by Nikiforos Skoumas
– Columnist –
The band Positive Touch seems to come out of nowhere and released an album that rivals the best of Work of Art, White Widdow and Houston. Keyboardist and songwriter Jens Rüttgeroth talks with Hardrock Haven and introduces the world to Positive Touch …
HRH: Who are the members of Positive Touch and what is your past experience as musicians in the adult oriented rock genre?
Jens: Positive Touch consists of Johnny Englund on vocals and drums, Stefan Cajander on guitar and vocals and Jens Rüttgeroth keyboards and technology. All three of us came from an ‘80s band called Avenue, which disbanded in the early ‘90s. We have always been interested in this type of music and we decided to start writing songs together again in 2010, since we have been inspired by the new wave of AOR music that has since been coming out.
HRH: Positive Touch is a beautiful name that makes direct reference to melodic rock as a genre. How did you come up with it? Was it inspired by the Journey song “Positive Touch?”
Jens: Thanks, yes you’re right. Journey has also been an early source of inspiration to our music and it shows of course in the group’s name and the name of the song “Radio” [“Positive Touch” was the second song on Journey’s 1986 album Raised on Radio].
HRH: Have you secured a record deal for the distribution of Positive Touch or have you chosen to distribute the album yourselves?
Jens: To be completely honest with you, this is a promo album that was recorded in a simple home studio where we casually work, and we have never done an actual physical release of material so far. We are working on the older songs now- sound levels and stuff- to be able to release a CD in the near future. And no, right now we have no record label behind us, but we welcome any suggestions. We are also considering making the CD ourselves, unless of course it all falls into place with a record company deal.
HRH: Positive Touch might be your first album but you have clearly mastered the art of recording and producing, since the album’s stereo qualities are impeccable. How long have you been working on the recordings of the album? And how did you manage to get such a great mixing?
Jens: Well, thank you …. We really appreciate it. All the songs that we make are recorded at the writing stage, so it’s hard to tell exactly how much time it takes to write and record them. We all have regular jobs to go to so it takes some time to write the material. Mixing’s a job that grows with the number of songs and we feel now that we found our sound. Therefore, some of the old songs will be revised in some way to better fit in with the new material we are currently writing.
HRH: Clearly Positive Touch matches the best moments of such bands as Work of Art and Houston, but which are the bands that influenced you as musicians? We can get a fair hint of Toto on the song “Radio”.
Jens: Well, yes we can safely say that Work Of Art got the ball rolling for us when we heard their first album in 2008 and they are, in our opinion, standing for an entirely new dimension of AOR. Yes there are so many good bands that have influenced us as musicians, including Toto, of course. Journey as we mentioned earlier, but also bands and musicians such as David Foster, Jay Graydon, Gary Moore, Whitesnake, Saga and Survivor. The list goes on but we think you get the orientation of the bands and their music.
HRH: Beyond the great songwriting and performance what makes Positive Touch a really intriguing album are the backing vocals. How long have you been working on the backing vocals on the album and did you use any additional singers?
Jens: Thanks, well all the vocals are layered by either Johnny or Stefan on all the songs while backing vocals are mostly sung by Johnny alone. We have an ambition to further develop our backing vocals in the future, keeping the sound but pushing it farther.
HRH: Another musical aspect that makes this great album awesome is the lead guitar parts. How long do you usually work on a guitar melody or solo before you put it to tape?
Jens: What is important with solo parts is that they fit into the song and that they add something to that song. Recording the guitar solo is a pretty quick process and often it is the first idea that is usually the best. [In Stefan’s words] “There are many very talented guitarists who are recording amazingly technical solos. But since I’m not a technical virtuoso you get to put some more thought and feeling behind the whole thing to create harmonies that in the end get the job done.” The rest of the job is plain writing as in…what fits the song gets recorded.
HRH: Have Positive Touch played live yet and are there any upcoming live shows? And are there any plans for a second Positive Touch album?
Jens: No, we have not yet played live in this constellation and have no current plans for it either. We are constantly writing more songs and who knows what the future may bring … maybe we get lucky on this interview and we get in contact with a record company, time will tell. We continue anyway to write songs like we always do.
HRH: We would like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us, is there anything that we left out that you would want the audience to know?
Jens: Really, it is us, who should be thanking you for this opportunity, and we want to end this by saying how grateful we are for all the positive feedback we have received in just a few months; it’s completely crazy that there are so many people out there that have heard our songs. Be Positive and keep a gentle Touch! Thanks To You All!