Torchlight Parade

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I was really curious to know more about Torchlight Parade and their new record “Never Laugh When A Hearse Rolls By” so I asked some questions to the band themselves! The words that follow explain why these artists are so intriguing and original!

Who are Torchlight Parade? Tell me about when and how the project was born.

Many metal bands play into the imagery and themes of death but few, if any, live it every day the way we do. Torchlight Parade was formed in a St. Louis, Missouri funeral home, by three morticians; hearse driver/guitarist Doug Engel, embalmer/singer Matt Engel, and drummer/funeral director Greg Umfleet. The band first started way back in 2008, but reformed in 2015, soon adding non-mortician guitarist Danny Nichols and bassist Larry Hunter. The band’s name is meant to invoke the image of an ancient funeral procession, with lyrics and a live show along that theme.

“Never Laugh …” is a concept album. Would you like to describe the story, and how did you decide the theme as well as the order of the tracks?

There is a story which weaves throughout the album. Nowadays, most people consume music one track at a time, and the album format is dying. However, we are of the generation where listening to the full album was important, and have thus tried to make the track order an essential part of the listening experience. Here is one very loose explanation of the song order and basic themes. “Vestibule” is an instrumental which kicks off the funeral ceremony. “Never Laugh When A Hearse Rolls By” is the title track and an overview of the band’s role of ringmaster of the funeral procession. “She’s Gone” is a ballad which establishes a death and the mourning of the survivors. “Crucifer Rising” is about the funeral ceremony itself. “Last Ride” is another instrumental providing a soundtrack for the hearse ride. From here, we get into the afterlife. “Where Fire Grows” and “Are You Ready” deal with themes of judgement. “Love Is The Answer” and “Teltelestai” are on the themes of redemption. “Rock N Soul Ceremony” is another anthem about the funeral ceremony, serving as a kind of a bookend to the title track. The album then ends with Teddy on the keyboards for the instrumental outro “The Committal” which is about closure and salvation. This is just a loose overview of how the songs thematically line-up to tell a bit of a story, and listeners can find their own interpretations of the songs.

You play heavy metal with a lot of elements of various nature and influence. How do you approach the composition?

Guitarist and hearse driver Doug Engel is the primary composer of the songs. His brother, embalmer/singer Matt Engel, and he work together on the lyrics. They are great about letting the rest of the band contribute to the composition of the songs, with their individual playing styles and ideas, but the two brothers are the masterminds behind the songs for sure. Doug will show up with a mostly formulated song to rehearsals and we will play on it and fine tune it until we get it just right. I know there were a couple of solos on the album, where Doug had one solo planned, but then worked out an entirely new and even better solo on his drive to the studio.

Are there any bands or artists that have particularly inspired you?

Our style is classic heavy metal, which we think is reminiscent of bands like Judas Priest, Twisted Sister and sometimes Black Sabbath. Our stage show, imagery and sometimes our sound is also informed by Alice Cooper, Kiss and W.A.S.P.

Which ones are your favourite songs on the record?

My favourite song is the title track “Never Laugh When A Hearse Rolls By” as I feel it contains all the elements which define the band both lyrically and sonically, and has keyboards by Teddy Andreadis and a solo by Sam Bam Kolton. A close second for me is “Rock N Soul Ceremony”, I love the pace and the energy. It reminds me of Motörhead. That was the most challenging song to record on the album.

There are two guests on the album, Teddy Andreadis on keyboards and Sam Bam Koltun for a solo. How did you get in touch with them and how did you persuade them to participate in the recordings?

Teddy Andreadis is also the keyboardist for fellow former Guns N’ Roses bandmate Gilby Clarke’s solo band. Back in March 2021, Gilby Clarke played two nights at the Casa Loma Ballroom in St. Louis to debut his new album with Teddy, and we were the opening band. We met Teddy then and he watched our show. I think he enjoyed the vaudevillian aspect of our show which was reminiscent of his days as the keyboard player for Alice Cooper. He is a really great guy, we hit it off very well and he was interested in playing on our album, which we were in the middle of recording at that time. He is truly a legend on the keys and everything he recorded was just perfect!

Sam Bam Koltun is the best new guitarist on the planet right now, and is the pride of St. Louis. We have had the privilege of opening for Faster Pussycat a couple of times which is how we got to know Sam. He has even joined us on stage for a couple of covers. We were very honoured when he wanted to play a solo on the album, and it is amazing.

How is the new album being received by your fans and the general public?

So far it has been received very positively by those who have heard it and we have already gone through the first order of CDs and are getting set to do a re-order. Although we have played most of the songs on it live already, we haven’t done a proper CD release show yet, which is when I expect most people will be hearing the whole thing for the first time.

Do you have any dates to promote it in your country?

We have a few dates set up in the St. Louis area to start promoting the new album, with the first of these set for August 12th, at 21 Rock In Arnold, Missouri.

Have you ever played in Europe? It would be fun to see your show here too!

It would be tough to make a go of it in Europe with the cost overhead of an international tour, but there is always a chance. I love Italy! Guitarist Danny Nichols doesn’t have a cool funeral home job like the other guys but he does have dual Italian citizenship through his Italian family who live in Fanzaso, Italy. He was especially excited to see the interview request come in from Italy.

Are you already planning to publish new material in the future?

There is a new television show set to premiere on Roku in 2023 about time travelling vikings and vampires called the Gateway. They reached out to us and asked us to submit a couple of songs for their soundtrack. We went into the studio and wrote two songs, one about vikings and the other about vampires and sent it to them. They told us they loved them and would be using them in their show. If they do make an appearance in the show, we have talked about releasing an EP or single of the two songs after the show airs, but time will tell if that comes to pass. We hope so.


Open space: greetings, thanks and insults! Say what you want!

Thank you so much for the wonderful review and the opportunity for this interview! We enjoy Heavy Metal Webzine and it is an honour to appear there.

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