An Extended Conversation with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason
Roger Waters, David Gilmour and Nick Mason during “Outside The Wall” finale at Waters’ The Wall Live show at the O2 Arena in London on May 12, 2011.
How would you characterize your relationship with Roger and David today?
I get on with both of them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to go back on the road as Pink Floyd. I think David, particularly, is not enthusiastic at all to return to that scale of operation.
What about you?
Oh, I’m ready to go. But it’s easier for me. I don’t have some of the creative issues that the other two do. It’s a bit more difficult without Rick there as well. The trouble is if we did it, we’d have to do it properly, and that would be very difficult at this stage, to go out for a year and play old material. I cannot see us going back in the studio.
Were you surprised when Pink Floyd first broke in America?
Well, I suppose a little bit surprised just because we’d been struggling for five years without breaking. We had good audiences but we couldn’t seem to go beyond that. In hindsight I’m not the least bit surprised because suddenly, after five years, we had Bhaskar Menon as president of Capitol Records, and he decided to make it work. You can’t make it work unless you’ve got the record company.
How do you feel about Roger touring with his own production of The Wall ?
It’s fine. To be honest, I think it’s great. That was always his baby and it’s bringing him the recognition he failed to get after he left the band. It’s well deserved and he should enjoy every minute of it. I think the show is fantastic. What he’s done with film and bringing a 30-year-old show up to date is sensational. He’s being incredibly faithful to the original music.
You did a project in the early ’80s called Fictitious Sports, which included several jazz players like Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, NRBQ’s Terry Adams and Robert Wyatt on vocals. Is that going to be reissued at some point?
Hopefully we might reissue it. I keep forgetting to do anything about it. It’s so easy now t make music available so I will make sure it’s available at some point.
You’re also an avid auto racer. Do you get the same thrill from that as you do from drumming?
It’s more frightening, and intrinsically more dangerous as I understand it. They complement each other. In auto racing it’s all down to you. As a drummer, you have to have the other two or three to make it work.
How do you spend most of your time now?
I’m quite involved in music politics. In the 21st century, with all of the changes going on in the industry, it’s really important that the musicians themselves have a voice. It’s really tough for young musicians to make a living now. It was a much simpler format 40 years ago. If the artist can have their own voice, along with the record companies and the tech companies, it’s no bad thing.
The technology seems to always be one step ahead of the art.
Yeah, but there are ways of catching up. The record companies got wrong-footed on downloading. But having said that, they’re not finished; they’ll pull themselves together. Downloading will work if people pay small amounts. The record companies lost all good will with their audience and with the artists, and that makes it difficult. But sooner or later they will either manage to change people’s perceptions or put together new deals. That’s the change we’re all looking for.
Last week we posted our Parting Shots conversation with Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason. Here is an extended version of that piece.
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