With Peter Van Dyck (for Weekend Knack – Belgium)
“The Wall” has “communication problems” as a theme. Wasn’t it cynical to make the album while there were communication problems in the group?
DG: It is right that Rick was fired. Nevertheless, there were no further internal problems. The professional relation between Roger and me was OK during “The Wall”. We discussed a lot, yeah. However, that worked rather stimulating. The real problems came later, with the film. We went through a hell then. It was after this that we alienated.
It is weird that Roger is more negative about the sphere wherein The Wall was made.
DG: We see it different, that’s right (laughs). I don’t think he’s embittered about the circumstances wherein we made The Wall. He doesn’t like the album to be seen as a group album. He thinks it’s his album. His eructations are a consequence of our decision to continue Pink Floyd after he lefted, I think.
Was it hard to push your songs into “his” album?
I did not try to let him accept those songs. Our producer, Bob Ezrin, was the mediator. He listened to my demos and picked out some songs. He asked the other what they thought about it, and they were enthousiastic. Roger did not have hard feelings about it. He did serious efforts to write a suiting text on it and put it in the album.
But roger took the initiative. Although his concept had been worked out when he proposed it to us, I saw some incompleteness. I do understand why he saw it as his album, but I want to say that I turned it into a Pink Floyd-album.
Your song “Comfortably Numb” turned out to be one of the pearls of the album and a highlight of the performances.
It was a dramatical moment in the live-show. It was an enormous kick being there, on top of the wall, high above the stage and the audience, playing the guitar solo.
After the collapse of the relation with Roger, it took three years before you continued with the other Pink Floyd members. Did you doubt whether you could continue without him?
I had no doubts, no. “The Final Cut” had been a terror. Roger said to me to stop the band. I immediately said to him that I would continue making Pink Floyd-albums, with or without him. I was resolute. But ” a momentary lapse of reason” was hard to do. There were some moments when I thought: “What did I start now? We’ll never get it to a good end.” You constantly ask yourself questions. Insureness is human.
But did Pink Floyd change since then?
Yes, of course. Roger had a straight focus. But was it better in that time? I think that what we made since A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, is as good as the rest.
It is quiet now around Pink Floyd.
I don’t know what the future will bring. I lead my own life. I will record another album soon, but I don’t know whether it will be with Pink Floyd or solo.
Does it depend on the material? Whether it is fitting for Pink Floyd or not?
No, no. No matter what good songs can be the base of a Pink Floyd-album. Much depends on Rick and Nick. But I will have to push them. They won’t move themselves. I’m leading Pink Floyd now. I take the decisions. But my life is not longer only the group. I am busy enough without Pink Floyd
You have to lead, but you’re not a born leader, like Roger
No, that’s true. Although I was the leader in four groups before Pink Floyd. Roger had a natural authority. I have to say that my ambition decreases with the years. The older you get, the less you want yourself to be seen. It has much to do about maturity. There are more important things in life to show yourself and lead a band. My family and friends are as essential as the music.
Life and work are more in balance?
Right! I don’t think at a career. When you’re young and full of fire, you want success. everything has to move for that. If you want to do it good, it asks all your energy. You invest not enough time in your relations. Most of the people – but there are exceptions – grow out of that want a better balance at a higher age. Now I’m 53, and I don’t have the same drive anymore.
You also have the financial space to live on your private means. and that’s a good reason to be more quiet.
I was frightened when I read that you were almost bankrupt at the start of The Wall. But with “Wish you were here” and “the dark side of the moon”, you did break all sale records. How is that possible?
It was our own fault. Pure stupidity. We let others take care of our money.
The all-time story
Yes! But we thought we handled our money with care. We had everything under control, didn’t we? The financial experts we appointed, made a mess of our administration, and the British tax wanted us to be caught. If we didn’t take action right on time, we would have been bankrupt. But everyone makes mistakes.
Do you think the contents of The Wall still exist?
Communication problems are still a problem in our society. I think that problem is even more actual than ever. Other aspects of The Wall never really attracted me. Roger struggled with the problem between him and the public. I never felt it that way. I think most fans understood us.
When Roger proposed The wall to the band, Ricks first reaction was: “Oh no, it is not about the war and his father again, is it?” I don’t know where he got that. I didn’t make a investigation about roger’s fixations, but in The Dark Side Of The Moon, Animals and Wish You Were Here, I don’t see many references to the loss of his father in the war. But Roger had many obsessions, yes
Do you think obsession is a good inspiration source?
Yes, of course. Because there are strong feelings you can express in the music. Artists are unbalanced.
You seem another kind of songwriter to me. You don’t write songs because of extreme feelings, I think.
I see myself in the first place as a musician. I can tell more with my guitar than with writing. My emotions express better in my music.
What’s the best Pink Floyd-album, you think?
The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, textual and musical. I like some parts from The Wall. The Division Bell from ’94 is very good too.
What is Pink Floyd for you?
Quality and artisticality
You are perfectionists, admit it.
No, no, I don’t want to have perfection. On every Pink Floyd album, there are mistakes. That’s why every album has a heart. If you want to be perfect, the soul is lost.
But the liveshows are very well considered. You are not the most spontaneous group in the world.
That’s right. Our shows are very well considered. But you can, within this strong structure, keep a certain spontaneity. In this computer-era, it is very simple to, for example, change the order of the songs. When we toured for the Dark Side Of the Moon and Wish You Were Here, we had to follow the playlist and the scenario securely. We play in big areas in front of a huge audience. Control is needed. But the playing stays natural.
The Wall should have been, technically, very very hard to do.
The theatrical part was almost even important as the music. It was a difficult puzzle, but due to that, it gave a big satisfaction. It was hard, but I enjoyed it. But I wouldn’t want to do it my whole life.
The contrast should have been big when you performed with Paul McCartney et the Cavern, a little club in Liverpool
That was extraordinary. Great fun! It was turning back the time. Back to the roots. The nice part was that I didn’t have to care for anything. Just Play! After the gig, I returned home with an empty head. Careless. You didn’t have to create a décor, didn’t have to take responsibility…When you undertake something as Pink Floyd, you have a huge load behind you. It is nice to connect your wagon to somebody’s locomotive. But I wouldn’t want to perform at those clubs all the time. the same for Paul. The idea of restarting with a small rock group doesn’t attract me. A tree grows up, not down.
Am I talking to an ambitious man?
I want to touch people with my music, that’s my purpose. I have other ambitions now. Raise my children towards happy people, for example.
And does that work?
I can’t say that on this moment. But my input is big. I think it’s harder to be a good father than to be a god musician. Do you have children?
It’s fantastic, isn’t it? But not easy. The youngest is two, the eldest 23..
would you like it if they continue like you?
Yes, that would be great. But if they ever want to be a professional musician, it will not be easy for them. They will be “the sons of David Gilmour”. Perseverance will be, especially in their case, indispensable to make it in the music business.
Which advice would you like to give them?
Hire a good lawyer. Follow your heart. Do what you want and don’t let the record companies fool you. Fresh ideas come from people, not from companies.
Do you experience still meddlesomeness?
I thought you wouldn’t have that in a succesgroup like Pink Floyd
No, record companies always know it better than us.
But you don’t have to listen
I listen until they are finished, and then I say: “F*ck off!”
With thanks to Dieter VANMARCKE email@example.com Who translated the text from Dutch to English. Dieter was only 16, with just 2 years of English behind him.