Torn Away – Interview
Interview with Joe Huls (Bass b/voc) of Torn Away and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
JH: I play bass and do back up vocals in the band “Torn Away”. I like to call us melodic groove metal. Our goal has always been to get you headbanging and to keep the song stuck long in your head after we are done playing.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
JH: I was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I always wanted to be a chef when I grew up, so I moved to Portland, Oregon to go to one of the best culinary schools in the country. Did really well there, graduated with honors. I worked in the culinary field for quite a few years while playing in some bands on the side. Got married, had a kid, got divorced. Music has always been a constant for me, though.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
JH: Musical influences I would have to say include Jason Newsted, Duff McKagan, David Gilmour – everything he plays is so emotional and with a purpose… Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath is an absolutely huge one for me. As far as non-musical influences – that’s just everyday life. Being with my daughter Brianna is a constant source of ideas and influence. She’s six and she’s an absolute pistol. I teach her about old Metallica songs, and she teaches me what all the kids in first grade are listening too.. It’s been a lot of Taylor Swift actually. Being out in nature away from people is a big one for me. Getting those quiet times alone, with no sounds of the city to distract you, just fresh air and the sounds of nature. Watching the news and seeing all the crap happening these days can influence you – these days, it often will influence an angry riff or lyrics.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
JH: At this point, I would really call being able to play music as a living as a pretty great success. I love the creative process of being in a band, taking a riff from creation to it’s final form in a song. I love getting on stage and throwing down with my friends in front of a group of people, feeding off the energy that they send up to the stage. I would love to be able to play larger shows. I would love to be able to tour to some places I’ve always wanted to go… Japan… Italy…. Iceland… New Zealand… I would love to have some of my musical heroes hear our music, and have them tell us that they really dig what we are doing.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
JH: For the most part, myself, Moe on guitar, and Kevin on drums will put the music together. We are really good at jamming different ideas and developing them into more cohesive things. When we get a piece of music that is further developed, we will usually present it to our singer Cameron. Cameron has an absolutely remarkable ability to write terrific lyrics in a very short amount of time and come up with terrific vocal melodies. For the most part, though, it always starts out with a single riff or part… We have a song called “Viscera Enigma” that was actually written based around a pretty unique drum part that Kevin had started jamming. Maybe one day, someone will have a nearly completed song and present it to the rest of the band, but that hasn’t happened yet. We really enjoy the collaborative process, working together, and hammering out the different parts.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
JH: Facebook is the big one these days. We are from Flint, Michigan. There aren’t a ton of places to play around here and the heavy music scene is much smaller than other places, although we are lucky in that it’s pretty tight knit. When we are able to get over to bigger cities, we’ve been fortunate that we’ve played with some bigger and more well known bands so we were able to play in front of new crowds and convert them to Torn Away fans.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
JH: Back in the day, Kazaa and Napster were everywhere… You never knew what you would get with that though. These days, it’s really not necessary though. Between Youtube, Spotify, Bandcamp, it’s so easy to find amazing bands under the radar. There is so much great stuff worth listening to that’s not on the radio, you just have to be willing to take a little bit and really look for something that will scratch that itch on what you want to hear.
PD: What song do you wish you had written and why?
JH: “Orion” by Metallica is about the coolest song ever. It’s one of my favorite ones to play, it’s got amazing riffs, a terrific groove, and it goes through all these different epic parts. “Angry Again” by Megadeth is a nostalgic choice for me, as that was my favorite song for many, many years. It really encapsulated all the things I love about heavy music in one hard driving four minute song.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
JH: Honestly, it’s kind of lame…. When we are playing a show, having to park and load in too far from where the stage is. Having to lug all of our equipment all across the venue can be a pain. The first time we played in Detroit, we played this place called the Corktown Tavern. This is one of those famous old school places in Detroit…Everyone there has played it. Corktown has this really tall and narrow staircase to the second level, where the music area is. Hauling bass amps and guitar cabs up there was not fun. My drummer Kevin has an absolutely huge drumkit that would do Alex Van Halen proud…. that was a nightmare. Plus, it’s not in the best area of Detroit, so we had to keep someone outside while we were loading up to make sure no one would steal our stuff.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
JH: The first time I played in front of more than 1,000 people was pretty cool. You get to a certain point where there are so many people out there, they stop being individuals and become just a living, breathing mass. In a way, there was a lot of freedom in that. In my old band, we did a music video that was a lot of fun and we got to feature my daughter in there which is really cool. How many little kids can say they were an integral part of a music video? With Torn Away, the best is yet to come. Honestly, I’m really proud and happy every time we get on stage and we kick into our first song. You see folks standing there and then we kick into the groove and people just can’t stand still.. They start headbanging and moving around and that’s awesome.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
JH: We are waiting on our new mixer to arrive and then we are going to start recording our official debut, which we plan on calling “AS WE RISE.” We are always working on new songs… Planning on doing a couple of music videos. A friend of mine actually creates a great cartoon called WACKED (www.wackedshow.com – shameless plug!!) and he is going to do an animated music video for us which we are super excited about. Even when we are not playing or practicing together, I am always trying to find people to do interviews with, different ways to promote the band and get our name and music out there. Torn Away is a seven days a week kind of job.
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.
JH: Everything that we have has been cancelled, thanks to the coronavirus. Fortunately, we knew that we were going to be recording soon, so we only had a handful of shows that had to be cancelled, but it still sucks. There are a lot of our friends out there that have been hit really hard by all this crap. We’ve seen some bands do live streaming performances on like Facebook live and stuff and that’s actually a really cool idea. There are still some options out there for bands. The governor of Michigan has shut down all bars and restaurants to prevent the spread of coronavirus so that has limited our options, but it has not killed our spirit. We live in Flint – by nature, we are tenacious and we are fighters. We know hardships better than most. This is just another thing we have to get through.