Friday, 16 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Greg and Andy spent a day at Regal Lane Studio earlier this week, recording Danny Manners playing double bass on tracks that will be featured on the next Big Big Train album English Electric. [Part 1 of English Electric will be out in September 2012.]

Nick D'Virgilio is in the UK over Christmas and we will be in Aubitt recording more drum parts. I will also be recording more vocals. Dave Gregory will join us for a photo shoot that we intend to squeeze in at some point between all those activities and festivities.

It's been a busy few months, writing, completing lyrics, adding musical texture and vocal harmonies to our new material. There is good energy and high spirits aboard The Train at the moment.

I have completed the lyric to A Boy in Darkness, which was a relief because it has been a tricky thing to write about and getting the balance of the subject matter right was the key to it working as a whole. The middle section is a galloping instrumental which is supposed to denote the passing of time in the narrative and I wanted someone to play on it who would add fire and energy. I'm delighted to announce that it features a guest keyboardist in the shape of the very capable Andy Tillison. A man who needs no introduction in the microcosm of the Progressive Rock world for his outstanding work with his band The Tangent.

I enjoy the work of The Tangent and inviting Andy to play a furious organ solo was exactly the right thing to do. Andy T has played a blinder! So much so that when Andy P heard it, it resulted in an unrepeatable two word enthusiastic appraisal.

A trainspotter* on our Big Big Train Facebook Group kindly asked how the "Big Big Thing" was going.

It's going well. The characters are established and there is a mapped out story line, which of course may (and almost inevitably will) alter as the project develops. There are some completed pieces of music and many other sections earmarked for consideration. It is going to be a big undertaking writing it, editing it and making it. I have set up another blog to chart these developments. It hope it will serve as a guide to the characters, places and events within the story.

When the time is right, I will publish the blog posts so you can see what we have been up to. There should be plenty to get your teeth into.

That's all for the moment and now all that remains to be said is...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year


David Longdon

'Trainspotter' ~ An enthusiast for Big Big Train

Friday, 14 October 2011

Aubitt Bound

We aboard the Big Big Train are once again getting ready to go into Aubitt for the second vocal tracking session for English Electric.

I have been frantically trying to complete the lyrics for A Boy in Darkness. It has taken a great deal of work to get it to where it currently is but I'm not out of the woods just yet. The subject matter is tricky and I've had to do lots of research. Let's hope I have some finished words to sing in two weeks time.

It has been mentioned that English Electric will be a double album released in two parts. That means it will need to work as a whole and also as individual releases, so listing the running order is taking some time. Once we have one in place and I know which tracks are going where, I will write about the songs and their subject matter.

Nick will be in the UK once again at Christmas and there are more tracks awaiting him. Greg has written a couple, we've co-written some more and I have contributed two.

One track is called Make Some Noise and is about being young and forming your first band. It was originally intended for a solo autobiographical concept album I intend to make called DOOR 1. There is another song taken from DOOR 1 which will feature on English Electric called Uncle Jack.

Since joining BBT I only have limited time to give to music and all my creative output is currently housed within BBT. Hopefully DOOR 1 will at some point, see the light of day. It could be my Lifehouse.

The second song is called Judas Unrepentant but I don't want to say too much about this one just yet.

Andy is preparing audio files to send to Dave Desmond, so he can arrange the brass parts. Dave Gregory has completed work on a project by Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri.

Dave G and Martin Orford will be joining us at Aubitt for the session and inevitable curry.

Did I also mention that we have a very special guest keyboardist lined up to play in the middle section of  A Boy in Darkness?



Saturday, 27 August 2011

The English Electric Vocal sessions: Part 1

On  the 22nd and 23rd of August 2011, Andy, Greg and I went to record the vocals for English Electric with Rob Aubrey at Aubitt Studio in Southampton.

We managed to get a great amount completed. The initial idea was to concentrate on capturing as many lead vocals as possible and leaving backing vocals until later on. 

The sessions were fast paced and during those two days we have managed to complete not only the lead vocals but also the backing vocals on Swan Hunter, Curator of Butterflies, Leopards, HedgerowEast Coast Racer and Uncle Jack.

We also discussed, planned and tweaked our release schedule. English Electric is going to be a double album and it will be released in two parts. 

The artwork and concept behind Station Masters was fine tuned on our Tuesday morning car journey from Bournemouth to Southampton.

We also spoke about instrumentation for our 'Big Big Thing'- Project (remember that?)

We also discussed how, where and when Big Big Train will play live. Lots of things to consider! 

Greg 'Live blogged' his way through the sessions ( See Big Big Train's Facebook page for the posts) 

We have another vocal session planned for October 2011 and then Nick D'Virgilio will be in the UK at Christmas once again to record more drum parts.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

String Driven Thing

Leopards and A Boy In Darkness string session at Regal Lane Studio 09/08/11
BBT with Louis PhilippeThe Covent Garden String Quartet
L to R:
Sue Bowran Violin I, David Longdon, Geraldine Berreen Violin II, Teresa Whipple Viola,
Louis Philippe string arranger, Andy Poole and Abigail Trundle Cello
photograph taken by Ken Brake

Andy and I travelled to London to record The Covent Garden String Quartet at Regal Lane Studio. The string parts were arranged by Louis Philippe (Philippe Auclair) and the session was engineered by Ken Brake

We worked on two songs which will be featured on English Electric. Leopards is straight forward in terms of what it needed string-wise and I knew that Louis would be perfect for the task. A Boy in Darkness is a little more unusual and has been written using an experimental process. It is in three sections:-

In section one, the strings add eerie and unsettling textures. Section two heads off at full gallop. Greg and Nick are pounding away in the rhythm section and Louis has scored some finger knittingly rapid lines for the quartet which they take in their stride. In section three the strings are full and emotional.

It was great fun to record. Louis has written some wonderful arrangements. Despite the length of the session the girls played beautifully with energy and spirit throughout.

I can't wait for you to hear it!

After the session we went into Camden for something to eat and in the evening sunshine sitting outside the Spread Eagle, it was business as usual. Londoners carrying on.



Monday, 25 July 2011


Kingmaker came out earlier this month as an exclusive track for Classic Rock Presents Classic Prog Magazine. It was recorded to replace Master of Time on the Russian version of our Far Skies Deep Time e.p

Inside the magazine on the CD track and artist listing page there is a small picture of Andy, Dave, Greg, Nick and I, taken by Neil Palfreyman during a photo shoot at Winchester Cathedral last December. It all looks very Hogwarts.

We (BBT) have a string recording session in London on the 9th of August. Andy Poole and I will be at Regal Lane Studio with the very capable Ken Brake at the helm. Abigail Trundle and her quartet will be performing the parts for two new songs that will be on English Electric called Leopards and A Boy in Darkness.

I am over the moon to announce that the string arrangements on these songs have been written by my dear old friend and mentor Louis Philippe (Philippe Auclair

I'll take some photographs and keep you posted.


Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Genesis Revelations

In the last days of 2010, I was interviewed for DUSK magazine (an Italian Genesis enthusiasts publication) by Mario Giammetti. The interview centres around:-

  • My involvement with Genesis.
  • Their search for a replacement lead singer.
  • The initial recording sessions for the Calling All Stations album.
  • My early work and the Wild River album. 
  • My recent work with Big Big Train and the release of our Far Skies Deep Time ep.

The interview came out in the Christmas edition of DUSK (in Italian). I am pleased to announce that the interview is now available in English. 

If you are curious and would like to read it, please click here



Photograph of David Longdon by Amy Mumford:- Aug 2010

Friday, 4 February 2011

BBT CGI ?................. LOL

CGI Picture of David Longdon by Jared Jackson 01/01/11

'After a text from Mr Spawton, Mr Longdon senses another epic is on the cards...'

Taken from the forthcoming PC Game*
Out of Aubitt

Only £39.99*

* = This is not true!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Antifreeze? Check!
Flask of black coffee? Check!
Sandwiches? Check!
Sounds for the duration of the journey? Oh Yes!

So there I was, travelling down to Southampton on the 28th of Dec 2010 to attend the drum tracking sessions at Aubitt for the next Big Big Train album, English Electric .

The Christmas card weather in the UK over the last few weeks has made for some breathtakingly beautiful and dramatic scenery but rather hairy driving conditions. Poor visibility, cars speeding up then slamming on the breaks only to proceed at crawling pace once more. Repeat ad infinitum....

The brilliant sunshine, ethereally glowing behind banks of fog and mist, made for some very beautiful skies. Reminiscent of a Turner painting.

It's always good to to meet up with Greg, Andy and Rob again. Despite the road trip down to the south of England being a three hour drive for me, The Train manage to get together quite often throughout the year. The company is always good humoured and often hilarious. In stark contrast to our melancholy sound and serious nature of some of our material.

I met Nick D'Virgilio and his family for the first time. On the afternoon of the 28th, we were working on drum tracks for three songs I've contributed to English Electric. Nick is a very musical drummer and added much to the tracks. He is professional and able to swiftly adapt to anything we threw at him. Everything he does has a compelling groove. He is highly attentive to details, the mood of the pieces and the sounds he brings from his drum kit. I know he's a bit of a drum octopus in the world of professional drummers and I fully expected his playing to be as breathtaking as it usually is. The main thing that impressed me was how he engaged with the material. How he listened and understood what was needed. What a great musician he is.

Despite it being the first time we were all together in one room (Dave Gregory not included - we'd see him in Winchester on the 29th for a photo shoot), in between tracks it was just like any other band in a recording studio. Out came the stories, the banter and the jokes.

I spoke with Greg last Sunday who has been busy laying down bass parts over the past few weeks and he's delighted with the energy of the rhythm tracks we've got down for English Electric. All being well the first track may be with me by the end of this week!

I can't wait!

Happy New Year