Mention Black Sabbath and TV talent shows, and what comes to mind is Sharon Osbourne sandwiched between Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh. Back in 2015, however, Tony Iommi took the Mrs O role on Sky’s Guitar Star, the winner of which was 12-year-old shredder Alfie Glass. Seven years on, Glass is the frontman with riff machines Torus.
“That was a great moment for me,” he says, reflecting on his brush with the Iron Man. “I was shitting myself. Sabbath were a massive influence for me. I got the chance to jam Into The Void with him. It was a heavenly moment. He said I write great riffs. From the riff lord, you can’t get any better than that.”
Glass’s riff wizardry has come on further since. Peppered with chunky AC/DC riffs smothered in a smoky, grungy, stoner sound, Torus’s debut EP Sail whets the appetite for the Milton Keynes group’s future. Pre-lockdown, though, and Glass and bassist Harry Quinn were in danger of suffering some serious band fatigue.
“We were playing in seven bands at once. I’m not even joking!” Glass explains. “Torus became the thing we wanted to put our focus into. People were getting confused with what bands we were in. We wanted everyone to know that Torus is the band.”
“Torus started as Alfie’s solo project, but during lockdown I started getting my foot in a bit more, and it’s become this fifty-fifty collaboration,” says Quinn. “Our old drummer left us during lockdown. That forced us to work together and… like each other [laughs].”
After a succession of drummers, they’ve finally settled on Jack Orr. Getting the job wasn’t plain sailing for him, though, having originally been passed over by the band at his first audition.
“Our standards were way too high!” Glass says of the situation. “We wanted John Bonham; if it wasn’t John Bonham, we weren’t having it. But we tried him out again a year later and realised he is a John Bonham!”
An Iommi-approved riff master up front, a young Bonzo on drums… what’s not to like? And it’s a combination that is winning plenty of fans. Live, a sweat-drenched Torus deliver gargantuan riffs and thick, monstrous grooves.
“The first show back [after lockdown] was stupidly good,” says Quinn. “It felt like a weird dream. A few hundred people were there, it was just brilliant. We’d only released one or two songs, so everything else was brand new. It was strange and exciting.”
Exciting indeed. We reckon this band are a bit special. They’re to the point – in their riffs, their show and, as we find out, their outlook for 2023 and beyond.
“The first album,” Alfie blurts out when asked for his goal from the coming 12 months. “Our aspirations are to just get bigger and better. I don’t feel like a dick for saying I think we have the potential to be big [laughs]."