Big Country Info Big Country Info


29 August 2017

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Driving To Damascus – album background

  • Why do the podcast hosts feel trepidation ahead of discussing the album?
  • The times the album was released in – the internet age, the amount of information, the visibility into statuses and processes, and availability of material.
  • How the album ends up representing this era of the band for better or worse – and bore the brunt of the heartbreak when Stuart passed.
  • Stuart’s spirituality during this time, and the large role Christianity seemed to play in his life – and his music – at this time.

Setting the stage: A timeline of notable DTD-related band activities between 1996-2000

  • Stuart’s various solo projects that were semi-announced and talked about during 1996-97, and the interesting announcements on how it would sound like.
  • Stuart’s move to Nashville and how talk of a solo album would come and go – looking at the timeline and the amount of Big Country activity happening in 1997-99, was there really time for it?
  • Band member’s activities during the band’s break in 1997.
  • Stuart meeting Marcus, how the solo project turned into a project with him.
  • Details on BC demo sessions (several mentions - starting late 1997 and throughout 1998).
  • “Second Time Around” – the one song from the demo sessions that wasn’t used on a b-side or Rarities release (including sample).
  • The release of “Restless Natives & Rarities” (within a month after the “Kings of Emotion” compilation) – a great collection, which led to a tour in May 1998 to support it!
  • The Restless Natives tour is the first time DTD material was performed live for the first time. It is also the first time recordings were shared amongst fans online almost immediately after the show. Svein and Tom spends some time remembering this very fondly.

“Loserville” – live version from The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen on May 20 1998.

  • Demo sessions at Ray Davies’ Konk Studios, produced by Ray Davies, who was also interested in signing the band.
  • Another Rolling Stones supporting slot in August 1998, amid more demo sessions.
  • The end of demoing, final rehearsal sessions in Konk in January 1999, and the recording of the album in Rockfield Studios (Wales).
  • The media blitz leading up to the release of the album – including an interview snippet with Stuart and Eddi Reader from BBC Radio 2 (7 Aug 1999).
  • The “folds fiasco” – a.k.a. the release of the Fragile Thing single, on Ian Grant’s Track Records label. The single charted at #69 and was gone after one week. That was not supposed to happen.
  • We cover all the things that had been set up for this release to succeed, and the one thing that ruined everything.
  • We discuss the “too many folds” rule, read out Ian Grant’s then statement about the situation, and speculate whether it could have been avoided.  
  • The activities of the band after the “folds fiasco” were minimal, starting with a 20-day time-out after being told the folds fiasco news. The band pre- and post the folds fiasco is markedly different, with the wind seemingly going out of their sails.
  • The European release of DTD six months (!) after the UK release. Related appearances and gigs have been at a minimum.
  • Remaining single releases, German dates, and the announcement that they would stop touring after remaining tour dates.
  • The “Somebody Else” single release – several questions surround that one.
  • Memories from the final US show with the Stuart line-up – Nashville 9 July 1999.

A montage of Stuart stage banter from the Sutler, Nashville on 9 July 1999.

  • Setting the stage: Other hits at the time of release in 1999. The outrage is real.
  • TB’s 2006 comments on the album.

“Driving To Damascus” – acoustic version by Stuart and Eddi Reader from BBC Radio 2, 7 Aug 1999.