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January 14th 1977 - Capital Radio PF Story - part 5 Print E-mail

The following is one part of the legendary Capital Radio Pink Floyd Story - the history of the band, told by the band themselves in a set of interviews undertaken in 1976, and broadcast at the end of 1976/start of 1977. This transcription done by Matt Johns, Brain Damage - please seek permission from us before using elsewhere.


The programme presenter was Nicky Horne. Abbreviations used as follows:
NM: Nick Mason, RW: Roger Waters, DG: David Gilmour, RWr: Rick Wright
ST: Storm Thorgerson, NH: Nicky Horne


RW: We were all rather badly mentally ill - well, I was! [laughs]

NM: I was!

DG: It's catching! [laugh]

NM: [laughing] Rick certainly... he's not even prepared to admit it!

RW: No, it was... um... I'll tell you what happened. When we were putting that one together, right, we were all completely exhausted for one reason or another. And although a great deal of effort and energy had gone into doing various bits of it, it was compiled in a mad, mad rush. And...

DG: We were in a desperate rush to get out of there! [both laugh]

RW: To be "not there". We should've called it "Wish We Weren't Here", you know? [laugher] [mumbles: "It's all there - it's all there on the record"]

NH: But presumably there were a lot of pressures from record companies, etc.?

DG & RW: No, no, no...

NH: Well then, what were the pressures?

RW: Personal problems. Stop being so nosey! [rest drowned out by David's laughter]

DG: Personal problems on DSOTM I think.

RW: He's got a point there.

NM: He's got a point. I think, you know, just a minor thing, an element...

RW: [simultaneously] DSOTM came into it I think... [mumbles] ...must've done...

DG: We were frightened, I think, to some extent...

NM: Speak for yourself!

NH: No, seriously though... [drowned out by assorted laughing and indistinct comments]

RW: Some of the lads were a bit, you know...! Needed to be jollied along a bit!

NM: I mean, there was a danger, I suppose... and... the danger that exi... I mean, if it is a danger that bands break up, which is not necessarily the case... um... but there was a point after DSOTM where it could... we might very easily have broken up on a sort of "well, we've reached all the various goals that rock bands tend to aim for" - maybe that sounds preposterous but I think one is motivated to some extent by goals in terms of doing well, and so on. And perhaps we've... bit nervous about continuing on. Some sort of disbanding might have solved that one - the problem that would follow or whatever. It's very hard to say whether things get - for all the difficulties that arise in those sorts of directions, on the other hand, hopefully we all get better at living with each other. I say hopefully - I'm not entirely sure if that's true!

But - that's really what - I don't think that the band was much more likely to break up there than at other times. I've said before it goes in waves - that sometimes everyone's thinking "well, this is a pretty wanky way to spend one's life" and other times everyone's thinking "well, actually this is really... it's alright really".

RW: Because we'd been rehearsing for the show, the live show - we're doing the whole of WYWH in the second half of the live show. I've listened to it quite a lot recently and the only thing that worries me about the album WYWH is the same thing that worried me when we'd finished it. It worried me quite a lot when we were doing it. And that is the very drawn out nature of the... overture "bits" that go on and on and on and on. It's 12 minutes I think before there's a voice in it, which I think was a mistake. I thought it was a mistake then and I was constantly trying to cut out things. But it's very difficult you see because you get something and get to like phrases, guitar phrases in the solo or something, or bits of Moog or something, and you get - you grow to like things. It's very hard to cut things out once you've got them down. I think we made a basic error in not arranging it in a different way so that some of the ideas were expanded lyrically before they were developed musically.

NH: As the Floyd themselves said earlier, there were quite a few problems during the recording of WYWH. I asked Roger Waters if all of the band were really committed to the album:

RW: I don't think that people were less committed to that album than any others, really. Well, maybe - no, I don't think they were. People's level of commitment to what we were doing fluctuates; relationships we have with each other fluctuates; and that was a very difficult time because we were all exhausted, I think. But, I don't think there was any... I don't think it was specially worse then than it has been at lots of other points. It was really just a disagreement between myself and Dave. Dave was... I was the main protagonist of making the album hang together conceptually as I saw it anyway - and make it an album of absence of one kind and another... as that is something that we were all experiencing... what I'm saying when I said it wasn't any worse than, you know, I said it wasn't any worse than... it wasn't a specially bad time, it is something that we all experience quite a lot in this band, I think.

Bands that keep going for a very long time with the same people don't keep going for a very long time with the same people because they're all committed to the same ideals - they keep going because people get used to the security - emotional, I suppose, and economic and whatever. But it's mainly... economic security is only a substitute for emotional security anyway. So they tell me. And, so people keep going in the same band really for reasons of security, not because they're like... the four of us aren't together because we all think and feel the same way and we all love each other and we're working to a common cause towards better music or anything like that. It's... we're motivated by fear largely - to stay together. I mean, if Nicky was saying about his drumming when we were doing WYWH, Dave was getting well, very pissed off with him because he was being too flowery in his drumming, and Dave likes very solid, straight, kind of drumming and Nicky tends to naturally not play like that... and oh, there's all kinds of - the problems are absolutely endless.

NH: It's generally accepted that Nick Mason was affected more than the others by a lethargic attitude during the recording of WYWH, and I asked him specifically what those problems were:

NM: Well, of course, I'm not prepared to even tell you what the problems specifically were, but I mean, for me I clearly remember WYWH as the most... [breathes like knocks on table] my interviews are full of these pauses, with strange breathing [does some more!] Pa, Pa, Pa, Pa, Pause for thought. No, I mean, I just found the time in the studio extremely 'orrible. I really did wish I wasn't there. But it wasn't specifically... to do with what was going on with the band, so much as what was going on for me outside the band.

Because of the way we work, and WYWH was a very typical example, it represents a period of about 9 months of one's life, day to day living. Because we'd be in the studio maybe 3 - 4 days each week from, say, midday or something like that. So you very much felt as though you... the morning you sorted out all the day to day business of living, then you went into the studios, then you came home, and then you went in again. It just... it's not an isolated experience so you can say, "well, that's the record". It's... it's integrated with your... with everything else. With the rest of your life. I just... I suppose I just am very bad at closing off my mind to whatevers bothering me. But my alarm and despondency manifested itself in a complete rigor mortis [laughs] I think I'd describe it! No I mean I just became like something off the Troggs tape - if you know what I mean! That's really unfair on the Troggs, but I became... eeuurrrggghhh... I didn't have to quite be carried about, but I wasn't interested. I couldn't get myself to sort out the drumming. I think that's just one of those bits of real life... that, of course, drove everyone else even crazier, because it was almost impossible to get the backing tracks sorted out with this so called drummer who really couldn't sort it out at all. I'm very interested now listening back to WYWH because it's a record that I never, until recently when we started work on the film... I never play it. I don't play any of our records much, but WYWH - I NEVER PLAY!

NH: What do you think of it?

NM: Well, surprisingly good. That's what's so odd. But in the end it all got licked, but it took about a million months to do it! I think... it's alright.

NH: One of the tracks on WYWH features Roy Harper as lead vocalist. I asked Roger Waters why he was used:

RW: I tell you why I think it was. It was because... I'd already started singing "Shine On" and it is right at the edge of my range. I always felt very insecure about singing anyway because I'm not naturally able to sing well. I find it very difficult to pitch notes right, and the whole thing's really difficult for me. I know what I wanna do but I don't have the ability to do it well, so I feel very insecure about it anyway, and I'd just been doing a lot on "Shine On" and it is right on the edge of my range and it was incredibly difficult and fantastically boring to record, 'cos I had to do it line by line, doing it over and over and over again just to get it sounding reasonable. I suppose... there are several reasons why I did it rather than Dave. One is because if it's right on the edge of my range, it's outside his, 'cos my voice goes about a tone higher than his does.

So anyway I was feeling very down about singing and very insecure about it anyway, and when WYWH... and when "Have A Cigar" came up Roy was recording in the studio anyway, and was in and out all the time, and I can't remember who suggested he did it - maybe I did, probably hoping everybody would go "ooh no Rog, YOU do it!" but they didn't! They all went "Oh yeah, that's a good idea". And he did it and everybody went "Oh, terrific!" So that was that.

I think it was a bad idea now. I think I should've done it. Not that he did it badly. I think he did it very well. It just isn't us anymore. And there's something about people singing things that they've written themself. If somebody's gonna think it's wrong, it's gonna be me 'cos I wrote it, and it doesn't sound quite right.

ST: So the cover's wrapped up in black plastic, okay? So you can't see it. The sleeve is absent from your first gaze. The sticker on the front is what we have to do in order that people will know this record from Geraldo. I'd imagine they aren't the same people, who'd buy Geraldo and Pink Floyd, but there's somebody out there that does... you have to write down the piece of information. So we had to put something that said, "Pink Floyd" on it, okay? Well, Ian... hold on a second. At the time that the album was being made and also in reference to various business decisions that were or were not being made, there were considerations about... the ethics of the business, the way the business people operated; and one of the... this is where I started in fact - one of the greatest... one of the best motifs for indicating absence but presence, or presence but absence, where somebody says "well, of course I'm here" really is the old handshake, which is as phoney as you can get. Specially in rock'n'roll. You shake hands with a whole room of executives and that means sod all. Okay?

So the handshake was a symbol if you like of the whole notion of how you may get hold of somebody, shake them by the hand, and they're trying to tell you how much they're really there 'cos they gripped you, but in fact they're miles away. Miles away emotionally or miles away intellectualy or whichever you may care to name it. Do you not know what I'm talking about? It's the shaking hands with an American - they shake the hand quite strongly and say "it's wonderful to meet you" and all that and it's bullshit. They don't know you from Adam. There's some honesty in it sometimes they mean it, but a lot of times they don't mean it.

So that means that the currency of that action, the value, the currency of that piece of negotiation between humans is devalued, it's undercut, it doesn't contain the weight it should contain.

That's kind of one of the motifs of presence and absence - a person stands and says "yes, I'm really here" looking you in the eyes and in fact they're not. They're miles away. That would refer to the Floyd as well - it's also about them and how much they are present - see, so that if they, or you, or anybody were to agree or partially agree with my notion of why the album was flawed, then it would be partially a reflection on themselves as well. That they weren't totally present.

NH: That leads me on to the burning man, 'cos I can't see the analogy.

ST: No, well, one of the ways in which Hipgnosis works is that you take a theme, intellectualise it, right, in order that you don't think of a million images. If you imagine your brain as a respository of possible images, it's immesurable. There are millions, okay? Whether you can drum them up is another matter. But I mean for everybody they just think of their dreams or their fantasies if you ask them to think of outer space or inner space, or ask them to imagine the 4.15 from Paddington, they can do it. They can do any variation. They can imaginge a train painted pink, but you don't get pink trains particularly. So the number of images that are in your brain or in your body are limitless. So that for a designer or somebody who has the facility for producing images then it becomes a problem not of finding the image but finding the right one.

So you get a brief - this is for a commercial artist, not perhaps for the artist in his garret - but it's for the commercial artist. Often it's not a problem - it is for some - maybe I should just talk about myself; it's not particularly a problem for me to think of images I like. Pictures or scenes, or events, or things like that. 'Cos I like looking - voyeuring and all. In all possible ways I like looking. I like seeing things.

So, you need a brief in order to cut down - because of that vast repository, you want to make sure you isolate the right one, or the one that's appropriate at the time. So we have a brief and we may make it up ourselves a bit. I got this from the Floyd about absence and if I cut it down I start to intellect on it and that gives me a theme for me to hang my images on, so that I don't get too many. But the image itself is irrelevent to all that. You see, once I arrive at an image - I don't only work that way, that's one way in which we work, one way which I work. Okay, so then the image of the burning man has thematic and intellectual explanations, but it seems to me to be pretty irrelevent. You either like it or don't like it, or usually... I mean people are usually pretty positive in reaction to our stuff I think. They like Hipgnosis sleeves or they don't like Hipgnosis sleeves. I think they don't tend to think of them as just mundane... you know, people either can't stand them - "rubbish" - or they quite like it.

But I think the burning man is... I like it a lot. I find it really moving. And when I thought of it, when it came to me as an image, when it came up on the old telescanner, I thought, "oh yes, that's definately exciting". How do you look at it? Do you look at it and think... if you're moved by it, think that it's curious, haunting - I think it's in a haunting place... so it's got that space, see? Okay? And they're doing the handshake, right? And that's where I started. And that's why there's a handshake on the front... this sleeve's actually very complicated [laughs] if you wanted me to go on I could spend half an hour! Explaining, 'cos there's quite a lot of other complexity there...

NH: What about the splashless dive?

ST: What? Yeah, right. The dive. Well, yes. So one of the ways of doing absence, one of the favourite ways in graphics is to do the traces and not the person. So a bed is sort of rumpled; so we just just turned it around. But maybe it harks back to the thing I was saying earlier about how there might be recurring riffs or tunes that go through... something like Paul McCartney who must write an awful lot of material, I mean it can't all happen consecutively, sequentially. You might come up with something that you were half toying with two - three years earlier, and the same for me. So maybe that comes back... the diving, right? And the splashless dive... I dunno, just tickled my fancy, I suppose you could say. But... in discussing pictures I think it's down to whether they move you or not, really. Same for the music. If it moves you, it doesn't matter which way, and it's worth giving your time to, 'cos you're getting something back from it.

NH: I asked Roger Waters why he keeps going back to Syd Barrett:

RW: I don't keep going back to Syd Barrett.

NH: Well, "Shine On" is...

RW: Well, that's one instance. The ONLY reference to Syd in the last, what, 8 years, in any of our work, to Syd Barrett. It's YOU LOT that keep going back to Syd Barrett. That's the only instance, and it seemed like a very natural progression from DSOTM... was a statement about, much more an obvious statement about... state, our contempory state, and WYWH is a less obvious statement about the same thing.

NH: And as you said to me the other day "and when your band starts playing different tunes, I'll see you on the DSOTM"... that's a direct reference to...

RW: Alright, yes, okay, that is a direct reference. This is true.

NH: And "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", the madness, the paranoia element... as I said to you the other day, was something that you continue to write about all the time... seems to be a major preoccupation...

RW: It IS a preoccupation of mine. Yes. It is.

NH: Why?

RW: Well, because... continually with it, as are we all, from within my own feelings and from what I see and experience, of other peoples feelings. The way people behave, people including me behave in a very... bizarre way. The quality of life is very bizarre. I think. And very, very full of stress, and pain. And a kind of real despair is very close to the surface in most people that I meet.

NH: And in yourself?

RW: Yeah. And in myself, yeah. Yes I would say so, the kind of... you know, the... kind of feeling of not really being able to grapple with it or... 'cos everything is too complicated... and it's all too quick and everybody knows too much... because, I dunno why. I think probably it's the telly that's done it mainly. Since the War. I think news changed quite a lot after the Second World War... a kind of... very severe social revolution...

RWr: Why he's preoccupied with writing things like that, you'd have to ask Roger. We have asked him. I think it's probably getting less now... but as I said, I've noticed that and I'M not sure that I really like it either. This... it's all the time, and it's a phase of his life obviously, that he's going through... [laughs] as I say, speak to Roger!

NH: Why? It affects you all...

RWr: Yeah, well...

NH: Not just the emotional, but also the fact that you're playing in it, and you're involved in it...

RWr: It does, yes. And it gets very heavy, obviously. A lot of personal differences, anyway, all the time through this... "Dark Side" and "Wish You". Roger's preoccupation with... madness, the business, is something that I didn't feel nearly so strongly at the time. So that made it very difficult for us to communicate about it.

NH: One of Roger Waters' other preoccupations seems to be about the music business:

RW: I don't... I'm not really preoccupied with it, it's just that, you know, it does impinge on you and it's... I suppose it's because those are the only people - record company executives, particularly a couple I've met at CBS are the only people who are like that, that I ever speak to. I'm sure marketing executives are the same whether they're selling baked beans or LPs. It doesn't make any difference. Completely irrelevent, what you're selling, and... so that's why I wrote the song. Just because something impinged upon me strongly, so strongly enough so that when I'm sitting somewhere, the whole thing starts bubbling out, or one phrase does and that's enough really. Because songs are so bloody thin on the ground, songs and ideas and things, so difficult, that once a bit of one comes out of you, you work on it and try and finish it.

 
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