All The Wright Answers from Pink Floyd’s Keyboardist 1996
Interviewed : Rick Wright
Q: Dear Rick, I first want to take this opportunity to thank you for your outstanding contribution to the greatest band in the world, and as well for your excellent new album Broken China, which think is a masterpiece.
Throughout your career with Pink Floyd, and on Broken China, your taste towards music has been conceptual – one that flows together and that conveys a collective tone that is very evident. What is it that attracts you to ‘complete’ albums such as Wish You Were Here, The Division Bell and Broken China?
RW: I think really the question is also the answer because it is true, that’s how I like to write. Certainly on Broken China that was how I wrote. Funny enough you mentioned Division Bell though we originally intended it to be a conceptual album, I wanted it really be conceptual, but in the end there were connected songs and some were not related to one another. I did Broken China because I personally feel that’s the best way I can work and I am very interested in how you can connect music with words and feelings and visuals.
Q: I think Mr. Wright’s keyboard work during the early Floyd years was one of the most distinctive elements of the band’s sound, and definitely a key to the band’s success. Who were the influences on this keyboard style in the beginning?
RW: That is interesting. I would have to say, not necessarily keyboard players actually influenced my sound. For example, I can give you a good example, one of the people I was very influenced by was Miles Davis, the trumpeter and his style of playing the trumpet certainly influenced the way I played the keyboards and also Bill Evans. Simply look at Jazz and that has influenced my way of playing the keyboard.
Q: “Paint Box” and “Remember A Day” are two of my favorite songs off the “Relics” LP (and now CD). The lyrics are very evocative of 1) a long night out at a club and 2) of childhood, and the music is very effective as well. I have always been surprised (and disappointed) that more Wright songs didn’t directly follow these. Why not?
RW: “Paint Box” and “Remember A Day” were done soon after Sid left and we still hadn’t established the way the band was going to work. Sid, I am sad to say, was no longer capable of working so it came down to Roger, Dave and myself writing songs and I think it came later that we started writing songs together. For example, “Echoes” was where we discovered the best music we created at the time was when all three us of got together and collaborated rather than individually coming to the studio with a song.
Q: Why is the song called “Paint Box”?
RW: No idea.
Q: Did the “Division Bell” album give you the confidence to take a more dominant singing role? Your voice sounds as good as it did in the early days, do you think you may tour? Thanks.
RW: I think we can get back to “Remember A Day”, “See Saw” and “Paint Box” – at that time of course, I tried to sing my songs, Roger tried to sing his and then Dave joined the band and Dave clearly had the best lead vocals voice at that time so then Roger and I basically stopped singing the local vocals and became backup singers and harmony voices. And I was never that confident with my voice and I think it is true to say on “Division Bell” I was very nervous about going in to sing the song but I actually was quite pleased with the way it sounded. That gave me confidence too when we moved on to “Broken China” where I actually spent a lot a time experimenting with my voice and finding a way that I felt comfortable singing, and I felt I did. So I spent a long time trying to discover singing on this album – being such a personal album, there is no way I could ask anyone else to sing the particular songs except of course for Sinead (O’.Connor) who sang two songs I had written. Re: Second part of question “touring the album.” I can’t say yes, but all I can say is I would like to, and hopefully there will come time that I could tour with this record.
Q: We hear of “leftover” songs from the “Division Bell” sessions. Did you help to write any of the leftovers, and were any of them used as part of “Broken China”?
RW: There were certainly leftovers. For example on “Division Bell”, we started of with Dave and I literally jamming in the studio and I’d say we had up to about 40 different pieces of music. So there is a lot of material left over from “Division Bell” some of which is mine, some of which is mine and Dave’s and some of which is Dave’s and I’m sure Dave and I will go through all those things again for the next Pink Floyd album. None of these have been used on “Broken China” because I wanted consciously to get away from what I was trying to write for “Division Bell”, but of course, now I am in a position where I have about 30 or 40 pieces of music that I didn’t use for “Broken China” but I have to say it is all musical ideas and not songs.
Q: I am curious to know if the new solo record “Broken China” is a departure from the material on previous Pink Floyd records. Would I like it, being a Pink Floyd fan?
RW: Obviously, it’s material that I write alone without Dave’s influence or input and therefore it is not material written for Pink Floyd. However, certainly with my experience and having spoken with quite a few Pink Floyd fans over the years, I hope that they do like it.
Q: I really enjoy your solo albums (“Wet Dreams” and “Broken China”), and I was wondering if you were planning on recording another anytime in the near future?
RW: Yes, I got a great deal of satisfaction recording Broken China and confidence too in my singing. I really enjoyed doing it and I am certainly planning on recording another album next year with Anthony Moore and of course, the next Pink Floyd album whenever that might be.
Q: Hi Rick, if this latest work is any indication, you have the creative forces working in your favor. Are you going to be touring with “Broken China” or will you include some of these tunes in a possible Pink Floyd tour?
RW: There are no current plans to tour with Broken China, I think if the opportunity arose I would certainly like to tour Broken China and again, think some of the music from Broken China could be possibly played on a Pink Floyd tour but that is something, Dave, Nick and myself would have to discuss, but there are certain songs on Broken China that I would like to perform with Pink Floyd and that we would have to wait and see.
Q: Rick, I would like to know if you and Dave Gilmour have discussed plans for any future Pink Floyd projects. Obviously, Pink Floyd have nothing further to ‘prove’ – they took care of that a long time ago. What do you envision as the future of Pink Floyd? Would you be content if “Division Bell” was the final Floyd collaborative effort or would you like to do another?
RW: There has been no formal discussions, but I have a feeling that Dave is ready to do another album. We don’t have anything prove, but we still enjoy creating albums, we still enjoy going out on the road, I certainly do, so the future of Pink Floyd I think pretty soon will be recording the next album and out of that a tour would happen. I would not be content that the Division Bell was the final Floyd effort. I would like to see it carry on.
Q: Rick, there were rumors on the Internet recently that Pink Floyd would reunite with Roger Waters for a tour. Has there ever been any talk amongst the band of this?
RW: No, the rumors are not true and there is no talk amongst the band for Roger Waters to rejoin the band.
Q: With the amount of attention given to Pink Floyd frontmen through the years (Syd Barrett, Roger Waters, David Gilmour) do you feel that you have been a neglected member of the band (both by the media and the aforementioned frontmen).
RW: Possibly and partially reasons for that is that I never felt comfortable doing interviews so much. It is a hard one to answer. The band as you know tended to be private and not promote themselves. I don’t feel neglected but I feel that you shouldn’t believe everything you read.
Q: In an article on you in Record Collector magazine, the author mentions at the end that you wrote a song called “Two Of A Kind” that appeared on a Syd Barrett radio session for the John Peel show. But on my copy of that EP, Barrett is given sole writing credit. Could you please clear this up?
RW: Can’t answer, I am looking into this.
Q: How do you think the post-Waters era of Pink Floyd compare (musically) with the earlier years.
RW: Difficult to say. In terms of relationships within the band, I would have to be honest and say it compares favorably well, because Roger was very difficult to work with at the end and that is why I left. I leave it up to our fans to judge the music.
Q: Aside from your awesome recordings, what is the music you most like to listen to?
RW: Anything that is good.
Q: How did you feel about Roger’s departure, and do you still keep in contact. From what I’ve read the dispute was more aimed between Dave and Roger but yours and Nick’s statements were never published anywhere I’ve ever looked. And by the way, where is Syd Barrett?????????
RW: I wasn’t around when Roger left the band because I had already left the band after The Wall. All I can say is I wasn’t surprised that, having caused the problem between myself and him, there were then problems with Dave and Nick. And I actually made a decision not to talk about Roger leaving the band. I was not involved in it and certainly when Roger tried to stop the band carrying on working.
Syd Barrett is living in Cambridge, I believe he’s happy but it’s a tragedy that he will not be coming back to play music. It very sad.
Q: I’ve always thought that John Cale’s musical style was as significant as your own. Have you ever given any thought to collaborating with Cale in any future projects? Have you met John Cale or are familiar with his solo efforts?
RW: I’m familiar with his music, but I have never met him and I have never given any thought to collaborating with him.
Q: Rick, when you tour again with Pink Floyd, is there any chance that we could hear some of the classical music? I.E.: “Childhood’s End”, “Wot’s…Uh”, “The Deal”, “Burning Bridges”, “Careful With That Axe”, “Eugene”, “Cymbaline”, “Green Is The Color”, “A Saucerful of Secrets”, “Atom Heart Mother”, and (of course) “Echoes”? How come we never hear any of those wonderful jams of times past? I can recall hearing a 24-minute recording of Embryo and a 15-minute version of Any Color You Like that was wonderful. Any chance of this occurring?
RW: I know, I love this music that you mentioned and it is extremely popular with lots of our fans. Echoes is actually interesting because we did play it, not on this tour, but on the tour before and we got a great response. I actually like Echoes, but I think Dave felt uncomfortable about the lyrics and you have to understand we do this music but we must carry on and we have so much more that we want to perform live, but remember we did record Dark Side Of The Moon in its entirety on the last tour.
Q: Hi Rick, How are the wife and kids? Exactly what kind of boat do you have and are you going to take it for a spin at Christmas time? And now, the really BIG question: Can you use it to fish off ????? And you may well ask, “Why a question like THIS!” And I’ll tell you: it’s to offset all of the testosterone ridden, anal retentive questions that you were most likely expecting!
RW: A nice question. I have two grown up children and with my new wife we have a baby son who is 7 months old and it is wonderful and we are all really happy about that. My boat is a sailing yacht which is 65 feet long and I am intending to go to the Virgin Islands at Christmas time so you seem to know what I am up to. Yes, you can fish off it.
I just got to the bottom of your question and I was going to say what you just said, it is rather nice for someone to send this question in after all the other ones. Well thank you. I just want to say sailing is my therapy and it releases all the pressures that one does get in this business and I intend to be on the boat this Christmas and fish.
Q: Does Rick miss the psychedelic days when his live performances could be more spontaneous? Does he feel that the freedom better suited his playing style?
RW: I don’t miss those days, but I have to say they were very important simply because of the fact that the band was just starting out and through those spontaneous performances and improvisation it probably did develop my style of play. In terms of freedom, I still have the freedom and so does Pink Floyd and particularly when we come to compose the songs.
Q: Does Rick have an Internet account, and does he actively participate in the Internet age?
RW: I have not participated in it very much. But I have to say one of the interesting things was while recording “Broken China”, when Anthony wasn’t able to be with me in France in my studio, I would download midi information via the Internet to Anthony in London, he would then download into his computer and would edit or arrange it, etc, etc, and then send it back to me. It was a very useful process in making the album.
[ You can access Rick Wright’s EMI Records site at: ] www.emirecords.co.uk/rickwright/)
Q: Is Rick familiar with the existence of the Echoes mailing list – considered by many to be the best forum for intelligent Pink Floyd discussions anywhere?
RW: No I am not familiar with the Echoes mailing list – but it is something I am looking forward to in the future.
Q: Why has Rick decided not to go on tour to support “Broken China?”
RW: The reason was because I started working with Floyd in January 1993 on recording “The Division Bell” and then the tour and then went straight into this album. I did not have any time really to consider touring with the album, but on the other hand having finished the album, I would very much in the future like to perform the album live.
Q: When “Broken China” was still in the demo stage, had Rick considered making it into a Pink Floyd album instead of going solo?
RW: There was no time when I was recording “Broken China,” even in the demo stage, that I would have made it into a Pink Floyd album. This was a period of time when I had a chance to do my solo album when Pink Floyd was taking a rest and also it was a very personal story and it wasn’t something I could expect Dave or Nick to make into a Pink Floyd album.
Q: What is Rick’s favorite Pink Floyd album?
RW: If I am forced to name an album it is “Wish You Were Here”
Q: It must be difficult having to contend with so many Pink Floyd question in the midst of interviews about your solo works. You should know that a lot of die-hard Pink Floyd fans appreciate your solo works, and many really like Wet Dreams. Will your future works contain the same kind of laid-back jazzy, dreamy style? And are you surprised to hear that Wet Dream is so popular?
RW: You have to remember that Wet Dreams was done back in 1978 so we are talking nearly 20 years ago and it is something that was important for me at the time. Looking back I could see now how I could of made it better as far as the laid-back jazzy style goes – I have to say every time I do an album I’m not quite sure the music is going to come out but I do appreciate that a lot of people do like Wet Dreams.
Q: What are your fondest memories of the UFO and Roadhouse days in London?
RW: Many fond memories of UFO and Roadhouse . Probably because the band was just starting out, and it was only in those days – playing music which the record companies could not understand – that we had the freedom to do that and we also had a very loyal following. I have very fond memories.
Q: Quotation marks are used around one lyric in “Woman of Custom”; “A hunger that lasts can have no pain”, It’s just these worlds that don’t explain. Is it a quote from literature, or what? Thanks!
RW: You should contact Anthony Moore, because he wrote the lyrics and it is the one song on the album that was basically written before I started “Broken China.” I do not believe it came from any literature, it is just Anthony’s way to put into quotation marks certain lyrics he feels are important to the song.
Q: Has either Dave or Nick heard “Broken China”, and what do they think? If they haven’t yet heard it, do you think you’ll play it for either of them soon?
RW: I know Dave has heard “Broken China” and I’m sure Nick has. Dave’s comment was “It’s very good” he liked it very much.
Q: I’m a keyboardist myself and take Mr. Wright’s work with the Floyd as a great source of inspiration. Now I’ve always wondered: what kind of equipment did you use in the old days and what kind do you use nowadays? (Including midi patches, if possible)
RW: In the very beginning actually the equipment I had was a Farfifa Duo manual organ and an Echoret Binsonet and through the years I have used a lot of equipment and now I basically use Kurtzweil keyboard and Brain. Midi patches is something that can be complicated and I can’t really explain it here.
Q: The band played in Canada on the last tour, and it was the best show I had ever seen. I was truly moved by the experience. Does the lighting and staging ever become a distraction for you?
RW: The only time that the lighting and staging is a distraction for the band and for me is obviously when it goes wrong, but that is very rarely the case. We are not really aware of the lighting when we are on the stage because it is something only the audience can see, but I can say it doesn’t become a distraction. Actually sometimes I wish I could have seen the lighting on the stage.
Q: Don’t you think that PF should release something like the Beatles Anthology? Greetings from Karolina in Sweden.
RW: I think Dave, Nick and myself actually don’t believe there is very much around that has not been released. On the other hand, it is worth looking into because there may be some outtakes that we could consider putting on an anthology album. But that would take Dave, Nick and Roger and myself all listening to the old tapes. I don’t believe that the old songs and instrumentals are actually available.
Q: I heard a rumor that Storm Thorgerson is working on special effects and videos for a “massive” concert. Is this a sick lie?
RW: No. It is a lie. At the moment Storm is not working on anything for a massive concert.
Q: Pink Floyd’s recent live release “Pulse” was mastered in Q-sound, possibly to better reflect the surround-sound concert experience. I notice that “Broken China” is also done in Q-sound, which (to my ears) adds to the breadth of the sonic landscape. I would like to know if Mr. Wright approaches his studio recording differently knowing that he has Q-sound in his arsenal, and how well does he think the effect works on “Broken China?”
RW: Q-sound, one has to remember, only works if you sit in the central position between two speakers. Certainly when I was recording “Broken China” and mixing “Broken China” we didn’t consider Q-sound. It is interesting that what you do with Q-sound: you actually mix in with normal stereo then afterwards you can, through this equipment, make it into Q-sound, but it doesn’t affect stereo sound. I think it does work very well in “Broken China.”
Q: Dear Rick, I’ve been a fan for many years now and I have always wanted to know if Pink Floyd were reckless when they were on tour, like The Who, or were you guys calm, relaxed, and well behaved like I suspect?
RW: We weren’t always calm and relaxed and well behaved like you suspect. We did have our moment too, just like The Who or Stones or anyone else.
Q: Are you going to do an album signing tour in the U.S. similar to the one you did in the UK a few weeks back?
RW: No, there are no plans for doing an album signing tour in the United States.
Q: What is the status of Nick’s promised official history of Pink Floyd?
RW: All of us, Nick, Dave, myself and Roger can write a book about dead memories, recollections, experiences about being in the band, but the problem here was it was going to be sold as the official autobiography and both Dave and myself certainly felt that if it was going to be official we should all be involved writing the book and certainly we weren’t involved in writing this book. That is the reason that it is being stopped. It is because it is being sold as a official autobiography but really it was Nick’s personal story.
Q: Is it true that Nick and Dave have had a difference of opinion regarding the book’s readiness for publication, causing a bit of a rift to form between them? Is Nick going to remain a contributing member of the band?
RW: Both Dave and myself, and I am sure Roger, but I haven’t spoken to him, would feel quite strongly that if it is official we should participate in the writing of the book. Of course, Nick will remain a contributing member of the band.
Q: Rumour has it that Rick has already written some demos for a new Pink Floyd album and that he is just waiting for the go-ahead from Gilmour to start recording. True?
RW: No, this rumour is not true. I haven’t written any demos for the new Pink Floyd album, but certainly at the moment I am waiting for Dave to come back in the studio with me and Nick to start recording the next album, but when it comes to that I’m sure we will start off fresh with completely new material.
Q: Some people believe that the band, or someone close to it, tried to foster an air of mystery around Pink Floyd’s last album, “The Division Bell,” by posting riddles to Internet newsgroups under the pseudonym, Publius. Is Rick familiar with this story, and will he admit that it was just someone having some fun at the fans’ expense?
RW: Basically, I am not aware of it at all. I am not familiar with the story and it’s certainly not anything the band instigated at all, so it is probably somebody out there having a bit of fun.