Following the monumental success of The Dark Side Of The Moon, Pink Floyd had been sent into the stratosphere and could get away with creating just about anything they wanted for their next project, one which would almost certainly get hailed as genius regardless. However, that simply did not turn out to be the case and The Floyd felt compelled to abort an album which turned out too trippy and avant-garde even by their lofty standards.
While the band didn’t go into what would eventually become Wish You Were Here with a great deal of prior consideration, the only real plan was to see how experimental they could physically get. Pink Floyd settled upon tasking themselves to make an album using no traditional instruments, a decision which meant they would leave behind the guitar, the bass, and drums. The reality would mean that Pink Floyd would be entering full improvisation mode. Instead, they’d find themselves employing bizarre household items such as aerosol cans, forks, and wine glasses which led to a somewhat inevitably terrible result.
“I think it was [bassist and songwriter] Roger [Waters] who said, ‘Let’s make an album without using any of our instruments, but [using] household objects,” said keyboardist Rick Wright in the documentary Which One’s Pink?. “So we’d spend days getting a pencil and a rubber band till it sounded like a bass… spend weeks and weeks doing this. [Drummer] Nick [Mason] would find old saucepans and stuff, and then deaden them to try and make them sound exactly like a snare drum. I remember sitting down with Roger and saying, ‘Roger, this is insane!'”
Mason would later make the admission in the book Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd, that they “never managed to produce any actual music. All the time we devoted to the project was spent exploring the non-musical sounds, and the most we ever achieved was a small number of tentative rhythm tracks.”
“A lot of the time it would just be like plonky noises,” guitarist David Gilmour later admitted on the strange Household Objects project. “We would be searching for something and it didn’t work and ultimately to me personally it became rather unsatisfying.”
As the months passed by while working on the project, it was eventually only Roger Waters who was still passionate to make it work—for some unbeknown reason. However, enough was eventually enough and keyboardist Richard Wright brought it upon himself to take Waters to one side and told him in the most polite fashion possible: “Roger, this is insane!” he stated.
This talk was exactly what Waters needed to hear, even if he didn’t want to at the time. He now needed to seek inspiration for the direction that the Floyd were to travel to next, a period of reflection which led him into a quandary. Rather than looking existentially, Waters landed on the theme of absence that had started to become an occurrence in his life. The record came at a time when he and his wife were verging on divorce, coupled with feeling like he wasn’t on the same creative page as his bandmates as well as him losing founding Pink Floyd member Syd Barrett from his life.
Waters felt these feelings of absence were one that he wanted to travel down and the result would, of course, be the mercurial Wish You Were Here. The album might have never arrived if it wasn’t for the Households Object project leading to these riffs to accelerate and cause Waters to feel the inspiration to channel his loneliness into a record.