Often called The best tribute band in the world” Aussie Pink Floyd has in their 20 year history sold over 3 million concert tickets in 35 countries, been internationally recognized as the definitive Pink Floyd tribute experience, and on top of all that they have had the honor of playing David Gilmour’s 50thbirthday party. Aussie Pink Floyd is bringing their massive high tech live show to to theUnited States with the first concert of the tour being at the Paramount Theater in Denver on October 7th. I spoke with Colin Wilson (bass/vocals) about what it takes to be in an internationally successful tribute band.
How close are you guys sonically to Pink Floyd?
Colin Wilson: Well we like to think that we are pretty close. We have spent a lot of time trying to get the sounds as accurate as possible so not only playing the notes correctly and the chords and the arrangements but also getting the individual instrument sounds sonically as accurate as possible. With multi-track recording software you can run the original recording back to back with a live recording of ours and kind of follow where things are falling in perfectly and where they are not. We use all that kind of stuff to really analyze what we are doing and where we are doing things well and where we are doing things that need improvement. We certainly didn’t learn the songs 20 years ago and stopped learning. Every year we are analyzing and every year we discover new things about Pink Floyd music. It keeps it exciting for us because we are discovering new things all the time.
Do you use the same instruments?
Colin Wilson: We try and it’s a good place to start to look at what equipment and instruments they used definitely. We use the same guitars for the most part that they used; did and do. Things like what was used in the recording studio we always try and find that stuff out. If it’s possible to get that stuff and use it then we do but often, especially when you are going back to the older material, it may be available but it’s pretty expensive to maintain and it’s not very reliable. With playing so many concerts every year we need gear that’s gonna power up and work perfectly every time. So we tend to use some newer gear that replicates the sound of the older stuff.
What are some of the harder songs to play?
Colin Wilson: They fall into different categories.Some songs are difficult for different reasons. A song like Echoes” or a song like Dogs” off of theAnimals album are difficult in the sense that they are long, the arrangements are quite complex, the different feel during the song is sometimes hard to really nail but then there are other things that may seem on the surface to be very very simple but they are actually not and some of the early Syd Barrett stuff is like that. The songs are pretty simple songs, they have three or four chords and the arrangements are fairly standard pop music arrangements but the sounds they used, because it’s going back so old now, and there were things that happened in the studio, there were mistakes that were made in the studio and it’s some of those that are very very hard to replicate. For an example if Syd Barrett’s guitar wasn’t perfectly 100% in tune then you try and play that song with a guitar that is – you’re never going to sound like his chords. Figuring out to what degree Syd’s guitar was out of tune is almost impossible.Little things like that are really really difficult to get down, some of the newer stuff is easier in that respect because it was recorded digitally. Everything is perfectly in tune, so in some respects even though they sound more complicated they are easier to recreate.
Colin Wilson: We kind of do it song by song. I just sit back and try to listen to it with fresh ears and analyze what was being played at the time, on what instrument and what kind of sound and do it a song at a time. It’s certainly challenging in a certain sense. We did a festival show in Switzerland just a couple of days ago. The set that we played there was no breaks in it and there was one part of the set where I played Arnold Layne” from the The Piper at the Gates of Dawn album and then straight off that we played Careful With That Axe Eugene” which is a real cryptic 70’s Roger Waters kind of thing and then straight after that we did What Do You Want From Me?” from The Division Bell. So bass playing wise you have Roger Waters playing a Rickenbacker in 1967, then he’s playing a Precision bass in the 70’s and it’s all very trippy, and straight off of that I’m into the Guy Pratt era 1990’s bass playing. It struck me at the time that there is no time to adjust between songs. Bang bang bang you’re playing different styles. We’ve been at it for several years now and we’re experienced at doing that and we can do it but years ago it would definitely have been harder to do it flawlessly.
There’s a brand new stage show for the upcoming tour correct?
Colin Wilson: It’s the biggest live show we have ever had. There’s more lights than ever before there’s new video that is projected in 3D. The audience actually gets 3D glasses when they come in and take their seats. In the second half of the show we have these films that are shown in 3D and it’s like being in the movie theater. So that’s all brand new. It really is the biggest and most ambitious thing we have ever done. We’ve toured it already through Europe and the UK. We cannot wait to bring it to the States now and see what you guys make of it. The Paramount in Denver is actually the first show of theU.S. tour so you guys get to see it first.