BIG BIG TRAIN’S DAVID LONG­DON

The great and good of pro­gres­sive mu­sic give us a glimpse into their prog worlds.

Prog - - Take a bow - As told to Grant Moon

Where’s home?

Not­ting­hamshire. I’m happy to be a Not­ting­ham boy.

Your first prog mem­ory?

My par­ents play­ing [The Bea­tles’] Sgt. Pep­per and Straw­berry Fields For­ever at home.

First prog gig?

Gen­e­sis’ Six Of The Best con­cert in Mil­ton Keynes, Oc­to­ber 1982. It was freez­ing and wet. I bought two jacket po­ta­toes to keep me warm and when they lost their heat I ate them.

The first prog record you bought?

When I was 10 my dad bought me [Pink Floyd’s] The Dark Side Of The Moon on cas­sette, and not long af­ter I bought my­self [The Who’s] Who’s Next. To me, that had a pro­gres­sive qual­ity to it.

Favourite piece of tech­nol­ogy?

My DAW [dig­i­tal au­dio work­sta­tion]. I use Pro Tools and Logic Pro X, and I love it. I’ve got [BBT bas­sist Greg Spaw­ton’s wife] Kathy’s old iPhone, but if I go out I don’t even take it with me.

Are there any guilty plea­sures in your mu­sic col­lec­tion?

4-2-4: The Él Records Com­pen­dium Of Soc­cer. I can’t see the point in re­leas­ing some­thing like that, but there it is, in my col­lec­tion.

What would your Mas­ter­mind spe­cial­ist sub­ject be?

I’ve been told I have an en­cy­clo­pe­dic knowl­edge of mu­sic, so maybe that. But I’ve let a lot of it go – it’s re­ally not im­por­tant to know who played bass on ABC’s The Lex­i­con Of Love…

Your big­gest prog ex­trav­a­gance?

I re­cently bought a fan­tas­tic flight case for all my gig stuff – my green man mask, flute stuff, lyric books. It’s very handy and it also rep­re­sents that we’re ready to start play­ing live shows fur­ther afield.

Your favourite venue?

I’ve loved all the venues we’ve played, but Lore­ley was in­cred­i­ble [for Night Of The Prog].

Out­side prog, what are you into?

Read­ing, cook­ing, long walks in the coun­try­side, trav­el­ling to his­toric places. I’ve got a very close cir­cle of friends who I cher­ish, so I make sure I make time for them too.

Who is your prog hero?

Some peo­ple might de­bate whether he’s prog, but David Bowie. And Peter Ham­mill – he’s a man of vi­sion. His com­mit­ment to his art is won­der­ful.

The last al­bum you bought?

LUMP, a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Laura Mar­ling, who I re­ally like,

and Mike Lind­say of Tunng.

What was the last gig you

went to?

This year’s Cro­predy. Prior to that, Stone Free, and prior to that, Jeff Beck. I like lis­ten­ing

to mu­sic and

I like to go and see bands, and I’ll travel to do it.

Ever had a prog date?

I have, yes. [Long, awk­ward pause] I was in­vited out and I went and no­body died and it was great. [Longer, even more awk­ward pause] I need to be very dis­creet here…

Who do you call in the prog com­mu­nity for a good night out?

Greg. We’ve been through thick and thin to­gether, and ini­tially there wasn’t much thick. He’s got a great sense of hu­mour so there’s a lot of laugh­ter, we spark lots of ideas. We each bear wit­ness to the other.

Two songs typ­ify prog for me: 21st Cen­tury Schizoid Man and Sup­per’s Ready.

What’s the most im­por­tant prog song for you?

Two songs typ­ify the genre for me: [King Crim­son’s] 21st Cen­tury Schizoid Man – al­bum one, track one. What a state­ment of in­tent. And [Gen­e­sis’] Sup­per’s Ready – it’s just so well writ­ten.

Which prog al­bum al­ways gets you in a good mood?

Dark Side Of The Moon has those strong child­hood as­so­ci­a­tions and has stayed with me. That fi­nal coda is so up­lift­ing. And It Bites’ Once Around The World – a good Satur­day night record!

Who’s the best artist you’ve seen?

In terms of spec­ta­cle, Peter Gabriel on his Grow­ing Up Live tour [2003]. I saw his show at Wem­b­ley – it was sen­sa­tional.

What’s your favourite prog al­bum cover?

The Dark Side Of The Moon. It’s such a great, time­less graphic im­age. It rep­re­sents the pin­na­cle of Pink Floyd but the im­age lives be­yond the al­bum.

Rec­om­mend us a proggy read.

Neil Gaiman’s The View From The Cheap Seats is a se­lec­tion of his speeches, ar­ti­cles, lec­tures and let­ters. It’s wise, full of in­sight, and very funny in places. He comes across as very per­son­able and hu­man.

What are you up to at the mo­ment?

I solemnly swear I am up to no good! Writ­ing my con­tri­bu­tions for the next Big Big Train al­bum, and writ­ing songs with Judy Dyble – we’re go­ing to make an al­bum. I’ve also been prac­tis­ing for my per­for­mance with the Downes Braide As­so­ci­a­tion at their show at Trad­ing Bound­aries [Septem­ber 28]. Af­ter all that’s done, I might fi­nally get round to mak­ing my own solo record.

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