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February 21st 2006 - Reuters/Billboard
By Emmanuel Legrand
LONDON (Billboard) - David Gilmour has remained quiet since Pink
Floyd's reunion last July for the Live 8 concert at London's Hyde Park.
Quiet but hardly inactive.
He has been busy putting the finishing touches on his third solo album in a career that spans close to 40 years.
The 10 tracks on the new set, "On an Island," bear Gilmour's trademarks
-- atmospheric guitar work and ethereal harmonies. Some of the songs,
such as the title track and "A Pocketful of Stones," could easily fit
on a Pink Floyd album. There are inroads to blues and jazz, and a
couple of instrumentals -- including one, "Red Sky at Night," on which
Gilmour plays saxophone.
Gilmour co-produced the album with Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera
and Chris Thomas. It is due March 6 on EMI in Europe and March 7 on
Columbia Records in the United States.
"I do really think it is about as good a piece of work as I have ever done," Gilmour says.
Starting in March, Gilmour will embark on a 25-date sold-out tour in
Europe that will continue in America in April before a U.K. return at
the end of May for a series of concerts at Royal Albert Hall. The set
list will include tracks from the new album as well as Pink Floyd
Despite Gilmour's acrimonious split with Pink Floyd bass player and
main composer Roger Waters, they agreed to appear together at Live 8,
fuelling speculation that Pink Floyd could regroup.
Gilmour spoke with Billboard about his new album; his creative
partnership with his wife and lyricist, Polly Samson; his aspirations
in life; and, of course, Pink Floyd.
Q: You have recorded only three solo albums in 25 years. What triggered this one?
A: As well as the two previous solo albums, there's been two Pink Floyd
albums in '87 and '94. So while it is not very frequent, quite a lot of
more work has gone on in the intervening period. I have remarried and
had four more children, and I have been enjoying bringing those
children up. But in the last couple of years it felt it was time to
start again and start working on a new album. It felt to me that this
album should be me and not Pink Floyd this time. It's just a slightly
different way of working.
Q: Did it change anything in the songwriting process?
A: It was me writing little pieces of music and picking up what I
wanted to work on. But I don't think it would have made any difference
to the selection of the pieces of music, whether it was Pink Floyd or
me on my own. I want to be a little smaller and more compact in my
work, and the Pink Floyd is so big and unwieldy that I feel more
comfortable doing this.
Q: With your body of work, you could probably get any lyricist in the world to pen something for you. Why work with your wife?
A: When you've got such a good lyricist so close by, I could not feel
the point in going elsewhere. She worked with us on (the 1994 Pink
Floyd album) "The Division Bell," and I like to keep things around me
to my friends and colleagues that I've worked with. I am a bit shy at
times, and moving outside of that is sometimes difficult for me. Polly
and I are on a working partnership as well as a life partnership, and
she's as good as I can get.
Q: Which are the Pink Floyd tracks you really like and that stand the test of time?
A: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Wish You Were Here" are standout
tracks. "Comfortably Numb" is another one. "High Hopes" from "The
Division Bell" is one of my favourite all-time Pink Floyd tracks. "The
Great Gig in the Sky," "Echoes" -- there's a lot of them. For the tour,
we have a list of songs that we want to try to decide on and that we'll
Q: Are you frustrated that the tour is sold as "the voice and the guitar of Pink Floyd?"
A: Well, I am David Gilmour, the voice and guitar of Pink Floyd. I have
been since I was 21. I can't see any reason at all when trying to
promote my shows and my album, I shouldn't mention the fact that that's
what I spent my life doing.
Q: You are playing a select number of midsize venues. Are you aware
that you may frustrate millions of people who may wish to see you?
A: I can't help other people's frustrations. I don't owe people
anything. If people would like to come to my concerts, I'd love them to
come. And if they like the music that I make, I love that too. But I do
not make music for other people. I make it to please myself. To go out
and tour for months and months on end is not just what I want to be
doing at my age. Sorry if you don't like that, but it's my prerogative.
Q: What motivated you to do Live 8?
A: For one thing, the cause. What Bob Geldof was trying to make happen
was to persuade the leaders of the G8 nations to cancel the world's
debt. Obviously, if one can do something about that, one wants to help.
The second reason is that Roger (Waters) and I had a lot of bitterness
and anger over the years, and this was the first time that he had
seemed to be wanting to put some of that behind him. And getting rid of
anger and hatred is a good thing to do. I also thought that if I did
not do it, I would regret it. So there are a lot of reasons for doing
it, and I did thoroughly enjoy doing it. And it is very good to get
over some of the bitterness and very good to have some sort of closure
on all of that.
Q: Have you spoken to Waters since?
A: Not since that week, no.
Q: He seemed very happy onstage.
A: Yes, he was, and so was I.
Q: Why did you decide to give back the royalties you would earn from your performance at Live 8?
A: I felt that it was not an act of generosity, but it was a debt. I
don't think that being invited on a concert like that and having that
massive advertisement for your career is something that is yours. It
belongs to the cause, so I absolutely think that it is morally wrong to
hang on to a profit that you have made out of something like that.
Q: Is it correct to assume that you turned down an offer to tour after Live 8?
A: Yes, we were offered a lot of money to go on tour. And I did turn it
down, yes. The offer was made to tour with a lot of money, and it was
with or without Roger. But I have no interest in going on a tour to
make money without making new product, new art. So just going out and
replaying our old hits again on a tour does not appeal to me at all.
Q: Will there ever be a chance to see the band live together?
A: Who knows? I have no plans at all to do that. My plans are to do my concerts and put my record out.
Q: What is your life going to be like in the next couple of years?
A: I have no idea what the future holds. I hope that I am going to get
through my tour and enjoy it, and then I will be back home looking
after my children, while my 16-year-old boy gets ready for his exams.
And I shall be trying to steer and guide my children into their future.
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