Interview by Adrian Hextall
Following their recent sell-out UK tour supporting King King, and their Planet Rock Roadstars UK tour with Broken Witt Rebels, and the recent announcement of their October 2017 tour with The Kentucky Headhunters, Bad Touch have announced a headline tour in November with special guest Mollie Marriott. MGM caught up with lead singer Stevie Westwood to give us the details on what to expect and a little bit of history that has seen the band rise up through the ranks to be one of THE talked about UK rock acts at the moment.
AH: I wonder if we could have a little bit of a history lesson but also a little bit of a chat about the differences between the first album and the second one as well. Because of course, the first album comes of the back of several years worth of hard graft a lot of time building that live reputation up and coming of a lot of tours. I’m assuming your first album content, at least lyrically, covers a period of years, whereas, the second one was quite a quick turn around by comparison.
STEVIE: Yeah, you’ve got it spot on. The first album, we’ve been a band for I think was about five years or before we got Half Way Home out. So subsequently I should say that it was the fruit of several years of writing. Whereas, the second one, we wrote in sort of 18 months and and here we are. There’s always head sense why there’s you know, we got a bit a different feel about them.
But, we’re told we love both albums equally. Obviously, you can’t ever take away your first album. So truth be told, again it’s just one way or we really enjoy first and different reasons.
AH: Now I can imagine. I know you sort of come off the back of that sort of what you can almost describe as a journey to get number one sort of in the bag and out to the masses. What do you take from that? I mean what can you learn from the effort involved in there to be able to do number two, differently?
STEVIE: There’s always things you learn. Like for example until you’ve done an album, you don’t realise how much it costs to actually do one or you actually make one and the effort to actually come up with the product and get everything ready for a certain day. I say, the second one has an entirely different feel about it because there are songs on Truth Be Told that weren’t completely, fully written. It was that new, but we just worked there with an idea and kind of just had to go. What you hear, is what we did. It’s a different vibe.
AH: Does that make effectively the second album almost a little bit more sort of open and honest because it’s how the band wasn’t exactly that point in time is supposed to say the culmination of many years of efforts on particular tracks but you’ve got it polished I suppose.
STEVIE: Yeah, the difference is that the stuff that was on Half Way Home, we had it played a lots and lots and lots about. I worked out what are singing and where are singing, if you know what I mean. Subsequently, it’s everyone else that you know what we were playing and when we are playing it. Whereas the new stuff, I haven’t actually sung this which was my idea. You know, it’s kind of like having a good work out, think what you see. It always changes, I mean I sing the songs of Truth Be Told completely, differently. Now it’s how they we’re recorded because instead of like you learn how to do it to what you could only think is better.
AH: Presumably as well then, it becomes a different experience for the fan coming in to see you with a live show because they get that different interpretation almost of these two albums?
STEVIE: I like to think that an album should be something to take home and to remind you of a great time that you’d had seeing a lot of bands, if you know what I mean. To me, live will always come first ’cause I’m worried about the future of CDs and that because I’m still with the whole streaming and everything. I like bands to be judged on their live performance and then I hopefully we’ve been able to capture that in the CD.
AH: The live side of things that you guys are built for a huge reputation with over the last few years. The notable year that seems to really stand out in the history of the band is back in 2013 when you managed to get tours with almost everybody. What was the tipping point that triggered all of that?
STEVIE: I think the first one we got was Quireboys, we went out with the Quireboys and they really really helped us…lovely chaps. They helped tone our craft. We learned how to be on tour, how to deal with each other ’cause obviously we’re five mates never done a tour together.. you know? You had to get on, you had to sort of learn how to do it so that was probably, if there was a tipping point..it was there because that’s when we realised that we can do this. We just played off of the back whether they’re just trying to get into people’s face as as much as we could and I say that’s what we’ve been doing at last five years or so.
AH: Yeah. I mean obviously coming of that, it’s almost every band’s dream to get that invitation to play something like Download as well. I mean, what’s that feeling like when you guys get the telegram as it were.
STEVIE: Well that was amazing, the whole kind of Download thing. I know it’s 3 years ago now we’re hoping to get back there, hopefully next year. But obviously, we ended up in the Marshall Band Contest; it was a national thing just online, just looking at an online poll thing. We really didn’t think about it and then without doing anything we got on the top one hundred and we kind of…should actually tweet this and then actually try and get it…someone behind this and we did so. And we got to the top twenty five and then we were picked by the judges to be one of the top five bands that they want to see. We drove down to Marshall HQ in Milton Keynes and played this gig and they picked us as the best band out of all these bands and we actually couldn’t believe it. We won the chance to play Download which was like it’s still one of my happiest memories today…that feeling of being with boys taking like…at that point in time I like to think we’re still getting back but at that point in time, we’re one of the best bands in the UK. It’s just a lovely feeling.
AH: I got to see you guys for the very first time when you played..the O2? Stone Free Festival?
STEVIE: Yeah in the O2 foyer, yeah. [laughs] I leave that out when I talk to people. They ask me where’s my biggest gig, I say I play the O2. That’s my biggest gig. I miss out the fact we were playing on a door mat.
AH: It was a very surreal event, you know…as you say having you out there in the foyer almost but to say you guys carry it all would be an understatement. I mean, it’s the first time I saw you and I’m like “Wow! this is pretty damn impressive.”
STEVIE: Oh cheers man! We knew that we only had a short months for us to put a mark on everything.
AH: It must have been quite surreal for you guys as well because it cause you a lot of passing traffic for people that were just using the O2 as normal.
STEVIE: Exactly, people seem to sort of listen and it was great. It was nice to think that we kind of appealed to passersby who work there, you know..
AH: So again, coming off about that…second album then, that’s where it’s all kind of coming together, you’re now obviously working to number three, I would imagine?
STEVIE: Well indeed we’ve got a few tracks recorded with the hope we will be able to get a new album out. But these things alike I’m not making any promises but yeah we’re definitely right about four tracks recorded. We’re writing seriously between the touring. We can’t wait to go on our first headline tour which is really brown trouser time. Like you’ve mentioned on earlier, we’ve gone out and supported a lot of people. So I’m really excited to them..we’ve got Mollie Marriott coming with us, she’s an amazing talent in her own, right.
AH: You say about it being in a bit in a brown trouser time. The shows that you guys have put on, I mean, your craft is honed after all these number of years of you playing. It can’t be that much of a worry surely.
STEVIE: It’s only a worry because up until this point we’ve been going out on the strength of someone else’s name, like instead of the Quireboys, the Answer, King King, Kentucky Headhunters, all people had supported. Amazingly thankful for taking us out there and helping us get an audience and hone our craft like I’ve said before. It’s just the fact that we’re hoping people are gonna turn up. At some point you have to do it, we chose to do it now and we can’t wait to get out there and get started.
AH: Yeah. Do you look too much to the advance sales or do you think well you know what? It will be alright some are not or….
STEVIE: I do and I don’t when we’ve got some figures about a month before the tour starts like a couple of weeks ago. Some were great, some were really not so great but I kind of think, I’d like to think that we’re still a pretty small band and that if I was buying a ticket, I wouldn’t buy it on advance. I’ve probably be able to spontaneous thing I’m amaze us…you want to go see Bad Touch tonight?”… ”Yeah, that would be cool.” and then we’d go like that. You know, everyone is different so I’d say, we can’t wait to get out there and see what happens.
AH: I was gonna say, there is still an appetite for that. Isn’t it that whole point about who’s playing tonight? who shall I go and see? You don’t have to buy it eighteen months in advance. You can actually go out and see a lot of bands the day that you spot an advert.
STEVIE: Yeah exactly. Except maybe you know, not Bon Jovi, there would be no tickets available. [laughs]
AH: Tell me about number three then, you say some songs thought about, maybe a couple written as well. Hoping to do it next year but of course all depends on timing or whatever. Is everything on hold now while you guys get the tour out to the way or do you actually write while your out the tour.
STEVE: We’ve got a couple of acoustic guitars in the back of the van. These guitars we have to take away but it’s hard to get the vibe if there is no drums, no bass, so we’re doing a couple of play and writing sessions. We’ve got plans. So the answer is yes and no. We’re doing a little bit, we sort of might come up with an idea in the van and bring it back to the cabin and work it and see where we take it.
This is the first time we’ve done it because we’ve had to because we’ve been so busy touring. But writing a third album so we kind of have to sort of which in, if you know what I mean.
AH: Does that sort of realisation also hit home that “hang on a minute when I was sort of part of that rock and roll machine where there are expectations rather than they just being five mates put in a band together.”
STEVIE:Yeah, that’s the scary part because right now we’ve got to the point where up until this point we’ve been five blokes doing everything with the kind help and support of our manager, Mark. But now we have an actual management company so Mark has to step down and pick with more and more people who are adding to the pie and it’s slowly..we’re doing less and less of the managerial thing so it’s just sort of like you’ve got to put that trust in people which are actually doing this stuff. And it’s a scary time but I say moving in the right direction hopefully it will all become fruitful.
AH: Definitely. Is it a tough call when you suddenly realised, you know, people who looked after you for those early years and especially when they say the members of the family as well. It’s going to be a tough call hasn’t it to actually sort of accept that yes you need to step back in, like somebody who does it for a live and take type of thing?
STEVIE: Well Mark has been very honest and open about it. He’s kind of said that, he quite openly said that he feels like he isn’t taking us to as far as he can and we need someone else to get involved. And he still comes on tour. He’s our..we call him our management consultant. Everything goes through him. ‘Cause I say he stands so much for us in so many ways and you know it’s hard for him to let go. We don’t want him to let go either because he’s done so much for us.
AH: Well I supposed it’s nothing else, he’s at least there to look out for you guys when the big world of records and music in the industry and whatever has the opportunity can rip you off if you’re not careful.
STEVIE: Of course, yeah and we don’t always know what’s best for us you know. he’s always been the kind of sensible one that’s kind of the one to step back and look. You know, if we just starstruck so on someone office or day or oh god let’s do it let’s go around Europe or whatever. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. It actually look at it on the business head and that’s been marked.
AH: That two hundred-page contract, that you think where do you sign then? Without even going on what’s the first hundred ninety nine pages.
STEVIE: That’s it. Yeah.
AH: Presumably on the upside the way you have got people handling all of the important stuff behind the scenes so that you can just effectively turn up and play that’s going to take the pressure of you and to focus on the music events as well.
STEVIE: It does, I mean obviously we still we have our PR company, we have a management company. The way we don’t want to just sort of rest of our lows, you know?We have to be all over Twitter, all over Facebook. We have to be, you know, posters everywhere, because you know we’re still a tiny band…tiny tiny band. We want this to be our lives and so you can’t rest until you’re there. I always hear my father in my head when I was being a bit full of myself in the pub one night. He said to me, ”You know Steve you can start acting like a rock star when you are one but until then you still live with me…..” That sticks and keeps you grounded.
AH: That’s nice, that’s nice. You can always rely on your dad to ground you? Interestingly, you’re getting plenty of press releases that talk for example about good reviews from various publications and it’s going to be easy to accept all that praise and just get a little bit big headed?
STEVIE: Well, of course I mean without sounding big headed, you do get people who say “oh my god you’re the best singer and like and things like that” and it is but I’ve always just try to be that kind of I mean my friends tell you I’ve got that big of an ego but at least in the professional sense I do try to stay grounded and stay humble and you know thank people and be genuine and that’s all we ever have been, just being genuine of people. People tend to see it of that. They like to think that you’re a genuine person.
AH: The thing is though if you didn’t have a little bit of an ego presumably stage shows going to fall flat. Isn’t it? You’ve going to have presence aren’t you?
STEVIE: Exactly, yeah you’ve got to have a little bit, I mean there’s a difference between an ego and confidence, you know. You got to love yourself enough for people to love you. You know but not so much because you’d look like a dick [laughter]
AH: Where are you hoping to dip your toes in the water next?
STEVIE: Well as I just come back from France and that was amazing we couldn’t have ask for a better reception. Without friends in Bonafide and then Piston we even sold out of vinyl. We realised we need to bring more vinyls when we go to Europe.
But to say yeah we can’t wait to go to Europe. We’d love to see lots of great places as well especially after touring with Kentucky Headhunters.
AH: Talking about them, it feels a natural fit for your music as well. It opens up the whole of sort of Southern and Midwest America to you doesn’t it?
STEVIE: Yeah of course, I mean a sign, it’s just we’d really honestly we just want to play everywhere you know what ever it will take us we’ll just trying to show as many people as good time as possible and hopefully just make friends.
AH: Promotion wise, you’ve got a new video out which I believe is just gone live, hasn’t it?
STEVIE: Yeah, yeah it’s just when…it just become free download as it today as well, so you can get to track the phrase of single with the beautiful Mollie Marriott as well to help promote the tour. To the cover of Tina Turner’s Baby Get It On and says real good fun.
AH: And does that lead it, lend itself to further collaboration or is it just a neat one of just to make the tour work?
STEVIE: I don’t know. We had a good fun. I mean certainly, I’d love to work with Mollie after the tour as well, I mean she’s a brilliant talent in her own right. I mean I’d say I’d work with anyone. I’d work with anyone who’d take us.