A new interview with Greg Spawton on the Don’t Forget to Rock website. ... See MoreSee Less
We are excited to share our exclusive interview with British progressive rock band Big Big Train, three-time winners of the prestigious Progressive Music Awards. We asked them about their recently released Christmas single "Merry Christmas" which entered the Official Physical Singles chart at No. 2, Steven Wilson's new album, and more!
DFTR: Happy New Year! I really enjoyed your Christmas single "Merry Christmas" and the music video featuring Mark Benton. What was the songwriting and recording process like for this track? Do you see the band recording a full Christmas album in the future?
BBT: Thank you and Happy New Year! We have been wanting to release a Christmas single for many years and set some time aside in 2017 to make that happen. It is amazing how far ahead you have to plan things to fit into a Christmas release schedule and so we started work on Merry Christmas very early in the year. Our singer, David Longdon, who composed the song, wanted it to be a proper Christmas tune in every way so he spent a lot of time on the words and music. Our core audience is in the progressive rock genre, so he was determined to write a song that would appeal to our fanbase but also more widely. We recorded the song over the summer, drums first then the rest of the instruments. After getting the guitars, bass, keyboards and lead vocals down we recorded our brass band in Southampton and traveled to Cambridge to record the Jesus College Choir in their chapel so it was quite an involved and lengthy process for a four minute recording. It was good fun and an interesting challenge but I don't think we will do an album of Christmas tunes. Albums should be for life, not just for Christmas!
DFTR: London Plane Sequence is such a lovely track. What is the story behind this song?
BBT: I love London and spend a lot of time in the city, which is full of history and tales. There is a different story to be found around every corner. I wanted to write something which told part of the story of the city but from a different perspective. I am very heavily into the environment and landscape and I read somewhere about the London Plane tree which is the classic city tree and has taken root all across London, New York and many major cities. The idea that I had was to tell the story of the city over the lifetime of a London Plane which I placed near the Embankment. The tree has seen 300 years or so of history and so gave me lots of material for the song. We played it live at Cadogan Hall in London in the autumn and made a really beautiful film to accompany the story. I am working on a song telling the story of Rome at the moment which is another wonderful city.
DFTR: What are your thoughts on the current prog rock scene? Are you a fan of Steven Wilson's new album To The Bone?
BBT: David is a big fan of the album and one of our guitarists, Dave Gregory, played on the previous Steven Wilson album, so Steven is well known to us. Like most recording artists, Steven Wilson works across genres, so prog rock is only part of his sound. However, it is an important part of his music and he has done amazing things in bringing prog rock to a bigger audience and making people aware that the genre is alive and well.
DFTR: If you could jam with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
BBT: A few hours with Phil Collins at the height of his drumming powers in the mid 70's would be amazing. I know Phil has become better known for his more radio friendly solo material, but that dude had serious chops and incredible feel. The Collins / Rutherford rhythm section and his work in Brand X were both stunningly good.
DFTR: Any plans to tour the States?
BBT: As long as we can sort visas out we are hoping to come to the States and Canada in 2019 or 2020. Our drummer, Nick D'Virgilio, is American and we are very keen to spend some time playing our music there.
ANNOUNCEMENT FROM ANDY POOLE AND BIG BIG TRAIN
Andy Poole will shortly be leaving Big Big Train.
Big Big Train would like to thank Andy for the significant part he has played in the band’s journey and we wish him well in his future endeavours.
Big Big Train will continue with the seven-piece line-up of D’Virgilio / Gregory / Hall / Longdon / Manners / Sjöblom / Spawton alongside the five-piece BBT brass band led by Dave Desmond.
For future live performance, the band has recruited an additional musician to assist with keyboard and guitar work. We will announce details in due course.
We also hope to announce a UK warm-up show for our July 13th Night of the Prog festival appearance at Loreley. We expect the warm-up show to take place on July 11th.
Danny, Dave, David, Greg, Nick, Rachel and Rikard
Three times Progressive Music Award winning band, Big Big Train recently released their their first Christmas single Merry Christmas on December 8th with an exclusive B Side – Snowfalls on all vinyl and CD copies. A donation to the Night...