Musicians at Google: Nick Mason

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 23.03.2012

>>Male Presenter: Hi, I'm Nick Dedina. I'm with the Music, Google Music Group. And we
are here today with Nick Mason. Who has done so much in his career besides working with
people like Robert Wyatt and
>>Nick Mason: The Damned. [laughs]
>>Nick: The Damned, which is big on my list. He's also been Pink Floyd's longest serving
and I would say probably the original member of the band. And been their drummer. He's
an amazing musician. And, really looking forward to talking to him. And, welcome.
>>Nick Mason: Thank you.
>>Male Presenter: So, we, I know we've just had the first batch of Pink Floyd remasters.
We kinda got to jump into there. And we also have The Wall coming out.
>>Nick Mason: Mm-hm.
>>Male Presenter: What was it like kinda not only going through your, you know, your history
with the band and all the music you made, but also going through the vaults and hearing
all this stuff you probably hadn't known about or hadn't remembered?
>>Nick Mason: Well, fascinating exercise. Inevitably. Because that's absolutely true.
You forget the notes that were made. And it's extraordinary in a way that anything remains.
Because the tendency was to, just discard things in the way that, if there'd been sketches
or if there'd been notes on paper. You just think, at the time, you think the only thing
that matters is the finished product. The finished album. And so actually, far more
interesting exercise than I think we ever thought.
>>Male Presenter: so you guys, I know you started really working with some of the people
before Pink Floyd. Even kind of officially was a band. But one of the surprises for me
was hearing the early sessions with Syd Barrett and it didn't seem like he needed that much
of a run up time for his talent to be exposed. Those were really good, really strong material.
>>Nick Mason: I think that some writers, some, someone like Syd was a natural talent. The
interesting thing is, in a way, that if you look at Roger's first song. On "Piper at the
Gates of Dawn." "Doctor, Doctor" I mean, no disrespect but it's not a great song. But
with application, within another album, his writing set of controls were far more complex
songs. That really worked. But it's that thing of, some people it just comes like that, other
people have to work to it.
>>Male Presenter: So I kind of always thought you guys were these musos. You know these
just, you really picked up your instruments and played. And we had talked a little earlier
about, with The Damned. And the punk. But you guys were kind of, it's what you did.
And you really had a proficiency that just went up.
>>Nick Mason: The last of the gifted amateurs is what I would say.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah.
>>Nick Mason: I mean, because I would say, we, it's one of the interesting differences
I think between then and now. Is that time, at the time there wasn't anyone to teach you
to play the electric guitar or rock drums or anything like that. You listened to something
that you heard on the radio. And you thought, "How'd they do that?" [taps on knees] you
know. Whereas now, certainly my experience with my kids is that at school they can go
and take classes and they can actually sit grades playing Jimi Hendrix tracks. It's wonderful.
But it leads to a new level of musicianship, I think today. Which, I, has to, I love. I
think it's great.
>>Male Presenter: But there's that balance between your craft and your creativity, and—
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, yeah. Like naive painting or something. In some ways, well, again, interesting
that so often classical players are terribly inhibited by their training. And very rarely
can break out and improvise. And there are quite a number of great players who have wanted
to improvise and been absolutely unable to. I mean, this is perhaps one of my favorite
stories about the whole experience of doing these, these editions recently. But the nicest
one was when we were working on "Wish You Were Here." We were playing the track and
Yehudi Menuhin and Stephane Grapelli were working in studio. I think we were in Studio
3 in Abbey Road, then Studio 2. And they came in just to see what we were up to. And we
invited them to play. And Stephane Grapelli absolutely just went in and knocked something
out. And that's one of the elements that's in the package. And Yehudi would really like
to have played but was far too uneasy at the prospect of improvising. And in a way that
is, I'd say it's sad. But that is perhaps the price you pay for being the virtuoso.
>>Male Presenter: That's one of the real treasures of that.
>>Nick Mason: Mm-hmm.
>>Male Presenter: Is that, not just his work. I don't know if you sat, if you guys sat down
with him and told him what the song was about.
>>Nick Mason: God no.
>>Male Presenter: And what the lyrics were about.
>>Nick Mason: Absolutely no. Never.
>>Male Presenter: But his solo really fits the mood and extends. It does what a solo
is supposed to do.
>>Nick Mason: Yeah. Absolutely.
>>Male Presenter: It spins the emotion of the piece so beautifully.
>>Nick Mason: Now you just responded to listening to the track.
>>Male Presenter: So I mean to invite someone like him in to play with you. I imagine, you
could tell by Pink Floyd's work, you guys have had such a vast interest in music. Not
just the, you know, the kind of sharp subdivisions of music. What did you listen to growing up?
And how did you eventually get to the drums?
>>Nick Mason: Uh, well, I think all of us listened to, I mean, the beginnings of rock
and roll. Which would have been Elvis and Bill Haley and so on. I mean, they, it was,
well, I can remember that the first rock and roll that I heard on the radio, you, the BBC
simply didn't play it. It was Radio Luxembourg, one hour on a Friday night. Called "Rocking
to Dreamland," I think. It was a very small, small thing in Europe anyway. And so I think
we, that inevitably was the primary influence. But I think we probably all listened to, well
perhaps a broader range of music. Certainly quite a lot of classical music. But also jazz.
Tried jazz. And then all the be-bop era stuff. Certainly in my case. I had, and still do
really, like all the sort of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and so on.
>>Male Presenter: And so this led to you guys, I mean you were one of the first bands really
and especially first British bands, where it wasn't something you guys had to do. Or
you felt like it was your option. You had came from very interesting families. Your
father has, did very interesting work. And you instead, you guys decided you know, to
play music. And it started as a lark, or?
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, I suppose the thing is, well, the sociology of it, if you like. I
suppose we were part of that change where rock and roll started coming from the middle
classes rather than anywhere else. And previous to that had been sort of a working class concept.
And then the, I suppose around earlyish '60s. And certainly, I'm talking UK always here.
What really happened were the art schools started turning up the bands. And that includes
a band called The Pretty Things who were one of the earliest of those. But the Beatles
certainly had an element of the art school. And certainly, and the Rolling Stones were
sort of a college band rather than sort of working class off the railways which had been
the early English rock scene.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah, I read a thing with Mick Jones of "The Clash". Where he said he
went to art school because he wanted to be in a rock and roll band. And he didn't know
how to do it and that's where he heard you did it.
>>Nick Mason: [laughs]
>>Male Presenter: And he said as a byproduct of that, he got a great art education. And
used that for the sleeves and the costumes. [inaudible]
>>Nick Mason: Yeah. Well, I have to say for, I mean, we weren't quite art school. We were
architecture school. And it was absolutely brilliant training. I mean, first of all,
it was a sort of government funded initiative. In that we got a grant to go. Architecture's
a very long course. So you've got sort of a good seven years. If it was gonna take a
while to learn some of those drum patterns.
And also in our case it led to a lot of other spinoffs in terms of people that we later
worked with who were not necessarily musicians but became lighting designers, stage designers.
Best known of all is Mark Fisher. Who did the original designs for The Wall and the
mechanics of the way The Wall worked. And fell down and all the rest of it. Mark was
a contemporary of ours. He was at the AA which was the other architectural school in London.
>>Male Presenter: So that's another element you guys kind of brought was, I mean, I think
maybe Alice Cooper later. Your, there's the element of your music and then there's the
element of your life, presentation, which certainly evolved over the years.
>>Nick Mason: Uh, yeah.
>>Male Presenter: Was that a conscious or—
>>Nick Mason: I'm just making the connection with Alice Cooper and thinking about the snakes.
We never really did snakes. Sorry. What—
>>Male Presenter: No, but there was a, I don't know if it was part of the British underground
scene but there always seemed to be your stage shows there was more elements to your stage
shows than—
>>Nick Mason: Well, I think that was, yeah, that was again, that was connected to the
architecture element. Because there was, we had a part time lecturer who spent half the
time at Hornsey College of Art and half the time at Regent Street. And he was working
at Hornsey, with light and sound workshops. The idea of these light shows being the sort
of potential of the next paintings hanging on the walls. And we went and supplied music
for this. This exercise at Hornsey. And this didn't come out of our school at all, funnily
enough. And that was sort of about being right place, right time. I mean I think most bands
need, I think all bands actually need that mix. I mean however good you are or however
bad, you need to be, in the right place at the right time. You know two years earlier,
wouldn't have happened. Two years later it wouldn't have happened.
>>Male Presenter: So what's the film? It's a wonderful movie uh, "Blowup?"
>>Nick Mason: Oh yes.
>>Male Presenter: Blowup. I mean, seeing that as an American now, I think it's supposed
to be very glamorous and you realize London is still coming out of a war. There's still
like bomb sites in the film and it's a little shabby. But I always use that as a kind of
thing that maybe the world that Pink Floyd was involved in. Or?
>>Nick Mason: I think, well we were sort of slightly, we were sort of mid-60s, I suppose.
Now, I think we were into this new, I mean, it was the London underground. But it was
also that change where younger people were actually making money. And this was the big
change. I mean up until when England came out of that whole post-war period, up until
then, young people were apprentices. I mean was the sort of thinking, more or less. And
suddenly they had this thing with these particularly, I mean, before us, the young photographers
and the whole sort of old fashioned thing. As well as the music. It was a pretty broad
brush. And it was you know, it was the '60s. we were all really worried about what we were
gonna do with all our free time.
>>Male Presenter: So that's one of the differences between Britain and America at that time.
It just seems to be the amount of money the consumer had, or what materials cost. But
I think an outshoot of that was, at that time Britain was more singles orientated and America
was more LP orientated.
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, I mean, not, again, I can only, my experience is England. And the
key moment was really Sergeant Pepper and that was back, because that was the moment
at which the album sales overtook the singles. And that was an absolute change. And again,
that's, that comes back to what I was saying earlier. We were right place, right time.
Because the way we worked was really suited to the concept of working on an album basis
rather than a single basis. I mean, our first recordings were absolutely geared to the idea
that we had to have the hit single.
>>Male Presenter: And that's strange, kind of, coming, 'cause, I have no idea, I mean
200 million, 300 million albums for Pink Floyd? Which is phenomenal. But you guys have never
been perceived as a singles band. An LP band. But at the beginning, maybe you—
>>Nick Mason: At the beginning we were. We decided we were an album band when we couldn't
sell the singles.
>>Male Presenter: Well, how was that transition? I know you brought in and old member. And
then you brought in David Gilmore. When Syd Barrett was starting to have troubles or trouble
with the band. How was that and what did you see in David Gilmore to invite him aboard?
>>Nick Mason: Um, what did we see in David? Well, that's a fairly multipart question.
Uh, in no particular order. Well I always like to say that we really wanted the best
guitarist available. But he wasn't, so we picked David.
But that's being unkind. But no, David was perfect. Partly because of great voice. Great
guitar player. And actually out of work at the time. We actually thought he was rather
possibly too good for us I think. But he was driving a van at the time for Ossie Clark.
So he was sort of, we sort of guessed that he'd be up for it.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah and then how was that transition when there seems to be that there's
a parting of ways between Syd Barret and Pink Floyd?
>>Nick Mason: Yeah. Uh. Very British. Very Pink Floyd, in that we tried not to address
it at all.
And you know the famous story is that we, which is true, which is that Syd was absolutely
having a breakdown. And in a, again, very British way we tried to ignore it. By occasionally
sort of saying "Alright, well, let's take a day off." Which is really not the solution
at all. Um, and it just got more and more difficult for him to operate actually, rather
than work with us or anything like that. He was really falling apart. And we were, as
I say, just trying to ignore it. And finally one day, we'd done three or four shows with
David on board as well. As a five-piece. And we just said, "You know what, let's just not
pick Syd up today." And went off and carried on doing the shows without him. Well, of course,
very soon it all had to be resolved. But it was a sort of strange moment. But of course,
once we, once Syd had dropped out and we were working with David. It was a real, it was
another kick start. It was almost like starting again. It was actually terrific for us really.
Because we were all motivated. And we all knew exactly what we wanted to do together.
And it made life really easy. We still have to carry the guilt I think. The fact that
we were not prepared to recognize that Syd was in trouble and having this breakdown.
And we should have done something about it far far earlier. But we weren't very good
at it at the time.
>>Male Presenter: Well I imagine one of the things that's hard is, you're dealing with
Syd on a personal, you know, business level. And other people have kind of sainted him
and his work as perfect. And you, you know, in its time, he didn't keep going the way
you guys did. But it seems like you really, your personality started coming out more as
you know, after he—
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, well I think Syd was absolutely the leader of the band. He was the writer.
Wrote all the good songs. And he was the front man. What's strange in a way, was that we
absolutely thought we could carry on without him. Because we had no history of other songwriters.
Roger taking over or Rick writing, really. But there was, there still was the sort of
curious drive to keep going. There was something that we thought we could do.
>>Male Presenter: So this is kind of a period where, in Britain, you guys are having kind
of a great deal of success right out the gate. I mean.
>>Nick Mason: Well, we had a couple of, we did have sort of a semi-hit single. Or a couple
of relatively successful records. The big thing though was this business of working
live. And actually in the UK, it wasn't that great. I mean, we were the sort of you know,
this new wonderful exciting underground music. That everyone in London thought was incredibly
cool and smart and everyone outside London thought it was truly ghastly. And you know.
We were quite often more or less booed off the stage but not the most popular act that
had been there. And we, again, it's this, I don't wish to make my career sound as though
it was entirely based on luck, but there's an element of what happened at the same time,
was that the new universities, all the red brick universities, were starting to understand
that one of the ways the student unions could operate was to put on these shows. And so
all these universities sort of became a whole touring thing. And instead of having to do
these top rank ballrooms which were full of soul bands playing "Knock on Wood" rather
badly, we'd do these universities where all these intense students would sit and listen
to the music. Which was exactly the audience we needed. And the other thing at the same
time was that we were working in Europe. And in particular in France. The French embraced
us. And really, the French perhaps sort of, French and Dutch probably particularly, really
gave us a living. We might not have had it entirely in the UK.
>>Male Presenter: So yeah, at this time in the States we had, FM radio had started.
>>Nick Mason: Mm-hmm.
>>Male Presenter: And there wasn't corporate control. The DJs could play what they wanted
>>Nick Mason: Wonderful.
>>Male Presenter: So they were playing the long, there weren't edited Pink Floyd cuts.
They were playing the long Pink Floyd cuts.
>>Nick Mason: Oh brilliant. I remember when we first came over in '67. The whole thing
of doing the FM radio shows. It was just wonderful. Drive out to this shack and there'd be this
guy with this fantastic record collection. It would be sort of two or three hours of
putting stuff on. There's still quite a famous tape, I think, of a radio show in Philadelphia.
Where we went to this FM station after we'd finished doing a show. We were supporting
The Who. And we went out to this radio station with Keith. And Pete. And Roger, myself and
Rick, I think. And I think we might have had a few drinks or something might have happened.
But there's the sound of Rick going "I don't like this record." And sort of just ripping
it out of the turntable.
Good times.
>>Male Presenter: So, and you guys were involved with film, too. I mean, you did some sound
tracks. Which I don't know if they were big at the time or not. But they're beloved now.
In, when, especially "Obscured by Clouds" kind of really almost brings you to another,
you know, new sounds. How did you get involved with that?
>>Nick Mason: IT was, well, the first film that we did a proper soundtrack for was Barbet
Schroeder. "More." And, I think, we'd sort of established the idea that we liked working
with images. And weren't very interested in learning to do moon walking or anything like
that. And so there was a sort of natural link really. To film. And Barbet was perfect. Because
again, there was the French connection. In so much as that he was really up for using
us rather than anyone else. And he also was very relaxed about how it was done. It was
done relatively low budget and that, people I don't think at that time had invented [indistinct]
or any of the smart ways of linking music. So what we actually did was, we would go and
watch the film in its current edit. And then we would simply time sections. So we'd go
"We need 17 and a half seconds of this sort of feel to the music." And we'd go into the
studios and record this sort of thing. And then go back and Barbet would sort of fit
it. And if necessary maybe modify the film slightly and sometimes we'd just make cross
fades that were long enough for the film to actually be a second and a half out. They
weren't very tight cues. It was, I think it worked really well. And I think that gave
us a real taste for it. We then went home and did,The Valley, "Obscured by Clouds" was
the one after that.
>>Male Presenter: Yeah, in "Obscured by Clouds" there is a wonderful records you guys did
called "Meddle." Which I know as a lot of my friends, it's one of their favorite Pink
Floyd records. Where it seems like you guys again, took another leap. Where it was just
a, almost, if you when you listen to "Obscured by Clouds" too, those will almost like coalesce
into "Dark Side of the Moon."
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, I have to say, I tend to think if you look at the progression of
albums, "Meddle" is quite critical. It goes sort of "Piper", "Saucer", and then more or
less "Meddle." So I think "Ummagumma" and “Atom Heart Mother”, are both sort of
cul-de-sacs. That we were good to do. And I'm not ashamed of the records but in terms
of the progression, "Meddle" certainly was that, the sort of idea that you could have
a piece that was the entire side of an album. That that would actually be a good way of
working rather than not.
>>Male Presenter: So, how did you guys approach "Dark Side of The Moon?" Were you consciously
thinking "This is gonna be it? This is our moon shot here?"
>>Nick Mason: That would be great. If we'd all sat around and just gone "I know what,
let's make a record that would be in the top 100 for the next 30 years."
That would be very smart. Smart programming. No, we wanted, we were going to make the next
record. And we started talking about the idea of doing something that was a bit more than
just individual tracks. I think probably initially we had got two or three individual tracks.
With some ideas. And then we actually talked about the idea of doing something and giving
it this theme. And the theme would be, things that make life difficult. Four long haired
youths doing drugs and alcohol, talking about what makes life difficult may sound a bit
odd now.
But at the time, we just sort of sat about talking about mortality and money and so on.
And once we'd sort of got a vague idea of what we were going to try and do, Roger went
off to write lyrics. And on the various subjects. And it began to sort of fit together really.
I still think it's interesting on that record. And it's one of the reasons why I think the
record has survived for so long. Is this very curious thing that Roger had the ability to
write lyrics that quite often are more relevant to a 50 year old than to a 20 something year
old. You know it's particularly some of the lines, you can listen to now and think "Yeah,
yeah, well that—" kicking away the moments that make up a dull day”. I mean it's as
relevant perhaps more relevant now than then.
>>Male Presenter: I don't know if it's his, because of Syd Barrett. Or because of Roger
Waters, kind of had a prickly personality.
>>Nick Mason: That's one way of putting it. They said the same about Stalin.
>>Male Presenter: But he, especially on that album, those lyrics are, they are pointed.
And I can think of other things that kind of, it's an album I took one way as a child
and another way today.
How did that affect your career? Because I would imagine, that album is the second biggest
selling album of all time. And it hasn't lost an ounce of relevance or, hasn't dated at
all. How did that affect especially your career? And Pink Floyd, and in America?
>>Nick Mason: Well, it transformed everything for us. Because success in America is what
matters. in rock music. And so it pushed us suddenly from league division 2, to the premier
league. Which meant of course that we could then change our shows into something far more
advanced. I mean, that's, you know, that's how it works. You can then get the best people
to help you do the staging. Bigger shows. I think it made life difficult in other ways
because you then lurch from theater shows to arena shows to stadium shows. The stadium
shows require a very different approach. I mean now, well, you know. You see it, having
watched Madonna yesterday. I mean, it's the stadium show, it's a fantastic thing that
people can do relatively, I won't say simply. But everyone's sort of familiar with how it
works and how to make it work. But at the time, the lurch into stadiums was not good.
Because the requirement for the staging in order to keep the focus on the stage, is huge.
And you tended to find that you'd still, you got half the stadium who were watching the
show, and the rest of them were playing Frisbee at the back or whatever.
[soft laughter]
Which is not so good. The other problem with it was of course that we then had to do the
follow-up album. And I think we got there in the end, but being wiser after the event,
what we should have done was a lot more touring and a lot more live, we should have played
"Dark Side" live more. And filmed it. It's one of the great regrets that we didn't really
ever have a record of how we did it originally. And it meant that we actually spent a year
in the studio not getting anywhere. It actually, the first six, nine months of recording of
"Wish You Were Here" produced absolutely nothing. And we just finished recording a sort of "How
we did it" DVD. And four more miserable people
That you'd hope to interview, going "Yeah, well, I thought. Oh God, what are we gonna
do now?" and so on. It was a pretty average time really.
>>Male Presenter: But it's almost ironic because it feels as if "Dark Side" would have been
the struggle and there's "Wish You Were Here" is a more melancholy record.
>>Nick Mason: Mm-hmm.
>>Male Presenter: Well, they're actually both pretty melancholy records.
>>Nick Mason: [laughs] Yeah, we don't really do "The Sound of Music."
>>Male Presenter: Yeah. But there's a lightness and it doesn't feel like a struggle. It feels,
it's almost like you guys went back to some of the elements in "Meddle" too.
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, it's hard to remember exactly. I don't know that the struggle was
perhaps the period before it. Just before we actually hit some ideas and actually had
something to do. But "Dark Side" wasn't really a struggle. No, it was actually probably the
point at which we worked at our best together. In terms of getting something done and getting
it right.
>>Male Presenter: I would say growing up that "Money" was always played on the radio. And
then of course "Another Brick in the Wall." But today, "Wish You Were Here" is probably
the most played on every radio format. You'll be listening to a Mexican ranchero station
and suddenly "Wish You Were Here" will pop up. It's become like a gold standard.
>>Nick Mason: Well, always nice to here. But it is curious. Because you know, you look
back on these things and actually then to try and sort of make some sense of why they
work or why they don’t work is almost impossible really.
>>Male Presenter: And then when the kind of punk explosion happened, um, I always think
it's kind of funny that Pink Floyd is thought of as just about the darkest band imaginable,
and you guys put out "Animals".
>>Nick Mason: Mm-hmm.
>>Male Presenter: Which was, I mean the punk scene comes out as light and airy compared
to that album.
>>Nick Mason: [laughs]
>>Male Presenter: I mean it was that?
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, well, we've ruminated a bit on "Animals" and whether it was influenced
by punk. And I suspect it was to some extent. That there was I think, even we were recognizing
that there was this sort of prog-rock, punk-rock, everything had got a bit overblown and everyone
was building bigger and bigger sets. And it was not really the way everyone wanted to
go. So there was an element of that influence. And the fact that we were absolutely pilloried
is the wrong word, but attacked by the sort of punk movement. As being these sort of old
has-beens. And there was that feeling of, "Well we'd better respond to this." But actually
it was also part of a change in the way we recorded. Because for this album we'd build
our own recording studio. And it was not in Abbey Road. It was a much much simpler, much
more basic recording facility. And I think that had an influence on it as well.
>>Male Presenter: So, I think it was a little after "Animals" you worked with The Damned.
So here's a punk band. I don't know if it's just Captain Sensible who's always named Pink
Floyd as the highest of, he just completely adores them. Whether it was his influence
or the whole band, but how was that? Going from you were kind of stadium heroes, to working
with them.
>>Nick Mason: Well I absolutely loved it. I think I got more out of it than they did.
Because as so often happens, well, the truth of the matter is that The Damned had approached
our publishing company. Because they actually wanted Syd to produce their record. And that
was not going to happen. So they said "Well, Syd's not available. We've got an old drummer
who'll do it." And so I was really interested but unfortunately the band were in the middle
of having musical difference. And so there was a big split. Between, I think it was Brian
and Dave Vanian on one side and Captain and Rat on the other. So I spent quite a lot of
time waiting for them to sort of finish a fight before we could get on and do something.
But I loved that business of making the record in a week or so. And I'd say to the Captain,
after three takers I'd say "I think that's really good. Why don't we do another one?"
And he'd got "Naaaah. Why? Naaaah. That's fine." And I loved that. I mean actually you
end up with the sort of energy that you never get from doing 27 takes and 40 overdubs.
>>Male Presenter: So when you guys moved to The Wall, which if anything, I don't know
about it in Britain, but that at the time became probably even bigger than "Dark Side
Of The Moon." I mean, we had, we were, I took a yellow school bus. And you'd have 50 American
kids singing along to that on AM radio.
>>Nick Mason: [laughs]
>>Male Presenter: But was there a difference in the band dynamics when the album came out?
>>Nick Mason: No, well, there was by the time the album was finished. But I think when we
started on it, it was fairly, we were in a relatively good place. In so much as that
it was a different, it was different. Because Roger had actually produced demos of the whole
thing. It was a whole concept rather than bits and pieces. And even put together. And
so we actually knew what it was gonna be. We'd all agreed that that's what we wanted
to do. And so it was fine. We were then sort of thrown into disarray because we moved to
France rather rapidly when we discovered that we'd lost a lot of money and that the Inland
Revenue were going to possibly come and take our houses and cars and all the rest of it.
We thought this was a very bad idea. So we headed for France. Which in another way was
a good thing. Because it meant that we were really, suddenly had to focus on what we were
doing. We might have taken a year longer, I think, to record it if we'd just done it
in England. In between doing all the other things we were doing at the time. But a lot
of "The Wall" recording was actually really good and really exciting. Because we brought
in all these other people to get involved and help. We'd got James Guthrie doing sound.
We'd got Bob Ezrin helping with production. And later on we had Michael Kamen doing the
string arrangements. So working with all these people was terrific. And we were working in
the south of France which is never a bad thing. Compared to London anyway. Um, so it was all
fairly good. It began to fragment much further along the line. When there were disagreements
between Roger and Rick in particular about when we were going to work and when we weren't
or whatever. And then it sort of all blew up just about the time that we were finishing
the record. But the actual process of making a lot of the record was, I won't say easy.
But it was perfectly civilized.
>>Male Presenter: It's, that's a record that seems to speak to teenagers and yet it's,
and American teenagers. But it's so much, pretty much all your work, it's such an English
record. And it seems to be such an, it's almost like the more specific you are, the more universal
you are. Because it seems to be such a singular story and it affects everyone else. How did,
did you guys feel any pressure about that being your story? Or did you just feel that
you're in a band?
>>Nick Mason: No, I think that's interesting. I think going back to this business of Roger
playing the demo. He actually played us two demos. He played the demo of "The Wall" and
the demo of "Hitchhiker". And actually we all sort of responded to "The Wall" rather
than "Hitchhiker" and felt that it spoke to us. As well as it was very autobiographical
in certain ways. Very strong elements of very specific moments in Roger's life. But I think
we felt that they, it had moments that hit us as well. Particularly. So it was very easy
to engage in the whole thing. And get involved in it, from that point of view.
>>Male Presenter: And was that another, I know the tour at that time was just considered
this, I mean, a true spectacle. Which--.
>>Nick Mason: It was a madness. That's what it was. Because it was a show that could never
make any money. It was done absolutely as a sort of as part of a bigger plan actually
of course. Which was to do the show and then eventually film it. And then that changed
in the end with the way the whole thing was. Well, just the way it all panned out. Now
I think if you ask Roger now. I think Roger wouldn't necessarily have chosen to let it
go down the path that it did. It was sort of overtaken by the fact that when we did
film some of the London shows it still didn't do whatever was really required. And we ended
up taking Alan Parker who was a sort of [indistinct] originally. I don't think he really wanted
the job but felt that he really had to take it. And so he ended up directing it and changing
it into much more of a feature film.
>>Male Presenter: Which was very successful too. All those play doors, and, there was
a time with Pink Floyd that you guys were so popular week after week, month after month,
year after year, that they actually changed the charts in America
>>Nick Mason: [laughs]
>>Male Presenter: basically to take Pink Floyd records off of it because you were stopping
other bands from getting exposure.
>>Nick Mason: So American.
Get rid of those damned Europeans coming over here.
Yeah, there were a number of quite nice things. I think what still, I think there was some
altercation between the record company and the billboard. They wouldn't take the extra
advertising. So we were never given more than a gold record. Rather than a platinum also.
Something like that. But I don't think it's something that we lose a lot of sleep over.
>>Male Presenter: And then, the final cut, which I know was a contentious record. With
the band. Is one of those albums I think the same way that "Dark Side of the Moon's" kind
of existential themes, kind of, there's no time in for them. That album, with the kind
of the debt crisis we're going through. The wars we're going through. It's still, it's
suddenly speaking to people again. In a, you know, in a way that, especially in America
it didn't during the beginning of Thatcherism and whatnot.
>>Nick Mason: Yeah, in many ways it was quite a political record. I think it was, well Roger
always describes it. He's fond of it but he will concede it's flawed. Which I think is
quite a good way of putting it. But it's got one or two sort of quite interesting side
aspects to it. One of which is something that's I've always sort of being sorry about in a
way, that we used up some new technology on that. Some quad technology. Developed by a
guy called Hugo Zuccarelli. I think his name was. And it was this absolutely mind blowing
quadraphonic kind of thing. That only required a stereo mic. It actually had a, I say a "human
head". It wasn't a real human head. But it modeled a human head with all the ear ducts.
And it was stunningly good in terms of surround sound. I mean, I remember it still. Sitting
there and listening to this. And we never managed to actually get this technology onto
the record properly. But it was a sort of side aspect to the thing itself. But having
been involved in quite a lot of the sound effects that we used on the record, lot of
sounds, Doppler effect, traffic, and things like aircraft and so on. It's something that
I'm really sorry we were never able to actually engineer into the record itself.
>>Male Presenter: So when you guys carried on as Pink Floyd without Roger Waters, and
then just one last question before we open it to the audience members.
>>Nick Mason: Mm-hmm.
>>Male Presenter: But how was it, it was so nice to see you guys do the Live Aid performance
and, together. And for a really appropriate cause. Did that, did that whole performance
mend some fences? Or?
>>Nick Mason: Oh yeah. No, it was a very good thing to do. And well it was a brilliant thing
to do really. Because it was playing for all the right reasons. It showed we could be vaguely
grown up. And I was able to say to my children "Look, see we're not that bad." No, it was
terrific. And I think everyone came away with all the right feelings from that.
>>Male Presenter: That's wonderful.
>>Nick Mason: But no we are not announcing a new Pink Floyd tape.
>>Male Presenter: Well, just
[audience member sneezes]
Bless you.
One more thing before we open to the crowd. I was at a super bowl game last night and
I mentioned I'd be talking to you, and I expected some oohs and ahs about Pink Floyd and instead
my friend, Matt, got very excited and ran to his bookshelf and took off this copies
of Octane Magazine.
>>Nick Mason: [laughs]
>>Male Presenter: That he keeps because he loves your articles so much.
>>Nick Mason: Ah, excellent. And I have to say, one of the things that came out of the
whole thing was that I found that I really did rather enjoy writing. And I started work
on, well, it would have been '94 I guess. At the end of the tour. And started work on
doing a sort of autobiography, story of the band thing. Which took a while to work with
what was acceptable with the others or not. And people said "How'd they feel about it?"
And I tend to say the book has been almost universally acclaimed, and when I say "almost
universally", there are three people who don't like it.
>>Male Presenter: it's a really fun book. And a really beautiful book.
>>Nick Mason: Thank you. But as I say, I just ended up really enjoying the business of writing.
And ended up doing quite a lot of car journalism as well. Fun.
>>Male Presenter: Well, thanks. Do we have any questions?
>>Male #1: Hi Nick.
>>Nick Mason: Hi.
>>Male #1: Oh. So in the late '90s or so, the news kind of broke out that there was
probably some sort of sync between "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wizard of Oz." [laughter]
And then you were famously quoted as saying "We didn't purposely sync it up to Wizard
of Oz, we sunk it up to The Sound of Music." [laughter]
>>Nick Mason: Yeah. No I, sorry, sorry.
>>Male #1: Just wanted to know, like, is there actually and intent to sync up to "A Dark
Side of the Moon" and "Wizard of Oz"? Or is it a coincidence? Or something that you know,
some stoned kid just read way too much into?
>>Nick Mason: Well, the thing is, it was very strange. Judy Garland came into the studio
and she said "I've got this idea for a record."
And it just went from there.
No, it's just one of those peculiar things. I mean, I think, anyone who works with film,
movie, whatever, and music knows how easily you can tie things together actually. The
strange thing is this business of odd cues that work. But I'm sort of got a feeling you
could do the same with The Wall and Spartacus. And you know, it depends on how much time
you've all got. I mean if you've really got that sort of time. I don't know, I think possibly
I'd suggest you do something else with it.
>>Male #1: Thank you.
>>Male #2: How important was Alan Parsons as a creative influence on Dark Side?
>>Nick Mason: Um, Alan was, well he was, I think the best thing with Dark Side is, rather
than try to assign very specific amounts of importance is just to say, the reason why,
one of the reasons why Dark Side has worked so well is because it had so many people doing
good things. I mean I think we'd all say that we were really lucky to get Alan. He was the
best of that Abbey Road sort of system. Almost. Where he'd worked his way through the system
so he was a really accomplished engineer. But he was also familiar with all the technology
that was going on at the time. There was certainly an element of the producer in him. As he proved
conclusively with the Alan Parsons Project. You know, I mean, it was again, it's just
that business of sort of real life. We assumed that Alan would be engineering our next record.
And of course, when we announced this good news to him he went "Well, actually, I want
to be a producer now. Thank you very much." And went off and did the project. So we sort
of slightly grew out of each other. But we were very lucky to have him. And without a
doubt, he plays a very important role. As did Chris Thomas. As did a lot of the unsung
heroes of Abbey Road. The guys in the white coats who came and fixed things and came and
fiddled with things to make them work. You know, I'm thinking again, it sort of relates
to the Beatles when they discovered phasing and flanging and so on. It wasn't only George
Martin or the Beatles themselves. There'd be guys there who would invent things. I mean,
the, when we were recording Piper, there was a guy there called Bernard Speight. Who was
an engineer. He was just the engineering department. But he built for us the original quadraphonic
hand part. And you know, that just came because there. Because they had all the bits and pieces
in the workshop. And because we talked about him. And it's those sort of things that add
immeasurably to what you're doing. And of course they never get the medal or the due
>>Male #2: Thank you.
>>Male #3: Hi Nick. Is this on? Oh there. I went to the Animals concert in Anaheim Stadium
where it rained right before the concert came on. And it seemed, the sun came out and there
was a double rainbow over the stage. And it seemed like you guys came out early just to
take advantage of the double rainbow.
At least, seemed like that to us. Was that true? Or is that just coincidence?
>>Nick Mason: Can you remind me what you were taking at the time?
>>Male #3: It seemed like, it was scheduled for eight o'clock and you guys came out at
like five minutes to eight and there was a couple of—
>>Nick Mason: We might well have done, I mean, if there's one thing we've learned it's to
take advantage of the weather when you can. Because my God, we've done some shows in truly
terrible situations. And, no, there is something wonderful when it does work. When you get
the weather and it's open air or whatever. It's always special. It's great.
>>Male #3: Thanks.
>>Male #4: Yeah, I was curious, to what degree or maybe rather in which way were psychedelic
experiences relevant as inspirations for your music.
>>Nick Mason: I think to almost no measure at all. I think actually what happened with,
we were really scared off, well, acid in any form by Syd's experiences. Because no one
knows for sure, but it certainly seemed like part of the, of Syd's sort of psychosis was
brought on by overuse of LSD. And I think that put us on the rum and black currant for
quite a while before we decided to go experimenting anywhere else. And certainly, so for the earlier
records, I think to a very small extent.
>>Male #5: you're a band that has a lot of cover versions of some of your songs. Especially
"Comfortably Numb." I'm curious if you've heard any of them and whether you like listening
to reinterpretations? Or whether it's painful to hear somebody else's version of your stuff?
>>Nick Mason: Um, actually I love reinterpretations of it. I mean, "Dub Side of the Moon." The
Scissor Sisters, Eric Pritts. Even Luther Wright and the Wrongs. Anyone familiar with?
For anyone who doesn't know, Luther Wright and the Wrong's country western. They've done
"The Wall" as a complete piece in country western style. I mean, that's something.
Actually, I'm far more ambivalent about tribute bands. Because for me, music has always been
about sort of doing your own thing. And sort of the creative side of it. And I'm a little
uncomfortable about people copying every mistake I've very made.
You know that's something you just think "No, no, do it your own way." And they are, and
I have to say some of them are absolutely brilliant. The most impressive of all has
got to be, I think it's the Australian Pink Floyd. Who have split, having had musical
You know, you'd thought they'd seen it coming.
>>Male #6: Hey, can you tell us about Live In Pompeii?
>>Nick Mason: Live in Pompeii. Interesting because when it was suggested, we had no,
we were not that interested. I mean it seemed like quite a good idea. I mean, but now, to
have a record of that show done in that way, is something I think to be really grateful
for. We hadn't thought it through at all. It was Adrian Maben the director. Who decided.
Had this idea of using the amphitheater and so on. But what was curious about it was that,
I think that what really worked was that we didn’t have the complications of doing a
real live show. So we could cut. And film, and move cameras around and all the rest of
it. But it still had a live feel to it. Which I think all the dust and the open air element
gave it. We couldn't have done it in a studio. But the open air element made it into something
else. I love it. Of course I also particularly love it because apparently when they were
filming "One of these Days" there's an awful lot, for people who've seen the film, there's
a lot of tracking 'round the drum kit with me playing. And apparently they lost some
reels of film which were of the others playing.
So it's a bit of a drum feature.
>>Male #7: I've always been intrigued by "Money" and whenever I hear it I envision the point
when the band is sitting together and someone comes up and says, "I know we're gonna make
a song in seven four time. And release it to the public." Can you give any insight about
that moment? And these weird time signatures and?
>>Nick Mason: I think it was Roger just playing on a guitar. And coming up with this idea.
And really, I'm not sure he even realized whether it was seven or whatever. But I think
it was just a sort of idea. And for some reason, even me, no, even I, felt that it was a good
idea. And I've never been sort of, certainly that period, never really dealt with anything
other than four four. So it was, there was a rather steep learning curve to it. But it
was a sort of interesting idea just to be played. And then what Roger and I worked on
the, on some tape loops. To actually make the original sort of the start of the song.
The rhythm track almost for the start of the song. And it's got, it's just one of those
things where after you played it enough times you just think, oh yeah, now that's six, perfectly
comfortably. But it was very odd when we used to play it live and people would occasionally
try and dance to it.
>>Male #7: Did you have any problems with the record executives? Saying, you know--
>>Nick Mason: Not about that. I mean.
I think over many many years there's always been moments where the record company have
had trouble with something we wanted to do. Actually they've had more trouble and there
probably are record people here who know perfectly well that actually what we did to make life
a lot easier to ourselves was, we introduced them to Storm Thorgerson. And Storm and Hipgnosis
made life far more difficult I think for the record company than the music side of it ever
>>Male Presenter: Well, everyone, let us give a nice thank you to Nick Mason.
>>Nick Mason: Thank you.