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October 27th 2002 - San Francisco Chronicle Print E-mail

Pink Floyd front man tries simplifying his life

Given Pink Floyd's propensity for major productions involving lasers and inflatable pigs, it's surprising to discover the group's front man taking the low-key route on his new live film, "David Gilmour in Concert." Recorded at London's Royal Festival Hall last year, the DVD highlights stripped-down versions of Floyd classics like "Wish You Were Here" and "Shine on You Crazy Diamond." Gilmour, 56, has been simplifying his life in other ways as well. He recently sold his London house for a reported $4.5 million, giving the money to a homeless charity.

Q: Are you trying to get away from the big Pink Floyd productions you had to put up with all those years?

David Gilmour: Well, I enjoyed them thoroughly, so I never had to put up with anything. It's just when you get to my age, you start feeling like you want to lighten your load a little bit and do things in a simpler way. And this is my way of doing things simpler.

Q: Why do you look kind of nervous at the beginning of the concert?

David Gilmour: I was very nervous, actually. There are a couple moments when I look at my fingers playing the acoustic guitar and see my vibrato going a bit more than I would do it. That's the trembling working on my fingers.

Q: Whoa! You have played some of the biggest concerts in the world ever. What happened?

David Gilmour: I was very nervous. It's much more nerve-racking going out in front of 1,000 people than it is 60,000. The 1,000 people become individuals you can see in front of you. When it becomes big crowds in a stadium, it's just a huge mass. It's a large object out there.

Q: When did you start wearing jeans and T-shirts onstage?

David Gilmour: I've always worn jeans and T-shirts onstage.

Q: There were a few years you dressed up.

David Gilmour: Did I? I can't imagine what in.

Q: I think you had a nice dinner jacket thing happening for a minute.

David Gilmour: No, I don't think so. Maybe. Maybe it was a cold night and we were outdoors. But I've never been much of a snappy dresser.

Q: Somebody told me you used to work as a teen model.

David Gilmour: Yes. But I was always a musician. When I was a teenager -- if someone came along and said you get three weeks' wages for one day's work just standing around in front of the camera -- anyone would take it. It probably amounted to about three jobs in my whole life. That myth got blown slightly out of proportion.

Q: That's nothing to pooh-pooh.

David Gilmour: No. I certainly wouldn't be eligible for it now.

Q: How else are you simplifying your life?

David Gilmour: Well, I'm not exactly John Lennon imagining myself with no possessions. I've got some possessions, but I've sold some possessions. I got rid of a couple of businesses. Doing air shows and flying airplanes is a hobby of mine. But some of those things that are hobbies that turn into businesses, I've sold the businesses and turned them back to hobbies. It's far more enjoyable that way. I found myself with too many responsibilities, and I want to relax a little bit and see my kids grow up. I want to live a slightly simpler life, but not fantastically simpler.

Q: You kept a few of the sports cars, right?

David Gilmour: No, I sold those.

Q: That's terrible news.

David Gilmour: I still have a couple of airplanes, but I sold all my fast cars.

Q: What do you do for fun now? I hear you are a mean cook.

David Gilmour: I'm a pretty fair cook. I have to watch my figure, though, in case one of the modeling jobs comes up. I'm just living a simpler, quieter life. I take my kids to school every morning.

Q: Are you retired?

David Gilmour: It's all part of the same thing. I can't really find it in me to devote the amount of time to my musical career as I could when I was in my 20s. I want to see my children. Doing a Pink Floyd project would take 24 hours a day for two years. It's a really, really long, hard project. That's not the sort of thing I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

Q: So you're just going to leave it up to Roger Waters. Have you ever seen how bad his concerts are?

David Gilmour: No, I haven't. He did some shows this summer, but I didn't go to them. I don't know if I'd enjoy them or not. I don't think I would sufficiently enjoy the hassle of being spotted going to one, though. I don't think it would be quite worth it. But all those arguments with Roger were so long ago. It's now 17 years since he left the band, and I scarcely remember what that was like now.

Q: How can you rationally walk away from something so huge?

David Gilmour: It's a gradual process. I don't have to walk away from it completely. But Pink Floyd and all that stuff is at the back of my mind. I guess it's age. It's the changing of priorities. Maybe I'm maturing or something. Maybe I just don't need as much adulation as I thought I needed.

 
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