Midlands based hard rock band, The Bad Flowers, are set to release their debut studio album Starting Gun on Friday 16th February 2018.
The album is a follow up to 2016’s self-titled EP and shows the great progression of songwriting and musicianship of The Bad Flowers over the past two years. The band will play an exclusive album launch show at the Birmingham Asylum 2 on Saturday 17th February 2018, playing all the songs from the new album plus more surprises.
National Rock Review recently caught up with The Bad Flowers frontman Tom Leighton, to talk about their debut album, their forthcoming tour with Stone Broken and the band’s plans for 2018.
NRR: Obviously, you’ve got a brand new album coming out, it’s called Starting Gun. The album will be released on Friday 16th February. I just wondered with this being your first album how many of those songs have been with the band for a while and how much of the record came together in the studio.
Tom: There are two songs on there that we’ve had for quite a while – “Hurricane” and “City Lights” have featured on other recordings that we’ve done. I mean “City Lights” has been remixed and remastered and “Hurricane” was a complete re-recording because we’ve been playing it slightly differently on the road. The rest of the songs, I’ve had some of them in the live set for three or four months just to see how they went – there’s like an acoustic song on there and a slower song called “Let’s Misbehave”, which was all pretty much done in the studio; so we hadn’t played that live until it was recorded.
NRR: So when you went into the studio you were in quite a creative phase and it all came together there and then?
Tom: Yeah, we had worked on the music for a lot of it outside of the studio in our lockup, in our rehearsal space, but lyrically I worked on a lot of that while we were in the studio to try to get things that worked. I kind of like almost going in slightly underprepared because you just get those moments that just kind of come out. I mean I had an idea of how I wanted it to go because that’s how it worked for us. It came out alright and it sounded pretty good.
NRR: I understand you worked with producer Adam Beddow on the album and I know he’s worked with the likes of Diamond Head among others. I just wondered what was it like working with Adam and what did he bring to the table?
Tom: Well Adam has been a friend of mine and Dale’s for a long, long time – we’ve known him through all of the bands we’ve been in really. It was one of the first places we ever recorded. So he kind of knows our sound, he knows where we have been in the past and where we want to go looking forward, so he really helps. It’s nice because he gets the best out of us basically, he’s really honest – if something’s not working he would say well let’s try something a bit different. Yeah, it’s just really comfortable for us and we felt quite creative with him in there at the helm.
NRR: I understand that you were actually going to record your debut album a couple of years ago but you decided to hold back. I just wondered what was it that stopped you from going into the studio at that point.
Tom: Well we did go in at that point and started on an EP in the end. I thought we were overreaching with an album and I wanted to just take a step back and just make sure we got all of the songs correct and everything right and everything had to feel right. I just don’t think we had been out gigging enough, so we just built on our sound a little and got our name out there a little bit. We got ourselves a good bassist and I think now is the right time for the album to come out.
NRR: So do you feel that now you’ve come up with the definitive sound for the band?
Tom: Yeah, definitely I think we’ve worked hard on making a three-piece sound like there’s more than three of us. We are just trying to get quite a big wall of sound really. But I think we’ve all gelled a lot over the last few years, we’ve done tons and tons of shows, so that’s really helped.
NRR: In terms of the album title Starting Gun where does that originate from?
Tom: It’s a lyric in “Thunder Child” which is the opening track on the album. So it’s like ‘The thunderclap is my starting gun’ and we thought well that kind of sums us up a little bit – Starting Gun, we just wanted to go off with a bit of a bang with our debut album and just try and show people what we are all about.
NRR: Speaking of “Thunder Child” there, that track has been getting a lot of attention both online as well as airplay from the likes of Planet Rock Radio. Could you tell us a little bit about the song and the inspiration behind it?
Tom: Yeah, the song was born from the riff really. As I say we were just kind of messing around and we drop tuned a little bit and I came up with that riff because we wanted to do something a bit quicker, which that song is pretty much. Yeah, it all came from there. Then the “Thunder Child” aspect really just came from just kind of mythically really, honestly I have no idea where it came from I just sang and there you go we just went with it. I think I had been watching a lot of Marvel films or something (laughing).
NRR: You are going to be hitting the road in February roughly the time the album comes out with both Stone Broken and Jared James Nichols. I know you are playing at the Riverside Newcastle on the 28th February. I actually caught you playing at Think Tank Newcastle with Scorpion Child last year, so it will be great to see you back in the North East again.
What do you know about the other bands on the bill; have you had a chance to see them live and how much competition do you think there will be between the three of you each night because obviously, you are three emerging bands who are all getting a lot of buzz and interest – do you think it will be a friendly affair?
Tom: I think it will be quite friendly, it might be a bit boring but it will be because we know Stone Broken quite well because they are Midlands based like ourselves, so we bump into them quite regularly. As you say you saw us with Jared last year and since that tour we’ve remained quite good friends, so we chat quite often. We hung out when he played the festivals in the summer as well. I’m really looking forward to it because we know everyone on the bill; I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and we will spur each other on if anything.
NRR: With a three-band bill, you’ve got a bit of a shorter set, you’ve got to prove your point in a very short period of time. Have you thought much about the setlist you are going to put into that show? Are you going to focus on the new album?
Tom: We actually started working on the set for it this week, but yeah everything in the set at the minute is from the new album. There are seven tracks on it that we are going to play and it’s pretty much all of the harder hitting stuff that we can link together. We will probably get about half an hour so we just want to go out there and just bang, bang, bang and prove a point with all of the riffs and hooks and stuff.
NRR: Do you have a favourite song to perform live and if so which song and why?
Tom: I will be honest it’s “Lets Misbehave” at the minute. This is a slightly slower burner, it starts quite slow and then builds up. I think it gives me a little freedom vocally, I had to learn to be quite disciplined singing that one because normally I will wail it out, but with this one, I have to reign myself in a little and it’s got a nice guitar solo and things like that. It’s been getting a really good response, we’ve done it a couple of times already and its definitely turning into one of my favourite tracks we do.
NRR: What’s on the cards for the band in 2018?
Tom: Yeah we are working on it now, we’ve got Steelhouse Festival booked, so we are really looking forward to that. There are a couple more festivals we are looking at booking, at the minute in the summer and then hopefully we will be doing a small run of headline shows ourselves and then another large tour towards the end of the year. So we are going to stay as busy as we can. We have a (sold out) album release show on the 17th February in Birmingham.
Starting Gun by The Bad Flowers will be released on Friday 16th February. To dovetail the release of the debut album, The Bad Flowers will be special guests on Stone Broken’s nationwide 12 date UK tour that starts on Thursday 22nd of February at The Haunt Brighton. The tour also includes an appearance at Planet Rock’s Winters End Festival.
The Bad Flowers
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Header Photo: Mark Varney