Interview by Si Smith

After releasing two album, Touchstone is back with their third multifaceted progressive-rock album called “The City Sleeps”. Femme Metal got the chance to interview Kim, the singer of the band, and it turned out to be extremely interesting as she guides us through secrets and intricacies of the band’s brand-new album.
 
Hi Kim. Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Let’s get started. First of all, how are you?

I am very well, thank you!

Your new album has been released recently. Can you tell us why you chose “The City Sleeps” as the title of your album?

“The City Sleeps” felt like a good sequel title to “Wintercoast”, especially as the last words on the “Wintercoast” album were “The City Sleeps – I am Awake!” It was a good way of carrying across the stories and themes from previous albums and songs.

What is the concept behind this brand-new record?

There isn’t a concept behind the album as a whole but some stories have been continued from different albums and we wanted to carry those on. When “Shadows Fall” carries on from “Shadow” from our first full-length album “Discordant Dreams” and “The City Sleeps” follows on from “Wintercoast”. Otherwise, we just wanted to use more of our individual influences and see what came out of it.

Can you guide us through your personal viewpoint of the songs included in this album?

“Corridors” is a song about fear and the kind of things that can go through your head when you are in the grips of it. Everything started with one of Hodgie‘s (Adam‘s) riffs. “When Shadows Fall” is Cotters’ (Rob‘s) sequel from our song “Shadow”, where the young girl featured in the earlier song tracks down the man who she believes assassinated her father. “These Walls” is about those people (especially in commercial marketing) who will make you believe that you have something missing or are less of a person without their product so that they can make profit from you. I don’t like how it creates a lot of insecurity in our society. “Sleeping Giants” is about the hope of the world turning round to better ways in the future. “Good Boy Psycho” is about trying to change a situation in your life and finding yourself back at square one again! Will you give up, or will you persevere for change?

“Horizons” is a nice melodic song which is also about wanting a better life. “Half Moon Meadow” is about someone who wants to save everyone and look after those people, but is unaware that she is not strong enough to do it, and she is being watched over by someone else who wants to protect her. “The City Sleeps” carries on the “Wintercoast” story – the main character goes back to Archangel where he previously fled, to find it in ruins. It is part of a trilogy and will be continued on the next album! What I like about this album is that we have been able to be more diverse in using long, melodic, harmonic epics and short, punchy rock songs. I think there is something there for everyone.

The song “When Shadows Fall” is a nice blend of different styles: from electro- to melodic rock. Still, very experimental. It is an extremely heterogeneous and mind-blowing 10-minute song. It has different layers and ‘worlds’ in it. Can you tell us the idea and the writing process behind that specific song?

As I mentioned, it is about someone who hunts the assumed assassin of her father. Cotters wrote it. He wrote all of the initial parts (with tracks like this, it needs to be planned well) and brought it in where Hodge, Hen and Moo (Paul Moorghen) all put their own signature sounds on it and built it up into what it is. I am also a fan of big harmonies and Cotters and I work well creating them – with ours and Moo‘s voices we can get lots of different tones in. If anyone has a solo, they tend to write it themselves and Moo and Hen will write all of their bass and drum parts, although occasionally some parts are pre-written, mainly in songs as intricate at this one.

After this 10-minute mind-blowing trip into “When Shadows Fall”, we are immediately brought back into reality with a rock-oriented sound. What do you think your sound will be in the future? Experimental- or rock-oriented? Or a combination of the two?

I don’t think we ever planned to sound a particular way. We all have different influences and tastes which will dictate how different songs will sound, which I think defines the variety in our albums. Hodge likes straight rock but him and Cotters love Yes and Asia (as does Moo). Moo loves a lot of music but also likes artists such as Michael Jackson (great funk for a bassist!) and Hen is a trained jazz drummer who loves a challenge musically. We don’t want to do anything that sounds the same all the time, we want to be challenged as musicians and performers but we want to make good songs that are interesting and enjoyable to listen to and fun to perform.

Are there any artists with whom you would love to collaborate with and why? 

There are so many! I would love to work with Peter Gabriel as I have been a fan of his for a long time. A dream would be to work with Muse as their music is amazing, and I love Matt Bellamy‘s voice and musical ability. They know how to make songs different but with a large appeal. As far as I am concerned, Steve Wilson is the master of making great tunes whilst looking after the delicate details. Alice Cooper would also be good fun as his music is great but his shows are so theatrical!

If you could go back in time, what would you change in your career as a singer?

I think I would have had singing lessons when I was younger, and also to learn more of the technical/musical side. I have always been more of a ‘performer’ and learning things as I go along by singing along to what I liked at the time. However, if I hadn’t done it this way, I may sound completely different, and it is our experiences as musicians and performers that makes our own sounds unique!

And with hindsight, what would you change in the albums you wrote?

I would like to take more times on the vocals. The vocals are always the last part to be worked on, and if we are pressed for time then they don’t get the attention that I and others may have liked to give it more ‘edge’. It is the way that we write and the pressure that we work under that gives us our raw sound though. I’m not sure we would have that if we had loads of time to fuss over every element.

There are so many beautiful songs in this new album. Just to mention a few, “When Shadows Fall”, “Good Boy Psycho” and “The City Sleeps”. To which song do you feel attached the most?

Personally, I am attached to the songs that I wrote because I didn’t write as much as on the previous albums; so it feels like I am giving more of myself into the songs. As an artist, you have to feel that what you are performing really means something to you and you need to feel connected to it to give the song what it deserves. “These Walls” covers a particularly difficult time for me so it really means a lot. I like “Half Moon Meadow” as Cotters and I were able to work on lots of gorgeous harmonies. I also like the middle part of “Good Boy Psycho” when it goes very folk-like, as once again the attention is brought back to a basic melody where the delicate harmonies are exposed. They are always my personal favourite parts. Then again, people always love their own instrument more, don’t they?!

I have read a lot of positive reviews in different languages concerning “The City Sleeps”. The album has been appreciated in its entirety. Are you happy with the reviews so far?

I’m really happy with the reviews that we have had to date. The album seems to have been received really well. The only bad review we have seen said that we take ourselves too seriously, which if the reviewer comes to a show will see that although we take the music very seriously; otherwise, we just mess about and have fun, so we thought that was amusing. Musically though, we have only had positive feedback which is really flattering, and very rewarding.

Touchstone released its first Live CD last year. Would you like to shoot a DVD? Do you think we still have to wait for a long time before appreciating a possible DVD just sitting on our couch?

We are looking into plans for a DVD in the future, maybe next year but we have to see how everything fits in first. We have recordings of performances that were important to us, and we also filmed a show from our recent City Sleeps tour in London, so we would love to use that too. Keep your ears open and you will hear details about it before too long!

What are your plans for the near future? Do you have any scheduled tour?

We have just finished our UK tour to support the release of “The City Sleeps”. We are looking into dates in Europe for the first half of next year, and possibly some dates in America. We have played in the UK many times so we look forward to being able to bring our music over to you!

Are there any questions you would like to answer but no-one asked you before?

My favourite colour is purple and my celebrity crush is Josh Groban!

Kim, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Thanks for reading this and for your support – check out our new album. I really hope you like it and if you do, I would love for us to come over and perform for you. Rock on!

 

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