How Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp Ended Up Doing Pink Floyd Songs: Exclusive Interview
In many ways, the lineup for Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets makes perfect sense.
The band's rhythm section, for instance, also includes longtime Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt on bass. Keyboardist Dom Beken previously worked with late Floyd keyboardist Richard Wright. And guitarist Lee Harris' father was cinematographer on the music video for Pink Floyd's "High Hopes."
Then there's Gary Kemp. Best known as co-founding guitarist with the New Romantic band Spandau Ballet, he arrived with no direct musical connection to Mason's old group. Instead, Kemp's friendship with Pratt – who's collaborated with David Gilmour since 1984 – opened the door for a second career in exploring Pink Floyd's pre-'Dark Side of the Moon' material.
Nick Mason tells UCR about working with Kemp, their earliest jams together and the prospect of following up the new Live at the Roundhouse with a studio album.
Overall, this band is incredible. You have someone like Guy Pratt, who has such a long running association with Pink Floyd. But each of these guys are students of this music. There’s such a dedication and a reverence for the material that elevates this experience so far beyond it just being a band playing Pink Floyd music.
I’ve known Gary for a few years before, but I had no idea how passionate he was about it – and how well he knew the songs and knew the music. I think he’s been one of the great surprises and assets to this whole enterprise. Because everyone knows that he’s a great songwriter who has written a couple of really mega-hits, and Spandau Ballet was seen as the New Romantics – hardly Pink Floyd territory – but he just seemed to slide straight into it.
Watch Gary Kemp Perform With Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets
As this band was starting to come together from a lineup perspective, what it was like when you guys started jamming?
It was absolutely terrific. It’s a very old-fashioned concept, really. Because the band was put together, not with auditions or me going out looking for the right people. It was actually being approached by Lee and then by Guy. Then Gary wanted to join in. In a way, it was a very sort of old-school version of how you put a band together – which is people that you like, deciding that it would be fun to work together. We had no idea, really. I certainly had no idea of whether it would work or not. I think we booked two days in the rehearsal room. It was a really sort of pretty glossy room. To keep it really simple, I didn’t even bring my own drum kit in. We just used one that they had in the room. By the end of the day, we all looked at each other and went, “That was great! Let’s do more!”
I don’t think we did more than 10 or 12 days of rehearsal before we actually went into a pub and performed. At the end of that, we just went, “This is great.” There were a couple of people, various management people and agents and so on, they said: “We’ll find you the work. This could work on the road.” To which everyone went, “Great!” We started packing.
Would you like to make new music with this band at some point?
My first reaction is to say, "Really, I don’t think so." What I really feel is that it may be possible and it might be something to look at, but it won’t be in the next year or so – because there’s still so much of this enterprise to work through. There’s still so many songs that we’d like to have a go at. I think it’s quite difficult to actually do new music in this day and age, but particularly for a band of people who sort of already have done other things. Starting from scratch at this stage, it would be difficult. Having said that, a songwriter of Gary’s caliber, maybe, but it’s not something I would plan to do in the next year.
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