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Home arrow Older News Archive arrow Nick Mason "Inside Out" in Milan, Italy
Nick Mason "Inside Out" in Milan, Italy Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Monday, 02 May 2005

Further to our previous news story on March 29th, Nick Mason was in Italy last week to promote his great new book "La prima autobiografia dei Pink Floyd" (the Italian language version of "Inside Out - A Personal History Of Pink Floyd").

With thanks to old friend of Brain Damage, Chris Diemoz, we have a couple of pictures from the day and a write up of proceedings...

Had I guitar skills, I think I would have ended Wednesday April 27th by strumming "A perfect day" at full throttle. Everything went smooth, and Nick proved not just to be a kind and clever person, but also a very available artist, faithful and grateful to his fans.

Being a freelance journalist, my Mason day started with my agreed interview with our favourite drummer. So, in the morning, I reached the hotel where he was talking to the press. I was directed to the hall and soon noticed him sitting at a table in the corner. He looked outgoing and available, especially when he signed some CD's for the colleague who just ended his interview and was about to leave.

Soon, my time had come (12:15pm, local time) and, before starting, Nick showed me his mobile phone and asked, in convincing Italian, for "two minutes", as he needed to call someone. I gave back a "Don't worry", then sat in front of him when the phone conversation ended.

The interview lasted some thirty minutes. We touched many aspects of the making of "Inside Out", of Floyd's history, and of future projects. A full transcript of the interview will be made available to Brain Damage visitors, after it has been printed in "Hey You", our fanzine. However, many things remained in my mind.

Among those, something that regards us all. I questioned Nick on why Floyd never ran an official fan-club, given their appreciation for fans (witnessed also by the "serious fandom" picture in the book) and he told me that "running a fan-club is like running a web-site. If you do it, you've better do it well, otherwise it's useless. None of us committed to that task, so we never had one...".

He then gave a definition of the "perfect fan", which is worth mentioning: "someone who buys all the records, reads every magazine, comes to every concert then... returns home and does something else". He then quickly added "I know it may sound harsh...", but I interrupted him to tell I perfectly understood and shared his state of mind on this.

Concerning Pink Floyd artworks, he feels that the cover image, least transmitting the overall meaning of the album it accompanies, is Dark Side Of The Moon. To him, it's a perfect packaging piece, but not so in line with musical contents. I told him Storm agrees and he said "I'm happy about that... it means I answered right".

As for the future, he confirmed projects for a video-anthology, and he announced to start work on that idea in a couple of weeks, after returning home from this promotional tour.

However, aside early days stuff, he commented live footage from 1973/5/7 is very tough to find. I mentioned private 8mm, but he proved deep knowledge in what is out there, because he quickly ended the matter with a significant "yes, but they're usually silent...".

The Wish You Were Here SACD will definitely happen, since this format seems to give fine vibes to the band. On Animals, Nick agreed about it being the weakest sounding CD of their current discography and expressed, but as a personal idea, the deed to do a different mix of the album.

I then took the opportunity for a philosophical question, but hugely debated when the DSOTM SACD got released, and asked "but with a new mix, have you still the right to call it Animals?". He quietly answered "well... Animals Mix II". I thought it was "A perfect Floyd title" and took the opportunity to let him know.

There was more, but you'll read about it when the transcript is done and ready for publishing on Brain Damage. The interview ended, we greeted and left for lunch (it was 1pm, local time, by then), and I have to say I felt lucky enough, considering that in two days of staying in Italy, Nick had only sixteen interviews scheduled.

His afternoon begun with the videochat Matt already covered on these news pages a few days ago (most recently here). I then went, soon enough and along with some "Hey You" friends, to Feltrinelli bookshop, in Piazza Piemonte, where Nick was about to present his book, along with journalists Franco Bertoncelli and Franco Zanetti (responsible for the italian translation). The place gradually crowded and, by the start of the event, more than 300 people, in my opinion, were there.

Nick arrived with half an hour to spare. I had already been impressed by his sharpness in the morning, and this was another confirmation of "Time" being not just one of Floyd evergreens.

After a short introduction for the book, by the two hosts, the "public Q&A" started. Some questions made me feel ashamed for the fans who asked them, but others were interesting. A fan questioned Nick on his feelings about owning Gilles Villeneuve's F1 car ("it gives such a pleasure that, despite being made for Gilles who was not so tall, I can squeeze myself to fit in there"), while another chose to explore the Venice path.

Regarding that side of Floyd's journey, Nick said "he still travels to Venice, but always being careful not to let anyone know who I am". He then recalled how gondoleers tried to swindle extra money from the band, claiming their rides were below zero that day (a very unlikely thing, given the stage was on the water, and gondolas were a perfect way to get close there) and threatened to blow their whistles throughout the whole concert if monies did not reach their hands.

Nick smiled and told that the power of their PA would have made it impossible to hear a whistle from the crowd. So, they did not pay and "since then, every time I ride on a gondola, I wear a life jacket".

Regarding other questions, Nick simply said he was "sad to tell" no projects are on for a new tour or record, but did not deny the possibility in future.

The "public Q&A" lasted for half an hour. Then, the signing session was announced. It's then that everyone had the best chance to understand how much Mr. Mason cares for fans. Before starting, he announced a request and a communication.

The request concerned a scrapbook he brought with him. "I'll sign something for you, but I want every one of you to leave a note on this". He then handed the green cover scrapbook to a security guy, who had every fan coming to Nick's table sign and write some words on its white pages. It's the first time in my life that I noticed a famous artist trying to establish a "two way" communication with his audience.

The communication was something like "I won't move before the last of you will have his autograph". After that, everyone understood the kindness and the availability of Mr. Mason. I highly admired this decision by Nick and spent a good part of my time there, before leaving. I would say he signed something like 500 autographs, considering many people were there with two or three items (no particular instructions were given, when the signing ended). Simply unbelievable!

Given the atmosphere of the moment, my line on the scrapbook simply went "Hats off, Sir Mason".

I think it's the feeling everyone in the room wanted to express.

I then left Feltrinelli and had an enjoyable dinner with some fan friends, which reminded us that fandom is built not only on blind dogmatic worshipping of a band, but firstly on human basis. From that side, Nick, and the day we just lived, had meant an unforgettable example.

Our thanks to Chris for the pictures and report - and look for his transcription of the interview in the near future...

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