It’s been a busy old year for Norfolk based rockers Bad Touch. A plethora of gigs alongside the likes of Broken Witt Rebels, King King and The Kentucky Headhunters, a number of festival appearances and the release of a new and hugely acclaimed album in Truth Be Told, has seen the boys receive a great deal of attention from music aficionados and media alike.
So when you’re given the opportunity to interview one of the band, it’s not only a privilege to be asked but also daunting to think of what to ask amidst so much activity. There needn’t have been any cause for concern though. Bad Touch frontman Stevie Westwood is as laid back off stage as he is powerful on and it’s no surprise that he’s taken time off from his day job as a bar man in his local boozer, The Angel of Wangford (in hindsight, perhaps I should have asked the derivation of the name) to speak with me.
“Yeah, I’m working at the minute. The extra cash is always good and the boss is really understanding, fortunately,” Stevie said, but having worked a few times behind bars myself I move quickly on.
Truth Be Told was released in December 2016, with its debut single 99% receiving some pretty heavy airplay on the likes of Planet Rock Radio and elsewhere. Releasing new material to an expectant public is always cause for nerves, but the response the album has received has been overwhelmingly favourable, largely for the diversity and depth of the music.
“It’s been incredible and we really didn’t expect the level of response it has received,” “Stevie explained. “We play the songs live and are more and more confident with them. The crowd reaction is always good too, but it is astounding how positively people have responded. In fact it’s been around about 99.9% positive,” Stevie’s laughed. “Now, between the gigs, we’re finding the time to write some new songs for another album to keep things moving along.”
Getting songs on the radio is a big deal, but for those breaking ground it is a bigger milestone and something to be crossed off the bucket list only to be quickly reinserted time and again. “It’s really satisfying that the music is getting out there and being listened to. It’s a bit bizarre too in a way, turning the radio on and listening to our songs across the airwaves.”
“It makes you feel a bit starry eyed and a bit weird, but in a very good way. On the back of the radio time, though, we have made a conscious decision to get out on the road and play as much as possible.
People can forget about you pretty quickly if you’re not constantly playing in front of them, so we want to be out there doing what we do and hope the fans continue pay attention to us.”
Bad Touch were amongst those bands on the bill for the Planet Rock Roadstars earlier in the year alongside Broken Witt Rebels, before then heading out and supporting King King. “Oh man, that was such a blast,” Stevie recalled. “We’ve made a real solid friendship with the guys in The Rebels and we speak all the time. Not only are they a great band, they’re also a great bunch of lads too.”
“The guys in King King as well. Their music is just phenomenal, but for us in Bad Touch playing alongside guys like these and at festivals, it means our music is being heard by more and more people in bigger and bigger venues which is just invaluable. Live Rock music is really vibrant at the moment, it is definitely on its way back I think, so it’s great to be riding the wave with all these great bands.”
And those gigs in bigger and bigger venues just keep coming. Ramblin’ Man Fair isn’t too far away (Bad Touch are on the Rising Stage on Saturday July 29th) but closer still, July 15th to be precise, is the Summertime Festival at Parr Hall in Warrington, which this year features not only Bad Touch but also Stevie Nimmo, Xander and the Peace Pirates and Joanne Shaw Taylor.
“We’re really looking forward to the summer and getting our name even further out there. Warrington is growing into a pretty popular event now and having the likes of Joanne, Stevie and the boys from Xander with us will make for a great night I’m sure.”
Time management must be an important criteria for such a busy band, or so you’d think. “I am the world’s worst at remembering dates of just about anything,” Stevie chuckled. “I have a calendar on my phone that’s covered in dots representing where I should be somewhere and when and I’d be pretty lost without it to be honest.”
“Looking at it now, though, it seems pretty chocka which is great to see. We just try and take each gig as it comes, you know, and I just try and give my best and the boys try and give their best night after night, so that we can enjoy it as much as the audiences.”
Then, towards the end of this hectic run of dates, Bad Touch are once again on the road with The Kentucky Headhunters. Last year’s gigs saw some wildly popular feedback. So wild in fact, neither band thought twice about repeating the experience.
“We were talking earlier about forging strong friendships on the road and The Headhunters is just such a case. We only did about six dates with them last time around, but by the end we were all sort of teary eyed saying goodbye because we’d grown so close. To be able to tour with such talent is unreal in a lot of ways, but they are genuinely, genuinely lovely people and theirs is a genre of music we are trying to emulate in our own way. It was a real privilege to be with them last year but to be asked to do it all again this time is a really touching sentiment and I can’t wait for us all to meet up again and catch up properly.”
As if this weren’t enough, there are a few strands knocking around for a new album. “It’s all a bit of a jumble in our heads at the minute, but we are writing stuff and playing around with ideas. It’s just a case of shaping them into something people would want to hear. Hopefully in the new year, when we take a bit of a break from touring, we can go back in and start recording the new one.”
Before the interview, I’d learned Stevie’s car had broken down. As 99% came about from a band member commenting on a car he was almost totally convinced he’d buy then didn’t, perhaps there’s a song to made out of that experience. “I’m Not In Love With My Car maybe,” Stevie laughed. “Yeah. In between everything else, I’ve got to get that fixed so perhaps I’ll write a ballad to heartache about my motor.”
And with that, pints are waiting to be pulled, cars are to be fixed and lyrics are to be written. So until Warrington, we say goodbye on promises of a beer or two on the night. I, personally, cannot wait!
The Summertime Festival takes place at Parr Hall in Warrington on Saturday July 15 from 5pm. For Tickets and information: http://www.pyramidparrhall.com/whats-on/event/summertime-festival-joanne-shaw-taylor/
Ramblin’ Man Fair takes place on July 28, 29 and 30 at Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent. For Tickets and information: http://www.ramblinmanfair.com/fair/information/