On Monday (November 14th), Nick Mason took part in a conversation with David Fricke, senior editor of Rolling Stone magazine, for the Speakeasy television series - the interview will be aired on PBS in the United States at some point next year. The event took place at the Lincoln Center, in New York City, and Jacqueline Bilello was on hand to report back on it. Our thanks to Jacqueline for this, and for the pictures seen here too.
The interview location at Lincoln Center took place in a very atmospheric penthouse loft with a spectacular view of New York City. David Fricke is known for his articles in Rolling Stone magazine and for conducting one of Kurt Cobain’s final interviews. David's commentary in various rockumenteries, as well as his vast knowledge of rock and roll makes him very suitable, in my opinion, to interview Nick Mason. No further introduction is needed as we all know who Nick Mason is.
We arrived at 7:30p.m. for the 8:00p.m. start time. After exiting the elevator on the 10th floor we were met with strategically placed Pink Floyd photo posters on easels showing Pink Floyd in their various incarnations along with several older publicity shots.
We were politely greeted by various staff members and camera crew, and as we stepped inside there was a small group of approximately 35 to 40 people. It took some time for them to set up their cameras and equipment. We were led to our seats, which were arranged in horseshoe formation around the two interview chairs, which looked like thrones by the way.
We were prepped by the director and stage manager and some seats were rearranged, mine of course being one of them. David Fricke eased into the conversation in his own laid back style reminiscing about his very first concert, Pink Floyd! A good start as he was already personally vested in this interview. What followed was a multitude of thought provoking questions that dug a little bit more beneath the surface than most. As an ardent fan I really appreciated his personal interview style with Nick, and as Pink Floyd fans we already know the answers to a majority of the questions often asked in interviews, but seldom the undercurrent of emotions felt by the band members as well as their personal insight and this I feel was addressed by David. David's personal, friendly style was conducive to Nick revealing more personal details.
David covered such a wide variety of topics in this interview. For starters they lamented the lack of footage from Pink Floyd's all too brief Dark Side tour, as well as The Wall. Nick, who admitted that he does miss performing live felt that there weren't enough dates played for both of the albums mentioned, and that there weren't enough shows to sufficiently get into the groove of things on the road as far as performing live and perfecting the stage show goes. Also mentioned was the now infamous Roger Waters spitting incident which in turn led to the birth of The Wall and the band's continuing alienation from their audience.
He spent a lot of time delving into the realities of working with Syd, and his declining mental state. Nick expressed genuine sadness at Syd's demise and felt that they, namely the band, weren't really there for him, also mentioned that although LSD certainly had a detrimental effect on Syd's mental state, there were other things at play, Nick feels that Syd did not want to be in the spotlight and quickly grew disillusioned with the requirements and responsibilities that go along with being in an up and coming band trying to make the big time. David specifically mentioned Pink Floyd's arrival in America and their appearance on the Dick Clark show noting the radical change in Syd's demeanour from only several months prior when he and the band appeared on another popular show in London I believe.
One very interesting question posed was if Syd were still leading the band what direction would the band have taken? The early beginnings of the band at the UfO/avant garde scene in London during the 60s, the atmosphere at the time, Pink Floyd's involvement on the scene and there rise to fame, their evolving sound. Nicks encounters with other rock and roll luminaries, such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Alice Cooper, Jeff Beck, and other countless bands that were popular at the time but seemingly faded into obscurity. Nick reminisced about Pink Floyd's initial impression of the California psychedelic scene, versus the London scene and his witty anecdotes were classic!
Nick had excellent recall of events it seems except when groupies were mentioned, everyone got a good laugh out of that, I do expect that bit might be edited out of the broadcast. He also spoke about Pink Floyd's involvement with movies and film scores, more specifically, working with difficult Italian directors. The touring war animosity was touched upon when Roger Waters was touring his solo album at the same time Rick, Dave, and Nick were touring theirs.
The band's studio habits, meeting David Gilmour, Rick Wright's unassuming demeanour, his contributions and his relationship with the other members were all covered. Discussion about mainly Nick and Roger's architectural backgrounds was very interesting; Nick not only goes into his first ever encounter with Roger (Roger was scary) but he attributes their education in architecture as helping then to creatively construct music and how they incorporated their education into building songs/albums etc... Concepts anyone?!
Nick delved into his early family life and childhood, his decision to play the drums, his love of cars. It was very entertaining when Nick discussed his feelings on the punk generation, namely punk's leader Johnny Rotten with his 'I Hate Pink Floyd' shirt and how this seemingly made Pink Floyd an early target of the burgeoning punk movement. Keeping this punk stuff in mind, how did Nick come to produce an album by the punk band The Damned? Hint: they originally wanted Syd!
What I walked away with was Nick's realization and sadness regarding Syd, my feeling is that they all carry around this tremendous amount of helplessness, sadness, and possibly even guilt as if there was something more they could have done to help him especially now as they have had sufficient time to reflect and see the situation differently through the eyes of older and wiser men and have had the time to finally process what they witnessed. All of this so beautifully reflected in their music, and lyrics, some of their best work in my opinion was in effect their mourning the loss of Syd.
The realness and the impact of these feelings of loss expressed so poignantly in their music were genuine and that was yet another reminder of what makes their music so unique and intensely expressive. Far from being depressing, the acknowledgement of Syd by Nick was uplifting in all of its humanness and further validated for me why they are and will always remain the best band ever; they are timeless.
There was so much more covered during this interview then I could possibly remember and my suggestion is to watch this interview when it airs.
Addendum: I am not a writer just a fan and I wanted to be able to share this experience with like-minded fans who did not get the opportunity to attend last night's event, enjoy!