Man on the moon

As the V&A celebrates the output of one of Britain’s most influential rock bands, we ask drummer Nick Mason about the chances of a reunion by Marc Baker

Nick Mason on being the quiet member of Pink Floyd:

“I do have an ego. I have just learned a way to deal with this and that is to appear incredibly modest but I am a monster inside. I can’t really call what I do a job. It is not work. I don’t really know what work really means.”

On being the mediator between David Gilmour and Roger Waters:

“I do tend to make fun of the warring factors, but the reality is that so much of what we have done would not have happened if we had not had friction between the characters. I think that is prevalent in a number of bands. It is a way of working and you just have to accept that.

“Someone said to me once: ‘You are the Henry Kissinger of rock and roll’, and I said: ‘Not really. I am more the Neville Chamberlain’.”

On American audiences compared to British:

“We always thought the British audiences were a little trickier than the Americans really. The British are a little more critical like: ‘Oh, been over there have you [US]? Now you are back and you expect us to think you are good. You were away.’ Like that Coldplay… I get distracted when I start to try and slag off other bands.”

On fame:

“We never knew Dark Side Of The Moon would do so well. It did so well because the music worked, the lyrics were fantastic, we had great engineering, the ultimate record sleeve and support from the record company. But when we started we had one coat and two shirts.”

On working with Jimi Hendrix:

“He was such a mild character compared to what he looked like. When we played the Queen Elizabeth Hall we had daffodils and bubbles on stage. We were banned for that. But it became a rite of passage. It is the same with the Albert Hall. Everyone was banned from there years ago but later invited back.”

On the demise of band member Syd Barrett:

“We were so in denial. We still don’t know how Syd began to lose it. It seems likely it was LSD-related, that he always tripped badly and kept trying again, which did not help.”

Starting out:

“I came to play the drums because someone else had got a guitar. I played drums to avoid being the bass player in a band. My first band was The Hot Rod and I was 14 or 15 and I just discovered rock and roll. None of us could play at all but we knew what we wanted to do. The bass player even made his own guitar.

“The first live gig I saw was Tommy Steele. It was at the Regent’s Park Empire and I went in my school uniform with my satchel on my back. The BBC rarely played records back then as they had their own band which played the music. I remember their band once tackled Jimi Hendrix and that was a hell of a thing.

“I studied architecture as it was a really good way of not committing to anything too much. I was not dedicated. It was a good way to train for rock and roll as I met Roger Waters in the same year. We were just in the right place at the right time. Most of the kids who go into music now are very good technically but we were self-taught.”

On chances of a Pink Floyd reunion

“Talk to the others, not to me. I would love to do it but I think it is unlikely.

“The sticking point would be the bass player and the guitarist. The point to make about it is that the friction produces the good music. Without that, we would not have done Dark Side Of The Moon.”

Pink Floyd: Their Mortal Remains is at the Victoria & Albert Museum until October 1.

Pink Floyd