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Interview with guitarist Dave Kilminster Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Closer To Earth - Murray Hockridge and Dave KilminsterWith the 2013 Roger Waters tour of The Wall now concluded, guitarist Dave Kilminster is not resting on his laurels. For some time now he has also worked with fellow singer and guitarist Murray Hockridge, in the studio and on the road, and they have just finished their latest album, Closer To Earth.

The album can now be bought through the CherryRed.co.uk website, and also through iTunes for those with iThings. Closer To Earth brings together a range of cover versions; a really interesting selection has been arrived at, which eminently suit Dave and Murray's vocal and guitar performances, and - unsurprisingly - there's a Pink Floyd cover included: Wish You Were Here.

We took the opportunity to ask Dave about the album, about touring The Wall, where he reveals some of the low points of those concerts as well as his favourite memories of such a mammoth tour, and what the future holds. We even ask Dave whether or not he is involved with Roger's new album. So, read on to find out what it was like to be on top of the wall, the day that David Gilmour joined the fun, and what sort of problems the costumes could cause during the latter part of the show...

The album contains a really nice variety of songs – and nothing from The Wall! Was that a conscious decision as you’ve now got to know that particular material extremely well?

Dave Kilminster, The Wall Live 2013Yeah, after over 200 shows I think you could say that I know those songs pretty well by now!!! Hahaha.... :O))

No, none of 'The Wall' material was mentioned when we were putting the album together.... although we did try (at Murray's suggestion) an acoustic version of 'Comfortably Numb' earlier this year, which seemed to work really well... so I think maybe that will be part of our live show for a little while. :O)

What drove the selection of tracks for the album? Were they personal favourites between yourself and Murray?

Actually, Murray picked most of the tracks... it seemed only fair, as he's the main singer. I think if you're singing a song, then you have to be totally comfortable with the lyrical content and the message...

Also ideally they had to be songs where we could deconstruct it, put our own stamp on it, and take it somewhere new... like we did particularly with 'Brown Eyed Girl'.

For some of the choices though, there were a couple of tracks that I really wasn't familiar with... tunes like 'Sara Smile' and 'Father Figure'. So the way it worked, was that Murray would suggest something, then I would sit in the studio listening to it on his iPod... and five minutes later we were recording it!!

It was all pretty spontaneous, and made the whole project a lot of fun...:O))

The very beginning of Rocket Man sounds a lot like Breathe, from The Dark Side of the Moon – coincidence?

Hahaha... you noticed that!! Well spotted!!! :O)) Yeah, Murray had been playing 'Rocket Man' on his own long before I met him... and the first time we ever played that tune together, I played that slide part almost as a bit of a joke because the song has a similar chord movement (although in a different key) to 'Breathe'....

But it just fits so well, and it really gave the song a special atmosphere... an almost spacey feel, which of course was perfect for the subject matter of the song.

Having quite recently seen 10cc perform I’m Not In Love, I was particularly impressed with the more restrained reading by you and Murray of this great track. Did the mid point of the song take a bit of working out as to the best approach?

Yeah, when Murray suggested doing this song, I was a little concerned about trying to recreate that beautiful mid section. Especially as the entire album is played on acoustic guitar, and so I really didn't want to cop out and use a keyboard!!!

We initially considered recording an edited version without that section, but it just didn't seem right.... so in the end, I didn't so much work it out as just dive straight in and start playing it... just layering up various acoustics using an Ebow and a volume pedal, and then adding some acoustic picking and some unusual guitar noises until it took on the particular dreamy vibe that I was after.

I really love that song actually... 10cc wrote some incredible music, and I was quite proud of our version of it... especially the 'bass guitar' part in the middle (again just me on acoustic), and the 12 string overdubs which, (to me, anyway) sounded a little like a harpsichord.

I even sang the intro and middle eight too!!

The album concludes with a great version of Wish You Were Here. Was this track a clear cut favourite for inclusion in the album, or did you consider other tracks by the Floyd, or Roger?

'Wish You Were Here' was another track that Murray had been playing solo before I met him... and at first I was a little reticent about recording it, as I really didn't want it to look like I was trying to cash in on my association with Roger.... But it's just such a great song, absolutely timeless... and I think we managed to add our own personality, and take it to a different place with that extended outro too....

Dave Kilminster, The Wall Live 2013On the subject of Pink Floyd, and Roger Waters, let’s move to the recent little tour you were part of! You got a deserved strong reaction from the crowds each night, particularly for the Comfy Numb solo. Did you have any trepidation in what some rather negative (and deluded?) fans called “taking Gilmour's place”, in particular for this incredibly iconic moment in the show?

Yeah, of course... it's a huge responsibility!! Especially for a song like 'Comfortably Numb'... I'm obviously aware that it's a favourite for a lot of Floyd fans, and I'm also very aware of how fussy Floyd fans can be!!!! Hahaha.... ;O)

So I'm balancing on this wobbly platform, roughly forty feet up in the air, with these huge spotlights in my face (not to mention all the camera phones taking videos to put on YouTube the next day!!), trying to recreate a solo that everyone knows really, really well.... and all the while hoping that nothing goes wrong up there....

Yeah, the pressure was pretty intense!!!

Did you have any fear of heights before doing that segment – if so, did it cure you, or just confirm your view on being up so high? :)

I was having a conversation with Roger and Harry last year about this...just saying how daunting the whole 'Numb solo' thing was, being stuck up in the air without any support... and Harry said 'do you have a problem with heights then'? To which I replied 'it's a bit f*cking late to ask now, isn't it'!!!!! I've already been doing it for two years'!!!!! Hahaha.....

Anyway no, I didn't really have a problem with heights.... although saying that, the platform itself did feel a little unsafe, and would accentuate any movements that I made while I was up there (sort of like standing up in a little dinghy), so it did take some getting used to.

Probably my worst experience of that was a gig we played in San Fransisco last year... we were playing outside in the freezing cold, my fingers were frozen, and the wind was whipping up off the bay quite ferociously... and while I'm up there the wind is blowing so hard that the wall was actually swaying, and hitting against the platform that I'm balancing on as I'm trying to play!!! Not fun....

Gilmour's guest appearance caused a huge amount of speculation running up to the show at the O2, when he finally appeared. What was the atmosphere like that day, and how was the interaction between you both?

It was a fun day!!! Actually it almost felt like a day off for me, as I didn't have to go up on the wall!!

We all went to the gig together on a private boat along the Thames, as traffic around the O2 is generally a nightmare... it felt like we were going on a family picnic or something!!! Haha... I don't really know David, but we've chatted a couple of times and we always get on fine... and I was really looking forward to checking out the gear he was using, and hearing him play...

So that night when it was time for David to do his spot, Robbie and I decided to venture out into the audience to watch.... So we stood over by the wheelchair section, and the audience reaction when they realised it was Gilmour up there was quite amazing!!!

I definitely got goosebumps along with everyone else!!

Were there any frustrations or unfulfilled wishes you felt, either on a personal level, or as a musician, with The Wall Live?

Dave Kilminster, The Wall Live 2013Hmmm... that's a very good question. Nothing really as a musician, as I knew exactly what the job entailed... on a personal level I guess I found it a little tough to play in the suit!! Seriously!!! The jacket sleeve was constantly getting caught around the guitar bridge area, and the cuff would sometimes inadvertently mute the strings as I'm playing....

Also, what we affectionately referred to as the 'gay biker boots' that we wore on the front stage were a bit of a nightmare too... unfortunately they had treads so wide that sometimes you'd try and stomp on an effects pedal, and the switch would just fit perfectly into the boot tread and so nothing would happen!!!

So you look down to check, but you're wearing dark glasses which have steamed up on the inside because you're quite hot wearing the beret, so you can't actually see anything!!!! Hahahaha....

But you know, I'm trying to look for things when really there was absolutely nothing to complain about at all... it was undoubtedly the best three years of my life, and I'm incredibly proud and honoured to have been a part of such a wonderful and historic production...

I guess you’ve got quite a number of special, treasured moments from the tour, both on AND off stage – which of these in particular stand out?

God, I wouldn't even know where to begin!! Umm... ok, here's the first one that springs to mind. One of my favourite moments of this tour happened in Mexico last year, during 'Waiting For The Worms'. The song (as of course you know) has a very slow tempo... and after a few bars, some of the guys in the audience started flicking their lighters on and off in time with the music... and very soon there were hundreds, and then thousands of people doing the same thing!!! And due to sound traveling slower than light, the flames would start near the stage, and sweep all the way to the back of the hall... Just this huge blanket of fire washing over the audience very quickly in time with the music. It looked totally incredible...

I still get chills thinking about it...

As for off stage.... after one of our concerts at the Staples center in Los Angeles, we went for a late snack at a restaurant... we were shown into this private room and I sat at one of the last seats available, which happened to be on a table away from the rest of the band.

The girl next to me (whom I'd met very briefly backstage earlier) introduced me to her friend 'Drew' sitting opposite... I looked up... "Hi Drew" I said, smiled, and then looked back at the menu... I guess I was a bit slow that night, because it took a minute or two before I realised that it was actually Drew Barrymore sitting opposite!!!

Dave Kilminster, The Wall Live 2013And just as I twigged, she also realised that I was the guitarist on top of the wall that evening!!! She looked at me, and pointed to the sky... and it took all of my will power NOT to also point to the sky and say "E.T. phone home"!!!! Hahaha... but I managed to resist the temptation... I simply nodded, and with that she grasped my hand tightly between her hands and held it up to her forehead... her eyes closed...

It was a beautiful moment... very surreal... and totally unforgettable...

Given the way you all, as Roger's musicians and vocalists on The Wall Live, gelled together so well, how involved are you all on Roger's new album?

Yeah, I read that he's doing an album!!!! Hahaha... of course I'd love to be involved... I'd love the whole 'family' to be involved actually, as we do all get on ridiculously well!! But I really don't know what Roger has in mind yet.... we'll see!!

What's next for Hockridge and Kilminster, both as a duo, and individually? More recording? Live work?

Murray and I are literally just about to go out on tour (it's 3:00 am, and I'm scrabbling to finish writing this before we fly tomorrow morning!!!).... we have a bunch of gigs in Italy and Turkey, which should be loads of fun!!! :O))

In fact, here are the dates if you're interested....

ITALY
November 23rd – Vignola (MO) – Stones Café (free entrance) - MORE DETAILS
November 25th – Milano – Blues House – ticket Eur 15 - MORE DETAILS
November 26th – Montebelluna (TV) – Live Mattorosso – MORE DETAILS
November 27th – Udine – Black Stuff - MORE DETAILS
November 28th – San Giovanni alla Vena (PI) – Blitz Live Music Pub – ticket Eur 10 - MORE DETAILS
November 29th – Roma – Casa del Jazz – MORE DETAILS
November 30th – Ascoli Piceno – Break Live Club – MORE DETAILS
TURKEY
December 3rd – Istanbul – Kadikoy Sahne - MORE DETAILS
December 4th – Ankara – The Big Boss - MORE DETAILS
December 5th – Eskisehir – SPR Pub - MORE DETAILS
December 6th – Izmir - Hayal Kahvesi Alsancak - MORE DETAILS
December 7th – Gönen – Sanat Cafe & Bar - MORE DETAILS
December 8th – Sakarya – Radio Pub & Performance Hall - MORE DETAILS

Also, last April I started recording another solo album (the follow up to 'Scarlet - The Directors Cut')... all the drums, bass, rhythm guitars and acoustics are done, so it's just solos and vocals to do... and I'll probably score some string parts too.

So I'd love to finish that early next year... I'd also love to tour the US and Canada with Murray next year too, and maybe record an album of our own songs... but who knows... we make plans, and God laughs!!!

Our thanks to Dave for taking the time to share his thoughts about his music, The Wall tour, and more. The new album, Closer To Earth, is a lovely, chilled look at a range of classic tracks by artists from Radiohead to 10cc, Pink Floyd to George Michael. Well worth checking out...

 
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