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Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason on flying pigs

Nick Mason on "The Wall" tour

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Race car driver and 1960’s/70’s handlebar moustache model, Nick Mason, is best known for being the drummer of Pink Floyd. He is also the only founding member who remained from start to finish in a band that had three distinctly different frontmen over the course of four decades. The final piece of the “Why Pink Floyd?” reissue series will be revealed at the end of this month, culminating in two special editions of the climactic Roger Waters’ classic, “The Wall.” I talked with Mason about this forthcoming release, the early days with Syd Barrett, and about making the right sounds at the right time.

 

One can’t help but notice that you’re the only person who’s been in the band unbroken from start to finish. It seems like you’ve maybe brokered some peace agreements in the past too. Are you the easy going one?

I think I am and I think I’m probably the one, unlike the others, that requires other musicians to make it happen. Solo drummers tend to be rather dull. Whether I’m a peacemaker?  I don’t think so, I think it’s hard to broker peace between two people, but you can certainly sort of keep your head down and stick it out.

How has it been to revisit “The Wall” then?

Oh great! Although we have the reputation of being at each other with knives, clubs and guns most the time, that’s actually not quite how I remember it. Even “The Wall,” that has a reputation for being the most difficult period, a lot of it was actually very pleasant. it was people getting on and making the record and enjoying working on it. And I like the music, I’m proud of it.

What’s your favorite recording now?

The jewel in the crown is the “Wish You Were Here” tape with Stephane Grappelli on it. Because I remember the moment that he came into the studio so well, I mean, I was a big fan of his anyway. It was one of those things where I remembered he played on the record, but I thought we’d recorded over it. So it was an absolute delight when someone went, no, no, we’ve got it. We found it in the vaults, it’s still there. The most peculiar thing about that is why didn’t we decide to use it at the time.

Why didn’t you?

I have no idea! There must have been discussions saying no, it doesn’t work, or we’ve got something else that has to go on. I have no idea. I keep meaning to ask the others. I don’t think they can remember either.

A few days ago NASA released video of the actual dark side of the moon taken by an orbital space craft. Looking back how did the space age influence your sound at the time, or was it more just the tools that were becoming available, new synthesizers and the like?

Funny enough, I don’t think it was the space age that influenced that nearly as much as the music technology that was changing, as you say. There was the Moog, although we were very late in Moogs, there was this whole new development keyboards. There were things like the Mellotron and there were things like a lot of guitar effect stuff happened around that time. So fuzzboxes, flangers, you know, all that sort of thing. I think it was “Echoes,” part of the sound was actually plugging, plugging foot pedals in, back to front. And of course, all these sort of electronic sounds work very well with the sort of lunar themes and programs on space exploration of which there were a lot at the time. So the things just became sort of intertwined I suppose really.

A happy coincidence then.

Yeah, absolutely. But I think that’s very much part of music and success, and all the rest of it, making the right sounds at the right time.

And you did that distinctly well over several different phases, starting with Syd Barrett and that psychedelic sound. But even without the crazy diamond himself, you guys were deeply psychedelic, putting it mildly….

Yeah, except don’t forget if we hadn’t had Syd, it wouldn’t have got off the ground in the first place. There would have been no lift off.

He’s inseparable then from the idea of Pink Floyd?

I think so. If you just look at that first album, the first songs — which were the things that got us a record contract into Abbey Road and all the rest of it — without Syd, I mean, you wouldn’t even have Interstellar Overdrive. It’s just impossible to evaluate what would’ve existed without Syd in my opinion. I think Roger, at some point, something would’ve happened, but completely different.

He was very far out there but, you are all pretty far out there, weren’t you?

Well initially, I think the rest of us were probably following Syd at the time. And it might have sounded far out, but once Syd was gone, it became much more technical, we became more industrious. Even though part of that was to make the sound become more abstract, but  in order to achieve that, it was a matter of just going into the studio and messing about, so to speak. There was a lot more thought into how to make it work.

Do you have any regrets, to this day about how things were handled with Syd?

Oh God yes. The band politics were handled appallingly from beginning to end. You know, every step of the way. But having said that — we didn’t know any better — is what my lawyer’s going to tell you [laughter]. I think we all regret that we didn’t know how to look after Syd better. And the split with Roger. If we had all known what we know now, I think we could have dealt with it a hell of a lot better. But we didn’t.

“Live at Pompeii” is one of the best music films of all time, sometimes it’s hard to imagine a band that cool, that authentic today. What was going through your head in that ancient amphitheater?

[Laughs] Well, I think, we were unaware of just what a good idea it was. I mean, I’d love for any us to be able to take credit for it, but it was very much an idea that had been sprung by Adrian Maben, who’s the director of the film. That combination of the venue, which was romantic in its own right, and the fact that it was outdoors with the wind blowing and empty, you know, which meant that we were completely free to re-shoot things, gave it a live feel without actually having to go through the process of curtailing the show because we had a real audience to please. I thought it was a fantastically successful formula that unfortunately owed nothing to the band’s, [laugh] creativity.

Well that’s all right, it wouldn’t have been much without you either! What would it take for the remaining three of you to tour again? Pigs flying, or is it a maybe a little easier than that now?

No, I think it would take flying pigs. Very hard to, to see it happening. Roger’s really happy working on his own. David, I think, would be very wary of doing the big shows and working with Roger full time. It’d be lovely to be able to give people good news. But I think if we did ever manage to do anything, it would be generated by a something like a Live 8 situation where we could make a difference to something that mattered.

So tell me, what car are you driving these days?

An Audi RS6, which is the estate bodied version, with a very powerful engine. So it means you can sit and drive it like a hooligan, but you can actually put a drum kit in the back of it too.

 

What’s your favorite Floyd era? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.