Big Country – full interview

Rewind Scotland
L-R Mark Brzezicki, Joanne Warnock, Bruce Watson



Rewind Scotland, interview back stage, Sunday 24 July 2016

Full transcription


B – Bruce Watson

M – Mark Brzezicki

J – Joanne Warnock


J – (To Bruce) Your son’s playing with you, how’s it going?

B – It’s great – he’s cheap and available. Jamie has played guitar ever since he was born, he’s 27 now.

J – How long has he been with you?

B – 27 years.


B – Has it been four years Mark?

M – He’s been with us for about four years. Jamie’s been great, because after losing Stuart, we lost that dual guitar sound that is unique to Big Country, so we have had to re-jig it. Jamie has provided that big time and has really come to the table.

J – I was at the tribute gig in 2002, at Barrowlands – you had Stuart’s son Callum singing then. Is he going to be joining you again, at all?

B – Yeah, Callum was there for one show and we got The Skids, Stuart’s band, back together for that gig, but no, he’s got his own band down in London.

M – Simon is brilliant though. He has a similar temperament to his voice, but it wasn’t planned.

J – Do you audition for people who sound like Stuart?

B – No, we were lucky that the chemistry was right. You jammed with him first didn’t you Mark?

M – Yeah, then he started to sing and we realised he really can sing.

B – He has a similar range to Stuart’s and was perhaps singing songs ‘too well’ and too polished.

M – He’s too good! He’s really found his own way into the band, he’s got big shoes to fill.

B – Stuart had two voices. In the early days Stuart’s voice was deeper and sound was really scottish, but as he got older and progressed in life, his voice got better. His voice changed completely.

M – He really learned how to sing in a way.

B – In the later days, he could get higher, but he couldn’t do that early on.

M – He started as a backup vocalist originally, but he had that unique sound that developed onto the lead vocalist.

B – Stuart never really wanted to be a singer in the early days, he was a guitar player who had to sing. He wasn’t comfortable doing this kind of thing, with the press and all that. He’d say – I just want to play my guitar and go home.

M – Stuart was writing all the lyrics and he tailored them to his style of voice. Simon has had to learn all that.

J – Are you writing any new stuff?

B – Not at the moment, but we have written some stuff. We are busy getting ready for the next 30th Anniversary tour. (The Seer Album).

J – I saw you a couple of years ago at The Lemon tree in Aberdeen, for the Steeltown 30th Anniversary.

B – The Lemon Tree is always part of the gig circuit for us.

J – Are you playing other gigs over the summer?

B – We are playing every weekend.

M – We need to get together and have a writing think-tank, we have ideas kicking around, but we just need time set-aside to develop those ideas.

J – Does it seems like 30 years ago?

M – It seems like a lifetime ago, but musically when we play, I feel as fresh as the day I started. The band still have a young side and attract a young audience. I love to see the youngsters coming along to gigs, we’re not jaded.

Stuart always said, if the spirit goes out of the music, then it’s time to stop.

J – (To Mark) You’ve compared the vocal part to that of Doctor Who….

M – I was quoting Bruce then!

B – The songs are the stars, we are irrelevant.

J – But people want to see you two… it’s like Bruce Foxton and his ‘From the Jam’ band..

M – I was in ‘From the Jam’ for a while, I bailed them out. We had a history with The Jam, we are musical friends.

J – Who else do you muck about with?

M – Go West, Midge Ure, Tony Hadley….It’s like a little reunion here today.

B – The Lotus Eaters supported us on The Crossing tour, I was like – bloody hell, I haven’t seen them for thirty years!

M – It’s just like a school reunion.

J – Have you ever played with The Rolling Stones?

B – They’ll keep going until Keith can’t do it anymore.

M – They’re like an inspiration to us. They keep playing their back catalogue, it keeps them going. We played at their Bridges of Babylon tour and Voodoo Lounge.

J – Do you ever play Skids songs?

B – No, that was Stuart’s band. It’s not Big Country and I’m only Big Country. We never do covers and have never felt the need, unless we are doing something like the Prince’s Trust festival. We are our own entity and sound.

J – I remember seeing you headline ‘The Big Day Out’ at Glasgow Green..

B – That was a long time ago!

M – Bruce has got a fantastic memory.

J – Do you keep a diary?

B – I used to think about writing a book, I’ve kept ideas and notes from the start.

M – We tend to jog each other’s memories. There’s someone in the US that has a complete timeline of what we’ve done.

B – Aye, it was me that gave them the timeline! I used to keep all the tour itineraries, but I’ve chucked them. There used to be piles and piles of pages.

M – So did I.

J – Do you keep any vinyl?

M – I’ve got a few CDs, but I generally don’t listen to stuff.

B – I only listen to our stuff if I need to learn a certain song, like for this next ‘Seer’ tour that we are doing.

M – I might listen to one on YouTube if I need a little nudge to remember. There was masses of print outs, you can’t possibly keep it all.

J – Shouldn’t items like that be kept, for a musical archive?

B – I dunno.

M – We don’t see the significance. Maybe we should have kept some for other people? Stuart had a wonderful memory.

J – You must miss him…?

M – Of course.

B – We were teenagers and grew up through those years together.

J – How did you all meet up?

B – I went to watch Skids, I was in a band of my own at the time and we supported them.

M – It was really a coincidence and being in the right place at the right time.

J – Do you keep in touch with Tony Butler?

M – Yes, he’s a teacher now at a music college, he’s still playing.

B – But he doesn’t want to tour anymore, he’s said he’s retired.

M – We are very lucky and still enjoying it.

B – The head and the heart love it, but the body says ‘you stupid bastard’ the next day.  

J – How old are you?

B – 102!  I think I’m 57?

M – No you’re not.

J – It’s 2016…who’s the Prime Minister??


B – I think I am 57, but I might be wrong?

(Mark has been told to go and catch a flight..) (Both get up to leave)

B – (getting up) Ooh, my back’s killing me, see when I got up there… that’s what happens when you’re 102!