Influential Scottish Band Big Country Comes Back From Tragedy With First Album in 14 Years

In December 2001, Big Country frontman Stuart Adamson committed suicide, a tragedy that seemingly marked the end of the Scottish rock band's prolific career. The members of the group, best known for "In a Big Country" off 1983's "The Crossing," went back to their lives, taking up day jobs and studio work with the unspoken assumption that Big Country was finished. After a short reunion in 2007 to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the band, spurred by online fan comments, decided to re-form in 2010, primarily to tour. At the helm was Mike Peters, singer for the Alarm.

"It's not like we just asked any singer to come along and do this," guitarist Bruce Watson says over Skype from the band's current U.K. tour. "Mike was the only person that I thought about, and if he had said that he didn't want to do it, then I wouldn't have asked anybody else."

The tour, which featured a lineup of Watson, Peters, original drummer Mark Brzezicki, Watson's son Jamie on guitar and Simple Minds bassist Derek Forbes, evolved far beyond what it was initially meant to be. The musicians found themselves penning new songs during soundchecks, accidentally discovering a collaborative power to create new Big Country songs that reflected the band's former sensibility. These new tracks found their way onstage in between numbers off "The Crossing" and Big Country released its first new single, "Another Country," recorded with Steve Lillywhite, in the fall of 2011. By mid-2012, the group was armed with 12 new songs, which it self-recorded in Wales last winter for new album "The Journey," due April 30 in the United States on Megaforce.

"It wasn't contrived," Watson says. "We just knew it had to be a Big Country album. The first three records we made as Big Country in the early '80s had that Big Country sound and as we became more proficient on our instruments and writing songs, the sound of the band changed and we ended up not sounding like Big Country anymore. But this record sounds like a record from those early days."

For Megaforce, which came onboard after the album was completed, "The Journey" is an opportunity to reintegrate an important rock band into the American musical landscape. The label serviced the entire album to specialty shows on alternative radio stations on April 4 and plans to service the disc--and lead single "Hurt"--on a wider scale once the group brings its tour to the States in June. MRI Entertainment president Missi Callazzo says the label aims to target both longtime fans and potential new listeners.

"I've worked with artists who are making new records after a bit of an absence in the marketplace and the idea that an artist only gets one chance to be new [for a second time] will forever be ingrained in my head," says Callazzo, who sees touring as a key facet of marketing Big Country to a fresh audience. "With an artist like Big Country, they've got a shot to be new again. We as the marketing people have to stay focused on that part of things. We want to tell their whole story because it's definitely an interesting story."

The band sees this as a beginning, too, hoping that "The Journey" will lead to subsequent albums and even more tours. "The minute we start getting some new songs under our belt it will be time to do the next album," Watson says. "The way we're going right now, we'll probably start writing some new stuff soon."


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