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Interview With Snowy White - Moscow, April 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Alexander Zheleznov/Dasha Dykhanovska   
Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Snowy WhiteAs part of The Wall Live, Roger Waters and his band played at the Olympiski, in Moscow, on April 23rd 2011. The day before, Alexander Zheleznov and Gleb Shamayev conducted an interview with guitarist Snowy White, which was first published on the Pink-Floyd.ru fan site and in Russia's 'In Rock' magazine. Our thanks to Alexander and Gleb for allowing us to share this with you, and special thanks to Dasha Dykhanovska for the translation of this article and interview into English!

Terrence 'Snowy' White is unique in many respects. This brilliant blues guitarist, the leader of the band White Flames, got to work with Thin Lizzy, Peter Green, and, obviously, Pink Floyd and Roger Waters. Besides Waters himself, Snowy White is the only musician who participated in all three renditions of The Wall – the 1980, the 1990 version and the recent 2010-2013 tour.

The day before the Moscow concert, our reporters, Alexander Zheleznov and Gleb Shamayev, managed to meet the guitarist and conduct an exclusive interview.

Hello Snowy. It's been 5 years since our last meeting, we're happy to see you in Moscow again!

Hi! I'm happy to meet you too, especially because many Russian Pink Floyd and Roger Waters fans can now see our show The Wall Live. It's really worth it!

If you please, let's start with a story of how you met Pink Floyd. You started to work for the band in 1977. What can you say about that tour? How did you get into working for Pink Floyd?

That was 'The Animals Tour', if I'm correct?

Well, it was, but the title was 'In The Flesh'.

Was it really, in '77? That's what our tour in the early 2000's was named, when Roger decided to resume touring.

Exactly, the full title of the tour was 'Pink Floyd In The Flesh'.

I'm surprised! I didn't ever know that! Yes, my first tour with Pink Floyd was in 1977. You wouldn't believe me, but at that time I didn’t even know that Pink Floyd was a really big band, because I was a club blues guitarist and we'd never met. I was interested in blues and nothing else. Someone told me at that time that Pink Floyd seemed to be looking for a second guitarist for a tour and advised to ring their manager. I didn't call though. It sounds very odd now, but then I didn't know Pink Floyd's music very well and decided that since they don't play blues, surely I wouldn't work well with them, so why bother to call? But eventually I did. They sent me their records to listen to and I was surprised that I liked them. That's how I ended up with Pink Floyd on that tour. It was very interesting to tour with them. It was a completely different experience – I'd played only in clubs before and there were full stadiums of fans who were going literally bonkers over Pink Floyd! Nevertheless, I didn't realize for a long time that it's a really successful band, because my head was still in my blues... [laughs]

You even took part in the recording of Pigs On The Wing on the 'Animals' album. How come, since all guitar parts at that time were performed by David Gilmour?

It happened by accident, really. When I came to their studio, they were recording Pigs On The Wing and Roger said: "Well, while you're here, you might as well play something". And so I played Pigs On The Wing on guitar and when they finished the album, they decided to take my version of the song for the 8-track tape album release. That was such an interesting format in America at that time, something like an endless cassette.

Snowy WhiteDid you have to combine two parts of this song for the sake of 'endlessness'?

Yes, yes, exactly. My solo was the contribution to the album. In 1996 I included this recording on my 'Gold Top' compilation album. When I met David and Roger and asked if I could use this track for my compilation, they replied: "No, because Pink Floyd tracks shouldn't be in somebody else's compilations". Then I asked if I could remix it. Roger agreed to this. I found the original recording, took the tape to the studio and remixed it. But by then I'd already been playing guitar in a slightly different way and did everything as I liked, and only then did I add the track to the compilation. In the end, the Pink Floyd track appeared in my compilation after all. [laughs]

Snowy, you already participated in a theatrical production of The Wall 30 years ago. Are there any major differences between these two versions? Obviously, there are technical differences: there are new renditions of the light, the sound and new animation as well. Technology has moved forward so much within the past 30 years. The point is: what are the differences between the personal relationships between Roger and the other musicians?

It's unbelievable that 30 years have passed… Such a long time ago… The main difference for me is that then there was a Pink Floyd group and guest musicians, including me. It was all very different. They were by themselves, and technically we didn't meet behind the stage. The whole atmosphere was completely different as well. It's happier now, so if technical changes convey the idea of the show more accurately, the warm and friendly atmosphere of our tight-knit team helps to endure a long tour like this. I feel very comfortable on this tour. I feel comfortable in every respect, including my relationship with Roger.

Do you think Pink Floyd as a band was destroyed by the dictatorial aspirations of Roger Waters?

Well, although I was there at that time, I don't know anything about this, since I didn't get involved in it myself. Therefore, I can't go into detail, but the whole atmosphere now is much better than it was then, that's for sure.

Do you mean Roger has changed? Is he more of a boss or a colleague to you?

Roger is a boss! He always is, in every respect. Yes, he changed through the years in a better way. Now he's a very good boss [laughs] He treats all of us very well when we do our best. If everyone works at the show well, he'll treat everyone very well. Thus, everyone does their best and everyone loves it. He's simply amazing! In my opinion, every band needs a strong leader.

Perhaps this very thing caused a conflict in Pink Floyd? He wanted to be the only leader and the other bandmates didn't agree with it?

That's most likely. I need to emphasize once more: Roger has changed. He's simply wonderful these days! I don't say it just because he's my employer now; he's really nice. It's a pleasure for me to work with him.

Roger Waters is not just a musician, he's a man with very clear political views and beliefs. His new theatrical version of The Wall is full of politics. Do you share Roger's political views?

I don't really get involved in all that. I'm just a musician and play the guitar. But, you know, his basic message is: "Let people be free to believe what they want, and don't go around killing people". I completely agree with that.

Which Wall composition do you like performing most of all?

I don't have any favourite composition, because The Wall is, in my opinion, one continuous piece. I play in virtually every song, and love all of them.

David Gilmour once promised Roger to take part in one of the shows. Could you reveal, when and where will it happen? Maybe it will happen in Athens, where the show is due to be officially filmed. We wouldn't tell anyone, we promise. [everyone laughs]

I don't know. Seriously, I don't. If it'll happen, it's unlikely to happen in Athens. It's more likely to take place in London, since David wouldn't fly to Greece for the sake of the show. Honestly, I haven't been informed about anything like that.

(Now we know that David Gilmour performed in London on the 12th of May. At the end of the show Nick Mason came on to the stage as well!)
When you launched your music career, the youth were sure that music could change the world. Is it really possible, in your opinion?

Yes, it was that way. The hippies, universal brotherhood, All You Need Is Love and so on… No, I don't think so today. People only think that music can change the world. Perhaps, sometimes some important message comes across from music and helps people. But nothing more than that. The most that we can do with music is make people happy for a while and it's good enough. Roger thinks differently though. But it's politics again!

Well, tomorrow we will be happy as well. Pink Floyd fans from all parts of Russia and ex-USSR countries came to Moscow. We've already seen videos of the American part of the tour and they're really impressive!

You'll see a slightly different version of the show. It's being continuously reworked and improved, new elements are being added. And, believe me, it's very different to see it with your own eyes at the hall rather than on the computer or TV screen! I also think that it's a rare case, when the show should be seen twice.

Would you like to see The Wall Live yourself, from the hall, not from the stage?

Gleb, Snowy and AlexanderI would, but then I wouldn't have this job. [Laughs] But we've seen every show many times, since Roger films every night. He makes a DVD of every night, watches it and then he destroys it. From these recordings he gets new ideas which he uses following nights. The show is being continuously improved.

Do you know anything about Roger's new solo album? When should we expect the release? He recently said that he already has a lot of material.

A new studio album requires a lot of time and Roger has spent almost 2 years doing The Wall. He had a pretty long The Dark Side Of The Moon Live tour. He's been working on it in bits for about 10 years. Sadly, the album won't come out any time soon.

Over the course of last 9 years you've been to Russia several times already. Do you think that something is changing over here?

I didn't see enough of Russia to notice any changes. I presume there are changes, but you should know better than me. But one thing surely hasn't changed – everything in Moscow is so expensive! [Laughs]

Would you like to be invited to perform in Russia after The Wall Live tour, but for a solo concert with your own band?

Going to Moscow with White Flames? Nobody's invited me yet, but if somebody will – I'd gladly go with it; here's my contact information! But only after this tour is finished. It's not clear when it'll be finished. I'm not sure when the tour will end. There are talks about continuing it after Christmas, but nothing definite yet. We'll possibly do Australia and South America in January 2012 but it's not definite yet.

When we were preparing for the meeting with Snowy White, we pondered what gift we can we could give to him from Russian fans. Banal Matryoshkas and ushanka hats were discarded straight away so we ended up gifting him a painted balalaika. There’s no better present for a musician, than an unknown musical instrument, isn't it? Snowy was pleasantly surprised and, after attentively examining the instrument, he asked – where are the other three strings? :) When we were parting, we got an idea:
Snowy, wouldn't it be cool if in the last number of the show you'd go on stage with this balalaika – Russian fans would be pretty surprised to see you play the national instrument!

What a wonderful idea! I'll try to learn to play it during the time left 'til the show, but only if the boss would let me do it! Without his permission, any spontaneity on stage is forbidden.

We'll see. Thank you very much for giving your time. We wish you good luck with the tour and hope to see you soon!

Thank you. I'm sure that tomorrow's show will make you truly happy! See you!

P.S. To our regret, Snowy didn't go on stage with the balalaika. Either he didn't manage to learn the instrument or Roger the Boss didn't permit him to. :) Nevertheless, we've really loved the show. And we weren’t the only ones.

The article was first published on the Pink-Floyd.ru fan site and Russia's 'In Rock' magazine.

 
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