The Bardic Depths

Literary lyrics bound with thoughtful music in an international band that couldn’t have existed without Big Big Train

Quote// I’d like to think Robin played a few snippets to Greg Spawton, who nodded sage approval

The story of The Bardic Depths is entwined with that of Big Big Train. Helmed by Lanzarote-based Dave Bandana, the quintet was formed among the posts of BBT’s Facebook group. They’ve assembled a catalogue of three albums, with the studio assistance from Robin Armstrong of Cosmograf and the membership of Camel and Tiger Moth Tales creative Peter Jones.

“When you have a professor of history and literature writing lyrics, you can’t help have a love of books as a theme,” Bandana says of US-based academic Brad Birzer. “The first album was about the friendship between CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. The second was a story Brad wrote about TS Elliot. The new album, //What We Really Like In Stories//, is a series of songs about authors and their works.”

Bandanna – composer, co-ordinator, bassist and keyboardist – tries to avoid being a control freak. “Although I have a vision for the songs, I always let everyone do what they feel is right,” he says. “It’s always exciting to listen to their parts for the first time.”

He heaps praise on Armstrong and Jones for their support. “Robin took a huge gamble. I was looking for help on Facebook and he asked to hear what became the first album. He was very critical, but offered to mix and master it and release it on his label.

“When I was looking for a sax player in the BBT forum, Pete responded, ‘Well, if it’s only a small tootle’ – the rest is history. He always has time for me. The guy oozes class. He came out to Lanzarote last year and played shows with me. Great fun!”
Asked to select an entry-point to each album, Bandana picks //Legacies// from their self-titled debut for its two guitar solos, one by Armstrong; //The Burning Flame// from //Promises Of Hope// and latest single //You’ve Written Poetry My Boy//, “probably Brad’s best-ever lyric, and we have a fantastic video created by Rob Birnholz – another friend from the BBT forum.”

“When we started the new one, we agreed the songs should be as concise and tightly-arranged as possible,” guitarist Gareth Cole says. “We wanted to focus on strong melodies, to use more backing vocals to create a really lush vibe.”

He agrees with his bandmate: “Without BBT there would quite simply be no Bardic Depths – but I doubt anyone in the band is particularly aware of us. I’d like to think Robin played a few snippets to Greg Spawton, who nodded sage approval… only joking!”

Geographically challenged, the band hope to play live in the future, but first it might be nice to write together in the same physical space. “We’d prefer to sit in a room and jam out songs,” Cole says. “But since that’s not possible we take a slower, very methodical approach. It suits the way we want to write and record – for now!”

Bandana deadpans that the Bardic Depths can’t escape lyrics about literature. “When I write, I always listen to music,” Birzer reports. ”And when writing lyrics, I’m always reading books. There’s no compromise: words and music simply go well together.” MK

PROG FILE

LINE-UP Dave Bandana (music, bass keyboard), Peter Jones (sax), Gareth Cole (guitar), Tim Gehrt (drums), Brad Birzer (lyrics and concepts)

SOUNDS LIKE Big Big Train, Genesis, Cosmograf, Camel

CURRENT RELEASE What We Really Like In Stories is out on March 7, 2024

WEBSITE thebardicdepths.bandcamp.com

Martin Kielty

From "Limelight - The Bardic Depths" Prog Reprinted with permission.

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