Liz chatting with Tom Leighton Lead Vocalist and Guitarist for The Bad Flowers. Good evening Tom, thank you for taking time out to chat to Bluesdoodles. The Bad Flowers will be a new band to many readers of Bluesdoodles. So this is the perfect chance to talk about debut album and part of a tour we are all excited about. With The Bad Flowers as special guests for a night of exciting music with Jared James Nichols & Stone Broken.
As a Midlands based hard rock band, what were your first musical influences growing up in Cannock?
Thin Lizzie was the first band me and Dale the bass player latched on to so we have that common ground. Then there was Black Sabbath and stuff like that in the Midlands. Dale is a huge Gezzer Butler fan. So all bands of that ilk really. The first band I went to see live with my Dad was Wishbone Ash. So it is all Classic rock that influences me. You have quite a heritage of classic from coming from that area? Yes, we have Glenn Hughes, Galley Brothers they were obviously Trapeze to start with, Dale was lucky enough to have a jam with Mel Galley which was pretty cool. There are some great bands come out of the area, the likes of Slade, Noddy Holder is one of my favourite singers; Robert Plant is from Wolverhampton so it is a good area from Heritage for sure. It is not just about Heritage though it is about moving music on keeping it modern and fresh. It is definitely about tipping your cap to that but doing your own thing as well trying to keep that flame going. There are a bunch of bands coming out at the minute there is Stone Broken, Broken Witt Rebels, ourselves, and there is Piston from Cannock. Not heard of Piston! Piston, yea they are good guys man, playing similar sort of thing, yes they’re a bunch of great bands coming out of the Midlands at the minute doing lots of good things so all good.
The opening track of Starting Gun, Thunder Child has been released as a single which is catching the ear of reviewers for all the right reasons. How did you decide on this number to unleash the power of The Bad Flowers album for radio play etc?
It was one of the later songs that we wrote for the album. When we played the riff for the first time, we came up with the riff it was like yea this is kinda us it was fast paced, quite a heavy riff shows us all off. The bass line is great, and the drumming great in it. It is fast paced and catching the ear let’s go with this one. We have similar songs on the album but because it was last it was so fresh and no one had heard it ever. We hadn’t played it so let’s put it out it is totally new. So was the album mainly material you have played live or mainly new material? Majority of it is fresh, majority brand new. City Lights was actually on our last EP; it has been one of the most popular songs when we play live. We have noticed recently that when we play it people starting to sing back the words at the beginning it is a strange feeling to have but good feeling but it is strange. We felt that song still had some legs so we put it on the album the rest we have written in the last year so all pretty new. Tom, are you the songwriter? Yea all the lyrics and everything. We come up with the riffs altogether.
How do you define the music of The Bad Flowers so that you stand out from the plethora of trios playing rock?
Well, the one word we get a lot is ‘Thunderous’ which is a good word to describe us especially live we’ve always gone out as a three-piece but make it sound like there are more than the three of us. Thunderous Rock n’ roll – I like that description. I think it gets us down to a T really. But, the album shows off a little bit a softer side to it at times. Trying to be a bit diverse. Yes, there is a really nice acoustic track included. Yes, it is I Hope So will you be including the softer side into your live set? In the live set, it is all pretty heavy. From the album, Lets Misbehave that starts softer and builds which we have put into our last two live shows. It went down really, really well so may keep that in for the New Year when we go on tour, and just depends on how long a set we get as it is one of the longer songs. It is one of my favourite songs on the album to be fair.
I didn’t pick up thunderous on the first couple of listens. I felt the Album is full of volcanic rocking energy, with the artwork on the cover of Starting Gun is eye-catching reflecting bands and album name how did you arrive at this image and album name for your debut?
The name is actually a lyric from Thunder Child – it is like The Thunder Clap is my Starting Gun. When we were thinking of a name for the album Starting Gun clicked in my head. It is our first album we are making the statement we want to go in with a bang really. So we came to the conclusion it would be a good name for the album. Then the artwork was a collaboration between myself and our friend Shaun, who is a singer in a band Liberty Lies and he did the design work for us and we are really happy. Yes, great artwork. Love seeing artwork relevant to the album but not a picture of the band. We have always been a fan of artwork and things. Our previous EP had like a Lion, Shark and a Phoenix on it because each of us has one of these tattooed on us somewhere, so we put it all together and I drew that myself. This time round got Shaun to do the artwork as he is very talented. Yes, we are really happy with it. We actually got the full CD’s today and they look amazing. It is the vinyl I am looking forward to getting my hands on the most I can’t wait.
Starting Gun, Engineered at Vigo Studios in Birmingham then the music travelled to Hamburg, Germany for Mastering? How and why did you choose this combination?
We spoke to the guy online. He noticed us through the power of Social Media, perhaps Instagram, that we were recording and he sort of pitched himself to us. We sent him a track to test out how it sounded and it came back and sounded really good. It fitted into our budget and we loved the way he worked so it was great. So that was how it came back. So social media chose the path. We spent some time in Germany last year but it was just a coincidence really, it came about at the right time and worked out really well. It has got a lovely sound the album. We tried to keep the sound as analogue as we could and mix it like we were playing live when we were recording trying to capture the energy a bit. We don’t even use a click track, we just go in and play it. Yes, it has got that clean has a natural feel. Yes, it is the human element we don’t like recording like a machine, we don’t even use a click track. We just go in and play so some of it might speed up a little bit or slow down a little bit but we just like to play how we play live capturing the energy that is how we have always done it and works really well for us as well. It would take us longer to record to a click track, to be honest with you (laughing). For those who want to know what is a Click Track? It is like a metronome. It is a constant perfect timing that you play along to, but we play by feel.
As the Guitarist and vocalist do you have a favourite track? Yes, as I said Let’s Misbehave. What made this track the favourite? Yes pretty much. I was going through a strange point in my life when we did that and it kind reflects that a little bit. We had the music for quite a long time before the lyrics. The lyrics for that I went into the studio and I had very little idea and then recorded it in an evening. It was just one of those moments, you listen back and go that’s the one! So it was done in two or three takes that song was done lyrically. So in an evening you started you had no idea and it has become one of your favourites? I did have an inkling, a few lines but nothing set in stone. The chorus which was set in stone it was the verses that took the time. But we sat down and the Producer Adam really helped me with them in phrasing and things like that, we listened back and did it in an evening. It was one of those great moments that you can only get writing music.
The rhythm section of Dale on Bass & Karl on Drums is a powerhouse how do the three of you work together ensuring the sound is coherent and works so well with your vocals and guitar so that the melodic flow is never lost against that powerhouse?
It is a kinda unconscious thing really. Me and Dale have been playing together since we were about 16/17. So we have only really been in bands playing together and the majority has been as a three-piece. When Karl joined about three and half years ago now, we had to look for the right person to fit in with Dale and myself. We have been playing together for so long it isn’t easy. As soon as he started playing with us it was like we had been playing together months not minutes. It is something that I have always said. When we are playing together it is like we are all on the same wavelength. Dale & Karl are really good at locking in together. If something is not right Dale or Karl will shout out straight away. We won’t sit on things we are always upfront and honest with each other, if things have to be changed then that is what happens. It works well when we are in the studio/ rehearsing. Hard to explain it just clicks.
The Bad Flowers are out on Tour in March with fellow Midlands’s band Stone Broken and American Jared James Nichols. Which tracks from the album and why will be played live and loud.
We are quite good friends with Jared we toured with him November 2016 and we have stayed in touch ever since. When he came over last summer for festivals we hung out with him, so it is going to be a tour with all of our friends. It is I think quite a good line-up. Everything that is on the album is or has been on the live set recently. Hopefully get Let’s Misbehave on there because I love that track, Who Needs A Soul, Thunder Child, Hurricane and I Don’t Believe It, which is kinda treading new ground for us. It is quite a fast paced riffy track with lots of parts to it. When we first started playing it live we struggled then it clicked and is now one of our favourites. City Lights different live to what is on the album and has been the losing number but may shake it up on this tour. Going to be fun, lots of new venues and people to play to live and loud lots of foot stomping.
If you were putting together the perfect band with members from across the years (dead or alive) who would you have playing
Drums: John Bonham
Bass: John Entwistle
Guitar: Daniel Sproul (Rose Hill Drive one of the reasons why we got together so have to have their guitarist who is phenomenal)
Vocals: Robert Plant
Vocals & Guitar: Tom Leighton
Bass: Dale Tonks
Drums: Karl Selickis
Bad Flowers on Tour 2018
Read More about the tour and links to tickets HERE