Good Touch Bad Touch takes a 'democratic' approach on its debut

Good Touch Bad Touch, the Sights, Casual Encounters 9 p.m. Saturday, April 24 Beachland Tavern 15711 Waterloo Rd. 216.383.1124 Tickets: $6

According to the BAND's MySpace page, Good Touch Bad Touch formed after members "decided to drink themselves to death while gathering weekly to cover Pinkerton and The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society."

Well, that's not exactly true. Singer-keyboardist Ryan Wilkins and bassist David Molnar met one night at Melt, the Lakewood grilled-cheese joint where Molnar worked.

"I asked if I could borrow a steak knife," says Wilkins in his Detroit Shoreway apartment, which is down the street from the Happy Dog, the live-music venue where the band regularly hangs out. Molnar noticed Wilkins had a picture of an electric pipe organ with him and asked if he was a musician. Wilkins told him about the instrument that he purchased for $150 from a thrift store, and the two instantly connected.

"He admired my organ, and that's how it all started," laughs Wilkins.

Wilkins and Molnar eventually formed a "folky, sad bastard-y" band. When they decided they'd had enough of that, they split up, recruited Molnar's brother Greg to play drums and enlisted Ryan James Yankee to play guitar, christening their new band Good Touch Bad Touch.

"We just decided to ditch all the stuff that people got bored with," says Molnar. "We wanted to make music that wouldn't send you to the bar."

United by a love for "'80s trash-pop culture" and a love for "cheap beer," the band (part of the local Davenport Collective) recorded its self-titled debut at the Lakewood rehearsal space it shares with other members of the Collective, channeling its Replacements/Pavement/Guided by Voices tendencies into their ramshackle tunes. Those influences come to the fore in the racing "Everything I Wanted" and the catchy "The Bill Arrives." Though it never descends to low-fi, the album's rough-around-the-edges sound is part of its appeal.

"The majority of songs were recorded live," says Wilkins. "The fun thing about it is that everybody sings and everybody plays different instruments and contributes to the songs. It's a democratic approach."

"We decide by consensus to do what we all think is fun," says Molnar. "There are no major egos involved. I get to play lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass, and keyboards."

"I like the fact that we're cohesive as a live band but definitely loose," says Wilkins. "There's that element of tension where it seems like the wheels might fall off at any moment, but they never quite do."

Band members say they have 18 songs ready to be recorded for their next album.

"We're writing very proficiently and working really well together," says Molnar, adding that a good portion of their release party at the Beachland Tavern will preview new material. "It's all coming together very fast."

And the guys think the energy surrounding the Davenport Collective is as good as it's ever been.

"That's part and parcel of what we're doing," Molnar says. "We have two practice spaces and a bunch of people who just want to keep making music. We are part of the collective, and it is thriving and vibrant. It's just a question whether people in Cleveland know about it. It's like Portland and Seattle in 1991 when people were living under bridges and making records for nothing."

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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