Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason sat down for an extensive interview with lauded music critic Jim DeRogatis for The Coda Collection. The ever-expanding concert film archive has released Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse, documenting the group’s May 2019 show at the London venue.
In their interview, available in full from The Coda Collection, DeRogatis mines Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets with candid discussions of his latest project, former bandmate Roger Waters, his feelings on bands covering Pink Floyd songs, and much more. At the heart of the interview is Mason’s band, comprised of bassist Guy Pratt, guitarists Gary Kemp and Lee Harris, and keyboardist Dom Beken. Formed in 2018, Mason created the group as a means of bringing the band’s earlier, pre-Dark Side material to a younger audience that was perhaps more familiar with the theatrical, stadium rock era of Dark Side, Animals, and The Wall.
“There’s a surprising amount of material there,” Mason said of his band’s repertoire of early Floyd material. “The cut off is, up to, but not including Dark Side. And so with film tracks and early records and all the rest of it and singles, there’s still quite a way to go.”
Mason’s plans to return to touring
Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets is far from the only band honoring the legacy of the Pink Floyd. It’s hard to go out in any major American music market on the weekend and not stumble over a Pink Floyd tribute band. Mason expressed mixed feelings on the phenomena.
“I do really like it when people do cover our songs and do their interpretations of it,” the drummer said. “I’m always a little bit sarky about tribute bands, because I’d prefer to hear… I love Dub Side of the Moon, for the sort of reggae feel to the songs. And there’s another one, Luther Wright and the Wrongs, who did The Wall as a country and Western album, I thought was terrific.”
Artists doing covers of his music
Of course, there are other artists performing whole concerts of Floyd music who aren’t cover bands, namely Mason, guitarist David Gilmour, and bassist Roger Waters. It’s no secret that Waters has had a rather tempestuous relationship with his mates dating all the way back to the mid-70s and continuing as recently as this summer. As far as Waters’ public storyline that he was bullied within the band, Mason is rather aloof.
“I’m slightly flabbergasted by it,” he said. “But I think that’s a slightly over emotional way of putting that there was some sort of division within the band about… Because Roger was always looking beyond the music, in a way. I think it was artificial, but I think possibly there was the side that wanted to do inflatables and films, as well as music, and those who just wanted to do music. But, I don’t think they were mean to him, particularly. It’s hard to imagine being mean to Roger. Stalin was the bullied.”
Roger Waters pushback/bullying in Pink Floyd
Mason also tipped his hat to another highly regarded British drummer, the recently departed Rolling Stones beat keeper Charlie Watts.
He was absolutely delightful character and I just wanted to say something about what he provided, I suppose, to the band. Because one can get sort of a bit carried away with technique, particularly with drums in a way. No, actually all instruments, how fast can you play that arpeggio, whatever it is. And I think the reality is, very few drums ever play the sort of the techniques, the things that they can actually do, because part of the role of the drummer is to make it work within the context of a band. I don’t think Charlie ever did a drum solo with the Stones. That says quite a lot, I think, because it wasn’t necessary. What really mattered was to keep that groove going for the band. It’s a little bit the same with Ringo, I think, that people underestimate just quite how good they are in that particular role. And frankly, the Beatles with Ginger Baker would not have been the same thing at all. I think it’s important to recognize that.
Charlie Watts reflections
The full Nick Mason interview is available to stream for free here via The Coda Collection, with select clips on the Coda Collection YouTube channel. Subscribers to the service—an add-on for Amazon Prime Video subscribers—can also watch the Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets Live At The Roundhouse concert film.