Big Big Train: Inside Their Real World Rehearsals

Big Big Train rehearsing at Real World Studios in 2014

The Blu-ray Stone And Steel documents Big Big Train’s week of live rehearsals at Real World Studios in August 2014, a full year before the Kings Place shows.

“There was a strong desire among our fans to see us play live,” says David Longdon. “We didn’t know the realities of that, so we decided to do this live recording. Dave [Gregory] said it would determine the future of the band as a live entity. It was all in the lap of the gods but Kingmaker [from The Infant Hercules album] was the first track we played as a band together, and after that, we knew we could do it.”

“We quickly knew it was working,” agrees Greg Spawton. “And the brass players incorporated very well. Real World’s a homely environment and it inspires creativity, exactly as Peter Gabriel hoped it would. We were all very good friends before but we drew very close together there, and I think that comes over in the film.”

Rachel Hall says: “It was a great feeling to all be in the same room playing together for the first time. When you’re with people for a solid week rehearsing, you do get a bond, and the more we’ve got to know each other, the less self‑conscious I felt about putting ideas forward.”

The Blu-ray also has some footage from the Kings Place shows themselves, and a time‑lapse recording of the sessions by Rikard Sjöblom. “Real World was exhausting but really friendly,” he says. “I had to learn David and Greg’s stuff, and Andy Tillison’s goddamn organ parts for Judas Unrepentant! We had to be like a team who have been working together for years, but people were saying it sounded like Big Big Train from the start. I was a happy camper all the time – there was never a dull moment.”

Find out the full story behind Big Big Train’s Folklore album in the new issue of Prog Magazine, on sale from May 11, 2016.

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.