With their debut album ‘Starting Gun’, the Bad Flowers continue the tradition of powerful hard rock from the Midlands.
Singer and guitarist Tom Leighton tells us about the LP, spontaneity in the studio, capturing the dynamism of live performance, and misbehaving.
You initially wanted to record ‘Starting Gun’ 2 years ago. How do you think it would have sounded? What have you learnt in the past 2 years that you’ve been able to apply to writing and recording the album?
Honestly, I think it would have been a very different album. I think we’ve learnt a lot in the past 2 years from playing with more established bands about what it takes to make a good record. How we’ve structured songs and how we’ve laid the album out as a whole has all come from this learning curve.
You’ve managed to capture the energy of a live show in a recording studio, which is very difficult to do. Was that the plan from the get go? Is that something you admire on other bands’ albums? And how did you actually get that live vibe down on “tape”?
Yeah, it was definitely the plan. It’s always great when a band can capture that live energy on an album, so it’s something we wanted to emulate. Our live show and the energy we put into it has always been something we pride ourselves on so we wanted to mix the album as if it was a live show almost.
It seems like there was some spontaneity during recording. Like the acoustic version of ‘I Hope’. And writing ‘Secrets’ in the studio. Do you enjoy surprising or challenging yourselves like this?
Oh yeah! I love it. I kind of like going into the studio slightly under prepared. I know some people hate that but it really works for me, you get those unexpected magic moments. ‘I Hope’ was one of them, and ‘Let’s Misbehave’ had a fair bit of improvisation in it, too.
What one song best represents what you hoped to achieve on ‘Starting Gun’?
If I had to choose one? It would be ‘Let’s Misbehave’. It’s something different from us but still has that Bad Flowers feeling to it. We wanted to push our boundaries a little with this record to show that we can do more than just the riffs.
Your lyrics tackle some big themes. How important is it to you to have people connect with them?
Oh massively. I find it really interesting to hear people’s take on the lyrics and how they interpret them because, in all honesty, each song to me is almost like a diary entry, real life experience that I think people can relate to.
Do you consider yourself a singer or guitarist foremost? You’re equally fantastic at both. What comes easier?
That’s very kind of you to say! I think the lines have crossed back and forth on that in recent times. I started as a guitarist and kind of fell into singing by default when we couldn’t find a singer for our previous band so it was a challenging concept for me to start with, but I definitely feel I’ve become more confident at both and now they go hand in hand.
What was the first album or musician you got obsessed with? Is there anything from that album or musician you still apply to your own music?
The first album I ever picked up was ‘Led Zep 2’, and I mean is there any rock band out there that doesn’t owe something to Led Zeppelin?!
What music did you bond over when forming the band? And, perhaps more importantly, what music did/do you disagree on?
Myself and Dale pretty much grew up together and I think the first band we really had in common was Thin Lizzy, which I always find strange as we’re a 3 piece, but it was all that twin guitar stuff that was exciting! We all have the same kind of taste in music, there really isn’t ever much we disagree on. We have a Spotify Playlist of songs we listen to on the road that anyone can follow – you’ll find everything from country ballads to metal on there.
What does each of you bring to the band both as musicians and people?
I think we’re all pretty tenacious and driven as people. We know where we want to be as a band and we all move in the same direction to get there. As musicians I think we all balance ourselves out really well, Karl is the heartbeat with the drums and the way Dale and he have learnt to play together is awesome. It really does provide a little freedom for myself which is sometimes rare in a trio. Definitely the best rhythm section we could ask for, but don’t tell them I said that!
All 3 of you have mentioned there were low points during the creation of the album. Is there any in particular you could share? Did you ever reach a point where you felt like packing it all in? What kept you going?
Yeah, we all had some low times personally during this album but I honestly think that if we didn’t then it would be a different record. I don’t think they were low points as a band. If anything the band really helps us to focus and clear our heads. It’s a beautiful thing, music.
- The Bad Flowers’ debut album ‘Starting Gun’ is released on 16 February. They tour the UK with Stone Broken and Jared James Nichols from Thursday 22 February.