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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
When you get the Sunday Times hailing you as the best tribute band in the world, you know you’re doing something right and the Australian Pink Floyd Show certainly do it right. MARTIN HUTCHINSON speaks to guitarist and vocalist David Domminney Fowler.
SO well do they perform the music of prog legends Pink Floyd that Floyd’s drummer once said they were “very good, probably better than we are”.
This particular praise, although certainly sincere, causes a slight amount of embarrassment to the David.
“Obviously I thank them very much for the comments, but we’re never gonna be as good as them,” he states matter of factly.
About to take their highly acclaimed tour around Britain, the Australian Pink Floyd Show formed in Melbourne in 1988 and steadily grew and enhanced their reputation as the one band who could faithfully replicate their music.
Beginning in the clubs around Melbourne, they came over to the UK, again playing in the smaller theatres.
Their accurate performances quickly gained them a large following and it wasn’t long before the theatres just weren’t big enough.
Today they play the large arenas and one of the venues of this year’s tour is the O2 Arena in London.
They developed a sound and light spectacular with state-of-the-art animations - even 3D a couple of years ago - inflatables, lasers and a sound system which is the envy of many bands.
Some of the behind-the-scenes staff of the original band ended up working for them and today one of the tribute band’s backing vocalists - Lorelei McBroom - was one of Pink Floyd’s backing singers.
David is a relatively recent recruit to the band and as soon as he spoke it is apparent he does not come from Down Under.
“No, I’m afraid not, but there are still three Aussies remaining in the line-up including founder members Steve Mac on guitar and Jason Sawford on keyboards,” he explains. The third Aussie, bassist Colin Wilson, joined in 1992.
Most of the tours have had a theme and this year is no exception.
“We’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic album The Dark Side of the Moon,” says David. “I can’t say too much about it yet, but the whole show will be based around the album.”
He then explains why he can’t go into detail.
“We are always refining and honing the show as we go along,” he begins.
“We often end up in corridors discussing the set and we try it different ways early on in the tours and see what works best. As a group, we always think, what would we like to see if we were in the audience?”
David is a big Floyd fan and followed Aussie Floyd around Europe one year.
“I was in my own band and first saw these guys when I was 17. I joked at the time that by the time I was 30, if my own band wasn’t successful I’d try to join these,” he laughs. “I actually joined two weeks before my 31st birthday.”
So how did he come to join?
“Well, when I followed the band around Europe we used to hang out with them after the show and swap music. When the opening came I auditioned and got the gig. In fact I was the only one they saw.
“I’d sent them a recording of me playing Coming Back To Life from Floyd’s Division Bell album and they were so impressed with it that when I joined they added that song to the set-list. I was never made to feel like the ‘new guy’.”
The music of Pink Floyd - whose albums include Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall as well as Dark Side of the Moon - isn’t easy to play and TAPFS, as the band’s name is usually shortened to, take pride in their ability to play it accurately.
“You have to be confident that you’re gonna do a good job and the audience has to have confidence in you also, Sometimes, reaching a peak in this business and staying there is a hard slog so we have to keep on top of things.
“It’s important that as well as the older fans, new people come and see us; people are aching to see and hear Pink Floyd’s music performed live.”
The band also has a bit of a quest in life.
“We also want to turn the heads of people who are snobby about tribute bands. If someone sees us and thinks – wow these guys can play the music – then that’s the reward.”
He warms to his theme.
“In their shows, Pink Floyd sometimes improvised and that’s their right being an original band. That’s not our job. We are there to sound as close to the original as we can and not mess about with it.”
It’s a job they do well as they are always in demand and their shows are routinely sell out, but they refuse to rest on their laurels David says.
“We have to maintain a lot higher standard as we don’t want to say- oh we can relax as we’ll sell out these arenas. That’s not how we work – we strive to constantly improve the show.”
After the UK dates, the band is off to Europe, taking in France, Germany, Switzerland, Poland and the Czech Republic before the end of May.
“We may be going to Russia as well,” reports David. “We’ve always wanted to get into the Russian Market, Pink Floyd only did a handful of concerts there.”
And after that?
Laughing he says: “Maybe sleep for a couple of months.”
The Australian Pink Floyd Show will be performing Eclipsed by the Moon at the Regent Theatre, Ipswich, on Thursday, February 14.