Gilmour chat interview
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 - http://www.pinkfloydfan.ne 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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
with Pink Floyd
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
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
MQ: Did you tour on
DG: Not for a very
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,
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
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
DG: That's probably
a bit of an exaggeration. It's probably worth about thirty thousand
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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
DG: Thirty thousand
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.
just another brick in the wall
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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.
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.
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
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."