Big Country Info Big Country Info


16 June 2017

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We welcome Tony Butler back for the third and final part of the interview! John Gouveia still lurks in the shadows.

The Seer

  • Working with Robin Millar.
  • Memories of the day that her ladyship Kate Bush came to the studio.
  • The emergence of Dave Bates.
  • Changing the album from the Robin Millar mix to Walter Turbitt’s, including adding new guitar parts.


  • The lead-up to the Steeltown project – and being burnt out after the immense Crossing tour.

“Close Action” – live at Kouseinenkin Hall, Tokyo, Japan on 4 May 1984.

  • The struggle to come up with material and start recording when still burnt out from the Crossing tour, the break that forced itself, and how that helped.
  • Lack of touring activities due to lack of record company support? Tony talk about how the album took them by surprise, and how it in any case was the start of many years of “record company melees.”
  • How many times did the record company (and was Dave Bates involved?) recut the single for East of Eden? Tony recalls some unbelievable stories from the single discussions at that time.
  • The story about how Tony and Steve Lillywhite gave the bass sounds on the album different, prehistoric animal names.

Tony’s recollections of the period with Pat Ahern in the band

  • The insecurity of whether the band would continue, with a deflating record company situation, Mark heading off, Stuart and Bruce being stumped, and Tony taking time off while waiting for people to decide to do something.
  • Pat Ahern was suggested by Tony from their days together in the Simon Townshend Band.
  • After Pat Chris Bell came in – in Tony’s opinion, a “John Bonham version of a Big Country drummer”.
  • This period was about surviving – reflections on how it did not feel good again until they started the Skinners album.

The Buffalo Skinners

  • The experience of getting Simon Philips for the Skinners album.
  • Tony and Bruce pushing more for Big Country to be a rock band on this album, whereas Stuart was leaning toward the softer side on his material on the album
  • “Chester’s Farm” – a rock song Tony brought in, which Stuart balked at and wasn’t happy with – it was too hard rock for him at that time.

“Chester’s Farm” – live on 1st Avenue, Minneapolis, MN, USA on 11 June 1993

  • “Seven Waves” being the song that pulled them together – it appeased everybody as it had a bit of everything.
  • “The One I Love” having an interesting osmosis, initially not being as hard-hitting as it turned out to be.
  • Tom’s memory of seeing Big Country live on that tour, at the Bayou in Washington DC on 31 Oct 1993.

Why the Long Face

  • How that album ended up more diverse in style than Skinners, and a lot of good (but less intense) material.
  • Memories from the happy demo sessions for the album in Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire.
  • Recollecting working on musical ideas with Stuart – including specific memories of the first fruits of that scenario, and how that ended up being the song “God’s Great Mistake.”
  • The story on how a riff from those writing sessions for WTLF ended up on the song “Here Comes the First One” from Tony’s new album “My Time.”
  • And not least: The celebrated and notorious Eggplant.
  • Tony gives a final special mention to “Send You,” and talks about how that song at one point was his favourite Big Country song.

Final odds and ends

  • More background on the story of the legendary Scorpheus.
  • Looking back at the Zaandam convention at the end of 2002 – the first Big Country related activity after Stuart’s passing. How did it come about, how did it feel, etc.
  • Stuart’s reaction to Tony sitting down with him around 2000 to give a heartfelt plea about taking care of himself and sorting himself out, and tough memories from this time.
  • Tony’s final anecdote: how someone in a compromising situation reacted to hearing a Big Country song.