Drummer Nick Mason is fronting Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets alongside bandmates Guy Pratt and Gary Kemp, who are technically singing in place of Pink Floyd musicians Roger Waters and David Gilmour. Gilmour joined Pink Floyd in 1968, partially to bolster Syd Barrett who was growing less dependable as a musician but wound up becoming co-frontman for the band. Waters wrote the majority of the band’s material, but he frequently turned to Gilmour to sing in his place. Depending on your persuasion, one was better than the other, regularly overlooking the drummer who was imbuing the airy spaces between the two musicians in the front.
Waters and Gilmour are barely on speaking terms these days, which is upsetting to see after such a long period of time. Together, the duo created a tremendous body of work that was equal parts intellect and densely calibrated work, which is why it’s all the bigger a pity that they cannot give over their differences. Which is why Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets is the perfect outlet for the percussionist, because it allows him to showcase his importance to the band, without putting his hat into which of the two songwriters is right. Mason recently collaborated with Gilmour on a new Pink Floyd single, but that was done for a charitable endeavour. He says Waters and Gilmour will never work together again.
“It’s a really odd thing in my opinion,” Mason told Rolling Stone. “But I think the problem is Roger doesn’t really respect David. He feels that writing is everything, and that guitar playing and the singing are something that, I won’t say anyone can do, but that everything should be judged on the writing rather than the playing.”
The drummer is entitled to his view, and he does make the point that the bassist should be judged on his lyrical prowess over his character failings, but I can’t help feeling that the band would be better off putting their differences aside for the world as a whole. The globe needs their music, and unlike The Beatles, there are enough surviving members to carry the orbit into the future. As it stands, Pink Floyd can continue under Gilmour and Mason, but it really doesn’t feel like the real thing. Where it could be better is in its personnel, because as admirable as Pratt is, even he can’t drum up the excitement of watching Waters onstage with the other two.
But then again, Waters was guilty of underestimating the importance of the other band members, and he certainly mocked their efforts in interviews. A Momentary Lapse of Reason was patchy, but The Division Bell was an album of great excitement, restraint, ambition and adulation to compete with the best of the band’s output, with or without Waters. Mason felt that the bassist underrated the combined efforts of the original band, which included keyboardist Richard Wright.
“I think it rankles with Roger that he made a sort of error in a way that he left the band assuming that without him it would fold,” says Mason. “It’s a constant irritation, really, that he’s still going back to it. I’m hesitant to get too stuck into this one, just because it’s between the two of them rather than me. I actually get along with both of them, and I think it’s really disappointing that these rather elderly gentlemen are still at loggerheads.”
Mason needn’t worry: His performance in Dublin recently showed the drummer in tremendous physique and poise, as he expertly performed the drum fills that had kept Floyd fans interested in the band’s trajectory long after Barrett left their orbit.
Stream Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets below.