University of Regina – The Carillon (Student Newspaper) – Friday, 16 Oct 1970
A Pink Think with the Floyd
On Sunday an apprehensive group of Carilloners, namely Warren Caragata, Keith Reynolds and Don Humphries journeyed to the Centre of the Arts to partake of the Pink Floyd Concert, and to interview the aforesaid group. Our thanks to CJME for procuring for us several complimentary tickets.
PS. Due to recording techniques it is often impossible to distinguish group members. An elipse (…) shows that another person is speaking.
The group consists of: Nick Mason: drums, Richard Wright: organ, Roger Waters: bass, Dave Gilmour: guitar
Steve O’Rourke: business agent
Sunday night, at 8:30, Pink Floyd gave one of the finest performances ever seen by this reviewer. It was held in the Centre of the Arts, and the brilliant acoustics of the hall heightened considerably the experience. They did two one-hour sets. The first set brought everyone to the edge of the cliff, the second pushed the audience over.
Pink Floyd’s music defies comparison. They are melodic Frank Zappas. They played with skill, they were precise, they were tight. To secure such effects, playing live, playing inventive music requires more than most girls can muster, Pink Floyd brought it off very well.
The highlights of the concert were Cymballyne [sic]; Be Careful with that Axe, Eugene; Atom Heart Mother; and Saucerful of Secrets.
By placing speakers all over the auditorium, and then adjusting the balance the music became a total environment, encompassing, piercing. It was impossible to remain detached as airplanes flew over your head, as someone walked across your lap. Involvement was the key to the show.
None of the members gave outstanding individual performances, but this seemed to be in keeping with the style. Pink Floyd is a group, not a bunch of power-tripping musicians who use the group to sell themselves. At no time did they allow themselves to impose themselves over the music. Nick Mason, the drummer, provides good, solid rhythmical support. Dave Gilmour, the guitarist was always there, but never grandstanding. The organist seemed to be the most proficient, and as well as handling rhythm chores, occasionally did lead work, and worked the tape system. The stage leader is is bassist, Roger Waters. He is a very good bass player, but their music is more reflective of Gilmour’s and Wright’s talent. Waters also played the gong and gave a very flashy performance on the cymbals and gong in Saucerful of Secrets, accompanied by organ and drums. Gilmour was coaxing some strange sounds from his guitar. He was sitting on it.
The group proved themselves both competent musicians, and outstanding musical innovators. The level of the show will not be surpassed in Regina for a long time.
End of sidebar.
Before the Concert: Carillon: First of all, do you have any personal biographies…?
PF (Steve): You mean where they were born, how old they are…?
C: Not necessarily that kind of shit… how long the group has been together, where it started?
PF: The group’s been together, where it started back together professionally for three years. The first album is titled “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, the second album is “Saucerful of Secrets,” third album was “More,” soundtrack to the film of the same name, the fourth album was “Ummagumma,” and the fifth album, which should be out by the end of the week is called “Atom Heart Mother.” The fifth one is interesting as it involves the use of a twenty-piece brass section. Three of them met at architects college, and at that time there was a guitar player called Syd Barrett, who left after the first album, and the group was joined by the present Dave Gilmoure.
C: Where are you from?
PF (Dave): I’m from Cambridge, Roger’s from Cambridge, and Nick and Rick are from London.
C: Where does the group headquarter from?
C: How long have you been on tour?
PF: A couple of weeks, two weeks… three weeks… three weeks on Tuesday.
C: Where did the tour take you?
PF: New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, and from here to Winnipeg, Salt Lake, San Fransisco.
C: What kind of things do you try and say through your music?
PF: Keep smiling… Peace… get together… and what… and what… and what… (and what echoed by all present)… I don’t think we actually have specific messages which we intend to broadcast… no, I don’t think so.
C: How do you find yourselves relating to the political things that are going on? The Revolution, The Alternative Culture?
PF: We related to them the same as anyone else does?
C: Well do you feel part of it, or what?
PF: You can’t generalize about it.
C: Do you sympathize with the aims?
PF (Nick Mason): Well, some revolutionaries in this country have been kidnapping British diplomats, and your politicians on the side, and I don’t understand a thing about it, at all, really, but if I was the English diplomat I’d be, well uptight, not to mention possibly dead, and, well I know nothing about that, but my emotional reaction is that I don’t go along with it.
C: So you’d say then that you don’t agree with violence as a means to change something that isn’t right?
PF (Nick): It’s an impossible question, because if you picked a specific goal… (Roger Waters) Yes, it is an impossible question because somebody could postulate the hypothesis at you, that, if you had been for instance, living in Paris during the German occupation, and some Gestapo man is about to blow your head off, because you were a Jew, and you happened to have a knife in your hand, and you had the chance to stick it in him, would you?… (Richard Wright) Well the question is of survival, isn’t it?… a lot of Americans in Vietnam… (Nick Mason) It’s very hard to say you know, we’re not a committed band, we’re not committed to a cause, because no one has stomped on us. But, (Roger Waters) they are stomping on lots of people terribly hard, and I don’t feel, myself, personally, in a position the actions that people take when they’re getting stomped on. Like the people, those guys in Chicago, they were getting pretty heavily stomped on, and they reacted to the whole thing pretty violently, and I was behind them one hundred percent. Because they’d have just sat quietly by and let the whole kind of cracked justice scene take its course, no-one would have taken any notice of it at all, and obviously that whole kind of completely phoney judicial set-up has been working in Chicago, for instance, for years and years and years, and nobody’s really taken notice of it, and now because people are reacting violently to it, it’s coming out, they would say anything they were told to “shut up.”
C: “Be Careful with that Axe, Eugene” formed part of the sound track of Zabriske [sic] Point, which was a film which came down rather hard on American society and, well, did you write that song with the film in mind, or what?
PF: We’ve been performing that song for years before Zabriske [sic] Point was ever made, but on the other hand, we were all quite happy to put that piece of music on that particular piece of film because we felt close, emotionally to what the film was saying.
C: Did you have any contact with Antonini during the film—
PF: Constantly. Sixteen hours a day. It was too much.
C: Was “Careful with that Axe, Eugene” the only piece of music you did for the film?
PF: We did the whole soundtrack. He only used three pieces. He didn’t like the rest of the stuff. He was afraid of Pink Floyd becoming part of the film, rather than it staying entirely Antonini. So we were quite upset when he used all these other things. I mean if he had used things which we found better… there were only two pieces of music in the film that we did, really, and the other piece of music we did, was like, any other group could have done, really. A direct imitation really of Byrds, Crosby, Still and Nash, or something.
C: Do you see yourselves as being shaped by any other groups?
PF: No, not really, no one in particular.
C: How did you get into the kinds of stuff you’re doing now? Did you just…?
PF: It was all a mistake. Really, there was no plan, we just did what seemed right at the time.
C: Are you pretty well rehearsed when you go on stage, or does it sort of just come?
PF: No, we’re pretty well rehearsed.
C: Do you use dope when you’re playing?
PF: Sometimes… usually, but not much.
C: Did any of your music evolve from the use of drugs?
PF: No. There is more alcohol consumed than dope before we go on stage. You see, because, when you’re high you can sit on your own, and play for hours and hours and hours, and if you put it on tape—if you come back to it when you are straight and it’s a load of shit. I think what really we do, is that we all like to get that little bit of relaxation from smoking a small amount. For myself, I like a small smoke before I play, it relaxes me. (Gilmour)
C: Do you usually play with back-up bands when you perform?
PF: No, we avoid back-up bands as much as we can, unless we’re absolutely forced to by circumstance, we don’t.
PF: Because we like to create our own atmosphere. We believe that music isn’t variety, if you see what I mean.
C: Does that mean you wouldn’t play festivals?
PF: Yeah, we do play for festivals, and if there’s some reason why a back-up band is requred—like everyone needs for four hours of music, or something, then sure, we’d work with back-up bands. What we are saying is if we have the choice our ideal presentation of our music is a concert hall rather than a cattle shed, or something, somewhere where people can listen and respond directly to the music, with no rubbish going on, sort of, no hot dog sellers, or beads, or people talking which is one of the disadvantages of a lot of places, just that everyone goes there to chat, and mutter, and scrumple papers, and also—if we play on our own we run much less risk of people who are there for some other reasons other than wanting to hear us play. This is the only reaons we’re there, is to play.
C: Have you ever run into conflict with your record company, where anything you wanted to put across has been repressed.
PF: No, people are always surprised—compared to most people we’ve got a pretty good scene with our record company, cause it’s a very big one in England, the biggest, and people imagine that it means it’s the most straight-laced, but in fact they’re so confused by what we do, and so totally aghast at every move we make that they’ve just given up and they just say “well we don’t know, you do it boys.” Whenever they’ve said this should, or shouldn’t be on, they’ve always been completely wrong, so they’ve just given up. They don’t know any more about what we’re about than we do.
C: You said that they don’t understand your music, yeah, well—in “Ummagumma”, there’s some things in there that I don’t—like the chick screaming.
PF: The chick screaming is a very beautiful chick, she’s very tall and thin and dresses in black, and she sits and drinks, and smokes ciagarettes, and her name is Roger Waters. [general laughter, embarrassment]”Ummagumma” was the thing that we had the most hassle with our record company about releasing, that was final time when we realized that they didn’t know anything, cause they didn’t believe in Ummagumma they didn’t believe it would sell at all. And they came out and sold better (400,000 to date) far better than anyone thought.
C: Can anyone else think of any questions? What do professional interviewers ask you?
PF: We had a big press conference once, years and years ago, when we were first starting at EMI House, in London, and everybody got drunk, and I think only one piece of copy came out of it, and it had no promotional value whatsoever. It didn’t mention the name of the group, or the record company. The true professionals ask questions they should be able to read off our biography, if we had one. Every interview I’ve ever seen has vanished in, generally, with a very glazed expression that people get when they’ve smoked a lot of dope—like you people’ve got, and their tape recorder breaks.
C: Have you ever thought of releasing something on the top 40 chart?
PF: If we come up with something we know is going to be a top single, we’ll issue it like a shot, but we’re not very good at it. I mean, we’ve had a few attempts at it, and for the last two years they’ve gone off very badly.
C: Did the group get off the ground, commercially, with the release of Ummagumma?
PF: No, the group originally got off the ground in England with a hit single. And we had one in the States as well. But we came back down. “Saucerful of Secrets” got us up again. Up, down, up.
C: What do you think of the Woodstock thing?
PF: Good question—one that all the professionals ask. It’s very good for everyone except for the musicians. Great for the Hell’s Angels, great for all the people that like camping out, great for anyone selling sandwiches and cigarettes, great for people who like to get together with another 200,000 long hairs, dope freaks.
C: Well one of the criticisms of festivals is that the price of bringing the group in is so fantastically high that the ticket prices are outrageous.
PF: No—most of that is put about by festival organizers who make up totaly, fictional figures that they’ve made. They usually fix their prices first. They know what their gross is liable to be, how many people, etc. then all the groups charge accordingly. [laughter] No, that’s not true. I guess most of them work out what their figures are and reckon to spend 10% on groups. That’s the sort of margin they’d like to work to. But the groups come on very strong. I mean, I need a lot of money to go through that sort of aggravation that a festival provides. It’s absurd, really, it bears no relation to the performance of music, it’s for people who are built like hickory-logs, or whatever it is that Canadians are built of. It’s for lumberjacks and grizzly bears and people with stamina, but not for people like me. It’s really for creatures of the wild. Three days exposed to volumes of wind and rain. I think they should advertise and say, “this is the greatest experience since the first world war.” You can’t pretend that music has anything to do with it, because the equipment never functions after 12 hours of playing.
C: What kind of reception did you get in Saskatoon?
PF: They just sat there—we played some good stuff, and the acoustics were brilliant. Calgary and Vancouver were good. Edmonton was really nice.
C: Groups playing in Regina have a bad habit of falling on their faces. 800 people came to see the Vanilla Fudge.
PF: It’s too bad, really. The Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer, and Grand Funk are really underrated. I think they’re really good.
C: Do you have any personal relationships with any other groups?
PF: Yeah, but us, and King Crimson and the Moody Blues all kind of work on the outside, if you know what I mean.
C: In the Ummagumma cut: “Several species of small furry animals gather together in a cave and grooving with a pic”—what is the voice thing, and just what exactly was the point of the whole thing?
PF: It’s not actually anything, it’s a bit of concrete poetry. Those were sounds that I (Roger Waters) made, the voice and the hand slapping were all human generated—no musical instruments.
C: Then you were really not out after any concrete though. You’re just out to get into someone’s head?
PF: And just push him about a bit, nothing deliberate, not a deliberate blow on the nose, just to sort of mess him around a bit.