BIG BIG TRAIN have released five albums including the critically acclaimed " The Difference Machine "(2007) and " The Underfall Yard "(2009).
BIG BIG TRAIN was formed in 1990 by Andy POOLE and Greg SPAWTON. They were joined by Ian COOPER (keyboards), Steve HUGHES (drums) and Canadian vocalist Martin READ. Initial influences on the band's music included Steve HACKETT, Anthony PHILLIPS, IT BITES and PREFAB SPROUT. A demo cassette tape of the band's first songs, recorded on 8-track, was released in October 1991 and was followed by live performances. The demo tape "From the River to the Sea" was re-recorded and released as a self-financed demo CD in May 1992, following which BBT played some higher profile gigs in England.
In January 1993, a second demo tape, " The Infant Hercules " was released and the band then spent the next six months writing the music for its first proper album, "Goodbye to the Age of Steam". This was recorded in a hectic two week period in July 1993. Soon afterwards, BBT signed to the progressive rock label GEP, where they found themselves as label mates of IQ.
"Goodbye to the Age of Steam" was a big leap forward for the band, both in terms of songwriting and recording quality. The response to the album was very positive, culminating in a licensing deal in Japan where the CD was re-released in 1995, with a bonus track.
In the meantime, Ian COOPER had left the band (for family rather than musical reasons) and live performances were put on hold while a replacement was sought and a new album was written.
Recording of BBT's second album commenced in July of 1995 (with Greg filling in on keyboards) and continued, sporadically, until completion 18 months later. During the sessions, a new keyboard player, Tony MÜLLER was recruited. Some of the songs from the new album were debuted at the band's only show from this period at the Astoria, London. " English Boy Wonders " was finally released in autumn 1997, although in an incomplete state as the band had run out of money to finish the album. " English Boy Wonders " combined progressive rock (GENESIS, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR) with indie-pop influences (XTC, THE CURE.)
Steve HUGHES left BIG BIG TRAIN in September 1998 and went on to join THE ENID. He was replaced by Pete HIBBIT. They were subsequently dropped by their record label, GEP. After a few more live performances, the band's momentum seemed all but spent.
Greg and Andy began work on some new songs without the rest of the band, more out of habit than with any intention to continue recording as BIG BIG TRAIN. However, an album of material slowly began to take shape and BBT started to consider booking some recording sessions with long-time collaborator, Rob AUBREY.
Rather than book studio sessions, BBT decided to build their own studio and record the album themselves. This decision put the band on a more independent and sustainable footing.
In February 2002, the third BBT album, " Bard " was released on the band's own label (Treefrog - later to become English Electric Recordings.) At the same time, THE ENID went into hibernation and Steve HUGHES rejoined BBT.
A new vocalist, Sean FILKINS was recruited to replace original vocalist Martin READ and a fourth album, " Gathering Speed ", was released in March 2004. " Gathering Speed " was a concept album which told the story of a fighter pilot in the summer of 1940. It marked a significant change in direction for BIG BIG TRAIN with the band exploring classic prog-rock territory with the addition of post-rock influences (SIGUR ROS, MOGWAI.)
" The Difference Machine " album was released in September 2007 and went on to become the band's biggest selling CD. " The Difference Machine " features extensive performances from Pete TREWAVAS (MARILLION), Dave MEROS (SPOCK'S BEARD) and Nick D'VIRGILIO (SPOCK'S BEARD, GENESIS, TEARS FOR FEARS.)
In 2008, BIG BIG TRAIN re-released " English Boy Wonders " (an updated and completed version of the album which was partly re-recorded by BBT and fully re-mixed by Rob AUBREY).
In February 2009, songwriter Gregory SPAWTON announced that Sean FILKINS and Steve HUGHES were no longer members of BIG BIG TRAIN and had been replaced by Nick D'VIRGILIO and David LONGDON. Nick D'Virgilio, who plays drums for BIG BIG TRAIN on " The Difference Machine " and " The Underfall Yard " also played on GENESIS's "Calling All Stations".
LONGDON's first solo CD "Wild River" (2004) featured many musicians collectively known as THE MAGIC CLUB. In 2008 Martin ORFORD (IQ) invited LONGDON to sing on his swan-song album "The Old Road" which was also recorded by Rob AUBREY and once again featured Nick D'VIRGILIO. Shortly afterwards, LONGDON joined BIG BIG TRAIN in time to commence work on their forthcoming album, " The Underfall Yard ", due for release on December 15th 2009. Guest appearances on The Underfall Yard include Dave GREGORY (XTC), Francis DUNNERY (IT BITES) and Jem GODFREY (FROST*).
" The Underfall Yard " continues BIG BIG TRAIN's exploration of the progressive and post-rock idioms.
Another new album ("English Electric") is planned for 2010.