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Home arrow Interviews arrow David Gilmour interviews
September 27th 2002 - BBC Radio 2 Print E-mail

Interviewed by Johnnie Walker

 

The interview segment of Johnnie's show, started with One Slip (studio version) at 6:25pm GMT. The interview itself was recorded earlier in the day (which was evident on viewing the studio webcam, showing Johnnie sitting around, drinking coffee etc!).

Johnnie Walker: ...A great pleasure to welcome David Gilmour to Radio 2. Good evening.

David Gilmour: Evening Johnnie.

Johnnie Walker: Great to see you. David's here to tie in with the release of a DVD and VHS called "David Gilmour In Concert", which is all sorts of things, but mainly performances from the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, and then some other tracks, from January 2002 when you repeated the exercise. "Chamber Rock" as it's been described!

David Gilmour: (Laughs) Yes...interesting!

Johnnie Walker: So it started with Robert Wyatt's invitation to be a part of the Meltdown Festival...

David Gilmour: It did; I guess that was in about April or May of 2001. He rang up and asked if I'd take part, I said "yes, of course", and proceeded to go into a complete terror as soon as I put the phone down, thinking "Oh God, there are less than three months to go - what the hell am I going to do!" It's expected to be a slightly more...esoteric and different. One is not expected to go and do exactly the normal thing that one's expected, has been known to do, in the past...

Johnnie Walker: But you had this idea of how it might sound, with what, a cello, a double bass, and a small gospel choir?

David Gilmour: That was the first thought that came into my head, when I was still on the phone, yeah. More or less acoustic - acoustic guitar for me, a cello and double bass, and a gospel choir. We expanded it slightly - added percussion, that came in some of the time.

Johnnie Walker: Then intensive rehearsals at your Sussex farmhouse, which can be seen on the DVD...

David Gilmour: The very first day of rehearsals with the choir are on the DVD, to everyone's delight and pleasure...

Johnnie Walker: It couldn't be more different - in a way. I mean, with Floyd there's an enormous power, fantastic visual effects, and this is as pared down as it could possibly be, and a lot more pressure on you, I would have thought?

David Gilmour: I was very very nervous, it has to be said, on the night, and for the two or three months preceeding, but it's a much lighter weight to pick up and take out, to do something like this; you can be practically spontaneous. Not completely - I could gather these people together and get it all up and running, and be on the road doing a few shows if I wanted to, in a month or something, which is just an impossibility within Pink Floyd.

Johnnie Walker: It's wonderful that you are going to play for us tonight, and also here's Melvoin Duffy, on slide guitar. Somebody asked a question, Ian McKenzie, (we had many emails): bearing in mind your recent concerts had you performing as a solo artist, why didn't you perform any songs from your two solo albums?

David Gilmour: Erm. Good question. I can't answer that. I don't really know! There was nothing that immediately seemed to fit and that I wanted to do. There ARE a couple that I'm considering doing next time I do these things, but, just didn't quite get to them.

Johnnie Walker: Okay. What about for tonight?

David Gilmour: Well, I think we'll do "Fat Old Sun" which is the last...I think we recorded about 32 years ago, so I was a young 23 year old!

Johnnie Walker: You had to listen to it again and write down the lyrics?

David Gilmour: I had to, yes! (Chuckles)

Johnnie Walker: So, what guitar are you using, out of interest?

David Gilmour: A nice old Martin G35 guitar, that I bought off a guy in the street outside Mannies in New York, who was trying to sell it in 1972; it was quite old then. It's actually the guitar that I play on Wish You Were Here on the original record, and on dozens of other things too. It's an old favourite of mine.

Johnnie Walker: Okay. Here it is - Melvoin Duffy and David Gilmour, playing live on Radio 2....

    - Fat Old Sun (a beautiful version!)

Johnnie Walker: Beautifully done.

David Gilmour: Well, thank you. (laughs)

Johnnie Walker: When that was performed at the Royal Festival Hall, David Cheal from the Daily Telegraph, said "rendered in stark fashion, Atom Heart Mother's Fat Old Sun revealed as a fantastic song, rich with melody".

David Gilmour: Mmm. Fantastically overlooked. Tried very hard to push the others in Pink Floyd into allowing it to go on our Echoes Greatest... whatevers... last year, but they weren't having it, so...

Johnnie Walker: A lot of people have emailed us; they seem to have accepted that there might not be any new things from Pink Floyd - album or tour - I guess that's the case?

David Gilmour: D'you know, that's something I just can't get my head round at the moment. It's not what I'm thinking about; I'm concentrating on what I'M doing at the moment and I have to say it's so enjoyable to do what I'm doing, and to be doing this slightly lighter weight stuff - not in it's content but in the way we present it. It's so easy for me to put together with these other great musicians, that the thought of a Pink Floyd project just hasn't really entered my head, so...who knows?

Johnnie Walker: It's a wonderful role you've achieved - it seems to suit you very well - an elder statesman of British rock - a mature statesman!

David Gilmour: (Laughs) Oh yes. You have to get some place...we're not kids any more and you have to find a way for you to progress gracefully with some semblence of dignity as you pass through this life and this seems to suit me quite well.

Johnnie Walker: There's some great extras on the DVD as well as performances at different concerts at the Royal Festival Hall; you've got the home movie, lyrics sheets, miscellaneous - there's three songs there - included you doing a live version of Elvis Presley's "Don't" at the Lieber and Stoller tribute. Why did you pick that one?

David Gilmour: Why did I pick that song? Oh, well, it was a Lieber & Stoller tribute and they gave me a long list of Elvis songs and I looked through them. I always loved Don't and I just thought I could do it slightly differently. And I thought the chances were that everyone else would be doing Yakkety Yak and all these drrp-drrp-drrp great things that Lieber and Stoller were very good at writing, and I thought if I did something that was a little bit different to everyone else, it would come over well, and it was really...I enjoyed doing that. It doesn't seem to have been released, or shown, that whole concert, so we rang the producers up and said: "any chance of nicking it back to pop it on my DVD?" and they said "fine - please do."

Johnnie Walker: Excellent. And there was another benefit show that you did for the White Lotus school in the Himalayas. How did you get attracted to that project?

David Gilmour: Well, I didn't go to the Himalayas!

Johnnie Walker: No, but you did the concert to benefit the school!

David Gilmour: My arm was twisted by the Cowdrays who are very big followers of all things Tibetan.

Johnnie Walker: And another section of the DVD, under "Spare Digits"...

David Gilmour: Under "Spare Digits"?(laughs)

Johnnie Walker: You get six guitar solos from the main performance. That kinda beats Bert Weedon's guitar tutor doesn't it?

David Gilmour: Well, David Mullet, who's the director of these things, film director, video director, likes to make sure he gets the guitar solos to cut in when he's filming, and you often get the directors and the cameramen are all doing something, but they often miss things like that. So he dedicates a guy to pointing a camera at your fingers, basically, all night long. It's his job to sit there, and point that camera at the fingers. So, we had that stuff in the can, and someone suggested we should do that. And as we have lots of spare digits in that medium, the digital medium, you can see my little fat digits doing it.

Johnnie Walker: Yeah. The note bending techniques. (Both chuckle). So, are there plans for more of these then, more shows next year?

David Gilmour: My plan, and I'm not promising anything, is to make a studio album, something along these lines. Although, again, I'm not going to... if I change my mind about how it's going to be, so be it! But I do intend to do some concerts in about a year's time, I think.

Johnnie Walker: Obviously, you are very busy, with four children...they take up a lot of your life. How many? Sorry! Eight! Eight! I mean, about four who are living with you, isn't it?

David Gilmour: That's right! Full time, yes!

Johnnie Walker: But...you have this love still of flying and stuff like that? How is Intrepid Aviation? I love the name of that - I get this vision of you in a leather flying jacket: Biggles Gilmour and stuff like that!

David Gilmour: Intrepid Aviation was a way for me to make my hobby pay for itself a little bit, but gradually over a few years Intrepid Aviation became a business because you have to be businesslike about it. Suddenly I found that instead of it being a hobby and me enjoying myself, it was a business and so I sold it. I don't have Intrepid Aviation any more - I just have a nice old biplane that I pop up and wander around the skys in sometimes.

Johnnie Walker: Do a bit of barnstorming in...

David Gilmour: Yes, that right...

Johnnie Walker: Okay, another song. Are you going to do a new one?

David Gilmour: This one's a new song, which I co-wrote with my wife Polly. This is called "Smile"; I wrote the music, and she wrote the words. Fine they are too...

    - Smile (another beautiful performance!)

David Gilmour: (notes fade) Yeah, one little sigh when there should be a smile...but that's how life goes!

Johnnie Walker: Yeah, it's a smile when you get home, it's a sigh when you leave! (both laugh). So, that's David Gilmour on guitar and vocals, Melvoin Duffy, doing an excellent job on slide guitar, and the new song "Smile" which will be on the new solo album which will be out next March.

David Gilmour: (Alarmed) March? No, next YEAR some time!! In about a year...

Johnnie Walker: I just thought I'd put a bit of pressure on you! (both chuckle)

David Gilmour: Not you as well!

Johnnie Walker: So, you must have been enormously pleased by the reaction to concert, both from the audience there and the critics.

David Gilmour: Well, it was nerve-wracking doing it, but it was very gratifying to get good reviews and for it to have seemed to have worked. Very good to build my confidence for doing something along those lines as a studio album next year.

Johnnie Walker: Did anybody have to push you on from the wings? Were you quaking a bit?

David Gilmour: I stood in the wings, and was announced, and I was actually shaking. There's a couple of places on the thing, there's a close up on me doing a vibrato on the guitar and you can see my fingers are actually wobbling more than they're supposed to do. I was terribly nervous, but you just have to walk up those steps and march out and try and look confident...

Johnnie Walker: Because you are quite a shy man, you can see in a way that even at the end of the songs, taking your applause you are almost...

David Gilmour: Well, I LIKE it!

Johnnie Walker: What was your motivation to push you into performing?

David Gilmour: When I was young? What made me want to do it? God knows. Exhibitionism? God, I don't know. I loved music; when Heartbreak Hotel came out, that really did it for me. I vowed to get a guitar and learn it. But the first time I ever performed with a guitar was a scout thing when I just strummed a guitar, open, with no chord at all, when I was about 12 or so... Got Heartbreak Hotel there on Elvis's Number 1's? It wasn't a number one here!

Johnnie Walker: Yeah - good excuse to whack that on. Listen, thanks very much for coming in...

David Gilmour: (interrupts) That's quite minimalist - Heartbreak Hotel - double bass, little bit of guitar, piano - that's not an awful lot going on, tons of atmosphere...

Johnnie Walker: Good, well that was lovely. For those in jams on the various motorways, all jammed up on Friday night that was very relaxing. Thank you.

David Gilmour: Thank you very much indeed.

Johnnie Walker: Thank YOU very much. You can see David Gilmour In Concert with extras on the DVD and the VHS. It's being released very soon, October 5th or 6th I think...David, many thanks.

Interview closes with Elvis's Heartbreak Hotel.

Transcription © October 2002, Matt Johns, Brain Damage. Please seek permission before using elsewhere.

 

 
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