Billy Bragg speaks to The Linc

Photo: Soinc PR

Photo: Soinc PR

Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Billy Bragg will take to the stage at the Lincoln’s Engine Shed later this month.

The gig is part of a UK tour, following the release of his new album ‘Shine A Light – Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad’.

This isn’t the first time Billy has played a gig in Lincoln, and he has fond memories of the city.

“The last time I was here I had a walk up to the castle at the top of the hill. It’s a lovely spot up there, that little windy road [Steep Hill], and the vibe up there was great.

“It was also the Steampunk festival that day. I’m glad I found that out, because if I’d gone away and just thought ‘well that’s what Lincoln’s like every Saturday afternoon’ it would’ve been a bit strange.”

For his latest release, he teamed up with American musician Joe Henry, who had produced Bragg’s last album Tooth & Nail back in 2013.

Back in March Billy and Joe, guitars in hand, boarded a Los Angeles-bound train at Chicago’s Union Station. The pair recorded songs in waiting rooms and at the track side, while the train stopped to pick up passengers.

“The inspiration behind it was to take these railroad songs back to where they came from”, Billy said.

“So we recorded it on the Texas Eagle route, which is the longest route on the Amtrak system to give us more time to record the tracks.”

Billy is also well known for his political activism, and was very vocal in his view that Britain should stay in the European Union.

“Brexit is a poison pill that will destroy the Conservative party. You can see now they’re already starting to split around it. It’s just a matter of time before it destroys them.

“We have to try and work out how we re-build our society. How we find a way of healing the divisions that the Brexit vote has opened up.

“I think it may be a while before we can do that. It may be that Brexit leads to the break-up of the United Kingdom.

“I think it’s the unintended consequences of Brexit that we have most to fear. And I’m not just talking about the rise in the price of marmite.”

Billy is a huge fan of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and hopes he might be the man to lead the charge against a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit.

“He’s got a huge mountain to climb in terms of his credibility with the voters due to the months and months of in-fighting in the Labour party.

“But we have the opportunity, to put our ideas to the test in a general election possibly soon. Labour might not be at the moment high in the polls, but neither were Leicester City last season.”

Billy is currently mid-way through his UK tour and he says that performing live is really where he’s in his element.

“It’s where I feel most comfortable. You get an immediate response there, you’re in complete control. You’re on a buzz.

“In the studio it’s a more of a slog. Everyone’s expecting you to come up with the next idea. You don’t get much feedback from everyone around you. I’ve never been much of a studio person.”

There’s been a positive reaction to the record in America and Billy hopes that it’s just as well received over here.

“I’m interested to see how it goes down in the UK. It’s quite a long narrative, about why we wanted to do this and how the songs fit together.

“The tour should be an ongoing feast, we’ll add little bits every night and by the time we get to Lincoln it should all be there.”

Billy Bragg comes to Lincoln’s Engine Shed on Saturday November 19 with doors opening at 7pm. You can buy tickets for £22 from The Engine Shed or by calling 0844 888 8766.

 

 

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