1995: The Dave Gilmour interview

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The four members of Pink Floyd.

The four members of Pink Floyd. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a bit early for rock’n’roll, 8am on a cold Thursday May 1995 morning in London town.

And it was David Gilmour on the phone, inviting me for filter coffee in his Little Venice home on the banks of the Grand Union Canal to talk about his new baby son, Joe, the new album, the new video, and how it feels not to be working so hard this time round. He doesn’t keep rock’n’roll hours. Never did.

It’s been a few years since any of the Floyd rang me up like this, but it used to happen every time they had something new to communicate: the new album still in not-quite-ready pre-master form, or (in the nasty split-up days which had all the smell of a sad and messy divorce) the latest stage of the battle between Roger Waters and David for the heart and soul of the band.

Well, that particular battle’s over now, thank God, and the last two studio albums and the incredible Wall-type tours they’ve subjected themselves to in the last decade have proved, effectively, David’s point: that like Fairport Convention and the Byrds, a great band is more than just the sum of its parts, and can continue even if none of the original members is there any more.

By silent understanding, we left all those skeletons of the recent past well dead and buried, though it was inevitable that Roger’s name should crop up occasionally. (It’s interesting to me, too, that neither of them have ever slagged off the other in my presence, and that, as will be seen, when Roger’s name comes up in conversation, there is little rancour in the tone or content of what Dave says about him).

Our conversation – you could hardly call it an interview, along the lines of the pop press cliché; David and I have known each other too long to fall into those pre-set patterns – was dogged slightly by the fact that the album had been embargoed until that day, to give radio a first crack at it, and so I hadn’t had a chance to hear it or even look at the track-listing, which left me floundering in the dark somewhat, when we got down to talking about it, though its remarkable CD box, with its LED flashing redly all the time, lay on the coffee table before us all the time we talked.

One thing that does appear still to grate in David’s memory is the time (quoting Roger, but without attribution) I described him as “an old Tory”, and he made it clear that he is a staunch Labour supporter, though not a member of any party.

We started off musing about our early start, and if this meant he no longer lived the rock’n’roll lifestyle.

 Postscript

Pink Floyd remains an unfinished story, and this is fine: better it should continue, and mutate, and evolve, than die like the Beatles died, when its two main members could no longer stand being together. Better, too, that it didn’t degenerate into a tired parody of its better days, which has happened to other bands who should have knocked it on the head, long ago.

But for me the most frustrating thing about it is the knowledge that Roger Waters is still out there, another unfinished story, with all the enormous potential within him for the sort of creative monumentalism that created The Wall (and the posturing bombast that turned its message into its opposite, in that great missed opportunity, the Berlin celebration of the coming down of that other wall, product of the Cold War).

I still keep expecting him to surprise us all, and produce the album that will sum up these years at the end of the millenium, as The Wall, in effect, laid the rock’n’roll years to rest. Three albums after The Final Cut, we are still waiting. We hear that, like David, he has divorced and remarried, and we can read about him in the up-market Hello-like columns of The Tatler. But what we want to hear about is not the minutiae of his domestic life. He can, to paraphrase his most recent album title, surprise us back to life.

Do it, Rog.

December 12, 1996

Of course, since the above was written, much more has changed. Roger and Dave performed together at Live8, and Roger has been touring The Wall.

But I still feel it’s an unfinished story.

February 16, 2013

English: Pink Floyd performing at Live 8 in London

Pink Floyd performing at Live 8 in London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Dave Gilmour interview

DAVE:

I’ve got a meeting at about 11.30 and I’m a very early riser. It’s a throwback, either genetic or to my schooldays, but I’ve never got over it. I wake up at seven, usually, between seven and eight. I wish, I mean there are times when I’m on tour when you get to bed at four o’clock in the morning, and I wish I could sleep till eleven, but it never happens.

KARL:

So you’ve never lived that rock’n’roll life-style?

DAVE:

Yes, I have. But just short nights, short amounts of sleep, it’s very, that rock’n’roll lifestyle is not good for me.

KARL:

This last tour must have been the longest and the most tiring that you’ve ever done.

DAVE:

The previous one was the longest and most tiring we’ve ever done, which was ’87 into ’89, over 200 shows over well over a year and a half. That one was a mere little stroll, from April to October.

KARL:

Do you find that tiring now? D’you get jaded on that long tour?

DAVE:

The long one, I dunno, it was kind of euphoric, the long one, because of, you know, all the problems that we’d gone through the previous year, several years, in fact, with legal proceedings and all that stuff, and that carried on right the way through the making of the album, and actually carried on through the first three months of the tour, right till the end of 1987, with legal stuff and all sorts of, any manner of hassles, and thereafter they evaporated. And all I had to do was, the show was running, the album was selling well, I was happy, I was joyful, it was a euphoric time.

We then finished that tour in August of ’88, and had enjoyed it so much we decided to go out again the next year for several months. Now maybe that, in retrospect, was not the greatest idea in the world. On that one, I definitely started getting jaded, but the euphoria took me through the first year, no problem whatsoever. And this tour was a joy. I mean we started with all that stuff long in the past, and we just were totally relaxed, confident, and we went out and did, what for us, after the last one, felt like quite a short tour, seven months. And that was it. So no, I don’t think I got jaded, and particularly coming back and finishing with all the dates at Earls Court, which was, again, brilliant.

KARL:

That really brings up something I wanted to talk about, which is at Earls Court, it struck me, and I don’t know if I’m right, here, that you were doing a lot of what you might call blowing, compared with . . . you know, the idea of a live Pink Floyd album always struck me in the past as, I mean I’ve heard the bootlegs, I thought well, you know, it’s just like the studio album, which was like brilliant for the audience, but didn’t make the live album terribly significant as an event. Whereas what struck me at Earls Court was that there were places where Dave played guitar.

DAVE:

Yeah. Like I say, this one we started off more confident and more relaxed, the ’87 tour was, there was so much riding on it, there had been so much aggravation, so much, you know, shit flying around, that it was a nervous, edgy start. Then we pulled it off, like I said, and it was euphoric, for a lot of it. But this one, we started off on a completely different spot, we were relaxed and we felt much more confident with what we were doing, there were places we could have a little play here and there. You know, we were playing these very large stadium things, mostly. They are not really conducive to straying too far from the script. So there’s not a whole lot of that. But within the confines that one thinks one ought to put on oneself in these sort of things, there was room for a bit of fun and playing stuff.

KARL:

Could you highlight the areas, what particular songs you let yourself go on in that way?

DAVE:

Well, you know, I write into them, because I like playing guitar, and also because I’m lazy, write into them spots where I get to play guitar, so most things that we do seem to have a spot for guitar. Sometimes I feel that the solo that I’ve done on the record for that spot is really specifically the solo for that spot and therefore I stick fairly much to that solo. Other times, it’s just a Blow, I have a bit of a play, and whatever I feel like. I don’t really know what defines that, but something in my mind defines that, I guess.

KARL:

Is there a particular track on the album that you think epitomises that?

DAVE:

On the live album?

KARL:

Yeah.

DAVE:

Well Comfortably Numb has both. Comfortably Numb has the first guitar solo, which is played sort of almost note-for-note the same every night, then it has the end guitar solo where I start off with the first three or four licks, and then wander off wherever I feel like, as long as I feel like. Probably far too long, sometimes, for some people, but nonetheless.

There are lots of others: Sorrow has a similar sort of thing, there’s a lot of blowing over the end of Sorrow, m’m, all sorts of others, there’s Great Day for Freedom from the recent album. Loads. I dunno.

KARL:

Is there anything, obviously the album and the video’s going to be a big deal. Are you going round the world promoting this?

DAVE:

No. No, no. We’re doing various things, we’ve done one of these wonderful things called an EPK, an electronic press kit, no basically they’re going to have to come to us. I’m too old to go traipsing round the world promoting . . .’

KARL:

How old are you?

DAVE:

I’m 49.

KARL:

That’s not very old.

DAVE:

No, but it’s quite old enough for having to do things you don’t want to do. And old enough to start trying to please yourself about what you’re doing. And traipsing around the world promoting something is which . . . making it is what I like to do, and promoting it is a sort of chore, afterwards.

KARL:

And of course you’re married again, with a new child.

DAVE:

Right.

KARL:

The picture on the piano, is that your new wife, and . . .

DAVE:

My new wife, and her son, my son and two daughters, that was when we got married, last year, and before she was pregnant, just over nine months ago.

KARL:

And your new baby is a boy, girl?

DAVE:

He’s a little boy, called Joe.

KARL:

Were you present at the birth?

DAVE:

I was indeed, upstairs.

KARL:

So what’s on the future schedule then, if you’re not going to go around the world promoting the new album and video, are you working on a new studio album?

DAVE:

No, I’m not working on anything at the moment, I’m working on fatherhood and stuff like that at the moment, I’ve many, many parental problems to deal with, the baby being only one of them. But I’ll start thinking about another record one of these days. I’m not in any great hurry. But these things are, they do take two-and-a-half years pretty solid all-day all-night work, for a project like this, and I think I’ll take a little break. You have so many other things in life, by the time you get to this age, that when you go out on tour you just can’t do, and when you’re making a record you just don’t have time to do, so you find you’ve got about two years’ backlog of all the stuff you should have been taking care of to deal with when you’ve finished.

KARL:

Like what?

DAVE:

M’m, dealing with my children’s education, you know, all the normal things that people have to deal with.

KARL:

Do you have non-musical hobbies?

DAVE:

Oh yes, my primary non-musical hobby is flying aeroplanes.

KARL:

I thought you would say that, ’cause I saw the propeller. And of course there’s a song . . .

DAVE:

Learning to Fly?

KARL:

Yeah.

DAVE:

Only partly about aeroplanes.

KARL:

Yeah, that’s one of the things , you remember we met in the Jazz Cafe, because that really hooked me, that song, because I identified a great deal with the spiritual search, you know. And you indicated that a lot had been going on. But I wasn’t sure how much that was to do with Ginger [his former wife] and how much that was what was going on your head.

DAVE:

Yeah, well, Learning to Fly, from the spiritual aspect of it, is about Pink Floyd taking to their wings again, as well as me taking to my wings again, and all sorts of things. And learning to fly, of course, physically. So there’s a number of levels to that.

KARL:

Would you like to amplify that?

DAVE:

Not really. That’s what the song’s for.

KARL:

‘Cause I’ve been, as I think I indicated to you at the time, I’ve been going through quite a spiritual rebirth over the past ten years.

DAVE:

Yeah.

KARL:

There’s a great danger when you play an album like that, you think: Hey, this man is saying what I feel. And then putting on to that, that they must be having similar experiences.

DAVE:

Yes, well I guess that one person’s spiritual experience is not another person’s spiritual experience, and what you may be going through or may be finding for yourself maybe I’m in a completely different spiritual space, maybe you might or might not think that yours is the spiritual space, and the only one, and I might think that mine is the only one, or it may not be that specific. It can be anything that, exploring what you’re naming or titling the spiritual, is an interest, obviously.

KARL:

Yeah, the big change in . . .

DAVE:

You’ve become a Christian, official Christian, haven’t you?

KARL:

Oh yes, been baptised and the whole bit.

DAVE:

Yes, that’s right, I remember that, now.

KARL:

I go every Sunday, and it’s like a spiritual showerbath, washes out all the shit I’ve accumulated during the previous week. Somebody once said to me: If you go the church every Sunday you must be a very good person. I said: No, it’s because I’m not a very good person, if I was a good person I probably wouldn’t need to go.

DAVE:

I’d guess that mine I’d have to say is a lot less specific than that.

KARL:

What I was going to say was . . . I hate using words like this, because it sounds almost like a criticism of the previous work, which I certainly don’t feel, but the last two albums seem to me to have a more ‘positive’ . . . there’s talking about growth. I know the previous work was very much an expression of Roger’s own angst.

DAVE:

Yeah.

KARL:

But obviously you could plug into that, because you made a strong contribution to the albums which were expressing that.

DAVE:

I could help provide maybe an uplifting musical backdrop for some of Roger’s angst, and I do often, you find that very, very dark, bleak words about one’s angst can be made into something very much more powerful by having uplifting music supporting them as the vehicle, and that sort of, what’s the word? That opposite effect of the music, the words and the music . . .

KARL:

Working against each other.

DAVE:

Clashing, in one term clashing can be what makes it work very well.

KARL:

The other thing of course is if you were learning to fly, in the song I mean, how long ago, two or three years?

DAVE:

What?

KARL:

When you actually wrote it?

DAVE:

No, no, no, that’s nearly ten years ago now

KARL:

Oh really?

DAVE:

That album, with Learning to Fly on it, came out in ’87, we’re now in ’95, Karl. Time is rushing by. That was ’87 . . .

KARL:

Well, as you get old and you’re having fun.

So have you learnt to fly, and I’m not just talking about aeroplanes?

DAVE:

Erm, I’ve learned to fly aeroplanes. You never stop learning the other sorts.

KARL:

What kind of planes do you fly?

DAVE:

I fly old sort of World War II-type things, mostly.

KARL:

Gladiators?

DAVE:

No, Steerman, which is a training biplane, Harvard, which is an advanced trainer, a Mustang . . .

KARL:

Oh really!

DAVE:

. . . which is pretty serious World War II fighter. They’re great. They’re fantastic. I’m not really big on the military significance of all that stuff, but they’re just wonderful bits of kit.

KARL:

Yeah, the Mustang’s a pretty hairy aircraft.

DAVE:

It is, yeah.

KARL:

Because I was in hospital in 1944, they used to wheel us out and I used to lie in bed, this was in Surrey, and watch the ‘planes going over for the invasion, with the stripes underneath the wings.

DAVE:

Yeah, mine’s got those invasion stripes on it.

KARL:

How’re relationships within the band, now?

DAVE:

We have a very good working relationship. What can I say? We’re not the greatest of social meeters, we never have been. Rick tends to live in France most of the time, Nick has his life and his cars and stuff, and I have my life with my own friends. We’re separate but together. We get on very well.

KARL:

Is Rick more integrated into the band now than he was?

DAVE:

Rick has made a comeback into his sort of, more rightful position in the band, he contributed music for this recent album. Yeah, he’s made a resurgence.

KARL:

Now one of the things that you’ve always done is playing on other people’s albums, producing other people’s albums, have you got any protégés, anything like that you’re working on at the moment?

DAVE:

No, haven’t got any, no projects I’m working on at the moment. I’ve been asked to do a couple of things by various people, but right at the moment I haven’t got the appetite for it.

KARL:

So what have we got on the album, what kind of material, because I haven’t heard it or seen it?

DAVE:

The live album? The live album is culled from 20 shows around Europe and England, ten all around Europe and ten at Earls Court, I think we recorded, and the best of those have been gathered together to make a live album. We made a live album after the last tour, in 1989, so it would to some people seem like a little early to start repeating oneself and doing the same thing. We weren’t going to do another live album for this tour but when at some point in America we finally got round to re-doing Dark Side of the Moon for the past time, in its entirety for the first time, since 1975, we thought that would be something that we would like to have, and people would like to have, would be a live version of Dark Side of the Moon, and at the we never thought we’d be able to video it or film it, or release it on video, due to, you know, complications with our old pal Rog, but he changed his mind at some point, had his arm twisted a little bit, and so again we’re putting out a video of the whole concert as well, which will be the first live, filmed live version of Dark Side of the Moon, so that’s very nice.

KARL:

Is it only Dark Side of the Moon on the video or . . .

DAVE:

It’s a whole concert that we transmitted live to the world from one of the Earls Court shows, obviously transmitting live leaves a lot of camera work and sound work to be desired. In the excitement of the moment, it’s great, but we did record every camera separately, so that has all been re-edited together and the sound from that one night has been mixed, so the video is from one night, which I can’t remember what the date was, one night in October, about the twentieth of October, so the whole of that is one concert from one night, but the live album, is different songs from all different nights, but is very similar, a similar sort of thing.

KARL:

The video that you’re releasing, is it the same video of the concert that was transmitted?

DAVE:

Yes.

KARL:

But remixed and . . . What sort of things did you need to change?

DAVE:

Just mixing the sound and cutting the pictures together properly. We had 20 cameras, recording it, we had a guy, David Mallet our director, in a truck, watching it, and him flicking between these 20 cameras. You can rehearse it till the cows come home but there’s no way that you’re going to get every shot that you want to get perfectly, on the night, or even close. It’s basically winging it. And the same with the sound, you know. You get a good, fairly good over-all balance, but you know the finesse of studio mixing is a very different thing. We have had the opportunity to re-edit all the pictures and remix all the sound, and make it to the sort of standards that we normally expect of ourselves.

KARL:

I was very impressed by the quality of that video.

DAVE:

Yeah, me too. I thought it was good. Yes, we did do our utmost to make it as good as we could do on the night but what you can do on the night and what you can do a little time afterwards are two different things. I’m sure there will be people who will think we have lost a bit of the spontaneity of the night, in the new version, but if they recorded it on their video player at the time they can compare the two.

KARL:

Do you do any overdubbing on either the album or the video, you know: I could have played that a little bit better, or anything like that?

DAVE:

If there is a clonker, we don’t change things if I think I could have played it a bit better, but if there is a mistake, and that mistake will bug me for the rest of my life, or if I sing a line out of tune or something, which happens quite rarely, but happens once in a while, we go to another night, and lift that line out of another night, or lift a guitar lick from another night just to replace one where there’s a mistake. But there’s been no studio overdubs whatsoever, and the absolute minimum of any overdubs. So the only, literally the only overdubs that have been done are very few things picked out from other nights. So it’s all proper live recording but there is an occasional phrase of vocal or phrase of guitar which has been pinched from another night.

KARL:

That’s reminded me, one of the things that struck me about the broadcast was that I, this isn’t a criticism because I quite liked it, there was a certain hoarseness in your voice.

DAVE:

Well a certain hoarseness in the voice is something that doesn’t necessarily bother me, and one wouldn’t change it just for a certain hoarseness, but if that hoarseness is coarseness or out-of-tuneness then maybe we’d fix it. There are one or two from the live concert night, particularly in the first half, that we did change.

The problem was that we had planned it quite carefully, where we were doing, we did five nights one week, five nights the next week, then four nights the next week, this was five nights on the run, so we did five nights for the first week, then there were to be the two days off, then we were going to do one night to warm ourselves up again, sort of thing, then we were going to transmit and record the second night, which was going to be the Thursday of the second week, which was the day we did it.

Unfortunately, the first opening night, as you know, we had a concert seating collapse, and we had to then put that concert in on the Monday night, which meant that I didn’t get my two days off to let my voice recover back, because four or five nights singing two-and-a-half hours a night is quite tough on an old throat like mine, so I only had one night off, then I had one concert, which instead of wearing my voice in was rather having the opposite effect, so on the night, given that I hadn’t had my full recovery time, and given that one is bound to be a little more nervous and tense and that also tightens the throat up a little bit, particularly in the first half, there were one or two croaks that I didn’t like, so they have been lifted out of another night and put back in.

KARL:

As I say, I didn’t find that a problem, because it gave it a sort of authenticity, if you like, that’s a rather loaded word, I felt I was listening to the real Dave, you know.

DAVE:

Yeah, well it is all the real thing, like I say one or two are from another night. For me, I find it, you know if I’m going to listen to that sort of fifty times while we’re mixing it, and the rest of my life every time that tape gets put on I have to listen to the same horrible out-of-tune note or horrible croak, then I like to change it. Not in a quest for perfection but in a quest for not annoying myself for the rest of my life. Making vocal or instrumental mistakes during a concert is not something that worries me, because when you do that live, that moment is then gone. As soon as you’ve done it, it’s in the past and it’s already been forgotten about. If you then record it, and people have to listen to it every single time, I know there are occasions when you get to laugh but there are more occasions when you get to hate them.

KARL:

Visually, I was interested in how different things like Dark Side of the Moon were from the previous versions, the Gerald Scarfe animations that we’ve got used to weren’t there.

DAVE:

Well, that’s not Dark Side of the Moon. Gerald wasn’t on Dark Side. Gerald did stuff for the Wish You Were Here album, and mostly for The Wall. No, the Dark Side of the Moon show is pretty much the same as we used to do it, almost identical, yeah. The “politicians” film was changed because it was so out of date, I mean a film about politics filmed in 1973 is hardly going to be relevant in 1995. Probably the piece you are thinking about is the original Time animated footage, which was done by a guy called Ian Eames, it wasn’t actually done by Gerald Scarfe, that one. And we did change that one.

KARL:

So who did you have doing the animations generally? Did you use one person throughout the new material?

DAVE:

All the new material, Storm organised and directed this things, he’s been doing these sort of things for us since the Sixties, and he got a company to do that animation for Time, Storm Thorgerson from Hypgnosis.

KARL:

Even though Hypgnosis isn’t still going, he is.

DAVE:

Yep.

KARL:

So there is a visual continuity with the new stuff, a similar sort of feel, the guys with the church bells over their shoulders, all that sort of thing.

DAVE:

We have our little coterie of people who are not normally seen, our little coterie of backroom boys, if you like, of whom Storm is one of the top people.

KARL:

How much input do you have into those visuals, or do you do the music and he visualises it as he sees it?

DAVE:

Well, he, we talk about it, we talk about what I think I am meaning and what I am trying to say in a song, then he goes and storyboards and we go through the storyboard and if there are bits I don’t like, you know, they go out and they get replaced. Usually, we’re both very happy with what is going to be done before it’s shot. Of course, you can never quite tell what it’s going to turn out, look like, when you’ve shot it.

That one you’re talking about, the one with the people with the bells over them, he had a man in that particular piece of film, wearing a white suit, looking out over the fens, and that’s one of the things you can’t really foresee, and I just hated this guy, which I suppose was supposed to be representing a person like me in middle age looking back at something of his youth and I did make him go and reshoot that again with a different actor and wearing different clothes. So things like that do happen, obviously. But we’re usually pretty much in accord with what we’re trying to do.

KARL:

I notice you use the first person plural quite a lot, “we”, is Pink Floyd a “we” operation, is it a collective?

DAVE:

We’re talking there about the “we” in terms of myself and Storm working on the visual things.

KARL:

Yes, I was aware of that.

DAVE:

I probably slip from “I” to “we” often while talking about these things. Pink Floyd is, what does one, it’s not an autocracy exactly, it’s more of a meritocracy, I suppose, where the person that puts the most creative input into it, obviously has the most say. That’s how it’s always been. When Roger was in charge, he obviously, and, you know, with all our agreements, had the most say in what was going on. He did in its later years try to turn it into a complete autocracy or dictatorship really, which was when things got very sticky. Now, there are moments when I am disagreed with by both Rick and Nick and maybe other people, too, and I am obviously, not obviously maybe, there are occasions when I have to stamp my little foot and say: Well it’s bloody well going to be this way. But not very often.

KARL:

So the atmosphere in the band is much better than it used to be?

DAVE:

It’s better than it’s ever been, I would say. Because so much of what we’re doing is to everyone’s taste in terms of the way we do it, the way we record it, the shows, everything.

KARL:

Do you envisage going on tour, not in the near future but in the foreseeable future?

DAVE:

I don’t envisage going on a similar tour, really again, myself. I don’t know. One can never know, I think doing these giant mega stadium tours is, I’ve probably had about enough of it, really. In fact the 1987-88 tour, where we did lots of indoor shows at arenas from sort of 10-thousand-seaters size to sort of 50-60,000-seat stadiums, is a better way of doing it. On this occasion what we did virtually was outdoors until we got to Earls Court, and the relief at arriving at a nice cosy little intimate place like Earls Court was quite something. I mean, I haven’t . . . there’s no decisions or plans, really. But for me, my current feeling would be that if one was to do something again, it would be much more like doing two or three weeks in Earls Court and two weeks at Madison Square Gardens or something of that ilk, rather than trolling round again. But who knows?

KARL:

Are you now speaking for the rest of your life, or the just the next time you go out?

DAVE:

I’m just speaking for me as to how I’m thinking on this morning.

KARL:

That’s right, yeah, yeah. I appreciate that.

DAVE:

I mean that I can talk myself into a hole, I can tell you that that’s for the rest of my life, and then in a couple of years’ time think: Well maybe I will. Who knows?

KARL:

Yeah, that’s totally reasonable.

DAVE:

But you know, like I say, I’m 49, doing those sort of things, I think I’ve nearly grown out of it.

KARL:

While you’re “resting”, in the dramatic sense, do you play any music, do you pick up your guitar and have a blow now and then?

DAVE:

I play guitar nearly every day. I actually play the piano more than I play the guitar. But a day doesn’t go by without my plunking away on some instrument or another.

KARL:

What sort of thing would that be?

DAVE:

Well it could be anything. Sometimes I’m making something up, which I then try to remember to jot down on my little recorder similar to this, for future reference, in case it comes in handy one day, sometimes I might play an old Beatles song, or just doodle away, or I might sing a lullaby to my little child, or London Bridge Is Burning Down to a slightly older child, or anything. Just doodling, most of the time.

KARL:

So you haven’t shut down the musical side of your life then?

DAVE:

No. It’s a large part of my life.

KARL:

Are you concerned very much about the social issues?

DAVE:

I am, yes. I am not a Tory, I have never voted for the Tories, I have always voted Labour, but I’m not a member of the Labour Party. I tend to support policies rather than parties. The things that the Labour Party has given our country since the war, the Health Service and all those things, what they’ve done for the education services or the social security services, all those things are, it’s tragic, what’s being done to those, these days. So I’m a whole-hearted supporter of those aspects of the more social side of the political spectrum.

But I’m also, at the same time, not averse to earning money, and I’m not averse to paying a little more tax.

KARL:

Yeah, well you’ve never been a tax exile, have you?

DAVE:

Oh I have done, for a year, you know when The Wall came up, twice I’ve done it for a year, for The Wall we did it, because we were going to be broke if we didn’t, and in 1987 I did it as well, because putting together that whole thing and the fighting with Roger nearly broke me again, and I suppose one could say I would like to have enough stashed away to be able to do things like that without having to be too worried about losing money on it. Because making albums and putting shows together is bloody expensive.

KARL:

What about environmental issues? Are you concerned about that?

DAVE:

I am indeed, yeah. I’m a great support of the EIA and various other environmental things, in fact all the profits from our Earls Court shows went to charity things, and the large proportion of it went to various ecological and environmental charities like the EIA and the Greenpeace.

KARL:

I wasn’t aware of that. I knew that you’d quite clearly given them quite a platform.

DAVE:

The entire Earls Court thing, the profits went to that.

KARL:

That must have been a lot of money.

DAVE:

M’m. Quite a lot of money.

KARL:

Could you put a figure to it?

DAVE:

(laughs) You know how coy we are about these things. It was in the millions, though.

KARL:

That’s really putting your money where your mouth is.

DAVE:

Yep.

KARL:

But we’re not likely to see you physically protesting about the export of live animals or something like that?

DAVE:

That’s not one particular issue that I would put my whole-hearted support behind. It would be hypocritical because I eat meat. I would support individual issues without supporting absolutely everything these people do. You choose which ones you do. I would have to think each issue through and decide whether I really wanted to believe it, wanted to support it, or not, before I would go along with it.

But I have done, strummed my guitar outside the Israeli Embassy for old whatsisname . . .

KARL:

Vanunu?

DAVE:

Yeah, for Mordecai Vanunu, yeah, ‘fraid so. Not done too many of those things. I would certainly stand up and be counted on certain issues, and his is one that I have done on more than one occasion.

KARL:

Where does the sort of things we’re talking about, does that come out in any of your lyrics?

DAVE:

Yeah. It does on occasion.

KARL:

Can you give me a f’rinstance?

DAVE:

Well A Great Day for Freedom is specifically about the tumbling down of the Iron Curtain, the divide between east and west, but it’s a rather cynical view of the glorious dream that we thought it would be, and the rather ugly reality that it’s become. Yeah. Take It Back, on the album, is more about ecological issues than anything else. They’re hard to do well. They’re hard not to sound sort of preachy, these things, and to get a correct balance that you’re happy with and can remain fairly proud of is very tricky, so I don’t do that much of it, but there’s been things involved with ecological and world political issues on every record I’ve ever made, I think. But they’re not that obvious, necessarily.

KARL:

On the Turning Away, I thought, was . . .

DAVE:

Yeah, there’s another one. That one borders on the preachy. It’s a very fine line that you have to tread. I like that one a lot but some of my friends sort of go: Phoah, dunno about that one, that one’s a bit on the preachy side a bit, sanctimonious and self-righteous.

KARL:

But it’s a song a bit like Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance, which I can envisage sort of like thousands of people in Trafalgar Square, all singing it. And, personally, I think it’s a pity that music has come out of it. In the early days of CND [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] there was music everywhere, perhaps not very good music, but it was going there, I’d be playing my guitar and singing The Family of Man and stuff like that. And when I heard that, I thought: This is it. This is the song that we’ve been looking for, that’s going to encapsulate what everybody’s feeling, you know, about the alienation . . .

DAVE:

Yep.

KARL:

. . . coming from this Government. And yet it hasn’t had that sort of impact.

DAVE:

I think it’s a lovely tune, lovely melody, good words, hasn’t become that sort of anthem, but there you go. We can only do our best.

KARL:

Because there hasn’t been the sort of mass reaction, to that. It’s growing, in certain specific issues, like I mentioned, the export of live livestock and stuff like that, but they’re all fragmented from each other, aren’t they? If all these various people would get together, something remarkable would happen.

DAVE:

Yep.

KARL:

And if they did, would you be there, d’you think?

DAVE:

I could well be, yes. I could well be.

KARL:

I think that’s a good note on which to finish.

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2 thoughts on “1995: The Dave Gilmour interview

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