Jason Sawford of The Australian Pink Floyd, took some time out from their European Tour in France, to talk to Overdrive about the up coming two nights in Dublin’s Olympia. For any fans of Pink Floyd that think you may be disappointed by the bands performance, think again!
OD – The Aussie Pink Floyd has now existed since 1988, did you ever think that you would be still touring to sell out audiences 27 years later?
Jason – Well, when we started doing this we were all kids and were in college. It was just a fun side project and look at where we are today! I have to pinch myself at times to get my head around the journey that we have made doing this. It still is kind of mind blowing that we get to travel all over the world playing our favourite music and get to put on such big production shows that are wowing Pink Floyd fans. That is a high that is just hard to comprehend at times. I feel blessed that we are still doing this and I hope that we get to keep doing it as long as we can.
OD – The logistics of touring with such a huge production must be costly and complicated at times, can you talk a little about your experiences of working with such an elaborate stage show?
Jason – It really is a big thing to take on and we used to do everything ourselves which is crazy. Now we have a management company that organizes a crew to assemble the production for each show. I can now sit there and watch the crew put this monster production set together and just think, “wow this is amazing”! We have production rehearsals with the full crew in a special venue that we would rent out to make sure that everything is working and we are on point with the music and the workings of the stage.
We are currently in France and even thought we are still on the road there are constant tweaks being made to the video and lighting side of things, so it’s an on going process really. We just want to ensure that we are putting on the very best show that we are capable of and that takes a lot of time and concentration to make things work perfectly.
OD – There must be a level of pressure to keep the standard of the live show on par with Pink Flyod’s own production, are there any new aspects to the show that we will see this time around?
Jason – We always have new projections that we introduce, so we have some of that and also some new laser lights and inflatable’s that we will be using in Dublin. We like to experiment with things and develop on it, we are always thinking of new ways to better the show and take it to the next level if you know what I mean.
OD – Do you study footage from the original Pink Floyd constantly, or do you all feel comfortable with your performances at this stage in the bands career?
Jason – Well, we don’t really try to make ourselves look like Pink Floyd, we are not that type of band, but stylistically with the music, we are covering a lot of the early Floyd stuff. We might listen to lots of bootlegs and look at the styles they are playing in, as well as emulating the equipment to try and get that exact sound. So yea, we study the bootlegs and the recordings that we can find in the hope that we can make the adjustments needed to perfect our sound and really capture the essence of who Pink Floyd really are.
OD – I understand that the Steve Mac’s guitar set up is almost an exact replica of David Gilmore’s own rig, does this also apply to the rest of the band also?
Jason – In my case it’s a bit different, with the keyboards and doing something like 120 shows a year, using the vintage equipment just becomes a problem, as it most likely will break down and trying to find parts for these old instruments can be difficult at times. I tend to use newer keyboards and keep up to date. Today’s newer keyboards are great in the sense that they have programed sounds that emulate the vintage tones that I like to use. Every now and again I like to use some old equipment, but more times than often it’s the newer stuff that I’m using but with an old sound.
Steve (guitarist, below) has all the effect peddles and even works with David Gilmore’s old engineer and get’s customised equipment made for him, just to capture that sound. He’s a bit anal about it, but at the end of the day, his sound is spot on.
OD – You have played a very important gig for David Gilmore’s 50th birthday back in 1996, do you have any memories of that night and what did David think of your show?
Jason – What stands out to me most of all, would be when they guys actually got on stage with us during the show. The set list was put together by David himself and as we were performing Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd Bassist) joined us on stage for a bit and then Richard Wright (Pink Floyd Keyboards) came to the front of the stage and asked if we could play “Comfortable Numb” with us. He was playing Hammond organ and I was playing synth and then later on David Gilmore got on stage and Steve handed him his guitar and we all played a couple of tunes together. It was amazing!
OD – You must have been feeling some pressure when Dave (Gilmore) was putting the set list together?
Jason – I remember we were a bit nervous when we started the gig and during the first track, I looked up and saw Rick Wright and Guy Pratt dancing to their own music and that instantly made me relaxed. There is no better complement really ha ha.
OD – As a band, you have accomplished so many fantastic achievements such as playing Glastonbury, The Isle of White Festival touring all over the world and a special gig in front of the Lovell Telescope in England, what has been the most memorable stand out memory for you personally?
Jason – It’s really hard to put my finger on any one of the memories. That show we did in front of the Lovell Telescope (see above) was fantastic and also when we first played America for the very first time to huge crowds. There are just so many to choose from that it’s hard to pick just one.
OD – Regarding your two nights in Dublin’s Olympia this coming February 16th and 17th, what can we expect in terms of the stage production?
Jason – Well, as I mentioned earlier on, we have these amazing set of lasers that we will be using in Dublin and they are pretty impressive. Seeing as we are in The Olympia this time around, we need to make sure that we can use the inflatables, but I’m sure that will be fine. We like to change things up dramatically and our Dublin show will be a completely different experience from when we played there last time.
OD – Do you change up the set list on a nightly basis and if so will there be any surprises that you are planning for the Dublin show’s?
Jason – We do tend to stick to a format as it’s very difficult to change things once the show is all set. The whole show is intertwined with the lights and projection and can be tricky to move things around. With Pink Floyd albums like “Wish You Were Here” or “Dark Side Of The Moon” the songs and mood of the music flows into the next, if you know what I mean and it’s hard to have a lot of flexibility and change in the set. Evey now and again there are opportunities to have an area in the set when we can rotate a couple of songs and we tend to change things up throughout the tour.
OD – Have you included any from “The Endless River” on this tour?
Jason – We actually were jamming some of that material yesterday and are in the process of rehearsing to incorporate it officially into the set and if it all goes well there is a very high chance that we will be including that in our set by the time we get to Dublin.
OD – The Australian Pink Floyd App was launched recently, who’s idea was this and how successful do you think it has been in terms of interacting with the fans?
Jason – It’s a fairly new thing that we started doing in America and it has been taken up very well with the fans. We were looking to see how well it did over there and are looking to really push that now everywhere. At the end of the day, it remains to be seen how many people pick it up, but I think that it’s a cool contemporary idea and people are showing a lot of interest in it, which is fantastic.
OD – What is on the horizon for you guys in 2015 and beyond?
Jason – I’m not sure what we are doing about recording, but we have a lot of dates to get though first with shows in Germany, Austria and then off to Japan. We are also over in American this coming Summer, so there might be something off the back of all of those tours, but that is something that remains to be seen if it happens at all.
The Australian Pink Floyd will be performing in Dublin’s Olympia on February 16th & 17th with tickets on sale now on this link.
Follow The Australian Pink Floyd
FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A PAIR OF TICKETS FOR FEBRUARY 17TH SHOW, JUST CLICK ON THE GRAPHIC BELOW! Good luck!
Words – Oran O’Beirne
Photography – Stock image / fan photography.