1. Big Big Train is a great name, how did that come about?
My grandad was a railway man. I loved the stories of his time on the railways and consequently I ended up with lots of toy train sets when I was a kid. One of these was called The Big Big Train.
2. Do you find it important to be classified as a progband and /or do you see yourself as a progband? Or you couldnt care less about classification genre wise..as long as people recognize/like your music?!
We are not prog-deniers, and from the Gathering Speed album onwards we've released music which is recognisably within the prog genre. We have plenty of non-prog influences which helps to ensure that we have an original sound and gives our music crossover appeal but I don't have any problems in us being considered as a prog band and I think being labelled as such has helped us to reach out to an audience that likes our style of music.
3. Do you find cover art important? Please elaborate
We are seeking to create a strong link between the visuals that we use on our albums and our music. We work closely with an artist called Jim Trainer who is involved with the recordings at an early stage so that the artwork closely relates to the music and words. I think this approach has improved our CD sales as we are offering good music which is beautifully illustrated. Downloads just aren't the same.
4. Which comes first in your process of composing/creating music, the lyrics or the music?
That really depends on the individual song. I was on a train journey the other day and a whole set of lyrics came to me in a few moments - I just scribbled them down. Other times, the music leads the way. Quite often, the first thing I think of is a song title and that encourages me to write the music and words.
And secondly please tell about the writing process from scratch to demo and the final state the recording/studio sessions!?
We have our own studio and work in a very organic way. We'll start with a very basic demo and then build up the arrangements. When the song reaches an advanced enough stage we go into Rob Aubrey's studio to record the drum parts. Then we bring them back to our studio to finish them off. Quite often, parts of the original demo end up on the final recording. If they sound good, then they can make it all the way through the recording process onto the album.
5. Which bands/artists/genre would you name as your inspirational source? Please elaborate and individual perspectives would be great.
We have a wide range of influences. Genesis, King Crimson and PFM are probably the most important ones and, more recently, a Danish band, Mew, and an Icelandic band called Sigur Ros have become very influential on the band's music. Alongside those more progressive influences, we also draw inspiration from Elbow, XTC, Prefab Sprout and English folk music. All of these influences, and others, go into our writing melting-pot and makes our music sound distinctive. Discovering the music of Sigur Ros and Mew was very important to me. They come at prog from a different direction altogether and have helped us to develop a new style of writing.
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