There’s been a real buzz around the new Bad Touch album, Kiss The Sky, and Friday finally sees its release across all formats. Rushonrock editor Simon Rushworth spoke exclusively to guitarist Seeks as one of the nation’s best loved live bands looks to lift lockdown spirits.
Rushonrock: It’s five years since you released debut album Half Way Home – how has the band progressed in that time?
Seeks: It’s been a long time thinking back to that first album. Obviously we were quite young and that was the first time we’d been in the studio. It was all really new to us but with Kiss The Sky there was a lot more confidence in what we were going for and in our songwriting. I think we definitely produced a much better sound this time around.
Rushonrock: Tell us about that self-confidence as a songwriting team…
Seeks: With the first album we already had the songs and it was just about releasing a record. It’s like any band with the first album – you have X amount of years playing the same pubs and clubs and all the rest of it and you just pick your best songs over the last few years for the debut. When you start getting into album cycles you go ‘right – we need to write an album now’. So it’s different. It’s a whole different way of writing. We actually spent a lot of time on Kiss The Sky. We took time off work for writing sessions – we’d have a week in the studio just writing and really working on the songs to make them the best they could be.
Rushonrock: What were you trying to achieve with Kiss The Sky?
Seeks: I think the main thing we try to do is just be better songwriters. We definitely worked harder on our songwriting but we were just trying to write stuff that we enjoy as a band. In that respect – and I think I speak for everyone on this point – this is by far my favourite album to listen to and to play. It was great recording it. We just wanted to go for a really, really solid and feelgood vibe which is what a lot of people like about the band when we play live.
Rushonrock: Is it easy to recreate that feelgood live vibe in the studio?
Seeks: It’s always hard. You know our live shows have always gone down really well but trying to capture that same energy on a record is something that we’ve struggled with in the past. We’ve played thousands and thousands of gigs but we’ve been in the studio fewer than 20 times. It’s definitely a completely different art form and it’s one that you don’t experience as much when you’re younger. It’s all about learning. We’re always learning when we play live but we get plenty of practice in that respect. We just don’t get to spend time together in the studio as often.
Rushonrock: Can you describe the songwriting process behind Kiss The Sky?
Seeks: This time around we were trying to be a lot more practical with stuff so we actually we went into Rockfield Studios over three or four weeks. But rather than everyone being there at once, we recorded our demos in our home studio and then sent them across to the record company and to Nick [Brine] the producer. He picked through what was best and what needed working on from his home in Spain and then he came over just before we went into the studio to finalise the songs that we chose.
Rushonrock: And was it plain sailing from that point?
Seeks: I think so. From Nick’s initial feedback we were able to change little bits here and there in our studio to save money and time. At that point, we got the songs ready and recorded the scratch tracks. Nick and George [Drewry, drums] went up to Rockfield together and started the recording process. Once George had recorded his tracks me, Rob [Glendinning, guitars] and [Michael] Bailey came up to do our parts so not everyone was in the studio taking up space at the same time. It’s always nice for everyone to be together the whole time but it’s about being practical money-wise and making the most of the time we have with Nick. Stevie [Westwood, vocals] was the last to rock up and he came back with George to the vocals and backing vocals. All of us got together towards the end of the process to tweak things, add bits and listen back to the whole album and that was fantastic. We’re very proud of what we achieved.
Rushonrock: Are you a fan of working in the studio?
Seeks: I do enjoy it. I love the process and the fact that it’s a whole different experience. It’s fun and you get to experiment and do things that you never normally get to do.
Rushonrock: Does your reputation as a feelgood live band influence the tone of the songs you write?
Seeks: In a way, yes. But this time we basically wrote the songs the best they could be for the album and that was the primary focus. We always have ideas for what we want to do live and how certain songs could fit into the set but that’s for another day. When we do get back to touring we’ll make those same songs the best they can be for the live arena and that might involve switching them up or changing the odd thing here and there.
Rushonrock: As a hard-gigging live band how frustrating has the coronavirus-enforced layoff been for Bad Touch?
Seeks: We’ve done nothing but gig since the band started and we’ve never had this amount of time off. It’s strange. We actually planned a bit of time off at the beginning of the year because we finished up Kiss The Sky towards the end of 2019 and then played the last couple of shows of the year. A couple of guys have got married and they had their honeymoons at the beginning of the year. January and February are never great months for live shows so it made sense to come back in the spring ahead of the album release. We’d just started working on the new set when all of this craziness happened. Now everything keeps getting pushed back and rescheduled, moved or cancelled. We’re all itching to get back out there and play the new stuff.
Rushonrock: How has the band adapted to lockdown?
Seeks: I’m a delivery driver so I’ve been manic for weeks now. Stevie has been brilliant doing his isolation sessions where he was playing an acoustic version of Bad Touch songs – or a cover – every day. I think he’s ended up doing 50 of them and they’ve gone down so well. I’ve got to hand it to him. He really turned the situation on its head and he really put the effort in. As a band we’ve been trying to stay in touch with our fans via the socials. It’s important that the people who support us still feel part of what we’re doing even though we can’t play live right now.
Rushonrock: Is it a good or bad time to release new music?
Seeks: That’s a tough one. We’ve never had to be in this situation before so we’re planning to go with the release as it is. I know a lot of bands have pushed their releases back but, you know, in a way that looks like it could be a plus for us. If there’s not as many bands releasing stuff it means there’s less competition! But we honestly don’t know. We’ve just got to do our best and hope for the best.
Rushonrock: Are you concerned about the long term future of live music?
Seeks: Oh yeah, for sure. I think there’s been a few venues already closed down for good but as long as the bands and fans support them then the majority will be back. If that support isn’t there then people are going to lose some of their favourite venues and they’re going to lose some of their favourite bands. That’s the reality of the situation.
*Kiss The Sky is available from June 19 via Marshall Records. Order your copy here
*New single See You Again is out now.