MIAMI-BASED heavy metal band Torche has been going strong since 2004, but a shakeup in 2017 caused them to shuffle roles. With the departure of guitarist Andrew Elstner at the end of 2016, they could have easily hired someone new. Instead, bassist Jon Nuñez decided to move to guitar and the band brought in bassist Eric Hernandez.
That shuffle brought about new creative energy, which was evident on the band’s most recent release—last year’s Admission.
“The major change was Steve, Eric, and myself bringing songs that were completely written to the table. That was about three songs a piece, and then two were collaborative,” Nuñez tells Connect ahead of the band’s headlining set at AURA Fest Underground Weekend on Feb. 22 at the Jinx.
“We were writing all over the place, from Gainesville to Miami, a couple of sessions in L.A. The changing of instruments definitely impacted the sound.”
Nuñez was no stranger to playing guitar on Torche records. In fact, he’d often contribute overdubs to songs in the studio, “rounding out” the recordings and accenting arrangements. This was different, though. This was the chance for him to contribute entirely to the scope of the songs on a completely different instrument.
“Moving over to guitar was kind of cool, because I was able to not only continue [playing on the records] but also do it live,” he says. “I was able to not just blend into the mix, but have things that I want more at the forefront of the music and even be the spotlight.”
The amazing part of this story began with the challenge of building a live rig in his new role. Not only did Nuñez design and build a rig for himself that encompassed everything he needed in a live setting, it also inspired a business venture.
“Due to changing to guitar, I was really unhappy with my initial sound. It turned out that I’d grown very used to feeling a certain power from the bass rig. Pushing air and having a certain tonal depth that I hadn’t been prepared to wave goodbye to, if you will,” he says.
“I ended up working with a good friend of mine and we designed a head that’s actually two guitar heads in one. It has extreme versatility EQ-wise, and there’s way more expansion in the top end and bottom end.”
Building that “Frankenstein” amp rig, as Nuñez calls it, led to him wanting to build more—resulting in Nuñez Amplification, a boutique amp and pedal company.
“It led to a bass pedal being made, and a guitar pedal being made, and now there’s a whole equipment line. Once people started hearing the records and on stage, people noticed. They found it to be a tool, much like I did, to not be content or complacent with sound. It was like, ‘You choose your sound. Here’s a lot of frequency bandwidth, a ton of gain—do whatever you want,’” he says.
“After being on the brink of insanity with this shit, luckily other people liked it too.”
The band’s lineup shift didn’t just lead to a revitalized creative energy in Torche, it also led to a new venture that has opened up the same musical and tonal possibilities for other guitar players.
“It was a long journey,” Nuñez says. “It was happening for around two to three years. The equipment itself is the sound of Admission.”