We had the pleasure of speaking to former Pink Floyd backing vocalist Machan Taylor. She spoke about her time with the band on the road in 1987-1988 on the A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour, also speaks in depth about her love for being a certified vocologist and gives us insight into current and future projects! Machan is a really lovely and talented individual it was such a pleasure to speak with her, we hope you enjoy!
AFG: Hi Machan, thank you for taking the time to do this interview we really appreciate it!
MT: Oh sure! My pleasure!
AFG: Great! Let’s jump right into it.
We know its been said how you originally got in touch with David and Pink Floyd through Buford Jones’ recommendation but what was the time window from when you met David until you started to prepare to go out on tour? How long did you have to prepare? Or did you prepare when the tour was about to start?
MT: Oh you know I don’t remember exactly, I think it was really the summer of ’87 because the rehearsal started in August or so in 1987 in Toronto. So, we were in an airplane hanger in Toronto for about a month. From my recollection it was really just a couple months before, maybe not even before that time period that I met David in studio in Los Angeles, and then I prepped to go on the road and travel to Toronto and then straight out on tour. So it wasn’t that long of a time actually in between I don’t think.
AFG: You mentioned Toronto, there is quite a famous recording available of the rehearsals. Do you have any recollection of those being filmed?
MT: You know I seen some things online I don’t know if those are actually official recordings or videos I’m not really sure who put those out that i’ve seen on YouTube. Those were really private rehearsals, they really tried to keep those rehearsals under wraps because we were there for such a long time. I don’t really know who put those out but it’s really interesting.
AFG: Did you meet Nick and Rick around the time you met David or did you meet them later on?
MT: I met the rest of the band and the crew and everybody when we arrived in Toronto. So, during that initial meeting It was just David.
AFG: Now let’s fast forward you’re doing this show with Gov’t Mule ‘The Dark Side Of The Mule Tour’ do you prepare for that the same way you did when you sang with Pink Floyd? Or do you add your own spin on the music since Gov’t Mule do not play the Pink Floyd material too close to the record, they more or less do their own thing.
MT: Exactly yeah, I think the way Gov’t Mule looks at it its really their interpretation of the material. I mean its still pretty close to the arrangements, you know Warren Haynes is such a great guitar player in his own right and a great singer as well he does his thing with it and the band kind of pays honor and homage to the original pieces but they don’t karaoke the original songs or arrangements, which I think is really cool. So as far as the preparation we really are only going to have two days of a full band rehearsal, of course the tech guys and crew and everybody have been preparing for these shows because it is an unusual Gov’t Mule show, there’s a lot more lights, and lasers and more production value. But as far as the musical side of it everybody is kind of doing their own preparation in their own time and then we’re just going to have two full day rehearsals next week and take off from there. It’s pretty fly by the seat of your pants but everybody comes in prepared.
AFG: What can people expect from this Gov’t Mule show? Is it entirely Pink Floyd material?
MT: The way they are setting it up is Jason Bonham (son of John Bonham) is opening with his own band, so its a pretty heavy rock show! As far as I understand Mule is going to do a short set of their own, and then we’re going to come out and do the Floyd set. So it’s an incredibly full night of music for the audience.
AFG: Do you have an affection towards the ‘Momentary Lapse’ songs or do you enjoy singing the ‘Dark Side’ songs since those are fairly heavy with the BV’s? With the key song being The Great Gig In The Sky.
MT: Yeah exactly, for a vocalist The Great Gig In The Sky is the crème de la crème piece of that record and also I think in general in terms of the Floyd history that particular piece is really such a vocal masterpiece. The original singer Clare Torry, who did that as you know as a session singer who came in and just improvised that piece. It’s really an amazing accomplishment to me.
As you may know the story, fast forward from that time of the original recording many years later Clare was rightfully given credit for that melody and was eventually credited as a co-writer. In which she absolutely should have! That melody was created from her part, its an iconic piece. So it’s an honor to sing it. For me having done this piece so many times now — not only on the AMLOR tour but I have either sung parts of it or the entirety with some different bands that I’ve in recent years guest appeared with.
I’ve done some shows in Italy and South America with some various PF tribute bands. So I have sung that piece a number times now, so I’m going to get a chance to sing part of it again. There’s another vocalist that’s on the gig her name is Sophia Ramos and she’s a New York singer, a fantastic vocalist she is going to be singing the first part and we’re actually working on singing the second part sort of together. I’m going to be doing most of that second part and the last part that I did on the AMLOR tour.
It’s fun to play around with it and do our own thing but I do feel a tremendous amount of respect for the original and for Clare Torry. In my opinion no one has ever sung it as well as she has.
AFG: We know you’re a 20+ year vocal teacher, that’s amazing!
MT: Yeah I have been teaching for quite some time now, and its honestly a career I never imagined myself doing. It really kind of came at a time when I was ready to get off the road. I had just finished touring with Sting in 1999 on The Brand New Day Tour and when I got back from that there was a Screen Actors Guild strike and funnily enough there is one happening now. Its kind of wild! So when that was happening when I got back to New York there was no session work happening for commercials or anything because of the strike and I’m a union member. So I couldn’t work in the city and at that very moment I was thinking well I’m not interested in going back on the road so I need to find some work!
It had been in the back of my mind for some time about the possibility of trying teaching. So I took out an ad in the Village Voice paper which at that time was a very big downtown NYC paper, an arts paper which is a very left of center cutting-edge funky paper about the arts and other really cool things happening in the city. They had a classified section, so I put an ad in the Village Voice marketing myself as a voice teacher and my availability and I started attracted students. It just took off from there. I discovered that I really enjoy teaching and I enjoy working with people one on one in that way. I started building a teaching practice and fast forward a number of years later I decided to go back to school and because of the fact I didn’t go to college when I was 17-18 when I could have, since I was already a professional singer at that time.
I had to go back to school, I got my bachelors degree and I was able to do an accelerated program through the State University of New York. I got my bachelors degree in basically two and a half years and I did my Master’s at NYU. ‘SUNY’ has a great program which a lot of universities have now where they give life credits, so credits for life experience and it does require a lot of work. You have to write a lot of papers and put together a portfolio that exemplifies and demonstrates the knowledge you think you have that is credible towards the degrees. I was very fortunate that I was able to do my undergrad studies in an accelerated program. So that saved some time, especially in my fifties so that was quite a challenge! (Laughing)
AFG: Do your students know you toured with the biggest rock ‘n roll band in history? Some would say that is The Beatles but we’re biased here.
MT: (Laughing) Well I’m not old enough to have toured with The Beatles I’m happy to say. But yeah of course my students know because they read my resume and read my bio, which is part of my information page at the universities I teach at. You know its a different generation so perhaps some of them are not very impressed you know because I didn’t tour with Beyonce or someone like that who is current. I do feel like a lot of my students do respect the fact that I am coming from a background of experience and that I am still occasionally working as a singer. I think they do respect that.
Hopefully that helps me be a better teacher, that I do understand what it’s like to be on the road and be singing in a very demanding working situation. When you’re on the road doing 4-5 shows in a row and you’re traveling in between its very tiring and exhausting for the voice so you really have to know how to take care of your voice and take care of your body in order to sustain the grueling schedule.
AFG: That was a very long tour, we can only imagine you had to be very strict with yourself!
MT: Well, I will say that it is very different touring with Pink Floyd in 1987-88 compared to now simply because my age (Laughing) It helps to be in your twenties, it helps to be young! As you get older your body changes, your stamina changes and everything changes. I know better of what I can handle and can’t handle, so I have to be a little bit more conscientious now. You know i’m not on the road now partying my brains out like I might have been in my twenties! (Laughing)
AFG: We have heard it was one big party for a few years.
MT: It was! It really was! and it was a blast! It was a great time. But I couldn’t do that now (Laughing) I did go and see David in 2016 at Madison Square Garden and it was great, it was wonderful to see him and say hello again. Im kind of sad he’s not going tour again ever
with Pink Floyd. I feel pretty clear it’s not going to happen.
AFG: Never say never. But yes, sadly without Rick we can safely assume Pink Floyd will not continue.
MT: Yeah you know David toured for a very long time, he doesn’t have to do that anymore. He’s got a big family and a lot of kids and a big family to think about. I think he’s just done. Selfishly speaking I would love to have one more round with him, one more tour would be a blast with him. I adore him and would love another opportunity to work with him again.
AFG: We would love to see you back with David! Never say never.
MT: Yes you never know, life can change!
AFG: Pink Floyd have proven they are a timeless band with an all ages fanbase, it must be really gratifying to be a part of something that has this long lasting effect on multiple generations?
MT: You know it’s interesting how at this time in my life I have really come to realize how incredible it is for me to have that history with Pink Floyd and to be associated with them. At that time in my twenties and even a few years after that I really didn’t appreciate the value and the significance of having been a part of their history. Even though the tour I did was without Roger, it was the first tour you know as David, Nick and Rick went out without Roger and in fact at that time they were in the middle of a nasty lawsuit. Even though I wasn’t part of that earlier phase of Pink Floyd with Roger its still very significant I was part of what they’re calling the ‘Later Years’ of Pink Floyd.
When I look back now I would have had the opportunity to continue with the band — because I did get a call to do Venice and unfortunately for me I had already signed a contract to work with Hiroshima in Los Angeles. They grabbed me right after the AMLOR tour finished. I signed a contract to work with them, so I was obligated to work with them. When I look back now I wish that I had made a different decision and I wish I had continued going forward with the Floyd. But you can’t rewrite history, can’t go back in time.
AFG: Well we don’t think anyone knew what life was going to be like after that massive tour. So securing more work for yourself was probably the right thing to do regardless.
MT: Yeah, I was just thinking what’s the next job. You know I had the opportunity to be a lead singer, even though it was a completely different musical situation. They had a deal with Epic Records and I thought well maybe this will be a good career move and honestly I wish I had not done it looking back now. In no point in regretting my decision it would have been fun to continue with Floyd going forward.
AFG: We know you work with Pink’s One tribute band in Sicily.
MT: Yeah! You know it’s interesting there is so many Pink Floyd tribute bands in Italy. For whatever reason these Italians have an incredible love for Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd music so there a lot of Pink Floyd tribute bands in Italy. In fact, Durga (McBroom) lives in Rome part of the time, she has basically made a career of singing with a lot of these tribute bands all over the world. She has a place in Rome where she lives part time and makes a decent living working with different tribute bands.
Pink’s One is based out of Sicily and doing work with them is something I never imagined myself doing. But I love Italy, I love traveling there and the food, the culture and the people. When I originally went there I think.. If I’m recalling it was 2014? and they sent a cold email through Facebook, they asked me a number of times if I would come sing with them. I thought it was kind of crazy as I didn’t know who they were! So I declined the offer a few times but they kept messaging me and I finally just said “okay this is what I need and here’s the deal” and they came back and said “ok! we are going to send you a ticket!” at that point it was like “uh-oh what did I get myself into?”
My husband thought I was crazy because I had no idea who these people were.
But, I felt okay about it and I went and I had the most fabulous time. They are the nicest people and they treat me like a queen and i’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences with them. Then the last couple of times I have gone Scott Page and Gary Wallis have also been on these shows so its been wonderful to reconnect with Scott and with Gary these last few times. Its really been such a blast! Actually, in September I’m going to sing with a couple other Italian bands this time in the north of Italy. So that will be interesting, I will be working with a couple of different bands.
AFG: Pink Floyd related?
MT: Yeah, they’re Pink Floyd tribute bands. You know there’s going to be a time in the not too distant future that I’m just not going to do it anymore. I sang with the real Pink Floyd and working with tribute bands its not a career decision for me. It’s not something I want to keep doing but I’m doing it now right at this moment because its fun, and its making me some extra money and I love Italy, and the people are really lovely. it’s just fun for the moment. There will be a time where I’m not going to want to do it, i‘m just not interested in making it a career move. My teaching life demands a lot of time and energy and when that schedule is happening from September to May during the school year it’s difficult for me to get away. But I have agreed to do a couple shows in September.
AFG: Are there any plans to be part of future Gov’t Mule shows? We know they’ve announced more shows after these Dark Side Of The Mule shows.
MT: No I’m just doing The Dark Side Of The Mule, the band tours quite a bit. Aside from COVID, normally they do tour half a year or so. That’s a normal schedule for them, so after the Dark Side shows they will be doing their own thing and back to their own music. They have a new record out, so they will be promoting the new record after these Dark Side shows and they will be going to Europe and then touring around the States some more. Then they just announced Jamaica which is in January and they do that every year but I will not be on those shows..Its a boys club! (Laughing)
They do hire me for special events and special occasions. Sometimes they hire singers for some of the Beacon Theater shows for New Years when they do some special themed shows. So i’m grateful to work with them on occasion so this Dark Side Of The Mule Tour will be just one month long then it will be back to normal.
AFG: We know your husband is in the band, do you guys sightsee together and are able to go out and enjoy the time off on tour?
MT: Well, you know the way this schedule is it’s a pretty intense schedule so there’s probably not going to be a lot of sightseeing or time to chill. There are some days off but those are going to be rest days for sure. Also Gov’t Mule has some shows in between these Dark Side shows on the Outlaw Music Festival. So they are cramming in a lot of work in this next month. They’re a really hardworking band!
AFG: What does the future have in store for you Machan? You mentioned Italy in September..
MT: Yeah I’m doing those in September and also, this is kind of an exclusive announcement here I just signed a publishing deal and I’m working on a book! So that is going to be a very big project for me to finish. So after this tour with Mule and my teaching schedule starts again in September, so in between my teaching schedule and trying to get this book done its going to be a lot of work between now and hopefully by the end of the year I will be able to finish this book. Its a memoir but its going to include me not only talking about my career history, its going to include me talking about my life as a Japanese American growing up in this country and how that intertwines with my career and lots of different things. Its going to be what im terming a “braided memoir.” Its going to have some different levels to the stories. So I hope people will enjoy it, this is my first endeavor as a writer, its a little bit frightening and scary but its also very exciting!
AFG: Well of course when its announced we would love to give one away! In the meantime everyone will have to watch out for the news of its release.
MT: Oh that would be so sweet, thank you!
AFG: We feel there’s a reinvigorated love for The Delicate Sound Of Thunder film now since it has been restored and re-edited into a proper concert film. Fans are able to appreciate it more now, do you feel that it was long overdue?
MT: Yeah, its pretty spectacular that they shot that on film. You know if COVID had not happened their original plan was to release that theatrically! Its so sad that COVID got in the way of it going to movie theaters!
AFG: We would have been there!
MT: Me too! (Laughing)
AFG: Well, there’s always 2027…
MT: 2027, what anniversary is that? 40 years holy shit! (Laughing) oh my god… that’s frightening! Time goes so fast, so enjoy your life!
AFG: Well Machan, thank you for doing this interview, we are excited to hear more music from you, and excited for your memoir! Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you its been an absolute pleasure!
MT: Oh no thank you! Thank you for having me.
You can follow Machan at the links below:
Facebook, Instagram and http://www.machantaylor.com
and catch her this month with Gov’t Mule on The Dark Side Of The Mule Tour which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s classic album The Dark Side Of The Moon. Click here for dates and tickets.
Lots of love and respect,