Interview: Stuart Adamson, Big Country

In may be early in the morning but Big Country's Stuart Adamson is full of bonhomie and very much awake. Stuart is speaking to me from his home in Dunfermline, which he shares with his wife and two children.

Not quite the cliched images of supposed rock stars. It hardly conjures up a debauched rock celeb nursing hangovers and chillin' out by their Malibu swimming pools.

However, Stuart Adamson doesn't even see himself as a rock star, as he so succinctly puts it, "I've always considered myself as a singer and writer of folk songs I like to play through electric guitars."

Stuart expands upon his point.

"What annoys me a little is that it's OK for a soul group from Detroit to acknowledge and write about their roots and influences. However, some people find it harder to accept it when we are influenced by our own Scottish folk tradition, which I believe is just as valid! I'm not embarrassed about my roots or my Scottish identity."

What are the reasons why you have stayed in Scotland, Stuart?

"I think it's important for Scots people to stay and work from Scotland, and I think there have been a lot of encouraging developments occurring in Scotland recently."

Fine sentiments indeed, but back to the music. Stuart and the boys have a compilation album due out. They also have a new single out entitled Save Me and are currently working on a new album due out towards the end of the year. All this plus a new drummer Pat Ahern, and a UK tour. Stuart is both excited and motivated by the prospect of getting back on the road after quite a long lay off.

"I'm really looking forward to getting out there. Audience participation has always been a big feature of our concerts and I love to strike a chord directly with people that come to see us play."

At the time of your last album Peace In Our Time you made a well publicized trip to Moscow, and bearing in mind the changes in Eastern Europe, would you like to tour over there?

"We'd really like to tour there as well as just doing the regular countries like France, Germany, and Belgium, etc. However, I don't think a rock or pop band can effect changes in these places but we can contribute something positive."

Who's the new drummer? Was the split with your former drummer Mark Brzezicki amicable?

"Pat Ahern has done a lot of session work with a diverse group of people, for example, Spear of Destiny. When we first met we got on really well. I rely on my instinct, and I felt he was the right guy, and he's committed to working with the band. Mark always liked doing a lot of session work and he felt he wanted to continue in that vein [Mark Brzezicki is now playing with Fish's touring band], and we needed someone who was more committed. You can't really try and replace someone like Mark, and we wouldn't want to do that. It's like a fresh start with Pat."

How do you feel about the release of a 'Greatest Hits' compilation album?

"I'm quite happy with doing a compilation album as I'm very proud of what we've done in the past and it seems like a good time to do it."

Have you any particular favourites from your back catalogue?

"I'm pleased with a lot of what we've done, but I wouldn't want to single out anything in particular."

Were you pleased with the last album Peace In Our Time? Stuart's reply is very honest.

Peace In Our Time is probably my least favourite album we've done. I felt the production on that album was too soft, but the next album will be a lot more harder and powerful."

Staying on the theme of Big Country's albums, it's noticeable that they've worked with some pretty interesting people - like Kate Bush for one! Stuart fondly recalls the memory.

"Aye, we worked with Kate Bush on The Seer album. She was amazing. I sat down with her playing my guitar, working on the idea of the song, and within a few hours she had already come up with three or four great ideas for the song."

Moving away from the captivating Miss Bush, I asked Stuart where he derived his lyrical inspiration from.

"I tend not to write about big events directly, but from the point of view of ordinary people and how the events and decisions made by governments affect their lives."

So you think that the government is out of touch, Stuart?

"Governments always lose touch with the ordinary people, which makes it important for the local communities to be strong and supportive."

On a lighter note, he reiterates by explaining that he still feels fresh and excited about the band's music, and if you haven't seen Big Country live or been won over by them on record, I recommend you catch them on the forthcoming tour. You won't be disappointed, I assure you.

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
May 1990

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