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Interview with Pink Floyd backing vocalist Lorelei McBroom Print E-mail
Written by Alexander Zheleznov/Dasha Dykhanovska   
Sunday, 08 December 2013

Pink Floyd - Pulse signed sleeveAs it is Lorelei McBroom's birthday today, when better to share the following interview with you? Dasha Dykhanovska's kind translation from Russian of Alexander Zheleznov's article shares the thoughts of Lorelei on performing with Pink Floyd, how she became a fan of the band at an early age, how she became involved with singing for them, how life is in one of the world's biggest tribute bands, and even touches on a recent performance undertaken with Nick Mason.

Not long ago, The Australian Pink Floyd Show (TAPFS) performed in Moscow and St. Petersburg. There's immense interest in Pink Floyd's music in Russia. No wonder these concerts were a huge success, not least because Aussies are considered to be among the best Pink Floyd tribute acts, performing since 1988! What makes TAPFS relatively more interesting is the fact that one of the people in the band's current line-up is Lorelei McBroom, who previously was a back vocalist for the real Pink Floyd and is a rather famous and interesting personality on her own account. She has worked with many well-known artists, such as the Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Lou Reed, Nile Rodgers, Donny Osmond, Billy Idol, Johnny Kemp, and Chris Isaak, in addition to more than a dozen of other famous names. Lorelei McBroom recently gave an exclusive interview for the Russian 'In Rock' magazine and the Pink-Floyd.ru fan site.

Hello Lorelei. We're happy to see you in Moscow performing Pink Floyd's music once again. This time it is an Australian tribute band performing it. What do you think about tribute bands on the whole and PF tribute bands in particular? Is there something special about The Australian Pink Floyd Show among the many others PF tribute bands out there today?

Lorelei McBroom with Australian Pink Floyd ShowI'm happy to be back to Moscow as well, because people here love Pink Floyd's music so much. Regarding tribute bands, I must say that I wasn't aware of the scale of this phenomenon until I became part of this band. Nowadays, tribute bands occupy a rather big niche among touring acts. The point is that, for various reasons, many great bands of the past no longer exist today, but people still want to listen to their music live because it's a completely different experience from simply listening to records at home or watching videos. However, in this regard, it's very important to treat the performance of legendary music of the past with care.

Simply stated, TAPFS is the best Pink Floyd tribute. They've been touring around the world for 25 years! All my musician friends tell me that the Australians are doing this the best and I totally agree! I really enjoy what we do. If it weren't so, we would not have been filling the house at venues like the O2 in London. I enjoy performing with them very much. By the way, David Gilmour and Nick Mason are very respectful about what TAPFS are doing. The band played at David's anniversary some years ago and Nick estimated that the Aussies have performed more shows then the original Pink Floyd did! [Laughs]

Do you still keep in touch with both of them?

Nick Mason with the McBroom sisters, GoodwoodI have not spoken to David Gilmour for many years as, unfortunately, we have lost touch. But I'll always be grateful to him for giving me a unique chance to work with Pink Floyd. More so, to me it was the first experience participating in a tour of such a large scale. We are still in touch with Nick Mason. Last summer, he invited my sister and I to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, since he's a huge fan of cars and racing and doesn't miss out on such events. We even had an improvised show there – we performed The Great Gig In The Sky with him. Everyone was so happy!

Now, with TAPFS, you are singing the same songs you did with the original PF many years ago. Is there any difference for you performing those songs then compared to now?

TAPFS is done with total reverence to Pink Floyd. They do their best to stay true to what Pink Floyd performed and they try to stick very closely to the album versions of many of the songs. Their idea is to give the people the Pink Floyd music they know and love. They have also thoroughly studied Pink Floyd's live recordings so that that these versions of the songs will also have a place in our show.

David Gilmour, Rick Wright, Roger Waters and Nick Mason have defined a style that is all their own and TAPFS has allowed me to continue enjoying my love for Pink Floyd's music. Pink Floyd will not tour again or, at least this was stated by David Gilmour since the passing of Rick Wright. Thus, for me, working with TAPFS is also a chance to touch the people coming out to see us all over the world and to make them happy by singing the songs I also love.

The current TAPFS tour is dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the famous Pink Floyd album Dark Side Of The Moon, which is performed almost in its entirety during the first half of the show. Do you remember when you heard this album for the first time and what your experience was?

I remember it very well! In spring of 1973 I was staying with my parents' friends in Florida. Here was a huge group of youth and we were having fun, listening to music, and suddenly one guy came and brought a very weird LP with him – the sleeve was black with a prism on it, without any title on the cover. He said it's the latest album by the English band Pink Floyd and then he played the record. We were very impressed and we played it again and again all night long! It was something extraordinary. I've never heard anything like that. I was completely consumed by this music. I have to say that I didn't know anything about Pink Floyd before that. My musical interests were in the area of folk music, blues and soul. But since hearing this album, I fell in love with Pink Floyd's music and this has been a lifelong love. If anyone had told me, at that time, that I'd be performing songs from this album on stage with Pink Floyd, I'd have thought this person was mad but, nevertheless, that's exactly what happened!

Now seems like a good time to ask you about how you became part of the supporting band for the Pink Floyd tour in 1989? Was it through a little help from your sister Durga, who was already performing with Pink Floyd at that time?

It was the other way round! I was actually the first one who was asked to join the tour, two years earlier. I had befriended a video producer who'd been hired to film a Pink Floyd show in Atlanta to promote the tour. They asked him if he knew any Black singers and he suggested me. (There were two white backing vocalists in Pink Floyd at that time – Rachel Fury and Margaret Taylor – A.Z.) At that time, my sister Durga was working as a backing vocalist on a CD I was making for Capitol Records with producer Nile Rodgers. I sent that song and a Polaroid of myself, Durga and Roberta Freeman, whom I'd met two weeks before that. They sent the "Momentary Lapse of Reason" album to me with notes about the songs we were supposed to learn. Next they flew us to Atlanta, where we reviewed the new songs during the sound check. We watched the show the first night and we were already on stage for the following two shows. That's how the three of us got to appear in the official promo videos "Dogs of War" and "On the Turning Away". It was a wonderful experience for all of us!

Unfortunately, me and Roberta had contractual obligations so we couldn't continue the tour with Pink Floyd, but my sister remained with the band until the very end of this tour, which spanned almost three years, meaning that she got into Pink Floyd's live band with a little help from me. [Laughs] But she thanked me later: after one and a half years, when I became available, she reminded David about me and he invited me to take part in the band's European tour, during which I visited Moscow for the first time.

Now let's return to the Moscow shows. During an interview several years ago, you said that the Moscow shows in 1989 were still among the best shows for you by that time. Why? Has your opinion changed since then and what exactly impressed you?

No, my opinion hasn't changed. I still think those shows were really the best for me and it's because of the audience. I've never witnessed such an unusually warm reception! During the first couple of shows, the people in the cheap seats at the back would get excited and come towards the stage. The KGB men (Lorelei was obviously mistaken here, as they were policemen :) – A.Z.) took them back to their seats. The members of Pink Floyd were not happy to see this and Gilmour told the promoters that the band would cancel the remaining three shows if officers continued to do this. So it was decided that the audience would sit during the first half of the show, during which time PF played the new songs and that, during the second half, where we played classical songs from "Dark of the Moon", the crowd would be allowed to dance, sing and cheer in front of the stage and in the gangway. What made it so very special was the way they – the crowd – showed their appreciation and excitement!

For those who were not at those shows, it's hard to imagine what has started! The cheering crowd was literally tossing coins during 'Money' and the soldiers guarding the stage area started to throw their hats to us on stage! That's what made those concerts so unforgettable for me. And not only for me. I saw tears in the eyes of the Pink Floyd musicians too! That's the extent to which they were touched by the audience's appreciation, despite having all their world tours behind them.

Which song from the Pink Floyd repertoire is the hardest for you to sing?

Undoubtedly, it is ‘The Great Gig In The Sky'. It's not a song in the usual sense, and it doesn't even have lyrics. It's the hardest vocal piece I've ever sung.

For Pink Floyd shows, this vocal piece was performed at first by two and then even by three backing vocalists. What do you think about the album version, sang by Clare Torry?

Clare Torry's vocal performance is a masterpiece, without a doubt. She was improvising and her spontaneous vocals go from screams and growls to soft and sensitive phrases and moans. In a way it was easier for her, since she was the first one. But with her gorgeous performance she raised the standard so high that it's hard to surpass. As you know, the piece is about death. Personally, I divide it into three parts. In the first one, the person audaciously challenges death; he's young and doesn't want to die, and doesn't really believe it will ever happen. The second part entails accepting the inevitability of death, a thought that comes with age. And the third part entails humility in death, when life came to an end. Clare Torry's vocal masterpiece is very hard to sing because it requires a great range. For me, I have done both the full song and just parts of it. I find the first part to be the hardest because it's so high. I believe Pink Floyd made right decision by spreading the composition between three girls. On the one hand, this makes the task easier for them. On other hand, they let all the girls show what they are capable of as soloists. And it worked.

Guy Pratt with the McBroom sisters, New YorkWhat are your favourite PF albums?

"Dark Side of the Moon" is my all time favourite. I also love many of their songs from other albums, but if considering whole albums, they are "Wish You Were Here", "Division Bell" and "The Wall" in that order.

After touring with Pink Floyd, you have performed with many rock musicians, including the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart. What are the main differences between them and Pink Floyd, if any?

Every band is different – there are different people, different managers and, of course, the music is also very different. While Pink Floyd is very cerebral and classy music, the Rolling Stones are more raw bluesy and raunchy, so to speak. Rod Stewart's music tends to be more soulful; at least that is the case for his current material. By the way, it was thanks to touring with Stewart in 2010 that I visited Moscow for the second time. We performed in the Kremlin at that time, which they say is the coolest venue in Russia. But let's go back to your question. Well, for me, the main difference lies in a different area. Pink Floyd have never presented themselves as outstanding performers, like stars. Their show was always about the music and visual imagery. They always prided themselves on humility.

With the Rolling Stones, it's the other way round – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are super stars and the public knows all the band members. Rod Stewart is a rock star too, so there's a very different dynamic happening for him and the Stones when it comes to public image.

The last question. You have tremendous experience in music. You're a famous singer, songwriter and producer. Why have you not recorded your own solo album?

Well, I've already recorded two solo albums, but they haven't been released yet. You know what the situation is like in today's music business. Nobody buys CDs anymore. But now I'm thinking about releasing them anyway; otherwise they will never be heard at all. [Laughs] Therefore, they can be released in the near future. I will let you know beforehand, I promise. Thank you for your interest in me, and give my regards to all Pink Floyd fans in Russia. All the best! So long!

 
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