By Eric Gould
When I was in my early teens, my music collection was filled with a mix of old school hip hop, Michael Jackson and late-’80s hair bands like Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Tesla and Poison. Big energy music that makes you move. Then a good friend of mine changed my way of thinking forever.
I had heard some Pink Floyd songs on the radio but had not really given them deserved attention. The band came up in conversation one night at a house party. Upon hearing that I had a lack of exposure, this friend convinced me to give up 10 minutes of my time for a proper introduction to the band. There was some serious passion in his plea…and I took the bait.
I went into a dimly lit room with a killer stereo system and, as instructed, put on track 1 of “Delicate Sound Of Thunder”: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” I remember closing my eyes and canceling out the rest of the world. All that existed was the beautiful, haunting intro to this song that would forever change my perspective on music. What once lived solely to make me move and groove and feel vibrant all of a sudden took on another layer of spiritual depth. The shift of emotion when the rhythm section came in enhanced that feeling. The power of the vocals exploding in the chorus sealed the deal. No coming back from this one!
I dove deep into all the other albums and the story of the band. Being into filmmaking, I devoured “Live From Pompeii.” “Atom Heart Mother Suite” was a weekly journey for me. Most importantly, this exposure opened me up to so many other amazing bands in the shared genre: The Velvet Underground, The Doors, Funkadelic, Jefferson Airplane, etc.
In 1994, I experienced Pink Floyd live at Yankee Stadium. I was a musician in film school so, naturally, the multimedia live productions out there like Phish and U2 were my favorite flavor of live performance. Pink Floyd catapulted that stadium into the cosmos! That concert is a permanent fixture in my life’s hall of fame.
In 2000, I formed a national touring act called Particle. The music is an electo-funk-rock fusion, lending itself to a healthy mix of danceable grooves and psychedelic soundscapes. In 2003, we designed a Pink Floyd tribute set that took the songs from their catalogue and fused them with our sonic style. The result was incredible! We first revealed the show as a late-night performance at a Sound Stage in Miami following a Phish concert at the American Airlines Arena down the way. We took the audience on an exploratory journey that also kept people vibrant and moving. The set finished around 6 a.m. and, as the sunrise painted the sky, we embraced the feeling of this special achievement.
Combining the music of Pink Floyd with our original sound was a great chapter in Particle’s story. We have performed different versions of that show through the years and we travel to a wonderful universe of sonic exploration every time.
Last year, I got an idea. I wanted to form a conceptual tribute band that combined the songbooks of three of my favorite acts into one show. I knew that Phish would be involved because I love their music and the multi-genre repertoire brings endless opportunity for my intentions around this project. I am a huge Talking Heads fan and love the danceable layers of instrumentation in their work. The obvious choice for a third act for me was Pink Floyd. Adding the epic power, the soulful spirit and the psychedelic adventure of their songbook to this idea created a perfect union. I named the band Pink Talking Fish and we have had quite a ride over the past year.
The band’s concept has been met with incredible positivity. The way we have combined the music into one show has brought the musicians and the audience members great joy. The Phish compositions are challenging and playful. The Talking Heads songs bring the dance party. But the Pink Floyd songs….
In Colorado, we debuted the live performance of “Obscured By Clouds”>”When You’re In.” It was a second set opener and an exploration of hard groove mixed with psychedelia. Everyone was vibing on the music, although most were not familiar with the songs. However, there was one Pink Floyd fan who shot up to the front of the stage when we began playing and was raging through the entire piece. I love that there was that one guy who knew this special track that Pink Floyd utilized as an opener for almost every show on their 1973 DSOTM tour. We blew his mind and that is one of the moments that make doing what we do so fulfilling.
I love to perform the songs where people sing every word like “Have A Cigar,” “Another Brick In The Wall” and “Eclipse.” I love to perform the non-radio tracks that are special like “Fearless,” “Pigs (3 Different Ones)” and “Fat Old Sun.” I love to perform the rarities that give something fresh to Pink Floyd fans who may not have dug too deep beyond DSOTM, “The Wall,” “Animals,” “Pulse “and “Echoes: Greatest Hits.” We found an amazing Roger Waters song called “Give Birth To A Smile” that he wrote for a film soundtrack. It is the only song on the soundtrack with all the members of Pink Floyd. It is this beautiful gospel track that makes for a fantastic encore and, even though most people don’t know the song, everyone is belting out the chorus together by the finale.
Coming up, I have the pleasure of performing “Dark Side Of The Moon” with Pink Talking Fish in New York City. In the spirit of the Pink Talking Fish platform, we will be intertwining Phish and Talking Heads songs through the album cuts. I have designed other albums as well for this concept, but what a rush to debut the idea with one of the greatest albums of all time! I am a lucky man to be able to perform some of the most amazing music in the world to an audience of music lovers who embrace the idea of the Pink Talking Fish concept.
The journey continues and Pink Floyd is a treasured piece in the story of my life.
Pink Talking Fish performs “Dark Side of the Moon” (and more) Saturday, Oct. 18 at The Cutting Room (44 E. 32nd St., New York, NY)