Interview: Classic rockers Bad Touch heading to Cambridge Rock Festival
An exciting and talented blues rock quintet who certainly look the part, Bad Touch first came together in 2010 when the band members were still in college.
In their formative years, Stevie Westwood (vocals), Rob Glendinning (guitar), Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seekings (guitar/vocals), Michael Bailey (bass) and George Drewry (drums/vocals) played local pubs performing covers of rock classics.
The group, scheduled to perform at this weekend’s Cambridge Rock Festival, gradually began to compose original material and have since built quite a reputation for their dynamic live shows – something to which I can testify, having seen them open for legendary American rock band, The Kentucky Headhunters, in 2016.
“We’re busy, busy, busy writing new music,” says the band’s singer, “so that’s something for everyone to look forward to. We’re now getting towards the stage where we’re going to be booking in studio time, so we’re that far down the road, which is quite nice to think. We haven’t announced anything yet so that’s a little bit of a scoop for you! The future’s looking good.”
Bad Touch’s most recent LP, Kiss the Sky – their fourth studio album – came out in 2020. It contains some great rock tunes, Come a Little Closer, I Get High and Strut among them. How do the band write their songs?
“It’s different each time,” says Stevie, who started playing guitar at around the age of 10. “We’ve been together over 10 years now and the writing process just never gets dull because everyone contributes in their own way – not necessarily bound to their instrument.
“George, our drummer, quite often comes up with lyrics and guitar parts, same as the guitarists come up with drum parts. I write some of the riffs, same as the guitar players write some of the lyrics. It’s a really cool way to write and it stops it getting boring, and I love it.”
Remembering how he ended up as the lead singer, Stevie says: “I turned up with my guitar, my Epiphone Les Paul, all those years ago and the two guys, Seeks and Rob, were standing there with their genuine, full-fat Gibson Les Pauls and I didn’t even get mine out the case out of embarrassment! They said ‘Can you sing?’ I said ‘Not really’ and here we are 12 years later.”
Stevie says that he and his bandmates have been “very lucky” when it comes to other acts with whom they’ve shared a stage. “We’ve toured with so many awesome bands,” he notes, “and everyone’s been really helpful, supportive... very, very few people have ever been not that, so we count ourselves as incredibly lucky to have toured with all these amazing musicians – and hopefully more to come!”
Who would be on Stevie’s ‘dream bill’ for Bad Touch to perform alongside? “Oh man, there’s so many,” he replies. “It’s been a bit of a weird few years for live music so we’re just keen to get out there and play as much as we can.
“We’re influenced by all kinds of people, like Black Stone Cherry. They would be an amazing one because we’ve met them and they’re great guys... Blackberry Smoke as well, they’re an amazing band. Literally anyone – we just want to play! We’d love to do America at some point because that’s one thing that we haven’t managed to do yet as a band.”
Although Bad Touch have been together as a band for 12 years or so, some of the members go back even further. “The two guitar players went to school together,” reveals Stevie, “so they’ve grown up best friends – it’s a really tight bond we have.
“The other four went to school together and they found me on the internet, as is the way. I was looking for a band because when I was in my late teens, a little outfit that I had everyone was giving up and going to university and that, and I wasn’t ready to give up, so I found the guys and the rest is history.”
The rest of the band all grew up in and around East Dereham in Norfolk. “I grew up – and currently live – on the east coast in Suffolk, near Southwold,” says Stevie. “I’m very lucky.”
Stevie says that he and the others have played the Cambridge Rock Festival before. “It was a long time ago now – I hate to think how long ago it was,” he notes. “Really looking forward to going back there and it’ll be our first gig in a few weeks so we’ve got some energy pent up – we’re really looking forward to playing a cool set.”
Stevie adds: “We’ve got a handful of dates – not as many as we want, but then we’d be out every day if we could.”
Bad Touch will be playing the Sapphire Stage at the four-day Cambridge Rock Festival, which is being held at the East of England Arena and Events Centre, this Sunday (June 19). For more information, visit cambridgerockfestival.co.uk. For more on Bad Touch, go to badtouchrocks.co.uk.