to jam. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a miscommunication — Elstner learned all the old material thinking that would be the focus of his trying out, but it was about writing new material.

“That’s cool,” the guitarist said, recalling the surprise of that week, “but I felt unprepared because I hadn’t come up with anything.”

He continued, laughing, still seemingly excited that he now plays in one of his favorite bands, “It was a blast in that cold, grey practice room. Those guys work insanely hard and work steady hours. They work harder than any band I’ve played in.” A Torche practice and writing session is understood to be well over half a day.

Elstner admitted the first time he heard Torche he was quite blown away, having received a copy of the self-titled debut when his former band briefly shared a label with Torche. But it was seeing them live that made him a fan. “It absolutely destroyed me,” he remembered. “Oh my God. It was the first time in along time I was scared to talk to a band. I was just so in awe.”

Of course there are some who aren’t so happy about Elstner leaving Missouri — mainly the young kids he teaches guitar lessons to. Needless to say, the parents were curious who their child’s teacher was leaving the Midwest for. “I wanted to send them links, but every review — and you got to put yourself in my shoes — I can’t send a review to a Torche record that says ‘sludgy, stoner, bong-ripping.’ The parents would pull their kids out of the lesson.”

One 11-year-old student was able to check out a Torche video. “He was like, ‘Oh man. They are bad. I don’t like them at all. That band sucks.’” From there, Elstner was asked to show the young one how to play a Disturbed song.

The opinion of youngsters aside, Elstner is chomping at the bit to get things going. “I’m pretty excited to see what were gonna come up with,” admitted. “We technically have 10 rough demos. They’re demos in the sense that there are beginnings, middles, changes and ends — but there’s no lyrics.”

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