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Pink Floyd

Dave Gilmour

Article from International Musician & Recording World, September 1975

Dave Gilmour sheds varying degrees of light on himself and the band.

Do you still use a Strat as your principal instrument?


Have you ever deviated from that?

Yes, sometimes I try different guitars, but as my principal guitar, the Fender Stratocaster is the one for me.

Is it an old one?


Are you a guitar freak, someone who says 'Oh, it's old, it has to be better'?

No. I am a guitar freak, I do like lots of guitars, I've got quite a lot of guitars. I do like them, but I don't strictly go along with the idea that old is better.

Tell me about the guitars that you do have. Do you have a lot?

I've got about a dozen. Two or three Stratocasters, two or three Telecasters, a couple of Gibsons, a few acoustics, a pedal steel, a couple of basses.

What is it about the Stratocaster that suits you onstage. What does a Fender have that you can't get, for instance, from a Les Paul?

I think it's all down to what you start with, and what you grow up with, and what you get used to, generally, when you're younger. A Telecaster was the first Fender I had, and before that I had a Hofner Club 60, and a Fender is much closer to that than a Gibson is.

Do you still have that guitar?

No, I haven't. I gave it to someone who I owed some money to, and he sold it for £7.10 and I was hung up.

Presumably you got your Telecaster before you actually became quite so successful. How did you manage to get that together?

My parents gave it to me for my 21st birthday present.

Did they encourage you?

They'd given up trying to persuade me to do a decent job, going out and earning an honest living.

What sort of music were you creating at that time?

Not a lot. I was just having a good time, you know. Anything and everything.

Were you gigging?

Yes, I did have a rock and roll group, and we went around to various places, playing and earning £20 a night, that sort of thing.

Would you say that your sound amplification system, the method of reproducing your sounds, has taken on far more importance for you in the past five years than it did earlier, or have you always been very, very concerned about your amplified sound?

I think everyone's always fairly concerned, and I don't think anyone ever gets quite what they want.

Is that because that's unobtainable?

Probably, because whatever you get, you want something that's slightly better.

As a guitarist, have you had to forget any of your formal licks, progressions, chord patterns, this sort of thing, as the Floyd have developed into something that is far more than just musical and more sound? How have you adapted to it?

I don't know, I don't know whether I have adapted to it, or whether I've adapted it to me more.

Are you suggesting the music has gone more your way than any other?

I'm suggesting that I think that probably nowadays I'm playing as much what I want to play as I ever have.

How do you keep fit?

I play football, I play cricket, I play squash, I play some tennis, I swim...

On a regular basis?

Yes. And I screw.

Does that keep you fit?

Absolutely. Well, I don't know if you want to call it fit, I think I'm probably just above average in fitness.

Do you have to be fit to play in a band like the Floyd?

No, absolutely not.

Do you find yourself exhausted from a marathon stage set?

No — well yes, slightly exhausted every time, but it doesn't take anything out of you that a good night's sleep can't replace.

Is it mental or physical exhaustion?

Mentally, probably, more than physically.

Do you have any other form of relaxation?

Well, getting drunk, falling about and being a bastard, yeah, all that stuff.

Is there anything that you would specifically like to improve your technique on?

Yes — guitar.

Other than guitar?

I sit at home and I play the drums, I play trumpet, I play the bass guitar, I play the piano and things like that, and I dearly wish that my technique was vastly improved on all of them.

Did you find it particularly hard to get into percussion?

No, it didn't present any problems, it's just that I'm not particularly good at it. I think probably my brain is better at it than my body is.

You mean your co-ordination and timing?

Yes, I think probably my brain is better at all the instruments I play than my body is. Yes, definitely, it's better at drums, it's better at bass, it's better at keyboards, it's better at guitar...

Have you worked with other musicians a lot in recent years?

Some, yeah.

In very different musical forms?


How has that experience affected your guitar playing?

I don't know that it does affect my guitar playing — well obviously it does, just as every piece of music you hear probably affects you, if you dig it. I haven't played a lot with other people.

Do you have feelings of insecurity about your own playing?

Yeah, of course.

Is this something that appears fairly regularly?

Yeah, it's a fairly regular, rational sort of thing. My guitar playing isn't anywhere near what I want it to be, but my brain can see it. I think one can always see things better than one can actually do them.

On these 'Doodles' that you do, are you specifically trying to improve your technique?

No. Well, sometimes I'll go and sit and specifically practise and try to improve things that are bad, but not very often. Often I just pick up a guitar and, like I say, just 'Doodle'. There's no brain in it at ail, just strumming.

What would you say was your weakest area?

All of them.

You said 'specific things', areas that you thought needed specific practice.

Well, the whole thing needs improving.

Then there isn't any one area that you feel needs improvement — your right hand, your left, something like that?

No. There's probably a day when I think this needs improving or that needs improving and maybe I sit down and do it but there's no one thing that I really constantly think is worse than anything else.

Do you record yourself at home?

Sometimes, yeah.

Have you found that having recording facilities has given you anything as an instrumentalist?

I don't think it makes any difference quite honestly. It probably helps you as a songwriter, it might increase your publishing earnings slightly because you put things down that otherwise you might have forgotten, but I don't think it actually helps an instrumentalist.

Do you have to force yourself into a situation where you have to do something?

I should do, yeah, but mostly I just don't, and wait. Every once in a while something comes up. The thing is that when I sit and work at them, they don't come out as good as when I just let them happen.

Do you feel yourself not to be prolific?

Well, it's all relative to other people, I couldn't really say. I feel that I might actually put myself down with more application to finish a few things that have just come up.

What is your percentage of wastage, of material which you find that you never use?

Most of it. But that doesn't mean to say that I'm not ever going to use it, or that it's inferior, or that something's wrong with it.

Have you ever gone back and picked something up?

Oh yeah, all sorts of things. I just sit and muck about with things, I do a little bit and put it on tape if I ever get it together or remember, and then about a year later I might find it on a piece of tape and play it and think 'That's O.K.'.

To what extent is your material modified when you finally bring it to the rehearsal stage — it obviously must be considerable judging by the format the group works in?

Absolutely. I don't usually bring in completed pieces to the group.

What stage is it in when it comes in?

Hard to say. It either happens there and then — when we're sitting there rehearsing, I might come up with a specific idea — or we might come in with something and just start playing it and let everyone muck in.

How serious are you about rehearsals?

It varies quite a lot. The idea is to rehearse seriously and we do go in with that in mind, but these things vary. We play them by ear.

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Basing Street Studios

Publisher: International Musician & Recording World - Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.

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International Musician - Sep 1975

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman


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