Pink Floyd


David Gilmour chat interview

January 2002

Dyolf from Greece asks: How many guitars do you have?? Do you keep collecting even now?

David: I don't know how many. Its over 100. I'm planning on selling most of them in the next year or so. I can't quite remember why I've got so many. The very first guitar I had I borrowed off my neighbour. He never quite got into guitar playing and I've still got it.

Lars Sande from Oslo, Norway asks: Do you own any Pink Floyd boots yourself? And if, what do you think about the sound quality in general?

David: The sound quality is usually dreadful, but I've got one with hundreds of things on. Not quite sure where they've got it from. For people like us who've done a lot over the years its not a major issue, whereas for people starting out its more difficult to cope with bootlegs.

Dan Pearce from Cambridge asks: I have tickets to one of your semi acoustic concerts in January at the Royal Festival Hall, will you be playing any of the Pink Floyd hits or will it be all your solo work?

David: More or less the same set list as I did last June. If you know that, great, or you'll find out! Quite a few pink floyd songs and one new song from the Bizet opera.

Keith Jordan from England, UK asks: David, do you sing in the shower and, if so, what do you sing most often? Is it available from all good bootleggers??? :-)

David: I sing all the time, in the bath, I don't take showers too often, I prefer baths - bathrooms have a nice little reverb in them. I like singing the Walker Brothers on karaoke.

Charlie Franks from Montserrat asks: Are any Pink Floyd, or solo, concert films going to be released onto DVD?

David: I am planning on releasing my last years Meltdown concert on DVD. When I'm not quite sure, hopefully quite soon if I can get it organised. And I think the Pulse recording we'll be releasing on DVD, but its quite complicated, it has to be completely remixed.

VoodooLord7 from Oklahoma, USA asks: I recall you saying in a previous interview that your favorite single of the 90's was Leonard Cohen's "Closing Time." Could you elaborate on this?

David: That was a great album by Leonard Cohen. I really liked the whole album and that song. I spent a lot of time trying to analyse what the lyrics meant.

Parisian from Paris asks: Is it true that you used your car-radio to record the intro of "Wish You Were Here" ?

David: Yes it is. We ran a lead out of Abbey Road studio into the car park and I fiddled with the radio.

Martin from Austria asks: Are you involved in other peoples work at the moment ?

David: At the moment I'm not realy involved in doing anything with anyone else. It is something I enjoy doing, it can be great fun. Playing with Paul McCartney at the Cavern was a highpoint.

Chris Burrows from Plymouth, UK asks: Are any of your children considering a career in music?

David: None of them seem to be at the moment.

Xavierdown from CT, USA asks: What band had the biggest influence on you and Pink Floyd?

David: I'm not really a big band sort of person. There are a lot of individual artists I prefer more. Everything I've ever listened to has had an influence on what I play. Its hard to be specific about that sort of thing.

floyd barber from Edinburgh asks: Having recently been blown away at an Australian Pink Floyd show i was wondering what you thought of the group?

David: I myself have seen the Aus Pink Floyd show a couple of times. Its enjoyable, its quite fun. Its hard to say exactly what it makes me feel. Theres an element of thinking its a joke, and an element of thinking its damn good. The first time I went we booked a box at Fairfield Hall in Croydon for a party night out. It was very entertaining. They have to pay to play Pink Floyd songs, but anyone can play them.

Mark Brown from Dell Rapids, South Dakota USA asks: David, this is about your early band Bullitt. It was years before there was a movie by that name. Was the band name actually spelled the same as the movie title, or is that a mistake that's been made in band histories all these years?

David: I think it was the same as the movie. I'm not sure when the movie came out. I really don't know which was first. I don't think we named it after the movie, but I could be proved wrong on that. It was late 66 I think. I can't remember why we called it that. I was living with my band in France and we just thought of a name, but as we approached the summer of love it just didn't seem to be appropriate!

Theo Beckers from The Netherlands asks: Are there more than the 5 songs as known made by Jokers Wild?

David: Yes there are the 5 on the single sided LP thing which we paid for ourselves and sold to friends. But then I have to confess we recorded a few songs for Jonathan King. Two tracks - the Sam and Dave song and on the other side ..... That's How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding. You might have trouble finding a copy!

Fred Smith from New York asks: How old is too old to be a rock star?

David: Oooh ... about 30 I should think! I'm much too old to be a rock star if thats what I am!

Maura from Cleveland, OH, USA asks: Mr. Gilmour, what response do you have to people who criticize Pink Floyd for the recent "Best of" album, saying that the Floyd has never been a hit/singles-oriented band, and that therefore a "Best of" degrades its remarkable and unique history?

David: They have a point if they feel like that. I don't have anything to say to them. Everyone's entitled to their view. I think its a good introduction, its a precis or overview of our career.

Vicky from Wales asks: I hear you're an Arsenal fan. What do you think of the current Arsenal squad, and do you think they can win the Premiership this season?

David: I did have season tickets at the Arsenal for quite a few years. That was around the time they won the double. I'm sort of a really fickle football fan. I watch any team that's doing well and become unfaithful when they're not. But I do have a soft spot for Arsenal.

Tammy Baldwin from Canada asks: Any plans for a North American Tour? Please???

David: Its not a tour. All I'm doing is 5 dates, 3 in London next week and 2 in Paris. I'm very sorry I'm not planning on taking it anywhere else.

fixxlevy from Perth, WA asks: David, have you heard of an Icelandic band called Sigur Ros? There seem to be many comparisons made between their sound and yours circa late '60's/ early '70's.

David: I haven't heard them. I've heard of them, so I don't know.

Paulo R. Dallagnol from Florianopolis, Brazil - asks: What kind of music you have been listening to in the past years? Has this caused an effect on you own music?

David: I'm constantly influenced by everything I hear. I haven't concentrated on any new bands lately. I like the Lemonheads (when they existed), I like some of Radiohead .... no I'm an old fogey I'm afraid.

Donna Young from Kansas, USA asks: Hello David, nice to have this opportunity. What is your proudest achievement musically?

David: The last one.

Kayne Coulson from Moberly, Missouri asks: Do you have a name for you favorite guitar and what kind of guitar is it?

David: No ... I don't, I don't really have a favourite guitar. Actually I tell a lie, I do have a nickname for a favourite old telecaster called "the workmate" as in the Black & Decker.

Matt Leppard from nowhere asks: Have you sneaked into any of Roger Waters' shows? If you did, would you?

David: Not yet no... I'm tempted but I haven't actually done it yet. If you see someone in a strange moustache, pull it off but careful you don't get the wrong person!

Rodolfo Araujo from Belo Horizonte - BRAZIL asks: Do you think that "Echoes - The Best Of Pink Floyd" will be the last album from Pink Floyd?

David: Who knows what the future will bring for any of us?

Robyn from San Diego asks: Are you still flying your planes? I would definitely love to go up sometime, but that barrell roll I don't know about!

David: I fly an aeroplane once in a while , yes .... I love it.

skanda from bombay, india asks: Having read from some reliable sources that you began reading sheet music only a few years ago, one question comes to mind: were you musically trained, or if not, how did you pick up scales, chords and ultimately leads?

David: Thats true ... I have not been musically trained, I picked it up pretty much by myself. The first instruction I had was from Pete Seger, he's a great American folk-singing chap. If you haven't heard of him, you should have. In the last few years I've picked up the saxophone and I'm going for instruction with my son. I've passed grade 2 so far!

Terrence Reardon(NOTWGAMEDB@AOL.COM) from Whitman, Massachusetts, USA asks: I am autistic and am a big Pink Floyd fan and had another question to ask and that is what got you into doing charity work for the Nordoff Robbins charity which works with people with autism?

David: NR is a charity thats supported by a lot of people in the music industry. We were persuaded into it by our insurance broker, he first got us involved in it. It's a really worthwhile thing. I have been for a visit to their centre in north London, its very inspiring.

Bryce from Dallas, TX asks: David, when it comes down to it, what is the most important thing to you about making music? What lured it you to it, and what keeps you lured to it? Do you feel that music is one of the few medium's that can reach almost anyone, on any level? Thanks!

David: Its indefinable what lured me to it, some records that came out in the 50s when I was a lad, just dragged me in. There wasn't a choice. Its something you're hooked by or not. I couldn't really say what keeps me lured.

Lynne from Floydian_Hemptress asks: Would you agree that the instrumental, Let's Get Metaphysical, on your About Face cd, was a precurser to the later alledged phenomenon, known as Pink Floyd's Publius Enigma?

David: No it had nothing to do with it, there was no connection. The second thing was some silly record company thing that they thought up to puzzle people with.

Col from Hull, England asks: If you walked into a pub and Rog was casually leaning on the bar would you go over and have a drink with him?

David: The last time that happened I was invited to a gig that Paul Carrick was doing at the Half Moon in Putney, quite a long time ago now. The person in front of me at the bar was Roger and I smiled and said "hello" and he gathered up members of his entourage and left!

Brent Ingalls from Ottawa, Canada asks: Are you still using your houseboat "the Astoria" for much recording these days?

David: Yes! Indeed I am. Its a very good and well-used studio, in fact for all sorts of people. My difficulty is getting a booking there myself! So I actually now have a small home studio as well.

Michael from Dallas, TX USA asks: Any career regrets?

David: Regrets, I have a few, but then again, too few to mention.

syd's ghost from chile asks: There are going to be new floyd cd's with old unreleased material?

David: No not really, there isn't. Anything we didn't use was so unfinished that it just wouldn't be worth it. And theres a lot of tapes of jamming and things that we did in '93 before the Division Bell. They are quite nice, some day perhaps they'll be put out. We talked about it at the time, but we never got round to it. They'd only be for major fans, serious jamming, you'd have to be a hardcore fan to be interested!

Michael from Dallas, TX USA asks: What's the latest on Syd? Have you heard anything?

David: The last I heard of Syd was when the producer of the documentary that was on telly a few weeks ago had received a letter from Syd's sister Rosemary saying Syd had enjoyed the program.

mark dalton from yorkshire uk asks: I heard you were doing some film soundtrack music, is this true ?

David: No its not. I did contribute a bit of guitar playing on a movie last year called the Triumph of Love. It was only a guitar overdub on a couple of tracks.

Florczak from Poland asks: Is there anybody out there?

David: Thats for me to know and you to wonder about! This could be one of the Australian Pink Floyd!!

dotmusic: Unfortunately only time for a few more questions...

brad smith from alexandria asks: How do you feel about the success of Echoes?

David: Obviously I'm happy about it, very happy about it. Its gratifying that people are still interested in us.

Bailey from Maine, US asks: Have you ever thought about what you would have chosen for a career if you hadn't turned out to be such a talented musician?

David: I've often thought about what would've happened if I hadn't joined PF. Its hard to know what would've happened. I was determined to make a living as a musician. But how I would've faired I couldn't know. The scale of what we have achieved still staggers me.

Brent Ingalls from Ottawa, Canada asks: I read that you had about 20 pieces of music on your computer do you plan another solo effort?

David: I've got many, over 100 pieces of music I've recorded on a home recording system. But they're snippets of music, some are very good, some aren't. I've got to play with them. To turn them into proper songs. I don't have a plan for a new album, or a deadline, I'm just sort of fitting it in when I can.

dotmusic: And with that teaser, David is off to prepare for his shows next week. He thanks everyone for taking part and for all their questions. Thanks to David Gilmour for answering them. Visit dotmusic again for more webchats soon.


Interview with Pink Floyd


MIKE QUIGLEY: How long has the group been playing?

ROGER WATERS: Professionally, since January, 1967. We started out before that as a completely blues and Bo Diddley-oriented rock 'n' roll band from a school of architecture.

MQ: Have any of the group had a classical musical background?

DAVID GILMOUR: Richard's [organist Richard Wright] had a little bit of classical training, but the rest of us haven't had any training of any sort.

RW: But we've all been through the great Music College of Life.

MQ: When did you decide to get off the Bo Diddley trip and involve yourselves in the experimental music you're into now?

RW: In June or July of 1966; by that time we'd already started to do the things that we continue to do. Even though we were still amateur, we stopped playing blues and started thrashing about making stranger noises and doing different things. Some people saw us and they said, "We think you boys can be big," and we said, "Too much!" and they said, "Let's get started" and we said, "We're terribly sorry, but we're going off on a holiday, and we'll be back in October." And so we did. And then we raised two hundred pounds and went into a studio and cut a record and took it to EMI and said, "Look, we can be bigger than The Beatles." And they said, "Golly, gee whiz, we think you're right!" and we signed a stupid contract with them, which we're still bound by, and they released the album and it was a medium-big seller. Then we went professional.

MQ: Were your concerts the same in performance as the album?

RW: We didn't do concerts in those days. Nobody did concerts in those days, and we hadn't done an album anyway. There weren't concerts in those days -- there were ballrooms. If you were a working group with a hit single, you played in ballrooms. It was a hall like this [the PNE Gardens in Vancouver], but without seats, and it was all screaming girls...

DG: And jiving, twisting...

RW: We cleared more ballrooms than you've had hot dinners. We didn't play the singles on stage, which was all they wanted to hear.

DG: The only reason you'd get those bookings is because you had hit singles. That's how you'd get the work. And we didn't do them.

RW: We had a very rough year or so...

DG: Apart from a few gigs in London.

RW: We had a very rough time until the second album came out, and people were coming to see us because of Saucerful of Secrets, not some hit single that they'd heard.

MQ: Did you tour on the Continent?

DG: Not for a very long time.

RW: We came to the States very early on just for a week or so.

DG: We came to the States right in the middle of '68, when the second album came out, for seven weeks. But that was pretty bad because we didn't have any of our own equipment. We hadn't got it together either to cope with any equipment problems or things like that.

RW: But the Continent has just exploded for us now -- particularly France. It's all quite new. France is maybe a year old right now, since we started getting anywhere in France. What really made it for us in France was the film More, for which we did the soundtrack. It was playing in Paris at two next-door cinemas at once it was so popular.

MQ: Have you ever gotten involved with modern classical musical -- anything symphonic, for example?

RW: Not really. On our new album we've used some written music, some other musicians...

DG: Ten symphonic brass players and a choir of twenty.

RW: But the result is kind of a very direct attempt at hitting emotions, touching off emotional reactions with fairly ordinary sounds.

MQ: Have you ever been invited to do anything with a symphony?

RW: Well, we've had our talks with people. But the economics of working with an orchestra are prohibitive.

DG: Like this thing we've got on the next album uses thirty musicians, which isn't a lot of musicians. But it cost us five thousand dollars a night to put it on.

RW: We're writing a ballet for Roland Petit which will be on Paris next June, and the sky's the limit for that. They're spending so much money on that that they'd be quite willing to pay for an orchestra. But it might take it out of our hands to a certain extent if the stuff had to all be written down, because we can't write it down ourselves, and there's always a communication gap involved between what you can sing or play on a piano and what gets written down as music. And then you never hear it until you've got the orchestra there at the first rehearsal, and you probably only get two rehearsals anyway, so by the time you hear it, it's too late to change it; whereas our stuff is all based on doing something and then throwing out and using something else.

MQ: So you'll probably be playing with the ballet yourselves...

RW: Yeah, it's going to be on for about ten days. Nureyev is dancing the male lead. On the program we're doing, we're doing one ballet and Xenakis is writing the other.

MQ: A lot of people when talking about Pink Floyd use the term "cosmic"...

RW: Yeah, I know what you mean. That's the reaction we get from lots and lots of people, but I think the new album's going to come as something of a surprise, because it's not "cosmic". All they mean really are that the sounds we make evoke images of deep space.

DG: There are a lot of other things we do that do evoke quite strong images in the same way, but not about space.

MQ: I wondered if there was some kind of philosophy about this in the group, or if it's just the audience's interpretation.

RW: Not really. There is a general feeling, I suspect, in the group that music that really works is music that touches your emotions and triggers off something unchanging, some kind of eternal response. Like, it's really difficult to describe your reactions to a piece of music that hits you, gives you a particular kind of feeling, a particular kind of feeling that transcends the normal ups and downs and ins and outs.

MQ: How much equipment do you have? I heard a rumour that it was worth about a hundred thousand dollars.

DG: That's probably a bit of an exaggeration. It's probably worth about thirty thousand dollars.

MQ: Well, how many speaker systems do you have around the hall?

DG: We have a quadrasonic sound system around the hall, and there's a P.A. system which is quite powerful and we all have regular amps on stage.

MQ: How are the four speakers in the hall used to augment what's on stage?

DG: Well, you can feed tape into them or you can feed the organ into them. You could feed the guitar or the vocal into them, but we don't because they're very hard to work like that.

MQ: Who controls these effects?

DG: Richard, the organist, has a quadrasonic sound mixer on his organ, and he can play the organ and the sound around the auditorium as he's doing it. The tape recorder's operated by Pete, our road man.

MQ: How did you pick up all these experimental effects and techniques? Did you learn them from anybody?

RW: No, they just happened, really. We just thought "You ought to be able to do this," and then we went and saw somebody who knew something about electronics and asked, "Is it possible?" Like the quadrasonic thing, we just went to one of the maintenance engineers at Abbey Road in London where we record, and we said, "Look, we want to do this. Can you build it?" and he said "Yes" and he did.

MQ: Has EMI said anything about releases on the new four-track tapes?

DG: EMI will do it when everyone else has done it.

RW: They'll do it in a couple of years after everyone else. They're so technically far behind the other studios.

MQ: How many more albums are you under contract to them for?

RW: It's not a question of albums -- we're under contract to them for another eighteen months.

MQ: What then -- will you be starting an independent label?

RW: We don't know. It depends. We might build our own studio.

MQ: Have you played any pop festivals -- like the one in Paris?

DG: This summer that's all we've done between our last American tour and this American tour -- festivals: the Bath Festival, the Rotterdam Festival, two in France...

RW: One in Germany. Not many -- about half a dozen. We haven't done any in the States. I don't like them.

MQ: Why not?

RW: The sound is generally so bad, and there are too many people.

DG: The atmosphere is always very difficult for us, because we like people not to just think, "Well, here's the next group coming on," and then get straight into it, because it's very difficult to get straight into our music like that. We like to set an atmosphere. We like to have a place where we're the only people performing.

RW: I really don't like them because I know that I would never go to one as a member of an audience, because festivals aren't really all to do with music. It's a lot to do with camping out and all that stuff, and the music is just a common factor. It's very hard for people to hear it, or for everybody to hear it. I just think they're wrong conditions for listening ... well, not wrong, but not the best conditions for listening to music.

MQ: Is there much of a problem in Europe with opposition to paying to see rock festivals?

DG: There's a lot in France.

RW: It's much the heaviest in France. It's very heavy in Germany as well. In France they've had several festivals that just didn't go on because people tore them to pieces.

DG: One we were supposed to play at was wrecked...

RW: The first day. We weren't supposed to play until the second day.

DG: They broke down the stage, threw pianos off the stage, turned recording vans over, started to set fire to them...

RW: They did set fire to them. It was sponsored by Radio Luxembourg, and they had two vans recording, and they burned those. The promoters had got hold of a Yamaha grand piano and they smashed that to pieces...

DG: Threw it off the edge of the stage.

MQ: How do you feel about this as musicians?

RW: What? The "music-should-be-free" syndrome?

MQ: Yeah.

RW: I think it's a bit unfortunate that these people pick on rock 'n' roll as the start of their process to get rid of profit-oriented society, presuming that music is something they're interested in and something they enjoy. It would seem wiser if they picked on some other area where they wouldn't mind so much if the whole thing just stopped happening, because that's what they're doing -- just stopping the things happening. It serves no function to come to a festival and tear it to pieces, shouting, "Music should be free!"

DG: They're not going to get music for free by doing something like that because it's totally impossible...

RW: Well, for a start, it completely alienates those who might possibly be in a position to give it to them for free. But it can't be free -- it costs fortunes to put on festivals.

DG: It costs us -- just one band -- to go and do a festival in the south of France, for instance, between two and three thousand dollars just to go and do it. And they shout that they want it for free and that they should pass a hat round for money, which in fact, they tried at one festival.

RW: Out of twenty thousand people...

DG: Thirty thousand people...

RW: They got about two hundred pounds...

DG: Which is like five hundred dollars. Out of thirty thousand people.

RW: That's why that particular festival broke down, because the promoters hadn't got any money to pay the next group which was going on, which was The Soft Machine, and The Soft Machine just refused to go on. And then they passed the hat around and collected two hundred pounds, and The Soft Machine still refused to go on, and then they tore everything to pieces. If they want music to be free -- well, it can't be free. There's no such thing as fucking "free". Presumably what they mean is that it should be paid for out of government funds. At least that's what I assume they want.


Not just another brick in the wall

By Everett True
Melbourne, April 5 2002

There are few artists whose music is so ubiquitous, so influential, it's part of the collective unconscious - Madonna, Lennon & McCartney, Roger Waters.

As founder and primary driving force behind Pink Floyd, his songs have shaped more than one generation's aspirations and fears. Dark Side of the Moon (1973), for which bassist Waters wrote all the lyrics and some of the music, stayed on the Billboard charts for 15 years (until they changed the rules). The Wall, the double album that detailed the madness of being a mega rock star, went platinum 23 times over. Pink Floyd's debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, recorded with unstable genius Syd Barrett, helped define the emergent psychedelic sound of the late '60s.

Waters left Floyd in 1983, after The Final Cut. His one major appearance during the '90s was a $US8-million staging of The Wall at the site of the recently demolished Berlin Wall, watched by a live TV audience of more than 100 million.

This year's In the Flesh live show is part of Waters' first world tour for two decades. Classic Floyd tunes are matched with 360-degree quadraphonic sound, large-scale video projections and an 11-piece band, and it'll be some show, that's for sure.

EG met the reclusive Englishman (born in Cambridgeshire, September 6, 1943) in a London hotel.

How does your motivation in 2002 vary from your motivation when you started?

"There are two strands of motivation. The first is almost subconscious, the desire to be loved, to have people pat me on the back. That strand will probably always stay exactly the same. It's the second strand that has changed. When I was 15, I wanted to get laid, I wanted a sports car and I wanted to make money. Eventually I got laid and I got a sports car and made money, you know? Those motivations don't really exist any more. The work has become a motivation in itself. I'm less attached to what I can get out of making music than I am to the joy of creating it."

Do you feel you still have something to prove?

"I wouldn't put it like that. I surprise myself sometimes. It's interesting you should ask that, though, because it's only recently that I've begun to understand that I've actually achieved quite a lot and that I don't have anything much left to prove. Nevertheless, I see my work as analogous to painting, and I'll probably go on painting until the day I drop dead, because it still does speak for me."

Around the time of Wish You Were Here you were quoted as saying you felt the world was a sad place. Do you still feel that way?

"My work flickers back and forth between introspective writing and general political comment on the way the world works. It also tries to make sense of both of those things together. If one looks into one's own life and discovers what it is we find joy in, deep fundamental joy and pleasure, it's nearly always connections with other human beings, whether they're family or friends or people who are strangers.

"I wrote a poem a few years ago after I read Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses. The very beginning of it goes 'There is a magic inside the books that sucks a man into connections with the spirits hard to touch that join me to his kind'. Through my life, I've found myself closer and closer to making connections with those spirits hard to touch that join me to my kind. It's only through those connections that we might find the answer to this question: Is the human race capable of evolving beyond 'Ug. Give me my food' into something more joyful? We don't get long. Each individual human life is fleeting, but we each have the potential to pick up the flame and run with it for a few faltering steps before we hand it on to the next generation.

"Yes, a lot of the world is very sad, but I'm optimistic. I feel that we're capable of greater empathy than could be described in the way the world works at the moment. The questions are becoming more open. They're becoming exposed with the burgeoning of this information technology."

Was dissatisfaction with the outside world one of the reasons you withdrew from the public arena for such a long time?

"I didn't really, not after the '70s. I toured Pros and Cons in '85. I toured Video Chaos in '87. At that point I stopped in the face of a lack of demand. People didn't come. Well, they did; I could play in New York, LA or London, but apart from that it was a real struggle.

Because the other guys were touring as Pink Floyd, it became too difficult for me and I didn't want to do it. I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall, and it was uncomfortable, so I stopped doing it.

"The reason I've started doing it again recently was because of this concert I did for Don Henley in 1992, a charity concert for his Walden Woods project. I borrowed his band, walked out on stage and felt this enormous whoosh of blood. I'd forgotten that I'm a performer and I like doing it.

"Also, I'd identified some major problems that I've had in my life. For one reason or another, I had some powerful feelings of abandonment when I was a very young child that I'm only beginning to extricate myself from now. I'm nearly 60 years old and I'm just beginning to feel I can operate as an adult. It's exciting to feel I'm on the edge of maturity, emotionally."

Do you feel pressure when you're performing a song loved by millions of people around the world, to live up to their expectations? Do you feel the song no longer becomes yours?

"No, I don't. I've been doing gigs recently. In '99 and 2000 I toured the States. The songs are fresh for me every night, all of them. Having said that, I keep the arrangements pretty much as they were on the records. We reproduce some solos note for note just because I like them. Some of the things Dave (Gilmour) did were really good.

"Also, I know as an audience I stopped going to see Bob Dylan because it became, like, guess the tune. You'd think, 'What's he playing?', and then you'd suddenly realise, 'Oh my word, it's Lay Lady Lay'. I don't see the point in that. I've learnt the value of the songs that I do best, and the lyric as well. The melody structure is a vehicle to carry the lyric, and the lyric is attached to an emotion, and the emotion resides in my heart."

What do you think about when you're on stage?

"I try to think as little as possible and just be there and enjoy the connection with the audience, which is something that's quite new. Before, I did these tours and I was very circumspect about what that relationship was and what it meant, whether me being there was authentic, you know? As is well documented, particularly in the '70s when I was touring with Floyd, I used to feel disconnected, and that's one of the reasons why I wrote The Wall. So I've come full circle.

"But part of that is the fact that I won't do very big shows. I'm prepared to play in front of up to 20,000 people. That's OK. That still feels intimate in a strange way."

During the '70s, did you ever think while writing a song, "Oh, this one's going to go on to sell millions and millions"?

"There were a couple of things. I remember when I finished making the demo of Money. I had it on a loop and had recorded the basic rhythm structure and bassline, and I kept playing it again and again. I also remember when I took Rick's (Wright) piano piece and made Us and Them, thinking it was really powerful. Eclipse, the final piece on Dark Side of the Moon, wasn't written until we'd done a few shows. I can remember going in and saying, 'Oh, by the way, I've written an ending', because it didn't exist for a long time.

"With The Wall, I had sent two-inch multi-tracks back to England to Nick Griffiths, who was working in Britannia Studios in Islington. He recorded this loop on his own of the multi-tracks and sent it back. I remember putting the multi-track up in the producer's workshop to see what happened, pressing play and hearing all those kids singing for the first time. I knew immediately this was the mother-lode. It felt like pure gold. I immediately decided to make it two verses long, one verse with David singing and then this verse with the kids. I was absolutely convinced there was no way this would not be a hit record. It was just brilliant. The kids' voices made the song."

Why do you think songs such as Shine On You Crazy Diamond have such resonance, even now?

"I don't know. I suppose it's honest and heartfelt and quite poetically expressed. It expresses a deep sense of loss at the loss of the relationship. It's about the loss of a relationship with a friend (Syd Barrett). Wish You Were Here is another one."

Do you ever get over that loss of the relationship?

"No. You never get over it. I take comfort from the pain and the loss of a loved one because it means I can still feel. My love for the people that I've lost is important. And the pain of the loss dulls eventually, obviously. It doesn't stay the same. It's not as immediate, but it's precious. The residue of the grief is precious because it keeps the love alive. So I guess the answer is no, you don't get over it, and that's OK."

Do you worry about reaching the stage where you can't feel emotion?

"Not for me. It's something I can count on, feeling stuff. There's an interesting book called Violence by a doctor, about how violence is endemic in American society, politically within the penal system. It's really about political control through institutionalised violence, but in it he talks about serial killers, people who have devoted their entire lives to these crimes of violence. When they're caught, most of them describe themselves as feelingless. They actually describe their arms as a set of ropes and pulleys. They don't feel human. They don't make that connection that makes us human, which is the connection of having feelings. So they live in a world that is utterly unbearable because they don't feel anything. They're completely numb and it's unbearable. I can sort of understand that. I can feel how unbearable that is."

Recently there's been a spate of rock stars killing themselves. Do you have any idea why?

"Maybe there's a copycat element involved. Maybe it appears to be a trend because it's reported more. Most of us would admit to having had suicidal feelings at some point, but we don't act on them. Most suicides are hysterical. They're a way of getting noticed, albeit drastic, and that's why a lot don't succeed. All right, if you're going to stand in front of an express train that's going 70mph, it's unlikely that that's a cry for help, but it may be a way of punishing those left behind. Because we externalise our feelings and despair, we think somebody else is responsible for them.

"My mother was a Samaritan for umpteen years, and I have a number of good friends who are Samaritans as well. I think that people who call the Samaritans need exactly what I got from Cormac McCarthy, or what maybe people get from some of my songs, which is an understanding that that connection exists. It's held up in front of you, and thank God for that. It's ephemeral, but somebody makes it more concrete for you so you may feel. I can have that connection and then I won't feel this despair."

At the height of your popularity in the '70s with Pink Floyd, you were helped to support entire communities, gave hundreds jobs. Did you feel under pressure to write a record that sold millions to perpetuate that? It seems some bands do.

"I don't believe that. You get a lot of double-speak and double-think in this business. It's like U2 saying, 'Oh we have to play football stadiums otherwise all our fans can't see us'. That makes sense. But then why charge 60 quid a ticket? Why not charge five quid? So it's not for the fans. It's because they're in it for the money, or partially in it for the money.

"People going into rock'n'roll are pretty self-centred. I am. To write what I've written, you have to be self-centred. To write the words that the lonely people can connect to, the authenticity in that, whatever it is, that you discover in the lyric and the music, there inevitably is narcissism in that, and you have to accept that's what it is. That's what all art is.

"Without that disregard for what anybody else may think, you don't produce anything. I certainly don't buy into the notion that bands keep going because they care about their roadies or the people selling T-shirts. They care about themselves. Some people become addicted to the life, addicted to the attention, addicted to the limelight. The limelight addiction is very real."

Have you ever had that addiction?

"It's something I could see developing its own power in the '70s, and that's why I went, 'Stop'. It's very seductive. Now I feel like I've arrived at a comfortable place. What I do feels authentic, how the audience responds. I'm happy there."

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