Tom Leighton (The Bad Flowers) – Foot To The Petal
Busy times for this inventive power-trio but we grabbed a slice of time from guitar man Tom Leighton to find out what makes him and his crew tick. Enjoy these responses to our wide-range of questions:
By your own admission, completing more live shows before recording the debut album has made it a better example of what The Bad Flowers are all about – do you now have a collection of songs that are readily performable on stage?
Yes definitely, we’ve worked really hard on the new songs and worked new parts into them for the live shows. It’s nice to have a good mix of songs from the new album and older EP’s too.
What common influences do you, Karl and Dale share? And more importantly where do you think you might differ? in musical tastes
We’re all into the classic rock sounding stuff, a lot of 70’s bands like Led Zep, Black Sabbath etc. We like a lot of newer bands too, such as Tyler Bryant, Jared James Nichols, and Rival Sons stuff like that. I don’t think we differ much at all, we all love good music no matter what the genre.
I love the trio format, everyone works to put the songs over. What two things make the threesome appeal to you?
The dynamics are really cool between us, we know what the others are thinking. Having just the three of us also helps the writing process.
For live shows, what guitars do you use? What strings – gauge and brand? Do you use a plectrum?
I’ve always been a Les Paul guy, I absolutely love them, always have since I was a kid and I saw my Dad’s. I use d’addario NYXL’s 11-49’s and Dunlop Jazz master iii’s. I like heavy strings and thick picks!
What guitar tunings do you favour?
We tune down a half step, it helps with the key of my voice and it sounds just that little bit heavier and helps fill the sound for the three of us.
How do you look after your voice? If you do
I try my best to! I try to watch what I eat and drink before a show and steer away from caffeine as much as I can. I have a few vocal warm up techniques that I do before shows just to get those vocal chords going!
Which of the act’s songs find you a/ at the most reflective? And b/ the most forceful?
We have a new song called ‘Let’s Misbehave’ which I think is one of the most reflective songs I’ve ever written. It was a tough time at that point but it’s definitely a song of recovery. ‘Hurricane’ is quite a forceful song, it’s all about being loud and out spoken.
Please tell us about your song ‘I Hope’.
This was the last song that was written for the album. I actually had another acoustic song ready to go but it just wasn’t sitting right with me at the time. I was in the studio one evening and we hit record and this is what came out, I think the one on the record was the second take. As soon as I sent it to the guys, they said we had to include it.
Sometimes I hear Rory Gallagher in your guitar style…any thoughts?
That’s very kind of you to say! Rory is a legend and an incredible guitar player but I have never really studied his playing or style, I think I have one album maybe? I’ve always tried to carve my own style and feel out.
I find a lot of releases I receive to review are (lyrically) a tad self-centred, do you have any story songs, about others?
Yeah, so many of our songs are based on things that haven’t anything to do with us. I think ‘City Lights’ is a stand out one of these, it was written when we were in Vienna, Austria. It was at the height of the refugee crisis and I just saw all these people trying to get on with their lives and were genuinely scared for their lives and families and the majority of people just looked the other way.
I had a great discussion with Billy Gibbons on ‘playing the room; and I often change a setlist depending upon the acoustics / responses…….any thoughts?
That’s something we’ve never really done. I suppose that’d come with the experience, for us we work on the set depending on the tour. We try and put all the hard-hitting songs in to show what we can do. Most of our sets recently have been as support so we’ve got to show our best work in half an hour.
What’s The Bad Flowers Road Diet?
Honestly, up until recently it was pretty terrible! But we’ve started being a lot more careful we’ve got to look after ourselves as we’re planning on being on the road a lot more!
Which song of yours could open a thriller film?
‘Hurricane’ has quite a heavy sinister fell to it so I think I’d choose that one. I think it would fit into a thriller film pretty well.
You and the band are offered the chance to record a Dylan song with Lucinda Williams. Which one do you choose? And what musical arrangement do you put together?
I think I’d choose ‘Hurricane’. It has the same name as one of our songs but it couldn’t be more different. It was one of the first Dylan songs that really came to my attention so it has to be this one! As for the arrangement, how can you mess with Dylan’s arrangement of this? It’s a superb song.
Honesty time! Which other band or artist would you NOT want to follow on stage?
Right now, I would not want to follow Rival Sons on stage, those guys are incredible live and they have been the trailblazers in the resurgence of the classic rock genre for the past few years. Such a great set of musicians and Jay’s vocals are incredible.
Do you have any festival appearances lined up?
Yes, this year we’re playing Steelhouse Festival, Stone Free festival at the O2 London, Teddy Rocks Festival, Camden Rocks and we’re off to Europe for a festival, too. Really looking forward to these!
Name the best live album in your collection – and what’s the appeal? The highlights?
It has to be Thin Lizzy’s ‘Live and Dangerous’. They were one of the first bands I really latched onto and this album just blew my mind as a teenager! I suppose that’s kind of ironic that I loved the twin guitars and now I’m in a power trio!
Which song reminds you of secondary school days?
It’s an album rather than a song. ‘Led Zeppelin 2’ was the first album I bought and I pretty much wore it out through high school. Such an amazing album, got me though a lot and definitely set me up for being in a rock and roll band!
(Thanks to Tom for his answers)
Feature Image and photos are credited to Mark Varney except the photo of Tom Leighton playing guitar which is credited to Terry Marland.
The Bad Flowers have just released their debut album Starting Gun. The 3-piece rock band from Cannock, West Midlands, tour with Stone Broken and Jared James Nichols until Wednesday 7th March 2018. They play music festivals throughout the summer including Camden Rocks, Steelhouse, Teddy Rocks, Stone Free and Hard Rock Hell.
Full dates and ticket links can be found below.
You can read our full review of the band’s new album ‘Starting Gun’ here: http://bit.ly/2nPJx4n
Official Website: www.thebadflowers.uk.
Thursday 22nd February 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) The Haunt, Brighton, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2hJwoIC
Saturday 24th February 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) Islington Assembly Hall, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2j9TSr8
Sunday 25th February 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) Club Academy, Manchester, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2h2alet
Monday 26th February 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) G2, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2sLpzvY
Wednesday 28th February 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) Riverside, Newcastle, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2iQ8Izp
Thursday 1st March 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2gRe77X
Friday 2nd March 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) Muni Arts Centre, Pontypridd, Wales, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2BpJhAS
Saturday 3rd March 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) O2 Institute Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom (SOLD OUT)
Sunday 4th March 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) Corporation, Sheffield, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2we2zqm
Tuesday 6th March 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) Live Rooms, Chester, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2zdkXAm
Wednesday 7th March 2018 – (Special Guests for Stone Broken) The Fleece, Bristol, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2gRdmf9
Sunday 6th May 2018 – Teddy Rocks Festival, Charisworth Farm Cottage, Blandford Forum, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2BPjR0m
Saturday 2nd June 2018 – Camden Rocks Festival, 6.00pm (UK Time) Fiddlers Elbow, Camden, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2Ex0n25
Sunday 17th June 2018 – Stone Free Festival, The O2, Peninsula Square, London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2rHnY8y
Saturday 28th July 2018 – Steelhouse Festival, Ebbw Vale, Wales, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2rgBIUg
Saturday 10th November 2018 – Hard Rock Hell, Camp HRH, North Wales, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2EewW0D