New Wave of Classic Rock favourites Bad Touch recently released their fourth studio album “Kiss the Sky” via Marshall Records, and are due to appear at both HRH ABC and HRH NWOCR festivals in 2021.
HRH Mag sat down with the band’s frontman Stevie Westwood ahead of the release to talk about their experiences of recording the album at the legendary Rockfield Studios, the band’s sound on their latest record and their keenness to get back out on the road when the time is right.
We are living in a strange time at present but that hasn’t stopped you guys from being productive. You recently released a new song which was pulled together in isolation. And I just wanted to know what was that experience like for you being separated from your bandmates yet recording together. It must have felt a bit strange at first?
Oh yeah, it was completely alien to us. We are a band of brothers, and we are used to living in a sardine tin together, so it was very odd. The tour fell through because this whole thing erupted a week before we were meant to go on our UK tour with Piston. So we were pretty gutted about that. So, after the initial grieving period, we were thinking, right how do we try and turn this around and make this as positive as possible? So yeah, we wanted to give people a little something whilst still abiding by the rules of the world.
With this period of downtime and like you say, musicians being off the road – is the plan to keep on writing and stay creative so that you kind of build up a bank of new material for releases even beyond this next record or are you just enjoying a bit of downtime?
Yeah, I can only speak for myself really because I’ve had little contact with the boys, we’ve been messaging each other, but our chats have been few and far between. But yeah, I’m still doing stuff – I’m doing the isolation sessions, just as something to keep my hand in and writing. You know, I’m carrying on writing stuff and I’m sure the boys are doing the same as well because the clock never stops once we get back on the road. We then need to push forward as a unit.
So, the album title itself Kiss The Sky has got a very Hendrix like feel to it – being a line from Purple Haze. Was that an intentional nod to the great man himself or just a happy coincidence?
It was kind of mutually both. We came up with the song Kiss The Sky. We wrote the song long before we decided to call the album that. And we love every song on Kiss The Sky, but that song seemed to have a good vibe about it and a good sort of ethos for what the album was going to be like. And it had the bonus of like you say, being a nod to the great man himself – Hendrix has been a huge influence on us as well. So yeah, it sort of ticked all the boxes really.
Listening to the album, it’s got a much bigger sound than your previous albums. Were you looking to take this to the next level and switch things up a bit when you went into the studio?
Yeah, kind of. Up until this point we’ve kind of had a bit of a reservation about putting stuff on that we can’t do live if you know what I mean. And I’m certainly not a horn player, neither is any of the other boys. But this album, we were kind of like balls to the wall – sod it let’s just go full Aerosmith and have a massive production and see what it sounds like. We’re not messing around anymore – this is album number four. We want to make our stamp on the world, you know? So, we were in the good hands of Nick Brian, our producer, and he managed to do it perfectly, as far as I’m concerned. It was tasteful, not completely mad over the top, but enough to push the production up, you know?
You recorded this album at Rockfield Studios with Nick Brian, as you mentioned. Obviously, that’s a legendary studio there’s a lot of history there. What was it like working and recording at Rockfield?
Wow, it was amazing mate. Completely awe-inspiring. I knew very little of Rockfield until we were there. As you know, I’m not completely switched on all the time. But yeah, it was bonkers to be in a place where Queen did so much. And I sat at Freddie’s piano and it was just completely mind-boggling. I saw the weathervane that he wrote the line ‘anyway the wind blows’ about, you know what I mean? And it’s just, you couldn’t match that. Whilst recording my vocals, two coach loads of Japanese tourists came and descended upon it. So they came from Japan just to be at this legendary place. And that’s when it hit home for me that it was a really special place – absolutely bonkers. And it just kicked us all up a notch.
Having listened to songs, like ‘I’ve Got The Music In Me’ or ‘Kiss The Sky’, they’re uplifting. They’ve got very much a live feel to them. Was that the intention to showcase the energy of the band’s live performance on this record?
Oh God, yeah. I mean we’ve made no secret of the fact, but we feel we are a live band. We pride ourselves on touring hard and making our shows something that people don’t forget. But we have struggled in the past to get that on to an album through many different faults, some of which our own, some of which not our own and we wanted to capture that magic. And finally, is the word I’d use, we found a gem and in our mate Nick Brian, who was the sixth piece in the puzzle and managed to sort of get it down and get that electricity onto the record.
There’s one song, in particular, I have to ask you about because the first time I heard it just blew my mind and that’s ‘Sun And The Moon’ because it’s such an epic tune. And when I listen to it, it’s like the missing track from Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. It sounds like it could have just rolled straight out of that album. So, what was the inspiration behind that track? How did it come to fruition, can tell us a little bit about it?
Well, we wear our influences on our sleeve. We make no secrets, we love the Black Crowes, we love The Magpie Salute. You know, all of the bands of that ilk as well, like Blackberry Smoke, all those guys. Yeah, it was just one of our influences – we were listening to a lot of The Magpie Salute at the time. And Rob came up with that riff at the start. And we were like, this is amazing in a humble way. It just went from there. And again, like all our songs they roll out in some organic fashion and then we try and consolidate them and refine them into what you hear on the record.
So, like all bands, your touring plans have been rescheduled this year. You must be itching to get back on stage so that you can give some of this new material a bit of an airing?
Oh yeah, just to blow the cobwebs out. As I said, we tour all the time, we love doing that. The fact that our last show was the start of December last year is an absolute travesty. I’m struggling to deal with it. I don’t deal very well being cooped up. That’s why we’re doing all this stuff on the socials just to try and maintain some kind of sanity. But yeah, we are buzzing to get back on the road. These kinds of things, you know, as negative as they are, sometimes they’re necessary to sort of reset you and kind of be like, no actually, I do miss this. This is actually what I love and what I live for.
The difficult point now is you guys have got four albums behind you. How are you going to approach the difficult balance of pleasing the old school fans and also representing the new material?
Yeah, I mean before the tour was rescheduled, we were talking about it, and rehearsing it quite a lot. In the early parts of the rehearsals, we were desperate to get this album out and play it, so it was quite heavy on the new songs. And then Rob brought the point up and then I immediately agreed with him, I think we all agreed with him. In fact, what was the thing that we hate the most when we go and see a band live, and that’s when they’ve got a new album and all they do is play all the new stuff. So, we immediately rejigged the setlist, and we just decided to make it like the album and as fun as it can be. So, it’s going to be some of our favorites from the album, plus the crowd favorites and we will just try and make it the biggest and best we can do to try and make it the tour that people don’t forget.
Bad Touch have rescheduled their Sept/October 2020 tour, and they will now be touring the UK with special guest Piston in April 2021. The band’s latest studio album Kiss The Sky is out now via Marshall Records.