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|Genres||Progressive rock, progressive metal|
|Years active||2001- present|
Andre 'Moo' Moorghen
Kim 'Elkie' Seviour
|Past members||Mike Forrester
Touchstone are a rock band from the UK. The original band was formed by Rob Cottingham in 2001, after the release of his solo album 'Behind the Orchard Tree' - recorded at Linford Manor Studios in Milton Keynes (Jamiroqaui, Feeder, Skunk Ananse). Adam Hodgson joined in 2003. Other more recent band members include bassist Andre 'Moo' Moorghen, singer Kim Seviour and drummer Henry Rogers. Touchstone's music is distributed by Proper Music Distribution.
Touchstone's first studio recording was an EP called Mad Hatters, in 2006. Its four songs included 'Misguided Fool' and 'The Mad Hatters' Song'. The EP was well-received, and spurred Rob and Adam to continue writing more material for the band. It is the only release to feature vocalist Liz Claydon and drummer Simon Cook.
Their first full-length album was Discordant Dreams and was the first to feature Kim Seviour and Alasdair Melville (later went on to become drummer for London band 'The Knights Of The Realm' from late 2011 to late 2012) on vocals and drums respectively. The album was praised as an improvement from Mad Hatters, and with tracks such as 'Blacktide', 'Shadow' and 'The Beggar's Song', it showcases the 'Touchstone sound'. The album was recorded by Ben Humphreys and mixed by John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*, Kino) at his studios in Reading, Berkshire, and performs a guitar solo on the song "Dignity".
Discordant Dreams was toured in September 2008 around the UK with It Bites on The Tall Ships Tour, with Touchstone featuring as support. The tour consisted of 12 UK dates and was a major success for both bands, the final night taking place in Brighton.
Touchstone's next studio work was Wintercoast. Released in June 2009, it features an opening narrative from the Oscar winning actor Jeremy Irons, describing someone's life in a city and his desire to leave for a place "seen reflected in a dream", called 'Wintercoast'. The album was also considered 'a step up from their previous album'. In particular, it has more emphasis on keyboard melodies, giving a more Marillion-style feel (as can be heard at the opening of the track, 'Line in the Sand'). There is also greater emphasis on drums and guitars, which results in passages which would fit well into the Heavy Metal genre.
The band performed at the 2009 United States Rites of Spring festival (ROSfest) which takes place annually in Glenside near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was the first time they had played outside of the United Kingdom, and their performance was well-received, resulting in many positive reviews, including one by the website, USA Progressive Music.
In April 2010, Alasdair Melville decided to leave the band to pursue other musical endeavors - after an 18 month break from music, he joined forces with an old college friend to become drummer for London based band The Knights Of The Realm who in July 2012 headlined at the legendary 100 Club in Oxford Street, London. He has now moved on to solo work, and was replaced in Touchstone by Henry Rogers (DeeExpus) on a temporary basis. However, on 24 July it was announced that Henry would become a permanent member of Touchstone.
In July 2010, Touchstone released their first live album called Live in the USA which features songs from two festivals played in America; namely ROSfest 2009 and Calprog 2009. They played at the prestigious High Voltage Festival in Victoria Park, London and opened the Prog stage on Saturday 24 July, playing the first songs at the festival.
Throughout the remainder of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, the band took some time out to write material for their upcoming third studio album. A short tour called 'The Progressive Nation Tour' happened in March 2011. On 1 August 2011, Touchstone announced that they had signed to SPV GmbH's Steamhammer label. Their album The City Sleeps was released in October 2011 on this label, and entered the UK rock album charts at No. 36.
Founding member, Rob Cottingham, announced his second solo album project called "Captain Blue" on 13 July 2012, and announced drummer, Gary O'Toole (Steve Hackett Band) and bassist, Dr Goat Foot, on 20 July 2012. He also announced Adam Hodgson (Touchstone) on guitars, and Heather Findlay (ex-Mostly Autumn) on female vocals. Plus, as special guests, Steve Hackett (guitar solo on last track) and Shane Rimmer (voice over on first track).
The album is due out in January 2013 on the Heavy Right Foot Records label.
The Touchstone Sound
Touchstone has been described as "A band who combine the prog sensibilities of Yes with the hard rocking aptitudes of Van Halen", based on the diversity of the band members' influences. For example, Cottingham cites melodic bands such as Yes, Pink Floyd and Genesis as influences. Hodgson, on the other hand, has 'rockier' sensibilities, having previously been in hard-rock bands. He looks towards artist such as Joe Satriani for his inspiration. However, the two of them share a mutual love of Yes, and it was similarities such as this that resulted in them working together.
The band, as a whole, does cite the progressive genre as an influence, and they are classed as 'Progressive'. But their sound is made possible by the influence of other styles. Moorghen has a varied list of influences*, but listening to his playing, it can be said that anything that involves complex bass guitar inspires him.
The vocalist, Kim Seviour, provides a style which, when combined with the rest of the band, complete the 'Touchstone Sound'. Kim admires more modern artists such as Muse and Our Lady Peace, and has been in bands which covered song by artists like Guns and Roses and Metallica. She also cites Folk singers as an influence to her approach to singing.
Much of the bands earlier heavy sound can be attributed to Alasdair Melville and his love of hard rock - with a sound described by fans as 'powerhouse' he added much of the necessary weight, which is skillfully replicated by the current incumbent Rogers (formerly of Sheffield based band DeeExpus). Melville now plays for London based Rock band "The Knights Of The Realm".
This blend of influences makes 'The Touchstone Sound' accessible to fans of genres from Classic Prog to Modern Metal.
- Discordant Dreams (2007)
- Wintercoast (2009)
- The City Sleeps (2011)
- Oceans of Time (2013)
- Mad Hatters (2006)
- Live in the USA (2010)
The album Discordant Dreams was rated 7 out of 10 in the July 2008 (10th Birthday Special Edition) issue of Classic Rock by Geoff Barton. It has received praise from well-known figures such as Jeff Wayne (War Of The Worlds), Rick Wakeman of Yes and most recently[when?] from Jeremy Irons.