Interview with Greg Spawton of Big Big Train (June 2012)

Nick, Andy, Dave, David, Danny, Greg.  Photo by Willem Klopper.
Nick, Andy, Dave, David, Danny, Greg. Photo by Willem Klopper.

[This interview appeared at TIC, June 27, 2012.  A gracious thanks to Winston Elliott, editor of TIC.  I’m reposting it here because 1) it might find a new audience; and 2) Big Big Train just today began pre-sales for English Electric Volume 2–out March 4, 2013]

An Interview with Greg Spawton 
by Brad Birzer

We’re in the middle of perhaps the largest revival of progressive rock—that form of rock music which pursues the artistic and the mythic—since the genre became somewhat suspect as overblown and over-the-top in the second half of the 1970s with the rise of punk. Almost any American over the age of forty can remember the time when long songs such as Yes’s “Roundabout,” Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung,” Kansas’s “Song for America,” and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s “Karn Evil 9” dominated FM radio.

The music of these groups, unlike much rock produced in America, originates not as much from jazz and blues as it does from European forms of classical, symphonic, and operatic music.

In this way, the genre of progressive rock has sought to preserve and extend the best of the western tradition while also being willing to incorporate non-western instruments and rhythms.

Those days of FM dominance are long gone, but the emergence of internet sales and music downloading has allowed accessibility to a number of excellent bands and artists that would have been bypassed by corporate labels over the past three decades as not marketable enough for the immediate fashions of the moment.

Numerous forums exist online for the discussion of progressive rock in all of its nuances, complexities, and manifestations. On Twitter, one can turn to @progrocktweets, @alisonscolumn, @mattstevensloop, @thesidsmith, and the accounts of any number of musicians and bands.

On the web itself, sites such as, and offer all kinds of progressive rock news.

Continue reading “Interview with Greg Spawton of Big Big Train (June 2012)”

Yet Another Best of 2012

10. Flying Colors – At first I thought this was more “pop” than “prog”, but I kept coming back to it throughout the year. It’s prog, and it’s very good!


9. Neal Morse – Momentum. Neal stays true to his beliefs, while delivering the best album of his solo career. Full of energy and great melodies, he, Randy George, and Mike Portnoy create a masterpiece with this one.


8. Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy – WaterSky. A beautiful set of ambient pieces that were recorded while on retreat at a lodge in rural Texas. The sympathetic interplay between Johnson’s keyboards and Keaggy’s guitar is simply wonderful. My students request this music while working on math problems! Continue reading “Yet Another Best of 2012”