An Interview With Pink Floyd

23 August 2016

Rock, 1971 , Volume 3 - Issue 9 - 20 12 1971 , 1971 © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

In December 1979 my dad was in town waiting for a bus home when a motorcycle rounded the corner a little too quickly, sending something flying off the back and landing in the road. It looked like a white envelope at first but as he walked over to pick it up he saw the simple design of a white brick wall and two words in black ink: Pink Floyd. It was their recently released single Another Brick In The Wall, which the biker had probably only just bought (lesson learned: motorcycles – cool but not practical for a shopping trip). My dad took the vinyl home, played the B side and thought One Of My Turns was one of the most brilliant things he’d ever heard. He was 15 and from there the Pink Floyd obsession grew. 

Rock, 1971 , Volume 3 - Issue 9 - 20 12 1971 , 1971 © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

This has meant that I have listened to Pink Floyd a lot. Growing up in my house the basic life lessons were to say please and thank you, brush your teeth twice a day and that Pink Floyd = BEST ROCK BAND EVER. This was drummed in so much that I really do love Pink Floyd too – I almost named my first baby (read: pug puppy) ‘Floyd’ at the age of 26, not even thinking about the fact that when my dad was 26 he thankfully lost the argument to name me ‘Pink’ when I was born. A nice bit of unintentional life symmetry there. 

Rock, 1971 , Volume 3 - Issue 9 - 20 12 1971 , 1971 © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

I have been in my element with Adam Matthew’s resource Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975. It’s fascinating being able to read through reviews of Pink Floyd’s music back when it first came out and to get a real sense of what people thought of them, particularly during those post-Barrett and pre-The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon years, as well as seeing what they thought of themselves and their music. I came across this rather fraught 1971 interview with them in Rock magazine. The poor interviewer, Jody Breslaw, becomes increasingly frustrated as all the symbolism, metaphor, intellectualism and mysticism he thought their music was about keeps being dismissed by the band members, who simply say “we don’t consciously try to do anything”. I hope for Jody’s sake he came across Roland Barthes soon after so he could find some solace in The Death of the Author.

     

 

Rock, 1971 , Volume 3 - Issue 9 - 20 12 1971 , 1971 © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

The interview circles around the band’s changing sound, the interviewer picking up on how The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Relics are like “surreal social satire” which then changes into the “space metaphor” and “a mystical expression of other consciousness of psychic and spiritual exploration” on A Saucerful of Secrets and Ummagumma, which the band doesn’t recognise. Instead Pink Floyd put the change of their sound down to “just a transfer of focus when Sid (Barrett the original guiding force of the group) left”. That makes sense, right? Not for this interviewer! He persists, argumentatively, with the idea of the space metaphor in particular until one of the band members has had enough and cuts in with, I like to imagine, a raised voice: “Look, there is no ******* [swear word omitted] sound in space, it doesn’t make any noise … Actually, the sound is more like caves, large buildings”. It took some prodding and wasn’t the answer Jody wanted but he gets them to start talking about their music and consequently there are some interesting things to learn about the band throughout the interview.

 
 
Rock, 1971 , Volume 3 - Issue 9 - 20 12 1971 , 1971 © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

One fun fact I learned was that the studio album Ummagumma was made up by each band member recording solo works equating to half an LP side each. When asked about the album the band say: “That’s easy – we did those in isolation. At separate times each of us did our own thing … We played everything ourselves, with minor exceptions. We never even heard what the other three did … but that’s something unique, an idea we set ourselves to do … We didn’t even consult each other – that was very much a manifestation of where our heads were at the time…”

   

 

 

Rock, 1971 , Volume 3 - Issue 9 - 20 12 1971 , 1971 © Bowling Green State University. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.

Incidentally, all these years later it’s not the band’s favourite album. 

Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 is available now – for more information, including free trial access and price enquiries, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

About the Author

Nikki Morgan

Nikki Morgan

I am a new addition to the Editorial Development team at Adam Matthew, having joined in February 2016, and am enjoying working on a range of new projects. My academic background is in literature and philosophy and my main interest is 20th century American literature and culture, particularly Sylvia Plath and Raymond Carver.

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