Q&A: David Gilmour (continued)
David Gilmour interview, continued.
Q: One of the things that defines you is your guitar playing. Is it correct to think that there's something of a blues guitarist in you?
A: I am a lover of all sorts of different music. I love blues and every piece of music that I have listened to has become an influence. But you're right, there's a distinct blues influence within what I do but at the same time I am not frightened to step out of that. I don't even think whether I play the blues or not, I just play whatever feels right at the moment. I also will use any gadget or device that I find that helps me achieve the sort of sound on the guitar that I want to get.
Q: In 1972's movie "Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii" there was an interview of you in which you said that you used technology but did not want to be slaves to technology. Is that still the case?
A: I think that's still true. I am not a technophobe and I am using the latest technology today, some 30-odd years later, and I am really enjoying what some of the new technologies can offer. But at the same time I am always aware that one can get bogged down in that technology and that it can become more than just a method. That's something that you have to be slightly careful of.
Q: Pink Floyd concerts in the '60s comprised songs such as "Set the Control for the Heart of the Sun," but also some extremely experimental parts, with a lot of unstructured sounds and noises. Do you miss that kind of experimental space?
A: I am in a space now where I can try anything; and with Pink Floyd we've always been in a space where we were able to try out anything. I think we were very young then and we were very keen to experiment and try things out. It seems to me that this sort of experimenting is like working yourself towards something and trying to find what you like and what you want.
To me, I feel that I grew out of that sort of experimenting because it felt at the time that the rewards were small compared to the amount of boredom that you were inducing. When we did these concerts, there were some magic moments but they did not last for the whole set or for the whole concert. I found in the end that I am a person who likes a bit more structure.
You could say that I sort of grew out of that phase and wanted something which was perhaps more normal. [smiles]
Q: Are there bands that have taken on Pink Floyd's musical mantle these days?
A: I don't know about taking the mantle, but there are a lot of people who have tried very hard to move music into a different direction and take it their own way. There's Radiohead, obviously.
Q: Which are the Pink Floyd tracks you really like and that stand the test of time?
A: "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" and "Wish You Were Here" are standout tracks. "Comfortably Numb" is another one. "High Hopes" from "The Division Bell" is one of my favorite all-time Pink Floyd tracks. "The Great Gig in the Sky," "Echoes," there's lot of them.
For the tour, we have a list of songs that we want to try to decide on and that we'll be rehearsing.
Q: Are you frustrated that the tour is sold as "The voice and the guitar of Pink Floyd?"
Q: Well, to make sure people know who David Gilmour is, the promoters have to add "The voice and the guitar of Pink Floyd."
A: Well, I am David Gilmour the voice and guitar of Pink Floyd. I have been since I was 21. I can't see any reason at all when trying to promote my shows and my album, I shouldn't mention the fact that that's what I spent my life doing.
Q: You're playing a selected number of mid-size venues. Are you aware that you may frustrate millions of people who may wish to see you?
A: I can't help other people's frustrations. I don't owe people anything. If people would like to come to my concerts I'd love them to come. And if they like the music that I make, I love that too. But I do not make music for other people. I make it to please myself.
To go out and tour for months and months on end is not just what I want to be doing at my age. Sorry if you don't like that, but it's my prerogative.
Q: Why did you feel you had to do Live 8?
A: For one thing, the cause. What Bob Geldof was trying to make happen was to persuade the leaders of the G8 nations to cancel the world's debt. Obviously if one can do something about that, one wants to help.
The second reason is that Roger and I had a lot of bitterness and anger over the years and this was the first time that he had seemed to be wanting to put some of that behind him. And getting rid of anger and hatred is a good thing to do.
I also thought that if I did not do it I would regret it. So there are a lot of reasons for doing and I did thoroughly enjoy doing it. And it is very good to get over some of the bitterness and very good to have some sort of closure on all of that.
Q: Have you spoken to Waters since?
A: Not since that week, no.
Q: He seemed very happy on stage.
A: Yes, he was, and so was I.
Q: How did you pick the tracks you played at Live 8?
A: We picked the songs that we thought would work the best for that occasion, songs from that era of our career. I did not want to get into major arguments with Roger in trying to get in something newer. The choice of songs was not exactly how Roger wanted it to be but I think it was a very good set. "Money" being part of it seemed to me to be very appropriate because money is what that concert was about.
Q: From the audience, it did not look like you had not performed together for 25 years.
A: We did rehearse. We rehearsed for three days together and I did rehearse myself at home for two weeks, every day, many times, in order to make sure that I really knew what I was doing because a lot of the burden of the work was mine. So, I was concentrating on singing or guitar playing for the whole set. I did work a lot.
Q: Do you think that Live 8 did really achieve the goals that Geldof set to reach?
A: There was a large cancellation of debt. Whether that made a lot of difference to it, I don't know. You can only look back at these things historically. But it is better to do something than just sit by and [not] do anything at all.
Q: Why did you decide to give back the royalties you'd earn from your performance at Live 8?
A: I felt that it was not an act of generosity, but it was a debt. I don't think that being invited on a concert like that and have that massive advertisement for your career is something that is yours. It belongs to the cause so I absolutely think that it is morally wrong to hang on to a profit that you have made out of something like that.
Q: Is it correct to assume that you turned down an offer to tour after Live 8?
A: Yes, we were offered a lot of money to go on tour. And I did turn it down, yes. The offer was made to tour with a lot of money and it was with or without Roger. But I have no interest in going on a tour to make money without making new product, new art. So just going out and replaying our old hits again on a tour does not appeal to me at all.
Q: Will there ever be a chance to see the band live together?
A: Who knows? I have no plans at all to do that. My plans are to do my concerts and put my record out.
Q: Is retiring a word in your dictionary?
A: Being a musician, being a person who's playing tours and making records is a part-time thing for me at age. I did it, I lived it and I breathed it every day of my life for 30-odd years and now I am slowing down a little bit. But it does not mean that I am any less intense and dedicated to the work that I am doing now. I have other priorities in life as well.
Q: What do you think your legacy will be?
A: Oh! [Long silence] Legacy? What's a legacy? I think our music will continue to be played for a while. Then it will be forgotten like everything else will be forgotten. How long will that take? A hundred years, a thousand years, a million years? I have no idea. This is not something I think of very much.
Q: What's your life going to be in the next couple of years?
A: I have no idea what the future holds. I hope that I am going to get through my tour and enjoy it, and then I will be back home looking after my children, while my 16-year-old boy gets ready for his exams. And I shall be trying to steer and guide my children into their future.
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