“No, no, no/Don’t stop doing/What you do to me” “Don’t Stop”
Like this Austin, TX-based band’s name, which brings to mind similar clashing concepts like Clockwork Orange or Artificial Intelligence, Electric Touch combines opposing forces into one giant, rock and roll whole.
From the very start, when Nottingham, U.K. vocalist Shane Lawlor met up with Texas- born guitarist Christopher Leigh and his fraternal twin brother, drummer Louis Messina, Jr., the band combined a love for classic American rock with a passion for British punk, a one-two punch that comes across loud and clear on their major label debut for Island/IDJ Records, produced by Grammy-nominated Producer of the Year Howard Benson [3 Doors Down, P.O.D., Daughtry, Creed, Hoobastank, Saliva]. The backbone of the band is the bulletproof rhythm section, now infused with the power of members, Isaac Strycker (Keys/Vocals) and Portland Musser (Bass). The band delivers a pounding beat, big enough to fill a stadium, and punctuated by killer bass lines. Dynamic guitars bring angular melodies refreshing in simplicity one moment then exploding into frenzied fury the next. Vocal hooks and harmonies delivered like an urgent call to arms scream “The future is now.”
Strangely enough, it was Lawlor who grew up revering stateside rock pioneers like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis, while his stateside bandmate Leigh was enamored with speed-punks like The Clash, the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks and the Undertones, as well as British Invasion groups like The Beatles, the Kinks and later, Black Sabbath. Throw in drummer Louis Messina Jr.’s passion for classic arena-rock from both sides of the pond, including Aerosmith and Kiss, as well as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Yardbirds, and you have what he describes as “our different tastes all formulating into one Electric Touch sound.”
The band’s mission statement is “Tales of Ordinary Life in Glorious Technicolor,” and the first single, “Don’t Stop,” sets the template, a ferocious push-pull of sex and romance, from the highest highs of ecstatic union to the lowest lows of heartbreak, with a garage- rock pulse that wouldn’t be out of place in a song by The Strokes.
“These are real stories, episodes taken from our lives and the lives of our friends and loved ones,” says Lawlor, who first met Leigh while in Austin with his previous band IV Thieves, releasing an album If We Can’t Escape My Pretty, on New West Records in 2006. “We set out to write songs that connected with people while presenting them in a way that would make the audience want to hear them over and over.”
And that they do, “Magnetic,” which also deals in the pitfalls of desire gone too far (“She’s magnetic/I’m going out of my mind/I got nowhere to hide”), recalls another British-U.S. collaboration in the work of vintage Billy Idol with producer Keith Forsey on songs like “Rebel Yell” and “White Wedding.”
“Every song has a unique swagger and character, but they all fit together,” explains Leigh. “It’s an excuse for just letting loose.”
“I wear my heart on my sleeve when I write,” admits Lawlor, who pens Electric Touch’s lyrics. “It’s those bittersweet twists of irony, that’s kind of what all the songs are about. A lot of it is the poetry of the street, those late-night conversation with friends and loved ones outside the club. Keep it together. Don’t give up. It’s advice to myself as much as anybody else, from the heart. Hopefully, delivered in a way people can understand…or just bop along to it.”
Leigh and his brother, whose father is famed rock promoter Louis Messina, founder of the Houston-based Pace Concerts, have been playing since they were 11, and were in bands together through high school, learning how to master their craft early on.
“We grew up around music,” says Louis Jr. “We were playing clubs when we still wore braces. We have a real dedication to this, and we’re more mature than most musicians our age. We learned how to be professionals and respect what we do.”
“It’s a natural connection,” says Christopher about playing with his twin sibling. “We’re on the same frequency. We’re always playing off one another.”
“If we all fall like dominos/ Never look back, never look back” “Dominos”
When Shane first met Christopher in 2007, they were both frustrated by the bands they were in, looking for others that shared their commitment to creating something that would last. The first step was simply hanging out and listening to music together, strengthening their bonds.
“We both had the idea of starting something fresh,” says Lawlor, who admitted picking up a guitar as a “literal means of escape” from his working-class industrial town in the north of England. “We’re very ambitious. We want to be the biggest band in the world. We understand we share a destiny. We’re all brothers. We watch out for one another’s backs. Like all families, we have arguments, but there’s a lot of there love. In the end, we let the music do the talking.”
Adding Louis Jr. to the original mix, the band recorded an album for Austin indie label Justice Records, then attracted the interest of Island. Moving to New York to write and record demos, they ended up in L.A. with hard-rock auteur Howard Benson, an experience which helped them develop even faster.
“It’s just made us work that much harder,” insists Christopher about being signed to a major label. “The fact that these guys are behind us actually makes us want to work even more. We’ll do whatever it takes. Having professionals who know what they’re doing allows us to concentrate on what we do best. It’s a great team, and the goal is to sell a lot of records and concert tickets, but even more importantly, to be great.”
And, from the evidence of their Island Records debut, they are on the right road. With appearances last year at SXSW, Coachella and the Vans Warped Tour, the band is kicking-off 2012 on the road with Evanescence. Followed by a full tour with AMA’s Best New Artist Hot Chelle Rae, Electric Touch is putting their live show where their mouths are, entertaining audiences around the country, and soon – the world.
“I give you everything you need/Just scream out my name, boy” “Magnetic”
Electric Touch is ready. Are you?