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Interview: Mark Brzezicki from ‘Big Country’

Big Country Promo Shot

Scottish juggernauts Big Country are no strangers to the fickle world of rock n’ roll. During their 30 years together they’ve experienced break-ups, members coming and going, and the tragic loss of original frontman Stuart Adamson, who committed suicide in 2001. Despite these heartaches and obstacles the quintet are stronger than ever, still captivating audiences all over the world with their trademark brand of Celtic rock and are finally about to hit our shores for their first Australian tour. We caught up with drummer Mark Brzezicki to talk about the highlights, the shows, and the future of Big Country. 

Are you looking forward to your first ever Australian tour?

Yes, I’m very excited. Not only myself but also the rest of the band are very excited to come down. I’ve only ever been there once in my life. I came down with Big Country in 1989 to do a video for King of Emotion from our album ‘Peace In Our Time,’ so it’s well overdue. We didn’t even know we would still be a band with all that’s gone on but the music’s still great and Stuart’s still with us in a sense that his music lives on, so it’s a great band. It’s going to be the best you’ll ever see us.

Are there any particular places you would like to visit?

Well yes, all of it. It’s going to be pretty whirlwind because we’re back to back, and it’s such a big country – excuse the pun. It’s so vast that we’re going from one gig to the next with hundreds of miles in between so there’s little time to do a lot there. We’re pretty busy most days so we’ll cram in as much as we can regarding sightseeing and what we can actually do whilst we’re there. It’s a great opportunity to keep your eyes open when you travel and see as much as you can at the same time.

Do you have any essential items you take on tour with you?

No essentials for me, I try to pack as lightly as possible. I travel a lot and I’ve got it down to a very fine art. You can always pick up things when you’re out there so I only carry very basic stuff. I don’t need to take suitcases full of clothing. It’s different with each band member. The musical instruments we take are very important to maintaining our sound. Bruce will take his guitar, so will his son Jamie, who’s joining us. I drew the short straw with that one because you can’t put a drum kit on an aeroplane. But I play Pearl drums and Pearl graciously offered my endorsement. It looks like I will be picking up a new drum kit on every show, which is hard work for me. They can’t train anyone up for a different show everyday with a different drum kit.

What can fans expect from your shows?

Good question. Hopefully we will have a good turnout. We’ve been around for a long time with a story to tell. We’ve had line-up changes and there was the tragedy of losing Stuart, but we’ve maintained our sound. Now that we’re an older band, we’re not only getting people of our age group who’ve followed the band and grown up with the music, but we have people bringing their sons and daughters too. There’s a whole new generation growing up with their dad’s music. They can expect a fabulous show. Every show’s special, no show’s ever the same. Music’s very evocative. It can cast spells and take you back to where you were at a certain time, so there are always great memories of the 80s for a person in a certain age group.

What’s the best show you’ve ever played? 

It’s a hard question to answer. I only say that because sometimes the highlights can be different for me. We supported The Rolling Stones on two tours, and they were fantastic although they weren’t actually our shows. But it’s a big event when The Rolling Stones are playing and there’s 250 thousand people in the outdoor arena. It’s very spectacular. It’s also great because the Stones are our friends – we know them very well and they like our music.

Standing alone, we were playing in the Barrowlands in Scotland. It was a good show for us, it was very lively. I grew up in London and saw bands play at the Eventim Apollo, so for Big Country to actually play there was a big thrill for me. Another big moment for me was a big disappointment. We didn’t play at Live Aid, we sang at the end, but we didn’t actually perform as a band so that was a highlight but a low point too. We also played in the Outer Hebrides – in the middle of nowhere, on the top of Scotland. They were fabulous shows because people didn’t think we would come out there and play. It wasn’t the amount of people, it was the appreciation that we’d actually come, so it was very special as well. There’s too many to mention to be honest but that’s what drives us off to doing more shows because every show is very special.

You’ve drummed in a number of bands over your career. Apart from Big Country, which has been your favourite?

Aww I can’t say that, they’re like my children. You can’t say who you love more. I enjoy the challenge and friendship you get by playing with other musicians. We’re all one big family. We share the same dreams, hopes, aspirations, and deal with the same problems, so we’re in that kind of club. To work with someone else, particularly when they could ask anyone to play and they call me is very special. I love playing with them all. It’s even nicer when they’re your friends.

To be honest with you, my biggest thrill was playing with my drum hero Phil Collins. I’ve been the house drummer for the Prince’s Trust Royal Gala since 1985. I got the pleasure of playing with Phil Collins as the two drummers on stage. We had Elton John on piano, George Harrison on guitar and Mark King from Level 42 on bass, and we played for the Bee Gees, Eric Clapton – the list goes on. It was phenomenal. I’ve been very blessed and lucky and I appreciate all those special moments. There’s a story to tell in everything I do.

Are there any plans on making a new Big Country album?

Well, yes. Bands always write songs even if you don’t think there’s anything happening, somebody’s coming up with an idea. When you’re gigging a lot like we do, you tend to write on the road. Somebody at a soundcheck will have an idea and we’ll have a go at playing it. A song is often born on stage, or at least a part of it. We’ve been releasing some demo songs in the last few years. They are masters but aren’t really an official release. There are also songs in the background that we could collect into an album but right now we’re concentrating on our big catalogue.

We’ve got a huge heritage of music behind us and we’ve got many albums out that people aren’t aware of. Right now we’re celebrating the anniversaries of those albums and we’re about to start ‘The Seer,’ which was our third album. They’re the ones people probably remember most as all the hits are on them. So we’re celebrating The Seer by pretty doing much the album back to back along with our big hits. A new album isn’t really the priority right now. Getting out and playing live is what it is about and we’re about to come to Australia so it couldn’t be better!

Big Country 2016 Australian Tour

The Triffid, Brisbane
The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
The Gov, Adelaide
The Factory Theatre, Sydney
The Rosemount Hotel, Perth

Get Tickets HERE