David Gilmour on resurrecting Pink Floyd for a Ukrainian charity song

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine, singer-turned-soldier Andriy Khlyvnyuk posted a video on Instagram of himself singing “The Red Viburnum in the Meadow” – a folk song about the country’s strength in the face of adversity. The singer, who leads kyiv band Boombox, was hoping to perform concerts in the United States last month. But when he learned that Russia had invaded his homeland, he returned to defend it. At the beginning of the war, he told rolling stone he felt it was his duty to defend Ukraine for the good of the world. “[The West] needs us as a shield to protect everything,” he said.

In the video, he wears fatigues and clings to a submachine gun as he serenades the empty streets: “Our glorious Ukraine must hey, hey, rise up and rejoice.”

Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour watched the clip in awe. “My daughter-in-law, who’s actually Ukrainian, sent it to me and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic,'” Gilmour says. rolling stone. “It just struck me that we were here, with our name [Pink Floyd] and this platform, and we could use it more. This piece of vocals immediately made me think of doing something with it. So he sequestered himself in his studio, found the chords that would underpin Khlyvnyuk’s powerful vocals, and wrote what became “Hey, Hey, Rise Up” – Pink Floyd’s first new recording in nearly 30 years.

“I thought that might be something that we use our platform for, for tremendous good,” says Gilmour. So I called [Pink Floyd drummer] pseudo [Mason] stood up and said, ‘Do you want to be part of it?’ And he said, “Yeah, great.” Last week, the duo, along with bassist Guy Pratt and keyboardist Nitin Sawhney, recorded the song, which stays true to traditional folksong melodies (despite some emotive guitar solos) at Gilmour’s home studio with a screening of Khlyvnyuk’s original video. It was the first time Gilmour and Mason had recorded a new Pink Floyd song since the 1994 sessions. The dividing bell.

Gilmour had closed the book on Pink Floyd after 2014 The endless riverwhich he and Mason had constructed from recordings made during the Divisional bell sessions. But with “Hey, Hey, Rise Up”, he changed his mind. Pink Floyd rushed to release the song quickly to raise awareness among suffering civilians in Ukraine and to raise funds for humanitarian aid in the country.

“I hope the song does some good,” Gilmour said. rolling stone, explaining why he decided to resurrect Pink Floyd. “I hope we achieve something with it.”

What inspired you in Andriy’s video to write a new Pink Floyd song?
It’s just very moving to see Andriy standing in kyiv square, in the middle of all this commotion, and opening his voice for hell and singing this catchy Ukrainian song to nobody and nothing.

Why was it important to release the song as Pink Floyd and not on one of your own recordings?
Well, obviously the following we have as Pink Floyd — platform size. When I spoke to Nick, and he said he was ready to do it as Pink Floyd, it seemed like a given. We want to spread this message of peace and we want to lift the spirits of people who are defending their homeland in Ukraine. So why not?

How well did you know Andriy’s music before?
In 2015, I was asked to be part of a benefit concert to support the Free Theater of Belarus. [The members of the theatre] are constantly harassed, imprisoned and treated very badly in their home country of Belarus, so we help raise awareness and funds for them. Boombox was on the same show. Unfortunately, Andriy couldn’t make it because his visa went wrong at the last moment, but [Boombox] were my backing band for the concerts and we played four songs together. They were really good musicians. So when I read recently that Andriy was quitting his tour, going back to Ukraine to fight for his homeland, that was an inspiring and scary thing. He is a brave man.

How did Andriy react when you told him you wanted to record his song?
He looked delighted. I managed to get his number and gave him a call, and I think he might have been a little suspicious as to whether I was genuine or not. He said, “Could we do this on a FaceTime video call?” So I said, “Of course.” When he recognized me and was assured it was for real, from there he was awesome. He loved the track, and I’m just thrilled for him and for us to have taken a small step for humanity in the midst of all the inhumanity that’s going on there.

“When [Nick] said he was ready to do it as Pink Floyd, it seemed like a no-brainer.

The recording session took place barely a week ago. How fast did this happen?
I literally started thinking about it a little over two weeks ago, and here we are now.

How did you feel recording again with Nick Mason?
Well, that’s fantastic. Nick is unlike any other drummer. It’s a wonderful thing for us to be together playing a song that means something fantastic.

“Hey, Hey, Rise Up” begins with a choir. Who sings ?
From the first moment I saw Andriy sing in kyiv Square, I watched other videos; you look at one and it suggests another. One of them was a Ukrainian folk choir called Veryovka. They were singing a different version of [“The Red Viburnum in the Meadow”] in the video I watched. This beautiful part is how they open the song. I just thought I’d put this on at first to see how it sounded, and it sounded good. So we contacted them and got their permission to use it.

How did you conceptualize the arrangement of the song?
Well, first of all, you have to figure out what chords he hears in his head when he sings it. There’s a certain amount of guesswork, and then a certain amount of checking against other versions. I worked on the chords for the vocal part and repeated them several times. I took her voice and put it in my recorder and played it in time with a click track and then played along with it on my guitar. When the vocal ended, I continued and let my guitar guide me to new chords and guitar parts for the rest of the song. [Those chords] sounded like they could be part of the same song, but that part of a new sequence. I think it fits quite well with the subject and the other music.

Did you improvise the guitar solos?
I guess what I often do is improvise and then fix. If I make mistakes – which I often do – we go in and find a new track for that part. Usually the best part is what comes straight off the top of your head.

The chords I used for the solos were inspired by the music Andriy sings to, so what I play is inspired by that. So you can say that there is a fairly direct and improvised influence from Ukraine and what I think about, but when I play, I don’t think about anything. I’m going to let my mind go blank and let it run on its own.

“Russia is not full of terrible people. It’s just that their leadership has gone so horribly wrong.

Do you envision more Pink Floyd music? How did that fit in with the rest of the music you’re working on?
It is a unique piece for Pink Floyd. I work casually all the time. I hope to finish an album at some point, but right now I’m just focusing on that.

You have spoken openly against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from the start. How has the war affected your life personally?
Any war, but especially a war started by a world superpower against an independent democratic nation, must cause you enormous anger and frustration. Like I said before, I have a little connection there; my daughter-in-law is from Ukraine. And the Boombox group, they are Ukrainians that I already knew — not well, but for some time. It is an extremely difficult, frustrating and infuriating thing that a human being can have the power to go to another independent democratic nation and start killing the people. It’s just obscene to an extent that’s just beyond my belief.

I felt the frustration of not being able to do anything. And Andriy accompanying that vocal piece helped me to free myself from that to a certain extent, which allowed me to put my abilities and my reputation to work for something concrete for this particular nation at this particular time. It’s the story of the moment, and you want to keep that story alive and do whatever you can to lift the spirits of those involved. You want it to stay in the news and keep people’s consciousness active on the subject.

In March, you removed your music and some Pink Floyd music from streaming services in Russia and Belarus. How did you decide to do this? I noticed that it wasn’t all Pink Floyd music.
The last thing I want to do is rob the real population because Russia isn’t full of terrible people. It’s just that their leadership has gone so horribly wrong. But the thing is, that’s how sanctions work. I think if we did something like that, it might help get people in Russia to think more about what’s going on and try to get them to be more agitated for change in their country.

I got Nick’s approval and shortly after Syd Barrett’s family estate approval and we pulled out everything we could.

How did you feel about the reaction you got from removing the music?
Well, if you want to hunt trolls, there are plenty of them. I tend to shy away from it, but I’ve had lots of supportive, enthusiastic and grateful comments about it from everywhere. People in Ukraine are grateful if these people do something and try to stand up for them and show solidarity with what they are going through.

Otherwise, how would you like to see the rest of the world react to Russia’s invasion?
Much of the world is responding in the right way. They are angry and they are frustrated. You can see and hear the frustration of the leaders of the countries of the other world. We can see it in the voice of your president, President Biden. He let out some of his feelings a few times there. Other world leaders have done the same. And I think there’s a wave of opinion around the world. This sort of thing shouldn’t be able to happen. This shouldn’t be allowed. But we are in a world where we are still one-fifth into the 21st century and where this obscene situation can still occur. The mind gets confused. It is beyond my comprehension.