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It is written. -- The Ayatollah of Rock
ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALLABY
Over the past few years the popularity of "tribute" bands has skyrocketed (and no, we're not talking about the Killers or Franz Ferdinand). But they reside in something of a musical Phantom Zone: Band members play other people's music and often cop their sometimes unfortunate look and stage wear (i.e., fat, middle-aged guys in Beatles or David Lee Roth wigs). But they've also got a hungry built-in audience consisting of both the act's original fans and those too young to have seen the real thing.
Since 1988, the Australian Pink Floyd Show has enticed listeners to the dark side of the moon, and the Oz expats now call England home. Leader and keyboardist Jason Sawford recently answered some of Wack's questions via e-mail while setting controls for the heart of the sun along with the Verizon Wireless Theater on Wednesday, November 23.
Wack:How did you first get exposed to the music of Pink Floyd?
Sawford:I first listened to Dark Side of the Moon with some friends in a corrugated tin shed in the family backgarden in Australia many years ago. We drank beer and inhaled a particular kind of herb at the time. I thought the album to be one of the strangest yet oddly haunting pieces of music I had ever heard.
Wack:Tribute bands can be really, really cheesy and horrific to real fans. How do you try to avoid that trap?
Sawford:We avoid trying to look like members of Pink Floyd themselves. I've seen another Floyd tribute act in a pub before, and they all wore wigs. It didn't work very well.
Wack:What are your favorite numbers to do live?
Sawford:As a keyboardist, I particularly like "Echoes" and "Shine On You Crazy Diamond."
Wack:What about stage props? Will we see the famous inflatable pig?
Sawford:Actually, we have an inflatable kangaroo. We did borrow the inflatable pig from Pink Floyd themselves last year and the inflatable teacher figure from the Berlin version of The Wall. But the pig was too big to fly onstage so we hung it outside the venue. It still looked impressive, though.
Wack:You also seem to have the unofficial blessing of some of the actual Floyd, having played Dave Gilmour's 50th birthday party some years back. How nerve-racking was that?
Sawford:They seemed to enjoy it. [Floyd keyboardist] Rick Wright danced in front of the stage and [post-Roger Waters bass player] Guy Pratt was really drunk. Dave had seen our show several times. But when he took the stage himself and tried to play our guitar rig, he said, "How do you fly this thing?" I didn't speak to him personally, though. I was too shy.
Wack:As an Australian, do you have to practice singing in an English accent?
Sawford:Actually, having spent so much time abroad, I find I have to practice my Australian accent.
Wack:Okay. Go with me on this. What about including Syd Barrett [Floyd's first leader and notorious acid casualty]? I've got an idea: How about having a "Syd" wander out on stage for a few numbers, mumble and then stroll off! Ever thought of that?
Sawford:Um, no. But it sounds like an interesting idea to try out some time.
Wack:Wait, this is better! Have your "Roger" and "Dave" call each other wankers and get into a fistfight onstage! The fans will love it!
Sawford:Mmm, another interesting idea. Might be a bit cheesy, though.
Wack:Okay. One more suggestion: Why don't you create the ultimate stoner's show by playing "Dark Side of the Moon" while a Wizard of Oz tribute acting troupe performs onstage?
Sawford:No. Somehow, I think that would be a silly idea.
Wack:Just trying to help. Final question: Name three things that Australians and Texans have in common.
Sawford:Hats, the sun and cows. Lots of cows. -- Bob Ruggiero
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