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Home arrow Interviews arrow David Gilmour interviews arrow November 5th 2002 - Rocky Mountain News, USA
November 5th 2002 - Rocky Mountain News, USA Print E-mail

Out of the Pink: Though more Floyd projects are in the works, Gilmour happy with simpler life

David Gilmour on stage for the live DVD, David Gilmour In ConcertThe Pink Floyd hit Comfortably Numb off of The Wall is one of the most well-known anthems of the rock era, with countless millions of kids singing along to its dark, introspective lyrics.

So it's a bit odd to see the two live versions on Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's new DVD. Robert Wyatt sings part of one version; Bob Geldof does the other.

And both are intently studying their lyric sheets for lines as simple as "Hello. Is there anybody in there?"

"It's kind of baffling, isn't it?" says Gilmour with mock indignation. "I would have thought Bob would have managed to learn them" - considering he starred in the movie version of The Wall. "Maybe he's just a bit too chilled out to deign to learn them."

No matter. David Gilmour in Concert, due in stores today, is a Pink Floyd fanatic's dream (short of a full band reunion, that is). Gilmour works his way through a semi-acoustic set of songs, including hits such as Comfortably Numb and Wish You Were Here, mingled with less-known songs, including the unreleased new track, Smile, and a stunning guitar rave-up on Breakthrough. It's all in unbelievably crisp 5.1 Surround Sound.

It's a brilliant move, and makes sense. After 30-plus years of groundbreaking music, including massively successful Floyd reunion tours in the '80s and '90s, Gilmour has been on a campaign of downsizing - selling off property, donating to charity, and generally focusing his life around his children rather than his music.

"Some things that were hobbies became businesses," he explains from his home in England. "I've tried to turn them back into hobbies. I just want to enjoy them. I just didn't really need it, and I couldn't find enough time to do the things I wanted to do."

This is why you're not going to see a Pink Floyd album or tour anytime soon, with or without estranged singer Roger Waters.

"I'm not the fiercely ambitious person I was once. I'm not chasing things like I was in my 20s and 30s. I'm 56. I'm looking for a simpler life. I'm still bringing up small children, 26 years after my first one," Gilmour says.

"I'm enjoying living a slightly simpler life, carrying my burdens more lightly," he continues. "The Pink Floyd project involves making a record and doing a tour. It's two years out of one's life, with real 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week concentration. That's pretty tough going. It's not what I relish at the moment."

Instead, it's a solo album in the works, and this live DVD in the meantime. Gilmour played five shows in London and Paris and put together a hodgepodge of enjoyable performances, along with extras such as rehearsals and a feature that'll drive guitar geeks nuts - an angle that looks only at Gilmour's fingers during all his classic guitar solos.

He decided to film the shows even though "it was a bit of potluck whether it was going to come off or not," he says. "Usually when you do these things, you've done a great huge tour and you're in practice and you know exactly what you're doing before you're brave enough to put (a performance) in the can. It's not the usual thing to do a couple of weeks of rehearsals then record the very first show you did. It's not ideal, but it's certainly fresh."

Songs like Wish You Were Here "I've done so many times in my life that it's like falling off a log," he says. Though a stunning version is included, Gilmour didn't go for hits, throwing in unreleased songs, cover versions (including Richard Thompson's Dimming of the Day) and the killer guitar solo through Breakthrough, a track from bandmate Rick Wright's Broken China album.

"The solo in Breakthrough was one of those moments where I've listened to the song quite a lot and I've gotten to know its shape and feel quite well. When you know a song quite well and it's a nice chord sequence, it's good fun, great to be able to leap into the solo and not have a recorded version where you're not displeasing the fans because you're not doing (it perfectly) or not displeasing yourself because you are. It's kind of a freeing thing."

He also reclaimed overlooked Floyd songs such as Fat Old Sun and Syd Barrett's Dominoes.

"It was firstly a matter of choosing the songs that would suit the lineup," he says, a lineup that included strings and mostly acoustic instruments. The new song, Smile, is from a planned, as-yet-untitled solo project due out next year.

Gilmour is staying true to his simpler lifestyle, but he's been pushing that way for years. Rather than work on his own big projects, he's been content to assist on other people's music, be it Pete Townshend or Paul McCartney.

"I spend long periods of time which appear to most people to be out of work. Getting an invitation for the likes of Pete and Paul, it's great," he says. "You can just turn up with your guitar and amp and plug 'em in. you can learn your stuff, do your best, make your suggestions and at the end of the day you pack your guitar up, go home and forget about it. On a Pink Floyd project or solo project, there's no such thing as time off. You're sitting down listening to it all over again at home, examining every bloody note, every phrase, every syllable, trying to decide on sounds and everything. It exhausts you completely."

Couldn't a Floyd project happen in a downsized manner, much like the new DVD?

"I don't think it's impossible, but the weight of expectations of the people, our fans, are quite big. It would be a bit scary to try to do it on a different scale. For the moment, my mind just isn't on Pink Floyd matters. It's on my other career. My current career. At the moment I can't see why I'd want to bother to do a thing like that."

Not that some Floyd work won't be happening. The live Pulse album is coming out in a 5.1 Surround Sound DVD mix, and the band is about to jump into remixing their classic Dark Side of the Moon album in 5.1 sound.

"We've got a quad mix that Alan Parsons did back in '73," he says. "It's not quite as good as what I would want."

So odds are the band will go back and do a full remix from scratch, which creates another bonus. Because of limitations of the day, every format of Dark Side has not been off the master tapes; the 16-track backing tracks were always at least a generation removed and altered.

"We can go back one stage and do a remix from the very original masters," Gilmour says. "We can have a 5.1 that intrinsically is better than anything out there."

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