Ask someone to think of Norwich and most people will picture canal boat holidays, a distinct lack of hills and football teams in canary yellow shirts. Oh, and mustard.
Few though will think exemplary Rock Blues music, despite some pretty notable names hailing from the idyllic county of Norfolk. Roger Taylor, drummer and backing vocalist of iconic rock band Queen was born in King’s Lynn and Ed Graham, drummer of Lowestoft band The Darkness, was born in Great Yarmouth. Then again, James Blunt and David Gray are also Norfolk alumni and Seasick Steve lives in Diss.
Things are getting a whole lot louder though. Bad Touch formed six years ago whilst all the members were still in school or college. Like most bands, the early years were spent toiling away in local pubs, playing covers of some rock classics whilst at the same time introducing some of their own compositions into an ever expanding set.
“The trouble with Norwich and Norfolk in general is that it is pretty much out of the way of everywhere and most people who come here have a reason to come here,” says the band’s guitarist Seeks. “Most people can pass through other cities in the country, but Norwich is sort of in the middle of nowhere, which means a lot of the major bands seem to miss us out. Locally though, the music scene is pretty good. When we started we played the clubs and pubs in and around the area, but from then it has just started to rise and rise which has been great.”
All of this grafting and staying true to their beliefs has seen an almost meteoric rise in the bands burgeoning success. Bad Touch were awarded an Exposure Music Award in 2012, won the Marshall Ultimate Band Contest in 2013, recorded and released their debut album Halfway Home in 2015 to impressive reviews and have toured with the likes of The Quireboys, Bonafide, The Electric Boys, Tyketto, Jared James Nichols and now The Kentucky Headhunters.
“Winning The Exposure Award was a lot of fun, particularly as we went down to London not expecting to win anything,” Seeks recalls. “All we thought we were going to do was play a few songs and we ended up coming away with the live performance award which was a huge step and great recognition for us. That lead us into doing Hard Rock Hell for the first time, which was just incredible.
“We’d played a few London gigs before but we’d not really travelled out that much, so it was a fantastic learning experience for us and we’re fortunate enough to have done Hard Rock Hell three times now.”
Although clearly influenced by the likes of Zeppelin, Black Crowes and Guns ‘n’ Roses, there is an originality to the sound and lyrics that Bad Touch come up with that is completely refreshing, which again all stems from putting the hours into their craft and working as a team. “There’s no songwriter as such, we all work together. Someone will come in with an idea and we’ll work on it. We’ve done that right from the beginning whether we’re on tour or not. We’re basically writing all the time.
“I think the fact we’ve always included our own songs in our live sets has been a major factor in our being noticed. Obviously when we very first started we were heavily covers based because that’s what people and the pubs want and we still play the odd cover or two now, but even then we played our own songs alongside the covers and it became more important the more we built ourselves up.
“Creating something original and developing a sound is what it is really all about. Everybody in the band puts a little bit of their own individuality into it and everybody contributes lyrically and musically. It is something we are all really comfortable with.”
And if there is one thing you can’t accuse Bad Touch of being it is idle. The band are scheduled to play a string of gigs across the country right up until the new year, all performed with a vibrancy, energy and enthusiasm that is just infectious, as anybody who saw them support Jared James Nichols recently will attest to.
“Again, I think playing live is something that just sort of comes naturally to us. We really, really love it. As to explaining where the energy comes from, that’s pretty hard to explain. We just go on stage and do what we do and let the music take control. There’s absolutely no question that you have to enjoy this or else there wouldn’t be any point doing it at all.”
2015 saw the release of the band’s debut album Halfway Home of which Classic Rock commented: ‘When a debut sparks into life on a slide blues riff reminiscent of Zep’s In My Time of Dying, the band must be doing something right.’ As we speak, Seeks and his colleagues – Stevie on vocals, Rob.G on lead, Bailey on bass and George on drums – have just finished recording album #2 which is set for release later this year.
“We’ve had some great reviews for Halfway Home which wasn’t so much of a shock but more really gratifying that people liked it so much. A good response is important to any artist and musicians are no different. You put your heart and soul into something then put it out there, it is a reward in itself to learn that people love it as much you do. It’s great that tracks from the album like Wise Water and Sweet Little Secret go down so well live too.
“The new album will be available later this year. We’ve literally just come out of the studio, so all we have to do now is get it mixed and mastered over the next few weeks, then finalise the artwork and then we can finally get it out there. Although we’re really eager to air some of the new songs live, we’ve decided to sit on them until the album is actually released so that they’re nice and fresh for everybody.”
And it’s title? “The album is going to be called Truth Be Told, which is a bit of an exclusive there for you because I’m pretty sure nobody else knows that yet. I just hope everybody likes it as much as they did Halfway Home.”
For Tour and More Information: http://www.badtouchrocks.co.uk/home
Bad Touch are the Special Guests of The Kentucky Headhunters at Chester Live Rooms on July 21. For Tickets: https://www.theliverooms.com/events
Interview by Chris High