Keyboard whiz from Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, Dom Beken takes on our quick-question machine
Do you have to pinch yourself when you think that you are, effectively, in Pink Floyd?
“Oh gawd, am I? Now that you put it like that, it’s a lot more daunting.”
How did you get involved with the project?
“Guy [Pratt, bassist] and I started working together and he inducted me into the ‘Floyd Family’. When Rick Wright was looking for an engineer/programmer, my name cropped up. A key date was Guy’s 50th birthday party where I was involved in a jam session using their absurdly comprehensive address books. I imagine that evening was a catalyst.”
The idea was to “capture the spirit” of early Floyd, were there rules about period-authentic kit?
“I’m afraid not. Rick was never a purist in that regard, and neither am I. My rig allows me to use a lot of modern analogue synths and effects.”
Where on earth did you start?
“Rick passed away over 10 years ago, so the real source is gone. I made a very long shopping list, starting with the organ. He had to make do with one or two organs on stage and reinterpret his recordings on those. At the push of a button I can switch between three organ models and a substantial armoury of effects and pedals.”
Is it all analogue?
“I’d like it to be all analogue, but there are four other people to fit in the stage! Having a keys riser which looks like a 1970s sound lab would have made our tours impossible.”
Richard Wright was such an unsung member of the Floyd…
“I think unless keyboard players have flamboyant personalities, naming no names, they can be a little overlooked. You’d never find Rick in a cape, sticking knives into a Hammond. I don’t think the rest of Pink Floyd ever underestimated the importance of Rick’s contribution.”
How was the first show at Dingwalls in Camden in May 2018?
“Just insane. We weren’t certain this would work and that people would be interested, so it was important to make sure we could pull it off. Just seeing the audience reaction at close quarter tells you a lot.”
And then you did The Half Moon in Putney. A pub gig!
“The stage was so small I could only get to my keyboards by wriggling under a stand on my belly. On the first night I stood up a little prematurely and sent the whole keyboard rig clattering.”
Roger Waters turned up at a New York show last year to perform ‘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun’…
“That was quite a moment. It was brilliant to see the friendship between Nick and Roger has survived despite everything!”
We have to mention Gary Kemp being the new Syd Barrett…
“It’s incredible to see how he’s captured the spirit of Syd. It’s a constant source of amusement to hear people say, ‘Who knew he was such a brilliant guitarist?’!”
Any plans to “capture the spirit” of mid-period Floyd?
“I’ve given up on predictions for this project. I imagined a few rehearsals followed by a one-off show. If you told me we’d have a second world tour booked, I’d have laughed in your face!”