Album Review – The Bad Flowers – Starting Gun

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Photo courtesy of Mark Varney

 

***Information taken from press release***

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 song writing 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. 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.

Following the September release of their recent single Thunder Child, The Bad Flowers we’re named as one of Planet Rock Radio’s “Ones To Watch”. Thunder Child, the first single taken from the Starting Gun, gained heavy airplay and was described by the station as “pure, dynamic, riff-heavy rock ‘n’ roll delivered with passion and prowess.”

Starting Gun was recorded at Vigo Studios, near the band’s hometown of Cannock. The band chose this studio because they wanted to make a record that sounded like their roots and had the chance to work with long-time friend of the band and producer Adam Beddow, who has recently helped produce Diamond Head’s most current work.

The members of The Bad Flowers reflect on what the new album means to them:

Tom Leighton – Vocals & Guitar

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Briggs Photography

The whole process of recording this album has been a huge labour of love, it’s come at the right time in our progression, we originally wanted to record an album two years ago but shelved the idea at that point, and I glad we did! The last two years have seen us play some shows with some amazing artists and we’ve all been though some ups and downs as everybody does, but it think it’s helped us to write some of our best songs. There’s all out songs with monster riffs and big chorus’ down to a song with just one acoustic guitar and vocals and plenty in between, I think this album will show that we have more than one trick up our sleeve and I’m really excited for people to hear what we have made. We plan on hitting the road as hard as possible in 2018 to get this music into everyone’s ears, we have a full UK tour the week after the album comes out, and a few festival appearances already in the diary and plenty more things in the pipeline!

Dale Tonks – Bass

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Briggs Photography

Recording the album and getting to the point where it ready to be unleashed to the world is an exciting, yet scary, thing to try and grasp. To me it’s like a time stamp on everything we have done up to now, how the band, sound, style and us as musicians have developed. It’s also been one hell of a ride in the making. It’s been hours in the practice room and studio slugging away and sometimes giving each other a constructive kick up the backside trying to better ourselves and mold the songs into what we want them. We never wanted to over complicate the songs or lose the meaning and passion that has gone into them. We’ve put everything into every single track. It’s been such a rollercoaster of emotions that I know we have all gone through at points, but when I’ve listen back to the tracks I think, man, we make some damn good noise together, that’s not me being big headed but I just love it and love playing these songs with what are now my brothers, I just can’t wait for others to be able to hear them and hopefully enjoy and get their groove on as much as I do.

Karl Selickis – Drums

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Photo courtesy of Dave Briggs Photography

It’s been a year-long process with the writing and recording process that’s resulted into the Starting Gun album. We’ve all encountered many different emotions. There’s been highs, and a lot of lows, but as an end product I can happily say without being too cliché, that I’ve never been happier. Starting Gun shows our raw talent enthusiasm and professional attitude to our craft.

The album itself I think shows true dedication to a new generation rock revival. True to our word and influences! Not apply has it had us work our knuckles the bare bone it has made us tighter as a unit as friends and as a family! I am truly proud to call this our debut album and hope that everyone else feels the way we do come February 16th.


TheBadFlowers_AlbumLaunchShow-hrThe Bad Flowers – Starting Gun

Album Tracklisting

1. Thunder Child (3:59)
2. Lions Blood (3:49)
3. Secrets (3:44)
4. Rich Man (3:14)
5. I Hope (3:24)
6. Let’’s Misbehave (5:40)
7. Who Needs A Soul (3:17)
8. Be Your Man (2:56)
9. Hurricane (3:44)
10. I Don’t Believe It (3:16)
11. City Lights (4:44)

Produced by Adam Beddow and Tom Leighton
Recorded and engineered by Adam Beddow at Vigo Studios
Mastered by Fabian Tormin at Plätlin Mastering, Hamburg, Germany


 

Full review by Dave Briggs and Deb Gardner of The Rock Asylum

So, before getting into the review of this Black Country trio’s debut album a little history of how we came to find them in the first place. We had visited a number of charity gigs across the West Midlands during 2017 and, although we had heard good things about them, we always found ourselves in a different room watching other notable bands whilst they were doing their set. We kept saying that we needed to catch their

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performance. That opportunity came about in October 2017. After booking to see The Picturebooks at The Flapper in Birmingham we were delighted to discover that The Bad Flowers were supporting them. Up until that point I’m ashamed to say that we hadn’t heard any of their tracks properly. That said I was thoroughly looking forward to witnessing them live (and as it turns out, up close too). The set they delivered was awesome. (If The Picturebooks had decided not to play I’d have still been over the moon with the night.) I can honestly say that I was a fan before they’d finished their first track.
We got a second opportunity to see them headlining at The Giffard Arms at the beginning of December 2017. Another blistering performance which cemented our firm appreciation of this faultless trio. Having been featured on Planet Rock and receiving thoroughly deserved rave reviews this was their final gig of 2017. I have to say they  appeared to genuinely enjoy performing and treated the assembly of fans to an early Christmas present. They received thunderous appreciation from the crowd and quite bloody right too. Easily one of the best gigs of 2017, hands down.

On to 2018 and with the upcoming album release is looming over us, I thought I’d chance it and message Tom to see if there was any chance of the little old Rock Asylum reviewing the album. “Yeah, no problem, get in touch with our PR and they’ll send you a copy”, was his reply. Feckin’ awesome, I couldn’t wait. Now, I wanted to do this review, and the lads, justice, so was taking my time to soak in the awesomeness of the albums contents. Meanwhile, I was considering a relaxing Saturday night in front of the TV (knowing that I was up at 6am the following day) when I noticed a Facebook post from Tom stating that they were doing a gig at the Stumble Inn, Cannock. Just up the road. And to put just a little bit more icing on the cake it was free!!!! I couldn’t believe my luck. So off we went. Needless to say we were presented with another incredible performance. These guys always give 100%, without exception and they never show any hint of arrogance. They are totally down to earth, chilled and grounded. Considering their successes last year you would be able to excuse it if there was a hint of cockiness, but no, not in the slightest. Makes you like them even more.

Right then, onto the review of the album, ‘Starting Gun’.

The opening song is Thunder Child. As the title suggests it’s a thundering track. This is everything that we could expect from the lads – great lyrics and excellent composition. The exclusive sound of Toms voice sets this track up to be a blinder, but when coupled with the top notch guitar work, powerful, incomparable drumming, and hefty bass lines this track jumps out and demands your attention.

Lions Blood is another thumping rendition which clearly displays Karl’s blistering ability on the tubs. The musical prowess is further emphasised by Tom’s incredible guitar work, neatly blended together with Dale’s faultless bass lines. Tom has a voice that you hope you will never stop hearing. Secrets delivers another welcome dose of The Bad Flowers signature sound. It is peppered with amazing guitar work and superb lyrics, perfectly delivered with those unmistakable vocals. That chunky riff that’s present throughout the track is insane, not to mention some of the clever guitar motifs displayed which bring power to the track. The drumming from Karl puts him out there with the best, this man could have his own show with the amazing talent he possesses. Rich Man has an evocative opening from Tom and his guitar. The song builds slowly as the story unfolds, then you get that massive slap to the face when those piercing vocals take their place. This track takes the opportunity to exhibit the immense qualities of this great band, giving something a little different to what we’re used to, and it really works. This is a stomping track that you will not be able to switch off once you’ve heard it.  The last part of the track is just a massive showcase of immense vocals, intricate guitar, incessant drumming, and massive bass lines, an absolute showstopper. I Hope is an acoustic track that really showcases Tom’s lyrical expertise. The story relayed will likely strike a personal cord with many a listener with its sentiment. Let’s Misbehave starts off with an almost eerie calmness and has you wondering when the power will kick in. Tom dishes out another masterclass in lyrical proficiency whilst the intensity of the track builds. Then you’re taken on a rollercoaster of pace, this song is packed solid with intensity and power, and delivered seamlessly and effortlessly by every member of the band at one point or another. It’s definitely a significant number on this stellar album. Who Needs a Soul is another signature Bad Flowers production. With its groovy bass lines, the lads have found the perfect recipe to create brilliance once again. This is a really strong member of the collection and, not that it’s needed, proves why these guys are destined for much bigger things. Be Your Man has a great blues rock tone to it that will certainly get you going, and an explosive drum display towards the end, coupled with powerful vocals. Yet another cleverly written and exceptionally performed track. This is as good as blues rock gets.  Hurricane is another dose of brilliance with Tom and the boys building it up then slowing it down a little before catapulting you back into the thick of it. We’re treated to yet another slice of stunning guitar work during this track.

I Don’t Believe is a seductively heavy, blues rock number that jumps pace frequently and hooks you from the beginning. Once again, the astounding musical prowess of each member is thrown open for all to witness.  City Lights was previously released on EP, but is a very worthy edition to this incredible album. This gives a humble story of desire to succeed in life. It’s a fitting final track as I firmly believe that this trio are unequivocally destined for those very bright city lights.

In Summary

As debut albums go you would certainly be hard pushed to find another to stand against this one. I’ve rarely listened to a band where each instrument is clearly evident in every track.  The material is very cleverly composed and the vocals delivered by Tom throughout the album are exquisite. Dale’s base playing is unusually entertaining and solid throughout every number, and Karl’s drumming ability is off the scale. As I said earlier, he is up there with the best in my opinion. To see these guys live is a pleasure to behold and to hear them perform any song at all in a live setting will set the place on fire, without a doubt. They have a huge stage presence that few other bands can match. Extremely charismatic and engaging to say the least. Tom is an exceptional guitarist, while Dale’s passion for what he does is clearly evident. And I have seen very few drummers that can throw down like Karl does. For a three piece band the sound they produce is exemplary.

I urge you to go buy this album, I guarantee you will be blown away. If you have a love for blues laced rock then your music collection should definitely contain Starting Gun!

Rating   star rating

If you like what you’ve heard about The Bad Flowers, why not follow them on Facebook, Twitter,  or Instagram?

 

 

 

Rockers Through The Ages Xmas Party

This gig was kindly hosted by Wendy Shone, owner of The Giffard Arms Wolverhampton. Organised and promoted by Brett Hall and Doddy White, who certainly came up trumps with this line up, which was a sure fire way to fill The Giffard. The Rockers Through The Ages Xmas Party was designed to raise money for a great cause,  Compton Hospice.

Kicking off the performances were Hollowstar, a 4 piece hard-hitting dirty rock band originating from Cambridgeshire. Never seen them before, but after watching their assault of in your face rock music that certainly got the pulse racing, I will be looking out for these guys in the future, and hope to get up close and personal with a cheeky interview if at all possible.

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These guys certainly put on a brilliant performance despite some technical issues as you will see on one of the videos. They took it all in their stride and their set was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The stage was well and truly warmed up in preparation for the next band on this awesome line up.

If Hollowstar tickle your fancy, why not visit/like their facebook page, or click here for twitter

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Naked Sunday

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DSC06518.jpgAfter a quick change over, it was time for Naked Sunday to take the stage. I’ve been following this band for some time now, and was keen to see them, as they are always guaranteed to spice things up with their unique, dirty rock n roll performances.

Tonight, they promised some surprises, and delivered the biggest surprise which was in the form of an additional guitarist, Alex Williams on stage for two of their songs, Diamonds and Pearls and A Dozen Red Roses.

From start to finish it was clearly one of the best live performances from Naked Sunday that I have ever witnessed, and having an extra guitar on stage gave a little extra something to the performance.

It was also very clear that they themselves were having a ball up there, and that came across to the audience very well.

The below video is my favourite tune at the moment from this band, called Reaper. Martin Stanyer put everything into his performance of this, even mentioning a few of the people in the audience by name part way through.

 

If Naked Sunday float your boat, why not head over to their facebook or twitter pages to give them a like/follow.

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Next up were Electus, a 4 piece hard rock band from Wolverhampton. Again a confident and crowd pleasing performance was unleashed on the audience. A couple of issues with equipment, but this didn’t spoil the performances at all.

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My favourite video from the set is the one below. Lead guitarist Gareth Daker was awesome and I would have loved to capture more of his performance on video but unfortunately I was at the wrong side of the stage to get any decent footage of him. These guys are definitely worth a watch, and they did a fantastic job of preparing the audience for the main attraction of the night.

If you want to know more about Electus, why not follow them on facebook or twitter?

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A few minutes were taken by Brett Hall and Doddy White to raise money for their cause with a raffle and an auction.

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And next, the moment we had all been waiting for……. Tom, Dale and Karl of The Bad Flowers from Cannock walked calmly onto the stage and started to prepare themselves. The audience knew what was about to come, and the room was packed out. The energy in the room rose to another level in excitement and anticipation of what was about to come.

This band are well known for their thunderous rock n roll which leaves audiences astounded, and this gig was no exception, they performed their hearts out as always. The relentless attack of elaborate drumming from the talented ‘animal’, Karl Selickis, the heavy bass delivered with tonnes of attitude by Dale Tonks and the pure, powerful vocals and exceptional guitar work from Tom Leighton delivered an earth shattering experience to their fans which finished the night off perfectly.

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The Bad Flowers really do capture the hearts of the audience, always performing at full throttle and with a genuine raw talent that you cannot buy. I’m in no doubt that this appearance will be one of the last ‘smaller venues’ these guys perform, as they have some fantastic shows lined up for 2018, including Steelhouse Festival.

I’m just happy that I had the privilege of seeing these guys perform at such a personal level, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for them in the coming year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gig Review – The Picturebooks

By Dave Briggs

When I heard earlier this year that The Picturebooks would be back in the UK on their own headline tour I was well chuffed.  Having seen these guys support Monster Truck last year at the 02 Institute and being blown away by their performance I knew that this gig would be one not to miss.  This event would be the second UK concert in what will surmount to be part of a 60 gig European and UK tour, an admirable journey to attempt.  For those who haven’t witnessed this hugely impressive duo, its difficult explain the amazing musical talents they possess.  Even now, after seeing them twice, I still marvel at the sound they produce, especially when you consider that Philipp doesn’t have what you would class as your typical drum kit.

As the date of the gig got closer, it was announced that The Bad Flowers, a rock trio from Cannock, would be supporting The Picturebooks on several of their UK dates, including The Flapper.  Now, this was just getting better all the time.  Although up until this show, I hadn’t managed to catch The Bad Flowers in action, but had heard many good things about them, I was even more thrilled at the prospect of this event and couldn’t wait for the date to come around.

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So, on the day of the gig I load the car up with myself, and my treasured Sony camera, Deb Gardner, the founder of the Rock Asylum and her daughter, Beth and off to Birmingham to The Flapper we did go.  After a couple of arguments with the Sat Nav, due to temporary road changes for road works, we arrived at our chosen car park and proceeded to the venue.  I’ve never been to The Flapper before but on arrival immediately fell in love with the place.  It’s got great character, with super friendly staff. It’s a tragedy that they intend to flatten the place next year to build flats.  Having arrived early, we got a drink and waited for the downstairs room to open.  As promised we were let in on time and took up a position in front and centre of the stage area.  While waiting for things to get started we were pleasantly surprised to have non other than The Picturebooks singer and guitarist, Fynn Claus Grabke, come and say hi.  He was very humble and appreciative of the efforts people go to in order to visit their gigs.  He said that each gig so far had been memorable for differing reasons and they were loving the experience of headlining their own tour.  Shortly after, Fynn’s dad and manager, Claus came over and welcomed us to the gig. They say, ‘like father, like son’, and this is very apt. He was equally as humble with a real warm personality.  He said that the interest in the tour dates had been very good and that becoming established in the UK was very important to them as they regarded the UK as the rock motherland.

So, it was time for things to get under way.  After a quick tune up The Bad Flowers soon amped the energy up in the now near capacity room.  The sound in the venue was great and The Bad Flowers took an impressive advantage of that fact.  They started their set in thunderous style, kicking off with Lions Blood, from their recent two track CD.  They worked their way through an impressive set list, which included a few of their better known tracks, Can You Feel It, Big Country, City Lights and recent release main track, Thunder Kid.  They also threw in a couple of new tracks from their forthcoming album, all to the appreciation of the gathered crowd.

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They certainly gave a very polished performance and delivered each track with an appropriate level of gusto, building the crowd’s enthusiasm with each track.  Although only a relatively short set this modest group of Black Country lads certainly delivered a top rate show, giving a headlining worthy presentation.  I can thoroughly recommend these guys, great musicians and excellent performers.  They were a class act, demonstrating humility and a genuine appreciation for being part of the night’s proceedings.  I’m definitely keen to see them again and look forward to the release of their forthcoming album.

After a stage change it was time for the main attraction – The Picturebooks.  The anticipation of the crowd could be felt as Fynn and Philipp took to the stage.  They wasted no time and jumped straight in with a blistering opener, PCH Diamond.  The energy that these two gentlemen exert on stage is awe inspiring, especially when you consider how laid back they are off stage.  The sound they produce is quite simply spellbinding. They delivered every track with passionate conviction, with thunderous appreciation from the packed venue. Fynn conversed with the crowd, giving everyone an insight into the motivation or influence behind the songs, which gave the occasion a more intimate feel.

The guys played a number of their better known tracks. Crowd favourites were certainly ‘Zero Fucks Given’, ‘Home is a Heartache’, ‘I Need That Ooh’ and ‘The Rabbit and the Wolf’. Intermingle these with Seen Those Days, Fire Keeps Burning, Wardance, Woman, Cactus, Elizabeth and Your Kisses Burn Like Fire and you have an almost complete discography of their last two albums.  Fynn gave Phillip a well deserved break and gave a superb rendition of On These Roads I’ll Die, before being joined back on stage for their closer, These Bridges Must Burn.  Every track was a rousing performance on its own merit, but as a collective they were off the scale. I cannot begin to imagine how many calories they burnt through during their time on stage, especially Philipp, such was his frenetic pace – he actually destroyed at least a couple of pairs of drum sticks. They gave a pulsating hour and a half show, captivating all in attendance and clearly feeding off the energy in the packed venue.

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I know I’m not on my own in saying I could have watched these guys all night. Having thanked the assembled crowd for their enthusiasm and attendance Fynn and Philipp left the stage to rightfully deserved rapturous applause. They immediately attended their merch stand and greeted fans, posed for photos and gave time to everyone. Their patience and humility were both impressive and undeniable. Once the crowd had dispersed they busied themselves breaking down their stage set up – no roadies to do the donkey work for them, this just bolstered their honest and down to earth personas.

I cannot wait for them to return to our shores and treat us all to another spectacle like what was witnessed at The Flapper on 5th October. Do yourself a favour and check both bands videos out, especially any live footage, as you will not fail to be impressed. In reflection, the venue, the support band and headline act culminated in a spectacular evening’s entertainment.

For more photos from this and many more live gigs please visit Dave Briggs on facebook