May 12, 2020

Bad Touch are a 5-piece classic rock band from Norfolk, UK. Most people see growing up in Norfolk as a disadvantage, but Bad Touch owe the core of their sound to their countryside surroundings. Those formative years of listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin, The Black Crowes, Free and Lynyrd Skynyrd whilst looking out on the rolling countryside and hard-working people gave them the impetus to help create their infectious blend of rock, country and blues. They’ve just completed their fourth album at the legendary Rockfield Studios with Nick Brine (The Darkness, Thunder, Ash), Kiss The Sky being scheduled for release on 19 June on Marshall Records (review to come later). They’re also still hoping to be busy touring later in the Autumn, details are on the featured image.

The band have been around since 2010, in many ways their big break-through came with the release of their third album Shake A Leg, much praised by Planet Rock Radio and confirming the reputation the band had developed with tracks like their duet with Mollie Marriott, a cover of Ike & Tina Turner’s classic Baby Get It On and the crowd-pleaser 99% from 2016’s Truth Be Told. Over the years they’ve extensively toured the UK and Europe, being seen at festivals such as Download Festival, Ramblin’ Man Fair and Planet Rockstock. They have toured with Skid Row, The Answer, Broken Witt Rebels, Those Damn Crows, The Quireboys, FM and more.

Bad Touch are: Stevie Westwood (vocals); Daniel Seekings (guitar, vocals); Rob Glendinning (guitar); Michael Bailey (bass); and George Drewry (drums, vocals).

Velvet Thunder has been able to (remotely) interview Stevie to get the low-down on what they’ve been up to this year, because they’ve been busy! I start by asking about what’s been their main focus, bearing in mind Covid-19, aside from creating the new album due out in June. Steve says “Anyone who knows Bad Touch, knows we’re a live band, and that we live to be on the road. Sadly, we’ve not been able to play any shows since the lockdown for obvious reasons. As well as releasing singles off the album, using the wonder of the internet and home recording software, we have managed to piece together a brand new unreleased track off of Kiss The Sky, the video of which is now available on our Facebook and Instagram (@badtouchrocks), if you’re interested!” (what a salesman!)

I go on to ask whether lock-down has almost “forced” them back into writing mode; and whether (given that they have a major tour re-arranged for the autumn), is there a danger that they won’t be able to rehearse much if at all beforehand – are they able to rehearse remotely? “Well to put it bluntly, if we can’t rehearse we can’t go out on the road. As desperate to play and stir-crazy as we all are (and believe me we are!), we owe it to our loyal fan-base to not go out half-cocked or half-prepared. When we do eventually venture back on stage, we want the show to blow people away. We all live in separate households, and are all isolating separately, so that makes rehearsals a tad tricky to say the least. But I for one am rehearsing my vocals and I’m sure the others are keeping their fingers and vocal cords nimble and ready to pounce back into the fray once this crazy time has passed.”

Coming back to the new album, I mention that I’ll be reviewing it shortly for the Velvet Thunder website and ask how are they feeling about it being finally released – and how might they describe the overall tone of the album? Stevie replies “Thanks for your interest in our music. Really it means the world. This album has been the hardest one to write so far, for all the right reasons. We’ve put so much into this as individuals and collectively as a unit, and we’re super proud with the end result. It’s fun, it’s loud, it’s in-your-face, it’s everything that Bad Touch have always been, plus so much more.”

They do sound like a band that has fun creating and rehearsing new material, I ask how they collectively go about deciding what’s included on the album – in terms of production etc, how the five of them shortlist what tracks get onto the album, and whether any squabbles ensue! Stevie’s view is that whereas their third album Shake A Leg was “quite openly recorded, a bit on-the-fly; and while we love that album and the songs on it, we wanted to permanently stamp the name ’Bad Touch’ into the tome of rock n roll with this album. No more “it’s good,” we have only dealt in “awesome“ or above for this album! Once we’d got what looked to be an album’s worth of material, our producer and friend, Nick Brine, quite kindly came to stay over one weekend, for a bit of pre-production. Over those couple of days, as a team, we went through our song list with a fine-toothed comb and picked out any songs/song parts that weren’t making the grade. We either workshopped them until they were at the level of quality we wanted, or we binned them. No compromises!” “With regards to song shares, we don’t quibble over such things. Since day one our royalties have been split evenly five ways… no matter who wrote what. Because the fact is, without any one of us Bad Touch can’t be Bad Touch. We’re a team!” (good answer!)

Building on that “togetherness” theme, I’d picked up that the band wrote the songs in their “practice studio” in Norfolk, and ask if that’s ‘their own private space’ where they can develop stuff together but without anyone else around? Stevie responds “We have this rehearsal space (dubbed “The Cabin”) where we meet up at least once a week – or at least we did before lockdown. That’s where we bring ideas to the table and workshop them as a unit. It’s where we’ve always written and honed our craft, and we wouldn’t change it for anything.”

It does become clear that the band hold Norfolk dear to their hearts, and that it inspires at least some of their song-writing: “Yeah of course. I’m the outsider, but the boys (George, Bailey, Seeks and Rob) all grew up relatively close together. Seeks and Rob (guitars) played guitar in high school together, so yeah, Norfolk is dear to us. We’ve paid homage to our green flatlands in a couple of tracks over the years, and it does help the ’rootsy’ image which we have. The music scene has always been awesome round here, there’s so much talent. But sadly, a lot of the venues we haunted in the early days have closed their doors; and even more sadly in the wake of COVID the few that are left are really struggling as well. I’ve just joined the #SaveOurVenues campaign, in a bid to prevent any more of these culturally crucial places from going under. Without venues bands can’t play live, and I don’t want to think about that ever becoming a reality”

(This is really important – it’s so easy to assume the venues will still be there on the other side….)

Returning to the forthcoming album, I ask how Stevie feels their new work compares with earlier material, whether he feels there’s been a gradual change in style, or whether they stick close to their early influences? “We’ve always been and will always be Bad Touch. We play feel-good rock’n’roll for the soul. Our never ending mission to give you the night you’ll never forget; a break away from the monotony and tyranny of life, and to leave anybody who is awesome enough to come to a gig smiling from ear to ear. That’s our mantra. This album is 110% just that, this is a ‘dancing round your bedroom, annoying your neighbours’ album; and we hope people will love it every bit as much as we do!”

Thanks Stevie – sounds good, I’ve heard a couple of the singles and I’m really looking forward to hearing the rest of the album 🙂