|An interview with David Gilmour|
An interview with David Gilmour
° To mark his 71st birthday, here’s our cover story from 2015...
Michael Bonner March 6, 2017
Coming Back To Life
° The Endless River has brought the tale of Pink Floyd to a satisfying conclusion, and now David Gilmour can begin a new phase of his career. As he prepares for his first solo album in nine years, however, Gilmour has a different view. Whether “one is or isn’t in a band feels a bit daft when you get to our age,” he tells Uncut, in a world exclusive interview. “It’s part of a continuum.” Join us, then, as Gilmour and his closest allies consider the journey from “Fat Old Sun” to Rattle That Lock — and beyond!
° Not for the first time, David Gilmour is considering his future. For almost 50 years now, his decisions as a musician have been directly linked to Pink Floyd. But today Gilmour is readying his new solo album Rattle That Lock; the first record he’s made since calling time on his old band last year. “At what point one decides one is or isn’t in a band — and exactly what the meaning of the word ‘band’ is — feels a bit daft when you gets to our age,” he says. “I don’t think of it like that anyway. It’s part of a continuum. I don’t try and do anything differently. Things just come out different when I’m doing solo records than when I’m doing Pink Floyd. You just accept what comes along, really.”° As if to highlight the intertwined relationship between Gilmour’s work as a solo artist and his career in Pink Floyd, we meet on Astoria, the houseboat~recording studio moored along the Thames that Gilmour has owned since 1986. We are in the studio where the Gilmour~led Pink Floyd convened to work on A Momentary Lapse Of Reason and The Division Bell — but also where Gilmour recorded much of last solo album, On An Island.
° A quick glance round the studio identifies a number of items with explicit connections to his past. Behind him, for instance, sits the Martin D~35 acoustic guitar that he first used on “Wish You Were Here”, while grouped in a corner along with his peddle board and a small beige amp rests his fabled black Stratocaster. Even Gilmour’s smartphone, it seems, recently chose to remind him of his celebrated history. “Funnily enough, ‘the iPod angel’ as I call it played ‘Echoes’ from Live In Gdansk the other day,” he reveals. “That’s the first time I’ve listened to it since it came out, I think. You’re going along and your iPod — or now it’s in my iPhone, of course — plays a song at random. It played ‘Echoes’ and I thought, ‘God, that was great fun.’ Do I miss that way of working? I do. But you can’t get back to that sort of equality that one has when one starts out as a young chap in a band. Gradually, over years, the balance of power changes. Your life changes and you become — how does one put it without sounding ridiculous? — bigger and more powerful and some of the people that you work with are too respectful. When you’re young, you can argue and fight and it’s all forgotten the next day. You call people all the names under the sun. ‘No, that’s shite.’ But somehow that equality is really hard to recreate later in life.”
° Gilmour’s old friend Robert Wyatt considers the connection between the music Gilmour was making then — during Floyd’s heyday — and the music he’s making now. “The Floyd was more overtly dramatic,” he offers. “The climaxes were more climactic. The wait~for~it bits were more wait~for~it. There’s almost a kind of folk music flow to what David does now. It’s more undulated landscape that mountains and valleys.”
° “I think it’s a sigh of relief,” adds Aubrey ‘Po’ Powell, Gilmour and Pink Floyd’s creative director. “You create something larger than life and you’ve got to deal with it on a day to day basis, and that’s what Pink Floyd had become. Doing On An Island was a way for David to get away from that and do something for himself. Rattle That Lock also is an extension of that. But it is a celebration, almost, of everything David’s ever learned musically.”
° As Rattle That Lock arrives in a post~Floyd world, it is instructive to look back and consider the reaction Gilmour’s then~bandmates had to his very first solo album — David Gilmour, released in 1978. “Oh, you know,” Gilmour says dryly. “The usual Pink Floyd reaction. Absolute silence.”
° It is early afternoon on one of the hottest days of the year. Charlie, Astoria’s resident spaniel, lolls in a patch of shade near the conservatory at the top of the riverside lawn. At 12.59pm on June 30, 2015, Gilmour arrives in Astoria’s grounds accompanied by his wife, Polly Samson. He is wearing a panama hat, with a white linen jacket is slung over his shoulder, giving him the air of a diplomat returning from a swish colonial posting. The image isn’t that different from Robert Wyatt’s first impressions of meeting Gilmour 40 years ago at a party at Nick Mason’s home in Highgate’s Stanhope Gardens. “He had a patrician air that I find very unusual in rock music,” he says. “He was dignified, witty. Grown up. I like him, but I’ve always been a little awestruck by him. Not because he’s intimidating, but you feel that he’s listening and watching. His bullshit detector is on ‘alert’ a lot of the time.”
° Currently, Gilmour sits in a worn leather office chair in the Astoria studio, his bare feet resting on a sofa that runs underneath the length of the studio’s aft window. He is wearing a black t~shirt and matching loose~fitting trousers while his shoes — a pair of black slip~ons — are neatly arranged by the door. At one point, Gilmour temporarily dons a pair of glasses with bright blue frames to answer his mobile phone. But presently, Gilmour is pre~occupied trying to identify when his solo career truly began. “On An Island was the start of something,” he eventually decides. “Having at that point no real intention of ever doing Pink Floyd again. But life is just changes; you are in particular moods in particular moments. Now I’m living in Brighton, it’s a little more active. I don’t know if one ties those things together, or it’s just luck that these pieces of music chuck themselves at you, and you get on with it.”
° Attempting to unravel the history of Rattle That Lock — and establish its place in Gilmour’s singular body of work — proves to be a complicated business, not least because of the record’s intricate timeline; but also because of its more personal and private moments. Phil Manzanera, co~producer of On An Island and Rattle That Lock, estimates that Gilmour has been writing material for this new album over the last five years. But then, Manzanera also confirms that one piano part was recorded 18 years ago in Gilmour’s living room; recently, he recalls, he rang up one delighted musician to inform him that a four~note passage he recorded a decade ago appears on this album.
° What is clear, however, is that Rattle That Lock was temporarily set aside so that Gilmour and Nick Mason could work on The Endless River, their tribute to Rick Wright. “It took a lot of time and an enormous amount of effort,” admits Gilmour. “We sat here for months, slogging away, trying to get it into shape. I love it, but it was a bit of a tear to drag myself away from it. Then a month after, getting to grips with going back into this.”
Q.: Was it important to close the door on Pink Floyd before releasing Rattle That Lock?
A.: “It’s just one of those timing things,” he insists. “Going back and listening to the material made me think, ‘There are some really nice mementos of Rick’s playing.’ I felt we owed it to the fans to put them together and release it. I thought I could do it in a simpler way — but you know, best~laid plans, eh? Something comes along and you have to deal with it properly. Each thing takes maximum energy and thought.”
° Although Gilmour is adamant that he works all the time — principally in his own Medina studio in Hove, East Sussex — he admits, “I’ve got a lot going on. Children. Normal stuff to get on with. So when I can, and when I feel like it, I go and work, track down the little bits and improve them, try to see where they’re going.”
° Gilmour’s modest, self~deprecating way might make this sound more casual than it actually is. But Youth — who worked with Gilmour on The Orb’s Metallic Spheres album and co~produced The Endless River — recalls witnessing Gilmour’s fastidiousness in the studio. “His attention to the minutiae is extreme. He’d be twiddling on his own and we’d do lots of takes and we’d spend a lot of time editing, sifting, and then redo again. That process of distillation went really far.”
° “When he puts the beam on a track, he’s totally hands on,” says Nick Laird~Clowes, a collaborator since the 1980s. “That EQing, that knowledge of sound, that science brain mixed with his art brain, is crucial to understanding who he is. It’s too much of a simplification, but his father was scientific and his mother was artistic. All the delays you get on the Floyd records, they’re all things he’s worked out scientifically but not at the sacrifice of the artistic and melodic content.”
° “He’s very, very meticulous in the studio,” agrees Robert Wyatt. “He was very specific about how everything was laid out and the timing of things and very, very exact about detail. I know actors who’ve been in films. They’re filming a scene and they don’t necessarily know what the whole picture is, what the context is, or even what it might be about sometimes. But David is like a very careful film director.”
° For Rattle That Lock, Manzanera maintains he went through “200 of these little bits and pieces of scraps and things… on [Gilmour’s] MiniDiscs and MeMO Pads, and little devices. Then we sat down and listened to 30 in the end. This was all going on until January. Then I said, ‘Let’s just work on 10 and see where it gets us. If we need anything else let’s pick from our pool of stuff, but let’s look at these 10.’ This whole process — especially working on the Floyd album too — got him stuck in. There’s an energy that wasn’t there when we started doing On An Island. It’s strange isn’t it? We’re 10 years on, and it’s a lot more energetic.” © David Gilmour early 1970s
° “In some ways, I think I’ve found my feet,” says Gilmour. “It’s quite late in life to start finding one’s feet, I must admit. Or at least, to find them again.
° Admittedly, it is hard to listen to Rattle That Lock and not make associations with ° Gilmour’s other albums. The title song, for instance, with the chorus line of “Rattle that lock and lose those chains” evokes a sense of liberation. Aubrey Powell speculates as to whether it represents “the essence of David’s creativity escaping from the entrapment of Pink Floyd, or whatever had been on his mind for the past few years.” But Gilmour quickly dismisses any suggestion that this — or any other song on the album — concerns his former band. “I wouldn’t connect any of the lyrics on this record to anything connected to Pink Floyd in any way,” he insists. “I’m not trying to make statements about Pink Floyd being finished or not being finished, or any other sagas that have gone on. Those lyrics are more to do shaking off the things that oppresses us in life. Politically, socially, whatever. Don’t put up with it, basically.”
° All the same, another song — “A Boat Lies Waiting”, a hymnal piano piece featuring harmonies from David Crosby and Graham Nash — has a direct link back to Floyd. While The Endless River was Pink Floyd paying tribute to Rick Wright, this song feels more like Gilmour’s personal tribute. Gilmour even admits, “There’s a bit of Rick speaking I pinched. Rick loved sailing. I miss his ability and out common intuition, or telepathy, which is pretty obvious on The Endless River album. It’s a great shame Rick wasn’t around to help out on this one.” With its lyrical references to “a boat lies waiting / Still your clouds all flaming” and “what I lost was an ocean” it’s hard not to tie the song directly to the sleeve of The Endless River — which pictured a man rowing on clouds into a sunset. Gilmour seems surprised when I ask whether the reference is deliberate. © DAVID GILMOUR’S NEW ALBUM RECORDING SESSION PHOTO
Q.: “No. How do you mean?”
A.: The mentions of the boat, ocean, clouds; those are the things you see on the sleeve. “No. It’s not a connection, no,” he says. Gilmour concedes, though, that by using a sample of Wright’s voice, technically it means that his fallen comrade appears on the album.
° Aubrey Powell sees other resonances in Rattle That Lock: if not with Floyd per se, but with earlier parts of Gilmour’s life. He cites the jazz~inflected “The Girl With The Yellow Dress”. “I said to David, ‘Does this remind you of when you were in Paris with [pre~Floyd band] Flowers, supporting Johnny Hallyday and Sylvie Vartan?’ He said, ‘Not really, but obviously my experiences of living and working in Paris are in my psyche somewhere.’ We’re making a little film for this, set in 1961, about the time David was there. So there are a lot of nuances coming through in this new album. It is riven with experience.”
° There are further ties with Gilmour’s past among the album’s contributors. It features bassist Guy Pratt and guitarist Jon Carin, mainstays of the Gilmour~era Floyd; Rado Klose, Gilmour’s old school friend and, briefly, a member of Pink Floyd, plays guitar. All the musicians credited have, at one time or another, worked with either Floyd or accompanied Gilmour on his solo projects. But Gilmour’s key collaborator on Rattle That Lock is his wife of 21 years, the author Polly Samson. Their creative partnership began on The Division Bell and has continued ever since. “She’s an integral part of what I do,” confirms Gilmour. “I play her a few of the backing tracks with me singing over them — scatting words — and she chooses ones that appeal to her. She goes off and works on that for a while. In the past, she has tried to get inside my brain and think what I would be want to write about; but she’s releasing herself a little bit from that pressure now.”
° Manzanera credits Samson with devising the album’s narrative — a ‘day in the life’ of Gilmour. “It says on the tin it’s a David Gilmour album, but it’s so much more than that. It’s what’s on their minds. They not only live together, but also work together creatively; the kinds of things they talk about are in the album. She should be credited as a producer, frankly.”
° “I always want to write my own songs, my own lyrics and everything,” reflects Gilmour.” It just doesn’t happen very quickly. The idea that many people adhere to, the Nick Cave way – work, get in there, concentrate, focus — I’m told it would work for me, but I’ve never had that discipline. So far I find these things arrive as little moments. There’s a lot of slog to get there from there. I’m not enormously confident writing lyrics.”
° There are two songs, however, for which Gilmour is credited as lyricist: “Dancing Right In Front Of Me” and “Faces Of Stone”.
° “‘Dancing Right In Front Of Me’, that’s about the children, my children. My wishes for them,” he explains. “‘Faces Of Stone’ was about when my mother had the beginnings of dementia. We had a day together and we walked in the park. She died about nine months after my youngest daughter was born, so there was a period of time when they were both alive. It’s a reflection on beginnings and endings.”° Such personal revelations seem strangely out of keeping for Gilmour. Aubrey Powell — a friend of Gilmour’s since 1962 — describes Gilmour as “humble, slightly reserved, articulate, highly intelligent. He was like that in Cambridge and he’s like that now.” Po remembers his formative meetings with Gilmour, and his Pink Floyd bandmates. As a tantalizing glimpse into pre~Floyd history, Po reveals he recently found the “beating manual” for the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys: alma mater of Roger Waters, Syd Barrett and Storm Thorgerson. “It’s a record of all the boys that were ever beaten in the school and the cane that was used to beat them with. Roger’s in there for throwing water, Syd’s in there for being argumentative and Storm was in there for truancy. They all had six of the best. Because of everybody’s background, Pink Floyd had that post-war middle class English bravado about them. It gave them that edge. They were all bright and intelligent and all knew what was expected of them and knew how to get there and how to attain it. That comes with education and they were fortunate.”
° Powell, meanwhile, has fond memories of the young Gilmour. “He was unbelievably good looking. It was great to be with because he would always attract a bevy of girls. But at the same time he had a slight shyness to him, which girls found even more endearing. But when he played guitar and sang he had confidence that was above anybody else’s in that Cambridge set. David was really good at learning to play songs – and instantly. I remember when ‘Hey Joe’ came out. I saw David a few days later and said, ‘Have you heard that amazing track “Hey Joe”?’ He said, ‘Yeah, it goes like this.’ He just played it.”
° “When you start out, you copy,” says Gilmour. “Trying to be too original when you’re too young is possibly not the best thing. But I learned copying Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix. All sorts of people.”
° In December, 1967, David Gilmour joined Pink Floyd; essentially, as an additional guitarist to support the ailing Syd Barrett. “At that point, Roger had to take the leading role because otherwise Pink Floyd would collapse,” says Po. “Roger was always the strongest in Pink Floyd, but they relied on Syd for his writing skills. Roger hadn’t really written any songs up to that point. But because of David’s singing and guitar playing abilities, he thought he’d be able to write with him.
° “The first song they wrote was ‘Point Me At The Sky’, which was not a success but nevertheless it was the start of them working together. When it came out, they asked Storm and I to make a film. We went to Biggin Hill and rented a couple of Tiger Moths. Everybody took turns to fly in them while we were shooting with a couple of old Bolexes and an Arriflex 16mm camera. It was all Biggles and jolly hockey sticks. That’s a very middle class, public schoolboys fun day out. Five Go Mad At Biggin Hill.”
° “David was absolutely crucial next stage,” adds Robert Wyatt. “He contributed to something they had latently, from their background in architecture. David has a sense of form and pace, in a way that makes almost all other groups look a bit ramshackle. So there’s a breathing space in Floyd. It’s like you’re entering a place. He’s a terrific blues player, measured, making everything count. I can’t think of anybody else he could have done it with. Rick was important in creating an aurora borealis around the music — a shimmering atmosphere. Roger and Nick, as a rhythm section, were very clear about where the beat is and where it’s going and what the notes are. Instead of speed they go for strength, a solidity that’s the perfect environment for David. It worked very well as a band. Better than very well.”
° “It was hard for David at first,” remembers Po. “He was being asked to emulate a psychedelic sound which wasn’t him at all. But when you look at Live At Pompeii and you see David with that Strat, smashing the stage with it and bashing it about and creating extraordinary sound, it’s amazing how in a few short years he picked up on that wild, free psychedelic sound Pink Floyd were known for.”
° Back on Astoria, Gilmour pauses briefly to look out of the window at a family of ducks foraging upstream along the riverbank. He is thinking back to one of his earliest songwriting efforts in Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother’s “Fat Old Sun”.
° “It’s one of those songs where the whole thing fell together very easily,” he explains. “I remember thinking at the time, ‘What have I ripped this off? I’m sure it’s by the Kinks or someone…’ But since whenever it was — 1968, ‘69 — no one has ever yet said, ‘It’s exactly like this.’ it’s a nice lyric, I’m very happy with that.” © David Gilmour & Pink Floyd in Amsterdam March 1968
Q.: Was there a breakthrough moment for Gilmour as a performer?
A.: “Gradually, you start focussing the things you do towards something. But there’s a flash moment when you think, ‘God, I rather like my own playing now.’ That happened with singing, too. Before it’s that old thing where most people listen to their voice on a recording for the first time, or people who haven’t done it very often, and they think it sounds horrible. I was like that. When did it change? Around ‘Fat Old Sun’. It didn’t take too long.”
Q.: “Childhood’s End”, from Obscured By Clouds, was the last Floyd song composed entirely by Gilmour until A Momentary Lapse In Reason, 15 years later. Does he regret not writing more songs for Floyd?
A.: “No,” he says. “Roger wanted to be the guy writing the lyrics. I was very happy for him to be the guy writing the lyrics. He was very good at it. I didn’t feel I was. I wasn’t frustrated, saying, ‘Read these lyrics! I want to put this song on!’ The way it happened made sense.”
° Nevertheless by the late Seventies, Gilmour saw an opportunity to strike out on his own. Six months after the Animals tour, he began work on his self~titled solo debut. “We didn’t work that hard, so there was time,” he explains. “I don’t think it was to counteract some sort of frustration I was feeling within Floyd. If anything, I thought it would be nice to have a bunch of guys in a room, play some tunes, knock ‘em down and put out a record. Maybe there was some yearning for a simpler way of being as a musician. That’s not what I want. I’m very happy with more complex and time~consuming methods. It was a little door opening for me into a slightly different world which, I guess, would happen again at occasional points in my life.”
° As it transpired, Gilmour returned to his solo career six years later, in 1984, for About Face, which coincided with Roger Waters departure from Pink Floyd. Did Gilmour ever seriously consider a full~time solo career at that point?
° “I always thought that you could have two parts of your career running at the same time,” he says. “At that moment — 1984 — Roger had decided that enough was enough for him, but I hadn’t decided that enough was enough for me. So I imagine I thought, ‘Yes, we’ll go back to doing Floyd.’ But Roger hadn’t officially left at that point. It just looked impossible that we would ever get back together. It was good moment to be doing something. Whether that meant looking towards a new career or a stop~gap until Roger made up his mind as to should he stay or should he go.” © David Gilmour and a horse at Knebworth 1975.
° Aubrey Powell is reflecting on Pink Floyd’s imperial phase: the enormous successes of Dark Side Of The Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. Specifically, he is considering the impact these achievements had on his old friend, David Gilmour. “When he first made money with Pink Floyd, he bought a little old farm. He had two shire horses on it. It was beautiful. Humble. You could go round any time of the day and there’d be somebody like Steve Marriot or Jerry Shirley around: a lot of interesting people. That’s where he discovered Kate Bush. But he’s never been the rock star, never.”
° Presumably such a becalmed environment provided a welcome retreat from the demands of Floyd; particularly, the increasing psychodramas dominating Roger Waters’ final years with the band.
° “David appears to be laid back but he’s a very determined person,” notes Phil Manzanera. “He’s like a dog with a bone when he wants to do something. He’s no push over and its not surprising that Roger maybe found him tricky. He’s got his opinions. Even though he won’t necessarily shout them out, he’ll quietly assert them.”
° “David is stubborn, by his own admission,” adds Po. “When Roger decided to fold the band, David and Nick said, ‘Hang on a second. This belongs to us all of us.’ So David decided to fight for it. There was a lot of soul searching. It was a very painful time.”
° From a distance of 30 years, Gilmour himself can now afford to be relaxed about the battle for ownership of Pink Floyd. But tellingly, his responses to questions about that period are delivered with a certain formal, lawyerly tone. “From the moment Roger sent his letter, in December, 1985, to the record company saying that he forthwith was no longer a part of Pink Floyd, we felt we were released and we could start to look forward to making an album.” © David Gilmour and Roy Harper at the Midsummer High concert June 1968. Photo credit: Ray Stevenson
Q.: What were the pros and cons of assuming creative control of the Floyd?
A.: “You’d have to be a bit mad when you know the difficulties,” he reflects. “We were down to a two~piece for a while, Rick having gone his own merry way for reasons that have been explained in great length and tedium before. So getting Rick and Nick back in were important. It was a tricky old period of time. There’s a myth that at some point we decided to turn a David Gilmour solo album into a Pink Floyd album. That’s not strictly correct. There were a few pieces of music that I had that helped us to get started. It’s a good album, it’s got some really good moments to it.”
° “David was extremely anxious when they made Momentary Lapse Of Reason,” says Po. “That first tour they did, David was extremely concerned they’d be able to crack it, especially in America, without Roger. Of course, it was phenomenally successful for them. Then they went on with Division Bell, which was Pink Floyd back to where it had been in the Dark Side Of The Moon days, but without Roger.”
° Nick Laird~Clowes is just back from a holiday in France. He has been staying in Ramatuelle, on the southeast coast below Saint~Tropez, where Gilmour and Syd Barrett went camping when they were 16 years old. “I texted David,” explains Laird~Clowes, “saying ‘I’m sitting outside your favourite pizza place.’ It’s where he and Syd would sit and look at girls. He wrote back, ‘WIWT’. ‘Wish I Was There’. So many things happened for so long, there’s so much shared stuff.”
° Laird~Clowes first met Gilmour in 1978; their initial collaboration came three years later, as Holly And The Ivys. “It was a Christmas record,” reveals Laird~Clowes. “We were sitting in an airport one day and David was joking about these terrible Stars On 45 records. He started stamping his feet four on the floor going, ‘Once in royal David’s city…’ Then I started singing, ‘La la la la lala…’ He said, ‘Hang on! That’s a great idea.’ The night before we recorded the orchestra, he said, ‘If you can write a song, you can have the B~side.’ So I stayed up all night writing the B~side.”
° Gilmour continued his patronage of Laird~Clowes, inviting his band The Act (featuring Gilmour’s younger brother Mark on guitar) to rehearse at his home while Pink Floyd recorded The Wall in France. “We used this little old studio in the house he bought from Steve Marriott,” says Laird~Clowes. “It was near Harlow in Essex. We used to take the Central line and then walk a few miles to the house. It was a lovely little Tudor~looking cottage and it had a building in the garden a bit like a garage — not big — and he had an eight track in there.”
° Their collaborations continued with Laird~Clowes next band, The Dream Academy, when Gilmour played bass and programmed drums on their cover of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”. In 1993, Laird~Clowes contributed lyrics to two songs on The Division Bell: “Poles Apart” and “Take It Back”.
° “David would say, ‘Come over next Monday and I’ll play you what we’ve done,’” recalls Laird~Clowes, who is currently working on a new album. “Polly, he and I would drink a bottle or two of wine, listen and make notes. Then it was every Tuesday, then it was Tuesday and Wednesday. We were down to the last three songs and he didn’t have any lyrics. We tried everything. We did cut-ups; we stayed up insanely let and got very merry doing it. If I wrote four consecutive lines, I got a co~write. For ‘Poles Apart’, I asked him about Syd and he said, ‘I never thought he’d lose that light in his eyes’. That’s where it started. He said, ‘Great, you’ve written your first song on a Pink Floyd record. What year were you born?’ Then he went down to the cellar.”
° “Division Bell was David having gone through hell in the dispute over Pink Floyd,” says Po. “Then coming out the other side saying, ‘I can make a record as good as anything we did when we were with Roger.’ It gave him a tremendous boost of morale.”
Q.: The Division Bell tour — 110 shows in 68 cities, taking a worldwide gross of £150 million — overshadowed even the band’s enormous tours of the Seventies and Eighties. But at what point did the scale and extravagance begin to lose their appeal to Gilmour?
A.: “Pink Floyd is very, very big,” he concurs. “There are an awful lot of people who want to go to those shows. I find it hard to quite imagine how many of them actually really love everything about it. I don’t know. Maybe that’s fatuous. But that huge scale is intoxicating. It fuels your ego and all that. But it’s never quite ideal. I don’t mind playing a few big ‘uns, once in a while. But now I’m very happy not to be quite as — what’s the word — famous, I was going to say, but I don’t know how to put that subtly.”
° After The Division Bell, Gilmour withdrew into domestic life. He followed his old band’s brief reunion at Live8 in July, 2005 with On An Island in March, 2006. A meditative album, it shared many stylistic touches and textures with the later Pink Floyd releases. “It would be in the vein of a Pink Floyd record, because that’s what I do,” he says. “I can’t help myself, using the musical palette that I have been either gifted with or have learned over the years. I can’t really separate the two things with any intent.”
° “In the Seventies, people started doing offshoot albums and called them solo albums,” adds Phil Manzanera. “But this is a continuation of what David’s always been doing, but in a different context. At a certain point, this happens in bands. You grow up, you have families and your life changes. It’s the same with Bryan Ferry: he’s just doing what he’s always done, but it’s in his own world. It’s not like it used to be, where people did a solo album and then came back to the band. We all morphed out of that. We’re not confined by the things that we started in our 20s.”
° Next year, David Gilmour turns 70. From his seat in Astoria’s studio, he admits he’s not yet given much thought to how he’ll mark the occasion — “Maybe we’ll have 20 or 30 people round for a bevy, I don’t know,” he shrugs. “Mortality is something I think a lot about and always have,” he continues. “It was frightening when I was young. At my age now, I’m no longer fussed about it. It’s lost its fear for me, pretty much.” Of course, Gilmour has more immediate business to attend to. “I finished this album yesterday,” he says with a smile. “And I’ve got another record on the go. Rattle That Lock came out of a font of stuff so I don’t think it’ll be that long before another one comes out. Maybe at the end of the tour I’ll just want to collapse and feel like an old man again. But I’ve got the best part of another album stewing away.”
° Considering there were six years between Gilmour’s first two solo albums, 22 between the second and third and nine between On An Island and Rattle That Lock, this feels like momentous news. “These songs have been on the go for the last few years,” he explains. “There are one or two really old ones. One is probably 20 years old. It’s still trying to fight its way to the top of the pile. It will one day. We will see how good they get to be in a couple of years time. As for Rattle That Lock, I don’t want to overplay things, but I think it’s the best thing I’ve done. Probably ever. It’s very easy to be deluded, but I think it’s very good.”
° For the time being, Gilmour admits his next assignment will be planning his September tour. He dusted down 1972’s “Wot’s… Uh The Deal” for the On An Island tour, so can we assume he’ll go rummaging through the archives to see if there’s any more rarities that he can dust down for this tour? “I might completely rearrange one or two old songs,” he admits. “We shall see.”
Q.: Is there a song that always reminds you of Syd?
A.: “‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ is about Syd,” he says. “Every time that I’ve sung that song, I’ve thought about Syd. You have to think about what you’re singing, you can’t just troll the words out. You have to work harder if someone else has written them — which I’ve grown skilled at, having spent so much of my time singing Roger’s words.”
Q.: Talking of Roger, is there a song that reminds you of him?
A.: “‘Money’. I’m not talking about any connection to the lyric. Just the quirky 7/8 time reminds me of Roger. It’s not a song I would have written. It points itself at Roger, rather.”
Q.: Now Pink Floyd is officially over, what part of it do you miss the most?
A.: “I was taking earlier to you about the early moments,” he says quietly, running a hand through his tight crop of white hair. “We were not exactly equals, because things aren’t ever quite equal. But in terms of the band dynamic during that era, there were moments where magic happened. I suppose you could say I miss those. But there’s not much about it that I have disliked or haven’t enjoyed. At the same time, there’s not much of it that I miss. It was 99% a great experience, and we wouldn’t want to talk about the other 1%. That’s been done.”
°°° http://www.uncut.co.uk/ // Website: http://www.davidgilmour.com/ © Filming exterior shots .. in a studio… for Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii
|An interview with David Gilmour|
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