Q magazine, June 1999

Cash for Questions with David Gilmour

By D. Cavanagh

David Gilmour - DG

Taking up most of the doorway of his Sussex farmhouse, David Gilmour smiles a hale "Morning!" and ushers Q inside. The noses of horses peek out from nearby stables; a tennis court and green fields look on, awaiting days less blustery and overcast than this one.

Leading us through a sitting-room and a kitchen - the latter decorated by the paintings of his young children - Gilmour makes coffee and parks himself in a low armchair in his study. Around him, the shelves contain vinyl copies of Floyd's debut album, Piper At The Gates of Dawn ("I don't listen to it, no") Encyclopedia Britannica, a book on B.B. King and Please Kill Me, the story of New York punk rock.

"I'm going through a very lazy period," he half-apologizes. With no Pink Floyd activity on the horizon - and his telescope on the terrace affords him an excellent view of said horizon - he has stirred only occasionally these last few months, playing guitar with The Pretty Things on an Internet broadcast of their 1968 rock opera, S.F. Sorrow. In fact, his houseboat on the Thames has been busier than he of late: Crispian Mills recently took Kula Shaker down there to record some material.

Inscrutable and not to be messed with (a phone-call from one of his people warns Q on no account to address him as "Dave"), he answers questions with the superior mien of an old rural MP. Was this man ever young? And is rock music such a bore to him as it often appears to be? Let us see.

Q: I the little red light still flashing on the CD case of your copy of PULSE?
(G. Davidson, East Finchley)

DG: No.

Q: When was the last time you took LSD?
(R.F.- Ohio)

DG: Can't remember. (grins)Or I'm not owing up. No, I'm not owing up.

Q: Is there any truth in the story that Dark Side Of The Moon doubles as a soundtrack to the Wizard Of Oz?
(N.F.- Cardiff)

DG: If it does, then Roger (Waters, Floyd bassist/song-writer) never let me in on it. It seemed to bear no relation when I tried it. I mean, it can only last for the first forty minutes. What's supposed to happen for the rest of it? Was that supposed to match Wish You Were Here and um... (pause

Q: What did you think of OK Computer by Radiohead?
(M.B- Iowa)

DG: I'm a fan of Radiohead. They're really good. Actually, I prefer the one before. What's that one called? The Bends, that's right.

Q: I heard a rumor that Pink Floyd are playing their last gig at the pyramids on the even of the millennium. It sounds Floydish, is it true? - if not, what's next?

DG: I'm going to be somewhere in the bosom of my family on the eve of the millennium. I won't be doing a gig or going to a gig. As for the future, who knows? It's not even planned. An album in the pipeline? No.

Q: Pink Floyd is a benign dictatorship run by David Gilmour. Discuss.

DG: Well, in this day and age, through the.....that's true enough. And due to causes beyond my control, that's what I have inherited. It doesn't always work a hundred per cent that way. It sort of came to me when there was...It was gifted to me, if you like. Bequeathed to me. Through circumstances.

Q: When did you last speak to Syd Barrett?
(J.S.- Canada)

DG: The last time I spoke to Syd Barrett was in 1975, I believe. I've sent him a Christmas card or two, and an invitation to my fiftieth birthday party a couple of years ago. He didn't turn up but I got a reply from his sister. She passed on my best wishes to him.

Q: If you could say one thing to Roger Waters, what would it be?
(B.H.- Winston Salem)

DG: Good luck with your new record.

Nick Mason? Luck or talent?
(R.S.- Cheshire)

DG: Hmmmm. We all need a bit of luck to get where we get. Nick made the job his own... and he was the best man for it.

Q: Who would win in a fist fight, you or Roger Waters?
(N.B.- New York)

DG: No contest. (Smiles) Roger's a pacifist. But it's never happened. Although it's been close.

Q: Have you ever had a fight with your wife Polly over lyrics?

DG: A fight with Polly over lyrics? No, when we were working on the lyrics, we almost certainly had many (in the style of a Call My Bluff contestant) discussions. During which. Each of us. Would have. Fought our corner quite vociferously. But in the end. Obviously enough. I suppose my word would go.

Q: Have you ever felt bored while playing a lengthy guitar solo?

DG: Yes. There are moments, on a long-ish tour, when you think that you have played every note before. And you cannot think of a new way to explore, and you're just going through the motions really.

Q: Johnny Rotten had his famous "I hate Pink Floyd" T-shirt. Did you hate the Sex Pistols?
(J.L.- South Shields)

DG: No, I thought the Sex Pistols were rather good. I've been on a show with Johnny Rotten - it was at Sadler's Wells - and he said he never really hated Pink Floyd and actually he was a bit of a fan. I confess to not having entirely believed it in the first place. I mean, who could hate us?

Q: At the end of the first half of the Wembley gig on The Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour, you stuck your middle finger up at me and mouthed "fuck off," just because I was waving a Roger Waters T-shirt from the front row. Do you regret your impoliteness?
(B.D.- Lewisham)

DG: I offer my most fulsome apologies if that is what I did. It does sound extraordinarily ill-mannered. I must have been under a lot of pressure at the time.

Q: How old were you when you lost your virginity?

DG: Funnily enough, someone asked my wife the same question the other day in an interview. And I said I'd never been asked that question. And precisely two days later, I get asked it. Pass.

Q: Be honest. When listening to the Great Gig In The Sky, have you ever thought, Oh put a sock in it, you silly cow?
(M.C.-Herne Hill)

DG: Sometimes. Sometimes no. Sometimes yes.

Q: My mother told me she read in the newspaper that Pink Floyd had redecorated a Mexican hotel room by filling it with chickens. Is this true?

DG: I wish I could say yes. But sadly, no.

Q: Did you really once ride a motorbike through a crowded restaurant?

DG: Yes. It was in Scotsdale, Phoenix, Arizona. When? God! I can't remember what year. It would be early-'70s. Funnily enough, it didn't get any reaction at all. People were frightened by it that they all stared very hard at their plates.

Q: Your first solo album was great. Your second was, to put it politely, next. Can we expect a third?

DG: Well, I'm glad you enjoyed the first one. There might well be a third one, one day. Do I still have a solo recording deal? I don't think I do. But I'm not very certain actually. I'll have to ask my lawyer.

Q: Did someone actually ask you, "by the way, which one's Pink?"
(S.S.- N. Ireland)

DG: Back in the mists of time. But I think it did happen, I think in America, in the early days -about 1968 or something like that.

Q: What do you do all day?

DG: What a long, dull question. Well, I get up at about 7.15. I wake up some children. Make breakfast. Change a nappy. Take a kid to school. Strum a guitar. Doodle in my recording studio some of the time. If the weather's nice I might fly an airplane. It's hard to describe what I do, but I never seem to have enough time to do it.

Q: Is Stephane Grappelli on Wish You Were Here?

DG: Stephane Grappelli was working at Abbey Road when we were making Wish You Were Here. He did come in and play on something, but he didn't make the mix in the end. It was terrific fun. Avoiding his wandering hands. Was he gay? I don't think many people would argue about that.

Q: Do you sign Rick Wright's salary checks?

DG: Rick Wright doesn't get salary checks. He receives royalty payments. Due to legal complications, on the Momentary Lapse Of Reason tour, he was paid by the gig, rather than being a profit participant, because he didn't want to be taking risks, and he didn't want to get involved in the legal rubbish that was going on with Roger. That was the best way to do it. He got paid a royalty on the album and then he got paid a cut of subsequent stuff.

Q: In 1974 you were rumored to be following up Dark Side Of The Moon with an album played entirely on household objects. How far did you get?

DG: We piddled around with it for quite a while, actually. These days, you'd just make these noises, bung it on to a sample and off you go. But we did spend a lot of time with rubber bands stretched over matchboxes. All we got out of it was probably a sixteen-track tape with tuned wine glasses. Wetted finger. Wine glass. All tuned up. Then you'd tune it up to a semitone higher. We used it for the opening of the Wish You Were Here album. It's a lovely sound. So it did serve some purpose.

Q: What's your usual order in an Indian restaurant?

DG: I'm afraid I'm really boring. I have what every other person in England has: chicken tikka masala. With sag bhajee. Sometimes I have half a tandoori chicken. Usually washed down with a pint of cold, fizzy lager.

Q: How big's your telly?
(S.P.-St Ives)

DG: I think it's a 22-inch screen. Actually, we've got two. One in a room downstairs, which is the 22-inch one, and I have a 14-inch one in my bedroom on which I occasionally watch a video.

Q: Who did you hate most out of Genesis, E.L.P., Yes or King Crimson?

DG: Probably Yes, E.L.P., Genesis and King Crimson in that order...Oh God what am I saying? Funnily enough, I don't really like pop groups very much.

Q: Is it true you sued Cliff Jones, the singer in Gay Dad, when he wrote a book about Pink Floyd a couple of years ago?

DG: Yes. He wrote a book - I've got it here actually, which purports to be the meaning behind every Pink Floyd song.... must have put it somewhere. And while having nothing personal against Cliff -gay or not- it was laughable. In the book, it purported to say the musicians and what instruments they played. Now in the earlier years, when it was usually me, Rick, Nick and Roger, they were slightly more accurate, although there were still hundreds of errors even then. And on the later stuff, on The Wall, the musician thing is incorrect on every single track. And the meanings behind most of the songs are completely wrong. I asked the publishers if they would withdraw it and I would help them correct it, but they refused. And so I sued them. It's such a lot of old toffee, really. What did I think of the Gay Dad single? I only heard it once. I can't even remember it now. It was um, memorable.

Q: Is it true you landed a Japanese Zero aircraft on the island of Mull?

DG: No. Close, but not quite true. I landed a Harvard aircraft, which is what they've often used in films - they tack a bit extra on the top of it to make it look similar to a Zero. I have been up to Mull a few times, yes. Usually at the end of May.

Q: If Syd and Roger both phoned you on the same day and asked to rejoin, which would you be most likely to say yes to?

DG: (Laughing) From the heart, Syd. From the brain, Roger. Is that delicately enough put? I think in the end I'd say no to both of them. Because life's too short. I did invite Roger to come and play Dark Side Of The Moon with us at Earls' Court, but he declined.

Q: Are you the gloomiest man in rock?

DG: Are we sure he's thinking about the right person? Is this person confused? I'm the jolly one. I'm the jolly, happy one.