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Home arrow Interviews arrow Nick Mason interviews arrow 1998 - Later With Jools Holland, BBC TV
1998 - Later With Jools Holland, BBC TV Print E-mail

"Careful With That Axle, Eugene"

Nick Mason's BugattiIf you look further down you'll find Jools at the piano chatting to nick about his classic car collection, book and new C.D. as well as an interview about the new Pink Floyd live album Is There Anybody Out There, but first here's a little information about his band...

Nick Mason was born in Birmingham in 1945. His name is forever linked with that of one of the world's most successful and conceptual bands Pink Floyd.

Their story begins in Cambridge in 1955 when Roger Waters met Syd Barrett at primary school and then David Gilmour at secondary school. The band was created in 1965, when Roger Waters asked two fellow architecture students at the Regent Street Polytechnic (Nick Mason and Rick Wright) to join him and Syd Barrett (who was now enrolled at Camberwell art college).

The name, like most of their early songs Arnold Layne, See Emily Play and Bike, came from Syd and his love of blues. His heroes included Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. He wanted to combine blues with free form and hallucinogenic lightning effects to give the flower power generation some truly 'psychedelic happenings'.

According to Nick "the hippies at Joe Boyd's UFO Club loved us. But outside London people hated it. They used to throw things. I think we were pretty terrible, but we didn't quite know it."

Keyboard player Rick Wright remembers the early styles - "we started out like everyone else playing R'n'B classics, but with Syd the direction changed. It became more improvised".

By the end of 1966 Pink Floyd were the darlings of the counter culture and had two singles in the charts. While the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper in Abbey Road, they recorded Piper at the Gates Of Dawn next door.

During their first tour of America things began to go wrong. Syd's behaviour became increasingly erratic - refusing to speak to interviewers and simply playing one note vacantly on stage. The band realised he was losing his mind.

In early 1968, Syd was replaced by Dave Gilmour, after the band briefly considered Jeff Beck for a place in the line up. As Nick explains "the idea wasn't to kick Syd out of the band; we wanted something similar to what the Beach Boys were doing with Brian Wilson at the time, where we'd go out and play live and Syd would stay at home and write". This didn't really happen and early seeds of dissent were sown as Nick admits "it soon became Roger's 'let's make a show' against Dave's 'let's make music' ".

For the rest of the 'sixties Pink Floyd released A Saucerful of Secrets and Ummagumma as well as contributing to the film soundtracks Zabriskie Point and More and the BBC coverage of the moon landing. Their shows became more like 'son et lumiere' spectaculars and they released Atom Heart Mother which had ignited their interest in complex special effects within the music studio.

They shelved an album of 'music' made by dropping household objects in favour of the atmospheric Meddle which Nick feels was "the first real Pink Floyd album. It introduced the idea of a theme that can be returned to."

This set the scene for the epic Dark Side of the Moon (28 million copies and rising), provisionally titled 'Eclipse' and played live before the band returned to Abbey road. Nick remembers "it was initially about the pressures of real life - travel, money, madness - and then broadened out a bit". Nick is the person we should thank for the question and answer recordings which permeate the music, including a comment from Gerry the doorman at Abbey road "there is no dark side of the moon really, as a matter of fact it's all dark". Roger suggested the themes and Nick wanted to pepper the album with real off-the-cuff comments, which came from all and sundry passing through the studios (including engineer Alan Parsons, Paul and Linda McCartney - although the latter were too polished in their responses and left off the final cut).

Jools Holland: Pink Floyd are one of the most popular groups of all time, one of the most successful touring acts in the world ever and we’re very pleased to have the drummer from Pink Floyd here with us this evening - Mr. Nick Mason! Nick thankyou very much for coming and joining us. Now The Wall, The Live Wall is here out now. Would you say you have very happy memories of touring The Wall? Weren’t you in a cage when you played the drums?

Nick Mason: Yes, but I think not entirely because of the rest of the band. It was fun putting the show on.

Jools Holland: There are two questions people really want to know...will there be another Pink Floyd record?

Nick Mason: Well, we really don’t know - I should hope we’re all to young to retire. But there ought to be something possible to do yet.

Jools Holland: Something up your sleeves, yes. And do you miss the touring, that huge mammoth touring that Pink Floyd did?

Nick Mason: I don't miss the huge amount of mammoth touring but I think it'd be fun to go out and do some more shows.

Jools Holland: Well now you’ve also whilst taking time off from Pink Floyd a lot of people put records together - you’ve put one together with lots of different star performers, so to speak, but it’s a very unusual record and I think it brings in the question what is music? For Michael Tippet, the composer he said it was the sound of running water he loved when he was very small. Now you’ve made a record and we have one of the stars of the record here. Let’s have a big round of applause for a Bugati ladies and gentleman. Tell us about the concept of the record you have made with this and the other motor cars.

Nick Mason: I’d have to say that the concept really is that with every record you get a free book. That really came first, but we decided in the early days of it it’d be really nice if possible to do a CD with all the new technology of digital recording and use the actual sounds of all the cars that were being driven for the book.

Jools Holland: And for the people that love the cars that is music to their ears?

Nick Mason: Apparently, yes. Apparently it’s been extremely popular, particularly at traffic lights.

Jools Holland: So people have this in their cars and if their cars don’t make a particularly nice noise they can hear a Bugatti or a Ferrari or the fabulous D-type Jaguars. I would like now to suggest something that’s never been done on British television, or international television or in music anywhere in the world and that is combining the lovely noise of the racing car engine - what exactly is the vehicle?

Nick Mason: It’s an eight cylinder Bugati type 35.

Jools Holland: What year would that have been?

Nick Mason: About 1927.

Jools Holland: Lovely. Mr Bugatti’s vehicle there to do a duet with the piano, because I often accompany the artists who come on the show and you’ve bought this particular artist in, and the harmonic sound of the Bugatti engine which for some people will bring tears to their eyes. So Nick if I could ask you to get into the car...

Nick Mason: Absolutely.

Jools Holland: A musical first. For reasons of safety, and I like to be a safety officer at all times, I’ve placed a crash helmet on top of my piano. Right, if you’d like to fire her up, as they say... (Jools accompanies the revving Bugatti with incidental music on the piano).

Jools Holland: Thankyou very much indeed. Thank you very much to Nick Mason.

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