BIG BIG TRAIN’S DAVID LONGDON
The great and good of progressive music give us a glimpse into their prog worlds.
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
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 . 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.